It shouldn't come as a big shock that Halo: Combat Evolved is joining the ever-increasing lineup of last-generation classics being given an HD makeover for the current generation. Halo: Combat Evolved was one of the biggest, and best, games of the previous generation. It single-handedly turned on an entire generation of gamers to the idea that first-person shooters could work on a console. Many of Halo's ideas have been used and reused in modern shooters in some fashion, and multiple sequls are already out. That doesn't mean that the original Halo doesn't have something to offer, and even to this day, many fans of the franchise consider the first the best of the lot. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is a game for the people who truly miss the original game and need a reason to play it all over again.
One important thing to note about Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is that it is not a new game. The weapons, the characters and the physics are exactly the same as in the original Halo: Combat Evolved. This isn't a remake or a reimagining, at least when it comes to the basic gameplay. In fact, most of the game is still using the same code from the original Halo. Nothing has changed, and all the weapons, enemies and basic levels are exactly the same. They look better, of course, but if you were looking forward to a brand-new Halo, that isn't what you're going to find here. This is the classic Halo, with both good and bad parts. If you loved the original Halo pistol, don't worry because it's as good as it ever was.
That isn't to say that Anniversary won't contain new stuff, but it's mostly cosmetic. The graphics have been given a complete overhaul so they're more comparable to Halo: Reach than the classic Xbox game. There's more detail to the environments, new character models, and everything has been given a touch-up. It's quite easy to see this because while Anniversary supports new visuals, they're not required. At the touch of a button, you can switch between new visuals and the classic Xbox graphics to compare the two versions. Hardcore Halo fans will certainly enjoy having the chance to compare old and new visuals with minimal fuss. The game is receiving a complete audio workover thanks to Skywalker Sound, who are redoing the sound effects and music. The voice acting, however, will remain untouched.
There is one very specific bit of new content that is certain to interest Halo fans of all types. Just as Halo 3 had terminals that provided some hint at the overarching plot, there will also be terminals in Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. Unlike the previous terminals, which were just text, these new terminals are full-on videos, complete with voice acting and cinematic cut scenes. The most tempting thing about these terminals is that the plot they're providing isn't old news. The information is new and leads to some hints about the upcoming Halo 4. If you're the kind of person who just can't wait to find out about Master Chief's first post-Covenant adventure, you're going to want to track down each and every terminal.
While the game has online competitive multiplayer, it's one of the few parts that isn't a straight adaptation of the original Halo title. Instead, Halo: Anniversary reuses the Halo: Reach engine for multiplayer. This means that the physics won't be identical to the old game, unlike the single-player campaign. There were some vague hints that there may be special options to make Reach's multiplayer more like Halo: Combat Evolved, but nothing has been assured. All the maps in Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary are classic Halo or Halo 2 maps that have been adapted to work in the new Halo: Reach engine. This means that all Reach multiplayer features still work in Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. For those who want the new maps but are not interested in Anniversary, we were told that the new maps would eventually be ported to Halo: Reach. Cooperative multiplayer for the single player-campaign is also being included, complete with online play.
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary isn't really a remake. It's more akin to the HD ports you see of games like Metal Gear Solid or The Sly Cooper Collection, but that doesn't mean it's just a simple repackaging of an old game. The ability to switch between old and new textures is a neat feature and helps show off how the game is getting a graphical makeover, as opposed to the simple update that was done to the aforementioned games. The lack of confirmed classic Halo multiplayer might be disappointing, but there's certainly a lot of value in the package with new maps for Halo: Reach and an updated version of the original classic, complete with Achievements. In the end, it's Halo, and that should be enough.
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