Halo Anniversary Edition Review
Master Chief rises again, sort of.
The Halo series has been a shining example of FPS games on consoles done well. In 2001 the whole gaming industry was shaken to the core when Bungie released Halo: Combat Evolved on the Xbox, showing that not only can an FPS look just as good on consoles as it does on the PC, but it can play just as well.
The public loved it, and the game singlehandedly propelled the Xbox to mainstream fanfare. The immense success that Bungie and Microsoft saw with Halo: CE resulted in PC game developers following suit and creating ports for consoles that led to better sales than their PC counterparts. 10 years later and the majority of studios are now developing games for consoles first and PCs, if at all, later.
To mark the 10 year anniversary of the release of one of the most influential console games in history, we get Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary from 343 Industries. Technically, this project is a combined effort from ‘Sabre Interactive’ for the re-skinned singleplayer campaign, ‘Certain Affinity’ for the multiplayer and firefight modes and ‘Sequence Group’ for the flashback sequences found through various terminals in the singleplayer.
Apart from all the nostalgic fans, I believe this remake was also done for a whole generation of gamers who never played the original Halo because they were too young at the time. As such, I will need to review Halo Anniversary with modern FPS gameplay characteristics in mind.
I’ll start off with the most obvious reason to purchase this game: the remade singleplayer campaign. So what we have here is the exact same singleplayer campaign, scene for scene, AI for AI, physics for physics, and gameplay mechanics for…well you get the idea. This may appeal to all old school fans (how liberally we use that term!) of the original Halo, and what will make them even happier is knowing that 343 Industries was smart enough to trim certain sections of the game to make the experience…less painful. I am, of course, referring to the infamous Library level which has been tweaked to be just about bearable.
All that sounds good, but with the same clunky physics and animation (not the graphics but the way objects are rendered) feels a decade old. Driving the warthog felt like trying to control a truck on ice. While everything looks gorgeous, the animations are still stiff, there’s no fluidity to anything. Worst of all is the fact that there’s no compass to point you in the right direction at all times; however, one does show up if you stray too far away from your objective. And many other small things make the campaign feel strange, like the plasma pistol which can be held on charge infinitely. Or that jumping feels like you’re in space. While players of the original Halo can discard these issues as ‘part of the package’, newcomers will certainly feel uneasy.
Moving along, there’s one major addition to Halo Anniversary that makes it relatively better than the first, in that the backstory is really fleshed out thanks to the flashback sequences courtesy everybody’s favorite robot, Guilty Spark, who talks about his journey from the Forerunners to the Halo rings and everything inbetween.