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Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary


Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary

Platform: Xbox 360
Category: First Person Shooter

On the Monday night, the evening before E3 2011 opened its doors, I had the chance to attend Microsoft’s “Best of Xbox” media event. Earlier that same day Microsoft hosted its’ annual E3 Media Briefing, and one of a few games that caught my attention was Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. The Halo franchise is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year, and 343 Studios has taken the original game and brought it into the Xbox 360 era. I loved the original version of the original Xbox, so to see that they were making a tribute to the original with some updates for the Xbox 360 I was pretty hopeful indeed.

One of the biggest things that is noticeable is upgrade in visuals. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary has a new coat of paint so to speak, and I do mean a new coat, that is overlaid on top of the original. Yes, they literally put a new graphics engine over top of the original game. To highlight this fact, on the fly you can change from the new graphics engine (based on the Halo: Reach engine) to the original with a press of a button. 343 Studios told us that this is a feature you can use in game and you can play as much of the campaign in whatever visual mode you wish. It was an amazing thing to see how the game originally looked versus how the updated visuals look now.

Something that really hit home during the demo of the visuals was how far we have truly come. I remember playing the original Halo: Combat Evolved during the launch of the original Xbox and thinking that they were just amazing. Seeing them now makes me realize how far the Halo franchise has come, visually speaking. As you can tell from the screenshots posted, the difference is pretty stunning to say the least. Everything from the sky, water, building, ground, rocks, etc. have been improved dramatically.

As we listened to the crew from 343 Studios, they stated that they have not altered any of the original game code at all. So if there are any particular glitches from the original that you may, or may not, enjoy they are in this game as well. It was something that they debated for quite sometime, to choose to change code in the game or not. Personally I think it was a great idea that they did not as it allows the game’s original and core experience to be relived the way it was 10 years ago. This will introduce many gamers to the franchise that started it all.

Something else that is improved is the discovery of Terminals. Any true Halo fan knows that past games have included the search for hidden Terminals that add a bit to the game’s story. This time around the Terminals you find will have full motion clips, not just text, to add to the story, and as an added incentive some of these Terminals will give a bit of a back story on next year’s Halo 4. I am sure that many diehard Halo fans will be searching out all the Terminals for a few tidbits of next year’s game.

Fans of the franchise will be happy to know that this anniversary edition will include online play. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary will add online 2-player cooperative play. This will mirror the original game’s 2-player split screen cooperative mode, but now each player can play from their own couch and enjoy the experience full screen. Adversarial multiplayer also makes a return, but now you can play over Xbox LIVE this time around. 343 Studios was being very coy about any adversarial modes and features, as they want to save the full details for Halo Fest at PAX this year. What they did tell us though is that there would be seven maps from the original game, and they will all use the Halo: Reach Multiplayer engine. This will allow for the inclusion of new features from Halo: Reach (e.g. jetpacks) as well as a new coat of paint for all the levels. It will be interesting to see how all the updated multiplayer levels look when the game is finally released to the masses.

343 Studios is also updating the sound as well. I asked the reps putting on the demo if they plan to drastically change the sound, or keep much of the original that made the game so memorable. From the first time you heard a grunt scream for help, your teammates commenting on the carnage, to the very recognizable sound of a grenade bouncing your way during an multiplayer match. They said much of the original will stay, but there will be some audio updates to match the updated visuals.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is set to release this November for a price of $39.99. Look for more details as we get closer to the release date.


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