Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary in Reviews

Microsoft's original Halo remake launches today, so how's Master Chief's re-baked maiden voyage faring with critics?

  • Share
  • Read Later

Here we are, 10 years later, six games into a multibillions franchise and a seventh (Halo 4) in sight. Make that eight games if we count this anniversary remake, out today, which slaps a little 2011 high-res lacquer on 2001’s low-res visual tech.

Let’s start this party by fixing that name, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. Can we just call it Halo? That’s what we called the original. “Combat evolved” makes it sound like something you’d find in the shovelware bin, even if it accurately reflects what Bungie’s original 2001 Xbox game did for first-person shooters.

(MORE: ‘Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary’ Celebrates Master Chief’s Birthday)

So far the reaction to it’s about what you’d expect for a remake, mostly happy words with a few quibbles here and there about the multiplayer maps (tacked on, offered as separate downloads for less coin), Kinect support, or that the level design’s showing its age in places. But if you live and die by (non-normalized) score averages, an 83 out of 100 isn’t too shabby.

Top of the pack, Edge gives the anniversary edition a 90 out of 100, pointing out the level design flaws, but arguing the game’s virtues remain intact:

What all this faithfulness makes for, then, is a familiar game – yet, for those who’ve spent more time with Reach, ODST and Halo 3 over the last few years, a surprisingly unfamiliar one. There’s purity to the original Halo that even Bungie failed to recapture, a magic conjured by a mixture of a few simple ingredients – easy access to grenades and melee attacks, rechargeable shields, the dual weapon limit – which, when introduced to foes as formidable as the Elites, suddenly sparks into life.

Handing out a respectable four of five stars, the Guardian‘s almost as upbeat, arguing that:

It would be idiotic to assert that Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary is an essential purchase: it’s a curiosity, aimed at the first-person shooter cognoscenti and Halo completists. But if, for whatever reason, you missed it first time around, prepare to be impressed… It’s a mighty fine game – for my money, the best in the Halo franchise – that deserves to accumulate a cult following. Microsoft should be applauded for having the balls (and the money) to exhume it in such a magnificent manner.

VideoGamer.com’s underwhelmed by the game’s Kinect integration, but gives the game an 8 out of 10 for the campaign alone.

Bungie’s iconic title was clearly an ambitious project, and this modern remastering sufficiently highlights what it was that made the original Halo: Combat Evolved such a landmark gaming moment to begin with. With Halo 4 perched on the horizon, now is a perfect time to look back before the series heads forwards.

And 1UP’s still respectable 75 out of 100 actually celebrates Kinect support while only lamenting the predictability of the remake.

Anniversary edition is a collection of some of the best pieces of Halo. It revives a classic campaign that sports a fresh look. The multiplayer package adds classic maps into Reach’s larger framework and re-enables classic CE behaviors for multiplayer fans to revisit the original, and even Kinect brings something unique to the table. As a fan of the series I relish the opportunity to revisit Halo’s campaign; I only wish more attention was paid outside of the audio-visual package. While remarkable work was done on that front, a Halo remake deserved more.

MORE: Talking Past, Present and ‘Halo 4′ with 343 Industries’ Frank O’Connor

Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.