How Do Game Reviewers Feel About Playing Halo: Combat Evolved All Over Again?

How Do Game Reviewers Feel About Playing Halo: Combat Evolved All Over Again?

Before the folks at 343 Industries can prove to us they are a worthy successor to the Halo development throne, they must first show us that they respect the franchise’s roots.

This has been accomplished by dying those roots to make them a little less grey.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary has just hit store shelves, featuring the adventure that started it all remastered in glorious high-definition. With the flick of a button players can switch between the game as it originally appeared 10 years ago on the original Xbox and the sleeker, sexier updated look. I liken it to putting a black wig on grandpa; he looks a little bit better, but still can’t program the VCR — and we don’t even use the VCR anymore. Why is he trying to program that?

And that tangential aside is exactly why we need some official game reviewers up in here to tell us what’s what. How does Master Chief look in his wig?


Strategy Informer

After finishing the campaign of last year’s Halo saga prequel Halo: Reach, I was psyched for a remake of the original Halo: Combat Evolved. Though no plans had been announced by Microsoft the fact that the campaign concluded literally as CE began made a revisit to Master Chief’s debut seem all but inevitable. This past June my wish was granted when Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary was announced, scheduled to coincidence with the 10 year anniversary of the original.

Sadly, my dream of playing through CE‘s story with all the improvements of its subsequent sequels wasn’t realised. Under Anniversary‘s hood sits Combat Evolved in all its dated glory. While pressing a button switches between the original ‘classic’ graphics and revamped ‘remastered’ graphics, the campaign plays identically to the 2001 Xbox launch game.



As far as remakes go Halo CE‘s campaign takes a conservative approach, allowing players to revisit the original experience from 10 years ago, but deploys an impressive technical feat: At any time (except during cinematic cut-scenes), players can press the back button to swap between the original visuals and a snazzier, updated HD look. The switch itself is masked through a fade-in/fade-out — sort of like a long blink — but it’s crazy to compare and see how primitive and charming Halo looked like just 10 years ago. The visual overhaul adds a ton of depth and detail to a game released before high-def standards. The environments themselves look good, but there are times where the tech stumbles; either by stuttering when you’re making a sharp turn in a vehicle or, worse, whenever an enemy corpse clips through the environment — an event signaled by a repetitive tapping noise that sounds like you’ve just walked by a hidden Covenant stenographer.


The Guardian

It may have looked a bit dodgy by modern standards, but you’re instantly struck by how Halo emerged with its glorious gameplay fully formed. You couldn’t ask for more feel from the control system, and its distinctive weaponry and vehicles wisely remained untampered-with throughout the franchise’s evolution.

There’s even a genuinely surprising twist when you encounter the Flood for the first time, annoying though they may be. And Halo Combat Evolved‘s single-player game is much meatier than has become the modern norm.

That, of course, is due to the fact that when it was released, broadband was more of a pipedream than a reality, as was Xbox Live. But it did have a multiplayer side, achievable by connecting up Xboxes with network cables. And yes, we really did lug our Xboxes around in those days (along with TVs).


Official Xbox Magazine (OXM)

Anniversary shoehorns in two flavours of Kinect support. In-game, voice recognition reacts to almost two dozen words, including “reload” and “grenade.” Moreover, an Extras menu lets you access a Library mode, unlockable only with Kinect, where you’ll examine 3D models of items and adversaries you’ve scanned in the game. You can also use voice commands to review the terminal cinematics you’ve found. We commend the effort the devs put into Kinect support, but ultimately, it’s an unnecessary addition.



It’s also a fairly difficult game. I think this generation’s shooters have numbed my FPS campaign skills because Halo is a lot more difficult than I remember it being. At one point in chapter three I must have died 10 times in the same area, a checkpoint structure that’s far less generous than games of the past five years making each death a bitter pill to swallow. The number of enemies on-screen at one time is less than the 360 Halo games, but the challenge is still significant.

The new co-op campaign support does make things easier, but as usual with this kind of thing, whether or not playing as a duo improves the experience is entirely down to your partner. Playing in the same room with a friend via split-screen or system link is the best way to go as you’re properly able to celebrate your successes and argue your failures in a manner impossible online.


Planet Xbox 360

With a story good enough for a full length novel, audio and visual elements as detailed as any you’ve ever seen and excellent pacing, Halo is the reason for Xbox and vice versa. 343 studios have done an excellent job paying tribute to the original game and its fans. Do you remember the first time you played or witnessed Halo: Combat Evolved back in 2001? Well it’s time to relive those memories once again and this time you can do it over Xbox Live with all your friends. If you have never played Halo: CE before or just want to Pistol 3-Shot your friends once again, Halo: CE Anniversary is a must buy for all Xbox 360 owners, especially those that are fans of Master Chief in any way.

I held it in my hands last night, and then I set it back down; I shall remain pure.


  • “While pressing a button switches between the original ‘classic’ graphics and revamped ‘remastered’ graphics, the campaign plays identically to the 2001 Xbox launch game.”

    For me that’s something to list under “EXCELLENT”, and yet most reviewers seem to list it as a complaint or dissappointment.

    I guess I’m weird, but Halo: CE was and is my favorite Halo game. So this ‘downside’ is going to go a long way towards making me decide to buy this game. It’ll be the first time I buy a Halo game for myself since 2. (I’ve probably bought the entire series at least twice over as gifts :-P)

    • Though I guess I *did* pick on the guy who gave it a 60/100 or whatever… 😛 haha

      Either way, that is the very reason I became interested in this HD-ified version. If someone’s complaining about it, then I take that to mean that the campaign remained unchanged enough that I’d prolly enjoy it.

    • But could you imagine how much they’d be complaining if they did change anything? Game reviews, bah, bunch of whiners… (goes back to reviewing)

  • The biggest disappointment for me on Halo Anniversary was the lack of a PC release. I want mods and custom maps, dammit!

  • Wait, someone was actually complaining about the button and how it plays like a remake? It’s an upgraded HD of a classic 2001 game (akin to the HD remakes that the PS3 occasionally gets) with an added touch that other games haven’t done to date.

    God. Never going to go the site that is Strategy Informer.

  • “But it did have a multiplayer side, achievable by connecting up Xboxes with network cables. And yes, we really did lug our Xboxes around in those days (along with TVs).”

    LOL, We used to do this on a weekly basis. every Saturday, religiously. Had two xbox’s at my place, my brothers and my own, and dragged down 6 mates with their big-ass CRT TV’s… They were good times… ¶:Þ

    • We used to have regular PC LANs where everyone had a huge tower case and monitors. With 16 people in a tiny room with huge tower cases, monitors, mice, keyboards, headphones, controllers, ethernet cables the room was a real hazard. Like a jungle with cable vines.

      Packing all that crap up at 4am was always the worst though.

      • We still do it once a month but yes i agree packing up is such a damn pain…. that nand something is always wrong with one persons pc, and being the only tech guy there, i end up spending 2 hours fixing it.

        Not strapped for room though fortunately got a large 6m x 7m room we use.

  • I’m not sure if I’m just a dinosaur but I don’t think original Halo looks that bad. I’ve been playing it on and off since it was released on PC and me and some mates still play it a LAN parties. Still playing it through on classic mode first, and go hunting for the new stuff later.

    My biggest complaint is that the assault rifle is wrong. I know this is gonna sound nerdy but it’s not the MA5B, it’s the C from Halo 3 so the Chief’s hands don’t hold it right and it looks off in first person. I dunno why they made such a simple mistake.

    • We still play the PC version at lan parties, Halo 2 not so much as it is horribly optimized for PC and has extreme V-Sync issues.

  • I get why some people might get frustrated with the game being the same as it was back when it first game out – sequels tend to refine and improve, and it’s often hard to regress – but if they’d updated it to play like Reach then they’d annoy just as many people.

  • When will people realise that we don’t want “new” stuff in our HD remakes. When we ask for a HD remake we want the same game with better graphics. If we wanted a newer game with better graphics we would just play the next game in the series.

    • Agreed. I bet the same reviewers would be leading mobs through the street with pitchforks and torches if they’d changed the controls or gameplay of games like Ico or Shadows of the Colossus.

  • >Planet Xbox 360 gave it a 96/100
    Well that’s great, I wonder what Official Playstation Magazine would have given it?

  • best hd remake ever. they shouldnt change things in a remake…….THATS WHY ITS A REMAKE NOB HEADS!!!!!!!!!!!! reviewers really piss me off these days.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!