Halo: Combat Evolved celebrates its 10 year anniversary with an “upgraded” edition of the shooter that helped define a generation.

For most, Halo: Combat Evolved changed the way we thought about FPS's on the console. The simply, yet effective tale of space marines and sophisticated aliens was an instant hit that helped define Microsoft's leap into gaming hardware. Over the consoles' life span the Xbox name become synonymous with the word "Halo" as the series and the console became a nationwide hit. Fast forward 10 years, and we have Halo everything! Halo games, Halo toys, Halo clothing. Unlike any other game of that generation, Halo and its star Master Chief has become a household name. Now under Microsoft's own Halo-developing machine '343 industries,' Microsoft celebrates the 10th year anniversary with Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition.

It should be a given that most of our readers have played the original Halo, so I don’t think it's essential to recap the events within the game. Although in the odd chance that you missed out, "Combat Evolved" is where it all started, and a must have buy for any fans of their later games. While its not as grand as 'Halo 3,' or immersing like "Reach," its still a substantial venture into Bungie's handcrafted world. Although Bungie didn't help craft 'Halo: CE Anniversary,' 343 Industries has handled our beloved Halo with care. Sure you could find holes in this legendary shooter, however when it is compared to other games of this generation, Halo holds up damn well, and in some cases better than the current crop of empty shooters. When it comes down to it, its all about the experience, and in that case, the original "Halo" remains in a class all its own.

Fans of the original, you'll be happy to note that Halo hasn't changed aside from a complete visual overhaul thanks to the Saber3d engine from 'Halo: Reach,' and a few multiplayer extras; co-op and competitive multiplayer, also borrowed from "Reach." Of course we can't forget about achievements, now you will be able to showcase your abilities with a list that falls in line with the rest of the series. Even if you're not in it for bragging rights, the list is carefully crafted to get a few more hours out of that game. A little more bang for your buck, maybe not, but it helps.

Revisiting Halo is instantly welcoming, although more challenging than I remember, the campaign still feels contemporary and will hold your attention. Even if you played Halo the first time around, you will likely remember the high spots, but Halo is still interesting during the in-between stops. Since Halo hundreds of shooters have refined the FPS formula, so some of the features might seem cumbersome or unforgiving, but Halo is still innovative in its own right. Even after all these years, Halo can still pull out the mojo. While its nothing compared to the cinematic driven features in 2011, it is still a memorable adventure filled with rich lore.

As expected, the online portion is super-smooth thanks to the vivacity of "Reach." Although not everyone will be pleased with this "upgrade," because it is basically "Reach" with the old weapons and new/old maps. Reminiscing with the old maps is fantastic, and in one quick match you will see why “Blood Gulch” and “Battle Canyon” where such big hits. Although it is bewildering why all the maps didn't made the cut. Furthermore, purchasing "Anniversary" new gives you codes for DLC maps, which is another odd choice for this "celebration." Really everything 'Halo: CE' should have been included, no matter when or how you purchased the game.

Suave to show off their effort, 343 included a “way back” styled button that transforms Halo from its sheik upgraded visuals to its original fidelity. When you think about the leap in graphics from the Xbox to the Xbox 360, your memory can't always do it justice, so this feature is an excellent addition. Graphically the “remastering” is light years past the original, however it's still not up to par when compared to the current crop of games. Its odd how much things change, not only in quality, but in technology because 'Halo: Anniversary' also supports 3D. Even with all this high-tech mastery the old graphics are charming in their own way, and I found I played about half the game with "retrovision."

The audio has also been embellished with an orchestral rephrasing of the old synthesized soundtrack. As expected it sounds exceptional, which adds an element of mystique of the halo-verse. The voice-acting, well it's a mixed bag of corny one-liners from your laser-fodder mates and supporting cast. Now I know why Master Chief kept his mouth shut all this time. Filled with its ups-and-downs, fading technology eventually finds its way in 'Halo:CE Anniversary,' but its about the execution, concept and detail, and in that race, Halo finishes first.

Nostalgia is the driving force to revisit 'Halo: CE Anniversary,' and it won't be misbegotten. Halo: Combat Evolved still a diligent storyteller that is balanced with some incredible sequences and combat. Whether you are here to reminisce or to learn, Halo: Anniversary is a great package for any Halo fan.

  • Healthy dose of nostalgia
  • Updated graphics with fancy way back button
  • Online MP and co-op included, lets not forget about Firefight
  • Blast from the past - a mix of old and new
  • Challenge accepted; Legendary mode
  • Not all the multiplayer maps are included
  • Fading technology eventually creeps in
  • Foggy memory? - might not live up to your expectations
Quote: "When it comes down to it, its all about the experience, and in that case, the original "Halo" remains in a class all its own."
Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 11.28.11

Similar Games: Halo: ODST (9.0) | Halo Wars (9.0) | Halo 3 (9.5) | Halo: Reach (9.8) | Halo 4 (9.8) | Halo 2 (10)


Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary


343 Studios
Certain Affinity


US Release
November '11



Players 1-2
Co-Op 2
Online MP 2-16
Dolby 5.1
HD 720-1080p
D/L Content