Gamescom 2011: Halo: Anniversary Impressions

Old meets new in Halo: Anniversary, the shiny Halo remake with on-the-fly switching between "classic" and HD visuals.

Halo: Anniversary is an Xbox 360 reworking of a 10-year-old Xbox game, so visual improvement is a given. But in it, you can switch between the old and new graphics on the fly, and when you see the "classic" view of the swamp-set campaign level 343 Guilty Spark flip into the new high-definition version, the contrast is astounding: rich textures pop in, shafts of light shoot in through the tree canopy, and the draw distance explodes outward. It looks like a myopic Master Chief is getting fitted for his first pair of glasses.

It's not just about upping resolutions, though. Executive producer Dan Ayoub insists they "didn't just want to take the game, make it HD, and slap it in a box." Instead, he says, the mission statement is to re-create the feeling you got the first time you played Halo. For Halo: Anniversary, that means splicing old Halo DNA into a new graphics engine and audio engine. To preserve the feel of the 2001 title, says Ayoub, chunks of the original code lurk behind the snazzy HD textures and remastered sound effects. The musical score has been rerecorded with a new orchestra and audio expertise from Skywalker Sound, for instance, but the original magnum appears unchanged. It's "still crazy and overpowered," says Ayoub.

The multiplayer similarly offers a mix of old and new. Well-trodden multiplayer maps like Beaver Creek and Damnation have been remade for Anniversary, with four more yet to be unveiled. A map designed for Firefight, the Horde-like mode in recent Halos, is also due for an unveiling (look out for news from Halo Fest at the Penny Arcade Expo at the end of the month, perhaps). You can now play the campaign cooperatively over Live instead of schlepping your machine to a friend's houses for system linking. Terminals, the backstory fillers from Halo 3, also make a kind of return; now these Forerunner items deliver video rather than text. Ayoub says these will also contain hints at what's to come in Halo 4, the full sequel announced at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo.

Because it's the anniversary of the console release coming up, 343 Industries isn't yet talking about a PC release for Anniversary. But when the game does arrive for the Xbox 360 in November, this "love letter to fans of Halo" will come with a sub-premium price tag (around £34 or $40) for those less keen to shell out for something they already bought--even if that was 10 years ago.

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Discussion

18 comments
Chozn275
Chozn275

Are the guns from reach going to be available for MP in this game or is it only the original guns from Halo 1? I like that the armor kits are available, but I really would like to be able to use guns from Reach as well.

IonBlaster4
IonBlaster4

@E-i-N-e @kyle756 , its possible, but I doubt it. I forget where, but I remember reading in a article that Halo CE anniversary and Halo 4 have been in development for quite some time now. They aren't making games in 1 year and shipping them off. Now, if Halo 5 is released 1 year after Halo 4, then I would begin to worry. Plus, this is pretty much a 7 map pack addon for Reach. The multiplayer for both games will be linked, so they will be playing with eachother, plus, if you have Reach and just want the multiplayer maps, there will be DLC.

kyle756
kyle756

@E-i-N-e I agree, they'll end up doing to Halo what Activision is doing to Call of Duty and had done to Guitar Hero

E-i-N-e
E-i-N-e

@COLDFIRE25 Because they're just pumping game after game after game. Ever heard of having your moment in the sun. I would rather Halo finishes on a good note then for 343 Industries to make more Halo games and for it to become bland and repetitive. I want Halo to be remembered as a good game.

COLDFIRE25
COLDFIRE25

@E-i-N-e How can you call yourself a "Big" Halo fan yet you wish they made less Halo games..?

penpusher
penpusher

bit disappointed that 343's first halo is a remake of bungies master peice ... well suppose its like dipping your toes in the water, if it goes well it could be good from there

Mar044
Mar044

looks over at PC version of halo 1 and 2 for pc....thanks for forgetting the pc people Microsoft.....

Deadeye233
Deadeye233

@marco1k1 343 Studios is just Bungie without being a part of Microsoft. Anyways, looks fantastical!!!!

JohnIndigo
JohnIndigo

$40 dollars? I'm glad they aren't over pricing the game!

fend_oblivion
fend_oblivion

Swapping between the original and the new graphics on the fly... wow. The art styl e of the game looks beautiful.

marco1k1
marco1k1

I'm excited for Halo Anniversary but also... well kind of like 'meh' as well because its a remake and that is cool and all but it seems like 343's attempt to say that "we can build a game just like this classic as well!" I have some faith in them but its certainly not as much as I had in Bungie. I hope they don't mess up Halo 4, however it'd be impossible to mess up Halo Anniversary because you can't really mess up boosting the graphics.

Skargamer
Skargamer

lol, at the first 2 comments. Can't wait for this! Wasted literally a weeks worth of my life playing Halo Reach online.

E-i-N-e
E-i-N-e

I'm a big Halo fan but I thought the series should have stopped at Halo 3. Now that they're making a whole new saga and a remake of the first game it seems a bit dodgy to me. Hopefully I am proven wrong however.

jasonzilla11
jasonzilla11

I never thought Halo 4 was gonna be coming. That's some pretty big responsibility for a completely new developer. But it's a good sign that they are starting off easy, remaking an original.

gashoe13
gashoe13

@S-181 That's the whole point.

S-181
S-181

nothing new here