Review: Halo Combat Evolved: Anniversary

But seriously, do you have any idea just how much games have changed in the last decade? No? You should play Halo Combat Evolved: Anniversary.

For starters, what’s even going on here? Honestly, I’ve no idea. The game just kind of gets going, with no real narrative exposition whatsoever outside of some inscrutable references to this, that, and something else about something, and WHAT AM I EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE DOING BECAUSE THERE’S NO PROPER OBJECTIVES LOG OR MINIMAP ICON, LOL. Remember Unreal 2?  Pretty much that, but without the flak cannon.


There’s probably a reasonable argument to be made that we’re all getting a whole lot stupider as a species (rantrantrantHalf-Life, etc.), but honestly, if I don’t even know why I’m driving around this planet or why I’m so much taller than everybody else, I’m not sure why I should care. I mean, do you know why games have become increasingly linear? Because non-linear games are kind of vague and, actually, a bit rubbish. All the nooks and crannies in the uncharted universe won’t make up for gigantic, bleeding plot holes and fifteen minutes of wandering around, wondering where I should be and why nothing’s happening and oh, haha, I was going backwards and didn’t realise it because this entire level is a copy-pasted reiteration of its first three metres, isn’t that clever, no it’s not.

At this point, I should probably confess – oh, scandal! – that I’ve not played the original Halo: Combat Evolved. This puts me, I think, at both an advantage and a disadvantage. On the first point then, I’m not blinded by a cloudburst of rosy-tinted nostalgia, and on the second, I’m not blinded by a cloudburst of rosy-tinted nostalgia. I’m sure it doesn’t help that the ad hoc engine put together to develop the game looks like it was imported from 1995, with knee-high obstacles and everything.

Which is all the more inscrutable considering that the multiplayer component is built into Halo: Reach instead, but included on the same disc. I’ve no idea, either.

The game features seven multiplayer maps, including six regular versus mode maps and one Firefight map, and bolts onto your existing Halo: Reach Service Record. There are also new Anniversary multiplayer playlists that support the original game’s grossly overpowered (read: totally awesome) magnum handcannon, as well as a cycle of the old/new maps that, if nothing else, provide a much needed respite from Team SWAT on Pinnacle.

It’s rather hard to recommend this to anybody but the most hardcore sentimentalists, and even then, you might find that it doesn’t quite reconcile itself with whatever it is you remember. For everybody else, maybe give this one a hyperspace jump unless you stopped playing games altogether in 2001 and want to get back into it. Slowly.

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