2011-11-29

Halo CE: Anniversary – A Worthy Trip Down Memory Lane

by Yo Snyder

Halo: Combat Evolved
was the first game (aside from Goldeneye
for the N64) to bring the shooter genre to consoles in a way that wasn’t
horrible to play. In fact, it was fun! It was a time when the Warthog vehicle
was indestructible, when you only needed to carry one needler, and when
multiplayer tended to happen more in split screen than over Xbox Live. When I
heard they were bringing out Halo CE:
Anniversary
, a remastered and updated version of Halo, I was excited. The question is does the game hold up today
and is it worth your money? Is the Warthog still indestructible? Is the pistol
still overpowered and awesome? After all this time do you still get that awe
and excitement at the environment around you? Is that first encounter with The
Flood still crazy intense? Fear not, I’m here to help answer some of these
questions! Since the original game is 10 years old, I’m going to assume anyone
reading has played it. Still, I’ll avoid as many game changing spoilers as
possible.

I’m all for the simplicity of the classic Halo. It’s no secret to those who know
me that I felt it was the best in relation to story, as well as weapon balance.
The story has a symmetry to it that is very rewarding. The team that built the
graphics for Anniversary has
certainly taken care to make the game feel the same. The new graphics were
actually built around the old ones, and you can switch between the old and new
visual modes. This is a really great and compelling feature that I used quite
often. The funny thing is, it really did feel not just familiar, but literally
the same. The only way you would know what changes they made is by looking
through how it used to look. They added so much draw distance, foliage, cloud effects,
and more. It’s stunning. If you’ve played the more recent Halo games, you know
what to expect. But when you take the time to switch between the classic
visuals and the modern ones, you’ll really appreciate how far we’ve come in 10
years.

All of the classic gameplay is here as well. Yes, the pistol
is still awesome. It saved my bacon quite a few times when fighting through the
first chapter on the Pillar of Autumn. The Warthog is still a blast to drive,
and I think I much preferred it when it was indestructible. You could work to
get it mashed through chasms it shouldn’t have been able to fit through and
have the extra firepower on the back. There were a couple bugs however,
although that’s sort of to be expected with a port and remastering effort like
this. Nothing was game-breaking. Once, after loading the screen remained black.
Switching to classic graphics and back to current fixed that, and it only
happened in one location. Sometimes you’d get a weird sound when loose weapons
were blown through a wall. Also, I experienced a bit of lag when loading and
saving progress in some zones. Nothing really took me far out of the game, and
it was easy to forgive these.

The zones are still massive, and the graphical enhancements
have done lots of justice to them. Everything is literally brighter, and
there’s a lot more clarity as to where you need to go. There are a few places
that a gap in canyon rocks is hidden, and you run in circles trying to figure
out where you need to go. It was much better this go than with classic
graphics. I remember being lost in the snowy canyons for an hour back in the
day. The interiors are brightened as well, and the hallways are quite visually
stunning.

One of the quintessential moments in gaming for me was in Halo, when you first meet “The Flood”.
This was handled epically in the original, with a playback of one marine’s
encounter with this new threat. Then, you realize you’re in the same room, and
you’re locked in. Soon, you are inundated with this great enemy, small and
large. It’s tough and it’s intense. Having played through all of the Halo
games, and having played the original several times many years ago, I can say
that yes, this brings this same experience into the modern generation.
Surviving an alien-zombie infestation has never been so fun. The Flood as an
enemy is interesting to me on another level, in particular the plan that was
put into place and the original purpose that the Halo was designed for; to
eradicate any life that The Flood could infest. It’s an interesting analogy for
sin, which is an infestation of disobedience towards God. I very much am glad
that God found another option rather than just destroy everyone who carries
sin. It’s reassuring that he loves us so much that he was willing to give his
life in payment for our sin.

Halo CE: Anniversary
is a beautiful and fun re-release of a great game that is now considered one of
the best and most influential games of the last decade. If you haven’t played
the original, this is definitely worth it. If you have fond memories of the
original, you will get as much value and possibly more than the uninitiated. At
$40, it’s cheaper than some of the new games coming out this holiday season, so
you might save a few dollars (Or save a family member a few dollars) by picking
up Halo CE: Anniversary.

Score 6 of 7