Halo: Combat Evolved – Anniversary – time capsule

Like a Blue Peter time capsule, this reworking of the original Halo shows just how much gaming has changed since Master Chief first graced our screens.

Halo: Combat Evolved – Anniversary – 3D facelift

To underline the point this edition boasts some significant changes. For a start, there’s a high-definition and 3D facelift that adds glorious detail to the game’s alien landscapes and architecture, plus an option to flip back at will to the original graphics, which have held up better than you’d imagine.

Halo: Combat Evolved – Anniversary – online multiplayer

But there’s more. The original didn’t do online multiplayer, instead you had to settle for split screen co-op or lugging your Xbox round to your mate’s house for some system link action. Ten years on there’s proper online multiplayer, but while co-op is as much fun as ever, the deathmatch maps aren’t Halo’s finest. Naturally you also now get achievements, game modifying ‘skulls’ to collect, extra cut-scenes and a few minor additions to the game such as the ability to ask Kinect to analyse enemies.

Halo: Combat Evolved – Anniversary – back to the future

But what of the game? Can this landmark title really stand the test of time? In a word, yes. The first half remains utterly thrilling. The move from the tight, enemy-filled corridors on the Pillar of Autumn to the rolling hills of the Halo planet itself remains magical, as do the dramatic clashes in the snowy interior.  The soundtrack, meanwhile, is more thunderous and dramatic than ever. As before, the quality dips once the Flood arrive, but the tarted-up graphics do raise the enjoyment factor, even on the tedious Library level.

Halo: Combat Evolved – Anniversary – pass the map

In fact, there’s only really one area in which Combat Evolved shows its age, and that’s in the lack of objective signposting. In the gaming landscape of 2011 Master Chief would have a built-in GPS guiding us to the next battle, but there’s no such luxury here. Instead there’s plenty of head scratching about where you’re supposed to go next – unless, of course, you were such a big fan of the original that all of the maps and objectives are engraved on the inside of your skull.

Halo: Combat Evolved – Anniversary – verdict

Overall, while Halo doesn’t shine quite as brightly as it did in 2001 it’s far from disgraced by the modern shooters it helped sire. And that makes it a mighty fine nostalgia trip for big fans of the series, and a must-play for keen gamers that somehow missed it the first time around.

Stuff says... 

Halo: Combat Evolved – Anniversary review

A mighty fine nostalgia trip for big fans of the series, and a must-play for gamers that somehow missed it the first time around