Should You Buy Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary ? No.

Should You Buy Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary ? No.

It’s been 10 years since Bungie gave Xbox gamers the first Halo game, a console first-person shooter that didn’t feel like the weak sister to the genre’s PC alpha dogs. From that single title grew blossomed one of video game’s most successful franchises, one which reshaped what it meant to play video games with other people.

Now, Microsoft’s commemorating a decade of Halo by issuing an upgraded remake of the series’ first game. Is this trip down memory lane worth your money? Let’s take a gut check.

Evan Narcisse, who counts the last Warthog escape in the 2001 Combat Evolved as one of the most thrilling — and frustrating — experiences on the original Xbox: You’ve played this game before, even if you haven’t played Combat Evolved. While the game that started it all is an artifact of the last console cycle, the Halo DNA lived on and evolved into two direct sequels, one spin-off and a prequel. That means that you already know what this experience feels like. Yes, 343 Industries’ remastering of the game that made Microsoft’s first game console a success is a shiny and well-tempered love letter to Bungie’s original code. But, as much nostalgia as I have at revisiting the deadly ringworld and as much as I marvel at the visual upgrades given to the game’s sturdy mechanics, there’s not enough new here to interest anyone other than Halo super-fans. The memories and nostalgia are powerful, but not so much that I can recommend shelling out $US40 for Anniversary. No.

Luke Plunkett, who played so much Blood Gulch he nearly failed university: Despite having copies of Skyrim and Uncharted 3 in the house, I spent a fair bit of the weekend playing and enjoying the crap out of Halo: Anniversary. It’s shocking how well this game has aged. I’m not talking about the graphics, whose update is more functional than amazing. I’m talking about the game. Once you get past the rough edges, which are to be expected in something 10 years old, you quickly find that the meat and potatoes of Halo, both in singleplayer and multiplayer, are as enjoyable now as they were in 2001. Well, except for The Library. That sucks as much as ever, but not enough to stop this being a Yes.

Mike Fahey, Whose First Co-Op Experience in Halo: Combat Evolved Sold Him on the Original Xbox: The Xbox was just a giant black box of comedy to me until a 13-year-old neighbour of my parents convinced me to play some Halo: Combat Evolved. I had run over to his house to borrow a couple of games for my newly-purchased PlayStation 2, planning to be there all of five minutes. The next thing I know hours had passed my head was filled with schemes to turn my then meager gas station manager salary into Microsoft’s meaty game machine. The experience not only sold me on the Xbox, it rekindled a long dormant passion for first-person shooters that had been obscured by a puffy pink cloud of Japanese role-playing games.

I am terrified of sullying that pure memory with a gussied up version of the game that started it all. I suppose that’s a concern with any HD remake, but for this one in particular, having made such an impact, it’s quite a profound feeling.

If you’ve never played Halo: Combat Evolved before I can see picking up a copy of Anniversary just to fill in the missing chapter. As one of the millions of players that played and loved the original game, I’d prefer to keep my memories as they are and let 343 Industries get on with the business of showing us what they can do in Halo 4. No.

Gut Check is an off-the-cuff impression of what we think of a game: what we’d tell a friend; how we’d respond on Twitter or Facebook or over a beer if someone asked us “Would you buy this game?”


  • I managed to trade in duplicate games of differing platforms and got Anniversary for $17. I think the first was the best of the series and some mates and I have played through all of them in 4 player coop, so it’s a small price to pay for some continued coop LAN goodness.

  • I really hate these Gut Check things, the thing I hate most is the NO on the front page of Kotaku, non-gamers and people who don’t read every article don’t realise it is a ‘gut check’ article.

    The graphic and layout make it look like the *most* important article on the front page, like a warning that Game X is *so* incredibly crap that you should never buy it.
    Whereas in reality many times the ‘reviewers’ haven’t played the game in question at all.
    I think this column really has the potential to hurt games developers, at the very least move the Yes or No verdict into the column so people have to click past the first page and read the article rather than leaving looking like a total recommendation or warning to stay away at all costs.

  • Um… so they’re basically saying “even if you enjoyed it 10 years ago, don’t bother because it’s still the same”? So I suppose they recommend nobody ever bother with any HD re-release ever? I wonder if there are any articles on kotaku of them gushing over the re-release of Ico or if they’ve re-bought movies they own on VHS on Blu Ray, because that would be delicious hypocrisy…

  • They really should limit participants to those who have played the game. Fahey’s was basically “The original was awesome, but I hate the very idea of remakes and HD versions, so PASS!” 😛 Hardly helpful in regards to “Should someone buy this game in particular?”

  • Wasn’t there another game that was released a week or so ago that was basically the same game as before?

    Why is Halo not getting the same type of across the board “Yes” like that game?

  • Please stop these gut check things.
    Keep writing these articles with your opinions by all means, it’s good to hear different people’s reasons why they like or dislike the game, but don’t ruin it but slapping a YES or NO over the whole thing and rounding it down to a best-of-3 vote, it negates the purpose of writing your opinions in the first place.

    • Seconded. The whole idea game ratings thing has always been dicey, a necesary evil if you will, but reducing it to a binary choice is making it as bad as possible

  • You gotta wonder why some posts have been written at all…
    Considering all the reasons people DID buy this game in ’01 and the reason it DID get all it’s sequels etc… Why would you make the statement that it isn’t worth it when it could catapult people into the Halo universe who never got the first one/ lack of Xbox etc. I know a lot friends doing just that actually… And I said even the original would be worth hunting down..

    But to have HD remade, essentially carbon copy of the game WITH the old visuals an option too, then where’s to lose? It’s not even full price either!

    Shame on you Kotaku US…

  • At least Halo CE anniversary is a remake of a decade older game, and one that deserves a remake. I’m looking in your direction God of War collection.
    On a secondary note, why does everyone bag on CoD for ‘being the same’ when just about every first party Nintendo game is the same, rehashing tired mechanics and gimmicks from the past 20 years. It seems to be acceptable to lap that shit up, but you are not a true gamer if you enjoy CoD (simply because it is giving what the majority of its fans want – more of the same!!)

  • I hate to fanboy out and get all defensive but did Fahey just say he hasn’t even played it? FFS. I’ve played it and it’s the freaking gold standard of remakes, a complete visual upgrade, soundtrack re-recorded with an orchestra, heaps of excellent back story told through the new terminals, skulls to modify the experience, classic maps and multiplayer modes, all at a bargain price. After all the games simply upscaling to HD this is a remake made with love and passion, for true fans and for those who missed out, and it’s still imo the best Halo game of them all. Freaking play it Fahey you dolt, it’s brilliant.

    • Bargain price? It’s $88 here in Australia and I just paid $79 for Skyrim and $78 for Uncharted 3.

      Gut check – NO.

  • Fahey’s response sums up why I totally disagree with these whole “Should You Buy This” articles. To give a black and white rating to your readers based on your own personal desicion to leave your nostalgic memories “untainted”, especially when you haven’t even played the game is a bit poxy.

    And hey, remember how you guys said “NO” to Rocksmith, citing that you cant imagine anyone would want to buy another cheap plastic guitar, while completely missing the point that Rocksmith doens’t have a periphreal, you use actually your own real guitar.

    Its things like this that really frustrate me with Kotaku US. I’ll just sit in my corner playing my vidya games, reading my Australian articles, occasionally replying to the US posts with critisism which will fall on deaf ears, and wait for the great interweb-quake of 2012 to occur which will gloriously split KotakuAU from its US parent and leave us all merilly floating independantly to become the great, proud and majestic nation of Oztaku….ok the name still needs work, but there’s time….

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