‘Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary’ Celebrates Master Chief’s Birthday

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Ten years ago, Halo proved gamers who thought first-person shooters would never excel on consoles wrong.

Bungie’s landmark sci-fi title brought the speed and accuracy needed for a fun FPS experience to the first Xbox and introduced players to a sweeping cosmic mythos that’s gone on to inspire books, comics and animation. Last year’s Halo: Reach marked the exit of original developer Bungie, as they transition to a new franchise as part of  a 10-year deal with Activision.

Already the clearinghouse for ancillary Halo products, Microsoft’s 343 Industries will be holding the development reins on upcoming games, too. They’ve worked with dev studio Saber Interactive to create Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary in celebration of the decade that’s passed since gamers first got to embody Master Chief.

(More on TIME.com: Photos: A Brief History Of Halo)

And 343 has already been working on the just-announced Halo 4, the first part of a new trilogy featuring the Last Spartan.

I got to see a behind-closed-doors demo of the much-rumored Anniversary at E3, led by Microsoft’s Dan Ayoub. The game features a completely reworked graphical style, as well as remastered music and sound. Check out the above video for more.

Multiplayer features will sport seven of the most popular maps in franchise history along with map support across different Halo games. You’ll see subtle changes in certain campaign levels like the infamous Library, where the sameness of the design led to players getting lost and frustrated. Anniversary addresses that by changing up the lighting to generate directional cues that guide the player along the level.

But 343′s head honcho Frank O’Connor says that the changes in Anniversary will be extremely minor, as they’re trying to stay as faithful to Bungie’s execution as possible.

The strongest evidence for that is the Classic Mode feature. At any time during the game, you’ll be able to revert the graphics to how the original version of Combat Evolved looked in 2001. It’s a cool feature and one that shows off just how far Halo and, video game graphics in general, have come in just 10 years.

The biggest change will be the implementation of the Terminals first seen in Halo 3. These information stations held details about the backstory of the Halo universe, which unfolded in huge blocks of text. The Terminals in Anniversary will spool out info in cutscenes. What’s more, O’Connor says if you visit them all, you’ll get insight into the plot and setting of Halo 4.

You’ll get to revisit the game where all things Cortana and Chief began when Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary comes out on November 15th.

More on TIME.com:

Techland’s E3 2011 Coverage

Photos: A Brief History Of Halo

Frank O’Connor, 343 Industries and the Future of Halo

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