After a nail-biting, 10-year wait, fans of the Halo franchise finally have a new game to beat while they bide their time for 2012’s highly anticipated “Halo 4.”
Perhaps most importantly, players can look forward to stepping back into the armored boots of the Master Chief, protagonist of the original Halo trilogy.
For those looking for the next cutting-edge shooter to round out their collection, they’ll find that “Halo: Anniversary” is very “Spartan” when it comes to features. Missing from the game are the dual-wielding of Halo 2, the power-ups of Halo 3, and the night vision of “Halo: ODST.”
“Halo: Anniversary” wasn’t intended to replace the previous Halo games – it was made to hit players with a roundhouse kick of nostalgia.
While players are reliving their memories of the original release of “Halo: Combat Evolved” – or perhaps being introduced to Halo for the very first time, they’ll be pleased to experience the new game’s revamped graphics, re-mastered audio and redesigned characters.
Players will feel more connected to the environment during gameplay than in other shooters as the field often contains realistic rain and snow and is pockmarked with bone-shattering explosions and merciless enemies.
These gameplay changes were made possible by a two-part replacement of the game engine. The campaign uses the Saber3D engine, which it shares with Sierra’s “TimeShift,” while the multiplayer uses the same system as 2010’s “Halo: Reach.” The multiplayer offers a variety of level choices, with both original and new maps from Halo and Halo 2. Additionally, the Firefight mode makes a return, with a level inspired by the campaign mode, operating much like “Firefight from Halo: Reach” but with a few changes.
Between fierce encounters with intelligent enemies, players can catch a breather and partake in another Halo pastime – finding the game’s Easter eggs, cleverly tucked away in obscure places by the designers. Some of the Easter eggs are purely for racking up XBOX 360 achievements, while others can tweak the gameplay when activated from the menus.
In retrospect, “Halo: Anniversary” is a truly solid game for diehard fans, despite the fact that it may leave newer players wishing for more. But when the bells and whistles are left out, players will see Halo’s true soul – strong gameplay, a good story and an alien-blasting good time.