Reach out, it’s an anniversary!
Who doesn’t get sentimental when they hear the word "anniversary"? To many people, it’s a time of reflection and looking back on all those great years that have passed. For some, it’s a chance to show off all the weight they’ve lost and talk about how amazing their new job at ImARichBastardNYoureNot is. But for the video game world, it’s an opportunity to dust off some old classics and watch them sell like hotcakes. (What is a “hotcake” anyway? What about cupcakes? Everyone likes those. Forget it, forget it, I digress.)
As I was saying, anniversaries are oh-so awesome, especially when it’s Halo! That’s right, ladies and dudes, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is here to be the best first-person shooter around. Way better than Call of that whatever Modern Warfare, I'll keep my extra 20 bucks, thank you very much. I know what you’re thinking; I must be on some kind of ridiculous hallucinogen.
Hear me out. Ten years ago when Microsoft Studios first released Halo, they started a bit of a wave. The option to play games online against other people was a glorious spectacle. Online gaming had been around but wasn’t quite as popular as it would come to be because of Halo. Through game maps, different types of multiplayer matches, the ranking system, and much more, people ate it up. We couldn’t get enough. And that was on the first Xbox, a machine that looked like a prop from a Terminator movie.
Over the years, video game systems have changed and Halo games with them. After Halo 2 transformed and upgraded the franchise on the Xbox, the magical white-colored Xbox 360 came out and Halo 3 broke just about every parent's pocket. Halo 3 still remains one of the highest-selling games for the Xbox 360. So what did they do after that? Hooked us all up with Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach, the latest and greatest edition of the series. So if you have been living with the Geico Neanderthal somewhere in a cave, you are now all caught up.
And here we are—Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary brings back all the joy we had when we first laid eyes on Master Chief’s Mark V combat suit. The story mode, AI, and maps from the first release ten years ago remain largely untouched. The major difference is that the graphics have been upgraded to full HD rendering. But the cool part about it all is that at any point, at the push of the select button, you may travel back through time, zipping back to a land that seems like the ice-age of gaming and play through campaign, original graphics and all.
Halo has always been a fairly simple game and nothing has changed in that regard. Additions to Combat Evolved Anniversary are minimal. The major bolstering is the connection between this Halo and Halo: Reach. Online mode has seen the most significant changes, with redeem codes that you can use to play Combat Evolved maps on the Reach disc, with Reach team objectives and classic Combat Evolved controls.
I don’t quite remember everything from the first Halo, but this anniversary edition does remind me of the amazing times had way back when—the turn of the 21st century, the Ravens winning the Super Bowl, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies debuting...
But more to the point, I don’t remember just how annoyed I could get playing the original Halo. The game is still excellent and fun to play, but the loading times are ridiculous. Oh, the horror! The level layout midway through is nuts. At times you find yourself breezing through a level, then BAM!, you’re stuck. “Is it this way? No. Maybe go back and try the other way? Nope." There's a weird déjà vu situation that will drive you mad. (Aren't you supposed to know this game is supposed to go?) And how about those long ass levels? Don’t you dare think about playing through one unless you have plenty of time on your hands. Because if you turn the system off before you reached the end, guess what? Oh yeah, right back to the beginning. (A "save and quit" system does exist in the game, but I experienced a glitch three times where it just sent me back to the beginning of a level.)
Through it all, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary lives up to the series’ great reputation. It's not perfect, nor is it flawed in that regard apart from being a tad outdated. Even though it is largely a remake, there is still plenty of fun to be had playing this title all over again. I bet ol’ Bill Gates is secretly sitting in his office right now on a pile of cash playing Halo, thinking to himself how awesome his company is. Make it rain, Billy!
Review copy provided by the publisher.