Review by d0x
"A perfect HD update"
Lets get this out of the way first. This is the way you do an HD update to a classic game. The gameplay is identical aside from a couple of little secrets. That means its the Halo everyone knows and loves. It has all the same great gameplay and quirks as the original game for better or for worse.
Microsoft decided to focus on the graphics engine for this game and they did so in a massive way. We have seen lots of HD remakes for last generation games and for the most part they are fine games but really most of them updated a very textures here and there, added a little anti aliasing and called it a day.
Not with Halo Anniversary. Microsoft has changed every single texture in the game. They are not just upsampled HD versions of what we saw when the game came out on the original Xbox. EVERYTHING is new. The new texture work not only looks fantastic but it also helps with map navigation. Due to the way Bungie uses repeated and bland textures in the original it was quite easy to get turned around and lost. This is just not the case anymore. The art design has been improved and brought more in line with modern Halo games. All the new HD textures are used in such a way that areas have unique feels and it certainly helps when it comes to level navigation. Not only has every texture been replaced but Microsoft also saw fit to improve animations. The tweaks are subtle but they exist and they help draw you into the game just that much more.
On top of animation and texture work they have improved the lighting and particle systems as well as polygon count on the models, they actually have good looking face now! More epic looking firefights are now possible due to more explosions with more pieces of debris flying around and a better sense of lighting cast from them. Even the needler now creates its own sources of light from every shot fired. All in all the game looks simply fantastic and is nearly on par with most modern shooters.
You really couldnt ask for a better upgrade to this game. Microsoft kept all of the core gameplay perfectly in tact and focused just on the graphics engine. Honestly this is the way HD remakes should be done. Take advantage of the more powerful hardware all while leaving the original gameplay perfectly intact.
The other really cool feature is the ability to switch between old and new graphics on the fly. Hit the back button and after a brief 1-2 second pause the game will switch between the original or remade graphics. This feature while simple (yet technically incredibly complex) really shows the massive leap in detail this game offers over the original.
If you loved Halo you will love this. Gameplay is pitch perfect and the graphics are excellent. The only gripe one could really have with this package is its lacking a making of area. It would have been really cool to have a history of the game built in. Microsoft has all this information on Halo Waypoint but it would be nice to have it in game as well.
The game also features the multiplayer from Halo Reach and comes with some remade classic maps and some extra forge content. The game allows you to play with Reach players. This might be a gripe for some as they were expecting pure classic Halo MP but its easy to see that MS didnt want to split the community, Also redoing the netcode for the engine would have been a massive undertaking as the original Halo was not designed to be played online. Yes it was possible via services that tunneled the connection from your pc but it wasnt optimal and had many latency issues.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/18/12
Game Release: Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (US, 11/15/11)
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