Review by DandyQuackShot
"Let's Give Our Old Friend a Warm Welcome"
Ten years of a world changing series has raised the bar high for first person shooters. Online gaming would not be the same without the introduction of Master Chief and the Halo rings. But even Halo can't beat what it started with multiple sequels and one prequel and even a real time strategy game. Halo: Combat Evolved brings back very fond memories of late nights playing the cooperative campaign and duking it out over system link matches. With Halo 2 came the introduction of online matchmaking and a world engrossed in fighting it out online and that brings back even more fond memories of even later nights and public embarrassments of losing system link tournaments. The anniversary edition of Halo: Combat Evolved does a fine job with the campaign but a lot is left out of the multiplayer that could have made this game as memorable as its ten year old predecessor.
If you are a huge fan of the Halo series you will notice that in continuation of all things Halo most of the recent features added to games of the later series are included in Anniversary. For the campaign mode there is added online co-op, skulls to find, and terminals to unlock to view secret videos. In multiplayer, you retain your standings from Halo: Reach and get to enjoy six new maps plus the reintroduction of some classic maps. Also included for this part of the game are the Forge, Theater, and Firefight modes which were popular additions from Halo 3, ODST, and Reach. What is left out of Anniversary are most of the classic Halo: Combat Evolved maps from its original multiplayer and a split screen set up for four players so you don't get to enjoy a complete Halo: Combat Evolved experience.
The Anniversary Campaign mode is the best part of this game as the graphics and sound have been completely redone. It is the same exact campaign as Combat Evolved, just better graphics and sound. But if you are homesick for the original graphics and music you are in great luck as you can switch between classic and re-mastered versions of the game in the video section of the options menu. There is a tremendous difference in the graphics, but the mechanics of the original are still very much the same right down to not being able to blow the Warthog's horn. Also included is a 3D capability for those with that availability. The campaign is still as enjoyable as it was before with all of the story of the demise of the Pillar of Autumn and Cortana's discovery of the meaning behind the Forerunner's Halo ring. And for those wanting to make a quick romp of it through the campaign the skull that turns on the exploding dead grunts adds to the very quick end of Covenant bad guys to help you move through the campaign faster.
The online matchmaking is basically an add-on of the Halo: Reach multiplayer. Sure there are new maps and the addition of the original pistols (finally!) in online matchmaking but if you just have the Anniversary game you will only end up playing on just the six maps. The classic maps have to be downloaded if you have Reach. I was really hoping to see the original maps of Combat Evolved make a comeback, heck, just see only the original maps of the game map come back for this game but they re-issued the most popular of the maps from this and other games in the series. So no new or re-mastered multiplayer but it was still fun enough to try to win some pistol duels online. I would have really loved to try my luck online with the original Combat Evolved maps though. My take is, if it is a retail game, make it all original. Adding to another retail game's features is just going to cheapen the experience of those who just have one game or have spent money to download more maps.
For replay value there is plenty left to do with Forge, Theater, and Firefight. You can have plenty of fun putting together custom games and file sharing but of course this is nothing new for Halo fans and I don't need to tell you about what these modes are about if you are. The best replay value is playing through the campaign mode in Legendary and trying to pick up the achievement points and unlock all of the extras that Anniversary has.
Final Recommendation 7/10
The Halo franchise made me a believer out of the Xbox systems and being able to enjoy console online gaming to its fullest. Is Halo getting outdated? It definitely does not hold up to the millions playing Modern Warfare 3 right now with the few thousand in matchmaking right now. But Halo has its fan base and the Combat Evolved: Anniversary game does a fairly decent job of bringing this series full circle. If only Rare would be revived and remake Goldeneye 007 the way it should be remade then and only then could my life be complete.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 11/21/11
Game Release: Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (US, 11/15/11)
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