Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developers: 343 Industries, Certain Affinity, Bungie
Platform: Xbox 360
Release Date: Out now
With the announcement of Halo 4, it seems logical to take stock of the roots of the franchise, and as such, a tenth anniversary edition of the patriarch of the first-person shooter has arrived, presented to contend with today’s current market. For those not in the know, Halo follows a super-soldier known as the “Master Chief” who crash lands on a ring-like planet known as a ‘Halo’, in the midst of a human-alien conflict. Combat Evolved is and will always be a landmark masterpiece of the FPS genre. The game blasted onto the scene as the killer app for the original Xbox, and not only legitimised the multiplayer FPS experience on consoles; it proved that the console FPS was the future of online play.
This edition can be broken down into two parts, firstly a complete HD remake brought to us by 343 Industries, utilising brand new graphics engine (Saber3D, courtesy of Saber
Interactive), to bring Halo: CE into a new decade, at least graphically. It’s clear that this has been a labour of love. While it is aesthetically stunning, criticism must be aimed at the form of the campaign itself, which has shown its age, particularly in repetitious corridors and sequences.
In larger battles, the frame rate simply can’t keep up and some textures are weak. An interesting idea is the ability to almost seamlessly switch between the old and new presentations, a showcase of how far video game graphics have come in ten years. The second aspect is the multiplayer experience that the franchise is famed for. Brought to life largely with the help of long-time Halo-partner studio, Certain Affinity, this online component of Anniversary is built on Halo: Reach‘s excellent multiplayer mode and graphics engine, and should feel immediately familiar to those who played it last year. Included maps have been re-tooled, and each map has a classic version as well as the enhanced version, leaving it up to you to play it as you see fit. All that said, this definitely is not an authentic remake of the Halo: Combat Evolved multiplayer experience for long-time fans looking to relive their original Halo LAN.
A great amount of love and care went into creating Halo: CEA, and the new graphics engine, while not perfect, is an excellent addition to bring Halo players who missed out on the original ten years ago up to speed. Halo: CEA’s campaign shortcomings are fairly apparent, but with an open mind, many will be able to appreciate what was one of the greatest shooters to ever grace consoles.