Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary

Halo's remake hasn’t done much to push the envelope, but it’s a good stop-gap filler

Microsoft Game Studios Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
  • Microsoft Game Studios Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
  • Microsoft Game Studios Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
  • Microsoft Game Studios Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • It’s a classic game, remade very competently

Cons

  • Enough with this FPS formula, already.

Bottom Line

It’s possibly the least spectacular Halo release to date, but it’s proof that Microsoft can handle this franchise without Bungie.

Would you buy this?

The original Halo is a game we can simultaneously praise and hate. A real pioneer of the FPS genre, a lot of what we see in the thousands of FPSers released on a weekly basis have cribbed many of their ideas from trends Halo set in motion.

Indeed, while Halo itself might have just capitalised on a few of the ideas that were emerging from the likes of Call of Duty, it went a long way to popularising them.

For obvious reasons, the remake hasn’t done nearly as much to push the envelope, but it’s a good stop-gap filler while fans wait for the true new Halo game to be released next year.

It looks the part of a modern game — the visual aesthetic of Halo: Combat Evolved was superb back in the days of the original Xbox, and with a HD coat it really develops that big-budget, space opera atmosphere. Planets look suitably alien, enemies run around with a great fluidity, guns flash with the usual science fiction rainbows of colour. The only disappointment is in the facial animations during dialogue and cut scenes. That part is plastic and stiff, a remnant of the past that most modern remakes struggle with.

The game itself plays out much like the Halo we know and have played a million times since — run down a corridor (whether in a spaceship or the usual FPS artificial corridors of mountains, trees and invisible walls). Every so often you’ll run into a swarm of enemies. Kill them. Run down the corridor a bit more and kick off a cutscene.

Every so often you’ll have a vehicle section to “enjoy” (the Warthog could still use some control tweaking). And then eventually, after the explosions can’t get any bigger, it’s game over.

To be brutally honest I am thoroughly sick of this formula. Yes, Halo does it really well, and yes, it’s a formula that enough people seem to enjoy to make the FPS the dominant genre of the industry right now. After a few hundred of these games, though, it’s a formula that’s getting about as tired as playing the duck shooting gallery at a carnival a thousand times.

But then to many, that single player game is hardly the point of Halo. The multiplayer is where it’s at, and here’s an opportunity to play some really classic maps online, perhaps for the first time. Halo’s multiplayer maps are generally a balanced bunch and personally this game is a touch more accessible in multiplayer than, say, Call of Duty or Battlefield. You’ll still have to deal with the irritating children who have only just discovered how cool it is to swear, but at least the game itself won’t be so uncomfortable.

Ultimately Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is just a stop-gap. Microsoft needed to have something to tide fans over until Halo 4, and this does a reasonable job. The game itself is showing its age a touch, and does very little to advance a genre that is rapidly approaching stagnation. Those who have fond memories of the original game, and Halo fans who might have missed out on the original, should get a kick out of this.

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