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Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is a first-person shooter video game set in the Halo universe and is an enhanced remake of Halo: Combat Evolved. Microsoft announced the game alongside Halo 4 at the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo. The game was released on November 15, 2011—the 10th anniversary of the original title's launch—for the Xbox 360 game console.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary was developed as a partnership between development studios 343 Industries, Saber Interactive, and Certain Affinity. 343 Industries, the Halo series' franchise overseers, approached Saber Interactive to develop a remake of the original Halo in time for its tenth anniversary. After considering whether to remake the game entirely or to adapt and add features to the existing PC version, Saber decided to use their game engine for reproducing the original's appearance and the original Halo's engine for gameplay. A development tool for toggling between the old and new visuals became a game feature. Anniversary's enhancements include a complete high-definition visual overhaul, support for cooperative and multiplayer gameplay via the Xbox Live online service, new and remastered sound effects and music, and extras such as achievements and hidden in-game collectibles. The game is the first in the series to include Kinect support.

Critical reception to Anniversary was generally positive. The updated graphics, sounds, and ability to toggle between the remastered and original visuals were praised. Complaints included technical glitches, faults with the original game's level design, and the multiplayer's implementation.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Plot

After fleeing the Covenant's destruction of the human world Reach, the human ship Pillar of Autumn makes a random slipspace jump to avoid leading the Covenant to Earth. Arriving in uncharted space, the crew of the Autumn discover a massive ringworld orbiting a gas giant. When the Covenant attack, Autumn's captain, Jacob Keyes, entrusts the ship's AI, Cortana—and her knowledge of defense deployments and the location of Earth—to the supersoldier Master Chief for safekeeping. Master Chief fights off Covenant boarding parties and leaves the Autumn via a lifeboat to the surface of the ring world while Keyes lands the Autumn on the ring.

On the ringworld, the Chief rallies human survivors and leads a boarding party to rescue Keyes from the Covenant's clutches. Keyes reveals that the Covenant call the ring "Halo", and they believe it is some sort of weapon. The Chief is tasked with finding Halo's control room before the Covenant does. Once Cortana is inserted into the control room, she becomes alarmed and stays behind while she sends Master Chief to find Keyes. While searching for the Captain, Master Chief encounters the Flood, a parasitic organism that infects sentient life. The release prompts Halo's caretaker, the AI 343 Guilty Spark, to enlist the Chief's help in activating Halo's defenses. The Chief's activation of the ring from the Control Room is stopped by Cortana, who reveals that Halo's defenses do not kill Flood, but rather their food in an effort to starve them—meaning that activating the ring would wipe out all sentient life in the galaxy. To stop the Flood from spreading and Spark from activating the ring, Cortana devises a plan to detonate the crashed Autumn's engines and destroy Halo. Fighting through Flood, Covenant, and Guilty Spark's robotic Sentinels, the Chief manually destabilizes the Autumn's reactors and he and Cortana narrowly escape the destruction of the ring via a fighter.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Gameplay

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and the original, Halo: Combat Evolved, are nearly identical in gameplay and plot. The game is a first-person shooter with portions of vehicular combat taking place from a third-person perspective. The plot follows the player character and protagonist Master Chief, a cyborg supersoldier, as he fights the alien Covenant on the mysterious ancient ringworld Halo. Players are equipped with a recharging energy shield that absorbs damage; players also have health that can only be replenished by health packs scattered across the game's levels. A variety of human and alien weapons and vehicles can be used. When piloting vehicles, the game's perspective shifts to third-person.

Players can switch between the "classic" graphics of the original game and new graphics developed for the remake by pressing the Back button on the controller. The classic and new graphics are presented in high-definition, 16:9 widescreen compared to the original game's 480i resolution and 4:3 aspect ratio. The remastered graphics are also available in stereoscopic 3D for compatible televisions.

Additions to the gameplay include Xbox Live achievements, online cooperative gameplay, and hidden content: video terminals that provide additional plot information, and collectible skulls that modify gameplay when activated. Support for Xbox Kinect includes voice commands for video navigation, in-combat directives, and environment-scanning, which adds on-screen items to an encyclopedia called the Library.

The original Combat Evolved did not support online multiplayer, but players could play multiplayer locally via split-screen or System Link LAN. Anniversary adds revamped multiplayer and two-player co-op campaign support available both online via Xbox Live and offline locally. The game's multiplayer mode uses Halo: Reach's engine and features seven remakes of Combat Evolved and Halo 2 maps. Anniversary includes a new map based on Halo's eponymous campaign level for Firefight, a wave-based survival multiplayer game type where players and their allies fight enemy groups of scaling difficulty. Anniversary introduced artificially intelligent Firefight allies to the series.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary received generally positive reviews. On aggregate review website Metacritic, the game has a weighted score of 82 out of 100, based on 73 reviews from critics. On GameRankings, the game has an overall score of 81.92% based on reviews from 53 critics. The staff of Official Xbox Magazine praised the developers for preserving the original gameplay, avoiding "revisionist horrors" and Star Wars re-release moments. Brandon Justice of Electronic Gaming Monthly wrote for fans of the series, " is one of the best pieces of fan service our industry has ever produced, and you need to go buy it."

Reviewers disagreed on how the core gameplay of Combat Evolved, unaltered in Anniversary, had aged over ten years. Writing for GameSpot, editor Chris Watters opined that "the fundamental mechanics of the game have endured well," with responsive controls and challenging enemies. PALGN writer Adam Guetti agreed, praising "rock solid" controls and tight gameplay, while Mike Wilcox of the Sydney Morning Herald argued the anniversary edition " a game with a winning formula doesn't wither with age." IGN's Steven Hopper felt that the level design was dated, the repetitious environments making it easy for players to lose their bearings, and that vehicles handled poorly. Giant Bomb's Brad Shoemaker wrote that while the best aspects of the game remained, other aspects—such as the level design and fighting the Flood—were no less frustrating after ten years; Digital Spy's Matthew Reynolds echoed the sentiment, praising the game for presenting situations unsurpassed in later titles while faulting irregular checkpoints with increasing frustration.

The remastered visuals were positively received; reviewers such as The Inquirer's Chris Martin and The Escapist's Russ Pitts singled out the graphics-switch button for praise. The Guardian's Steve Boxer called the feature "utterly fascinating—a bit like like archaeology on your console," and said that the visual overhaul improved areas where the original game engine was weak, such as rendering outdoor environments. While praising most of the updates, Watters singled out the Flood as enemies he thought the original game envisioned better; "the simplicity of the classic look feels more sinister and alien," he wrote. Hamza Aziz of Destructoid enjoyed the visual updates but not some resulting audio–animation synching.

Critics had split opinions on Anniversary's additional features. The stereoscopic 3D effect was alternatively praised or dismissed. Matt Miller of Game Informer wrote that the feature "doesn't add anything to the experience", while Aziz complemented the feature as "fantastic", considering its use in Anniversary to be more subtle and pleasing than in other games. Aziz also complimented the narrative terminals, although he condemned the Kinect voice command support for being slower in combat than pressing buttons. Ben Kuchera of Ars Technica enjoyed the updates of the Halo maps in multiplayer, but criticized the inability to play multiplayer via four-person local split-screen as in the original game. Reynolds agreed with 343 Industries' choice to use Reach for Anniversary's multiplayer, writing that the map pack offered "a smart way of reintroducing players back into the game," as well as praising Halo's combat for offering an alternative to contemporary military shooters.

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