Friday, 9 September 2011

Halo: Anniversary - Looking Forward

117 is back
I can scarcely believe it's been ten long years since Halo: Combat Evolved first graced our living rooms. I remember first playing Halo with a good friend of mine (I didn't own an Xbox at the time!) huddled around a 19" portable television, elbow to elbow and loving every minute.  

Halo really set the standard for console based first person shooters and it's co-op experience was second to none. My friend and I spent countless hours tearing around the first level in a Warthog, mowing down the enemy and plunging off of the occasional cliff. Ah, fond memories! 

Being an Xbox exclusive, It could be argued that Bungie's masterpiece was single-handedly responsible for the success of the Microsoft's first console. After all every platform needs that essential game to put it on the map. Halo was undoubtedly that game. 

A decade on and the Halo franchise now rests in the hands of 343 industries who will soon honor us with a re-release of Halo: Combat Evolved simply titled Halo: Anniversary.  

Anniversary will undergo a major face-lift with fresh, 2011 visuals created by Saber interactive. However, the game mechanics that we all know and love will remain untouched as changes to the game are 99% cosmetic. 
The visuals in Anniversary look stunning
Original fans of Halo: CE will be overjoyed to learn that the original graphics can be restored at the touch of a button (the Back button I believe) meaning that the entire game can be played as it would have been back in 2001. The switch can be made at anytime including during cut scenes. 

Do Spartans dream of sheep?
In addition to this, Martin O'Donnell's original musical score has been completely re-recorded with the Skywalker Symphony Orchestra. Some of the synth-heavy parts being replaced and the entire soundtrack now being audible in the glory of Dolby 5.1 surround sound. 

Co-op will also make a comeback, with two friends now being able to team up over Live as well as via the traditional split-screen and system link options.  

As if all that wasn't enough, players will have instant access to the multiplayer mode that was originally designed for four players around a single console (or eight with a system link). Multiplayer for Halo: Anniversary is being revamped to include seven original maps that have been re-imagined and the highly contentious Xbox Live play option. Multiplayer mode will be included on the same disc as the single player campaign, unlike Halo: ODST, and feature the mechanics that we have grown accustomed to in Halo: Reach. 
The Halo ring in all its HD glory

I am ecstatic about Halo: Anniversary and can't wait to get my hands on it. This is just what fans need to keep them busy until the release of Halo 4 in 2012. What with this, Skyrim and Assassins Creed: Revelations all due out at the same time, November is shaping up to be a very anti-social month for me. That's what Xbox Live's for though, right?

Halo: A brief history 

Halo: Combat Evolved - Fantastic graphics, gameplay and a lovingly crafted universe that inspired a cult following. A great boost for Xbox.

Halo 2 - The continuation of the great elements that Combat Evolved built up, as well as that a revolutionary multiplayer experience on Xbox Live.  

Halo 3 - New graphics engine, new enemies, new generation. Halo's first outing on the Xbox 360 was a treat for all the senses.  

Halo Wars - An unusual departure from the usual FPS to real-time strategy. The first game to come from a different developer, Ensemble.

Halo 3: ODST - A large side story that took the focus off of the familiar protagonist, Master Chief, and put the player in the roll of an ODST Trooper.  

Halo Reach - The final Halo game from Bungie studios and a great way for the developer to say thank you and goodbye to the series. Simply brilliant.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Halo: Anniversary is going to be great isn't it. Can't wait for it. I didn't realise you'd be able to switch between the new HD graphics and the original version! I used that feature frequently during the Secret of Monkey Island re-release.

  3. Yeah, a real treat! May have to take November off. I'm glad they have included the graphic-switch feature. It worked well in Monkey Island but I'll be intrigued to see it in action in a 3D game.

  4. Another great review! I can feel the excitment emanating from this blog!!!
    Exremely well written! Nice one James.

  5. Thank you, for rescuing me.

    Got to Halo 3 and then the series lost me, partly because of my third world broadband package but also the realisation I wasn't as gifted in combat as I had imagined I was.

    Now thanks to you, and this excellent article I know where I am in the Halosphere, it may just be time to revisit a game that gave me goosebumps when I first played it.

    Wonder if my reflexess have improved :(

  6. I too fell behind with the Reach multiplayer. As much as I enjoy it, every kid old enough to grip a controller seems to make it their mission to be my nemesis. They usually succeed. Perhaps we could form an alliance!

    Glad the article was useful! I'll revisit with a review in November.

  7. You may well have yourself a deal :) my little heart rises at the thought of payback for all those spotty faced snipers. Looking forward to the review!


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