But don't let the excellent remastered presentation stop you from playing in classic mode from time to time. Many of the areas, especially the indoor spaces, hold up impressively well, thanks to the great artistic design. It's fun to find the visual flourishes that have remained virtually unchanged, though it's definitely worth seeking out some of the new elements, including a control panel that indicates John-117 wasn't always the only Spartan on The Pillar of Autumn. Unfortunately, you can't make the switch during cutscenes, but it's delightful to be able to do so at any other time during the campaign.
6341764NoneJetpacks make things a bit more crowded in the Creek.
Classic mode is not available in the online competitive multiplayer, however. There are only six maps, including five from the 13 original Xbox maps and one from the six exclusive PC maps. Though many of the 13 missing maps have already been remastered or reenvisioned for other Halo games, there are some conspicuous absences that fans will undoubtedly miss. The maps here have been given the same careful grooming as the campaign, so Hang 'Em High now features a gorgeous exterior view, and there are some great wintery touches in Prisoner. The multiplayer is integrated with the architecture from Halo: Reach, which means your rank and ridiculous armory accoutrements will transfer into the action. Players who own Reach can join Anniversary players online by downloading the Anniversary Map Pack for $14.99 (1,200 Microsoft points). Matches include the expected gameplay modes, though whenever you see the Anniversary descriptor, you know you're getting retro weapons without any armor abilities.
Combat Evolved Anniversary also gives players access to Forge and Theater mode. The latter lets you view replays of your matches, capture screenshots, edit clips, and then share your creations online. The former is a map-editing mode that lets you modify the multiplayer maps, overhaul maps to your liking, create your own gameplay variants, or simply goof around with the extensive abilities at your disposal. There's also a new Firefight map inspired by the second level of the campaign, which offers the same gleeful cooperative Covenant-slaying carnage that this mode has offered in the past two Halo games.
For those with the required hardware, there are two other features that mark Combat Evolved Anniversary as a modern release. Playing in properly calibrated 3D is a pleasure, but using the Kinect voice commands is more like a sideshow. Action commands like "grenade" and "reload" are unusable because of their delay, while menu items like toggling 3D or adjusting brightness simply open up the possibility for mischievous friends to meddle with your play time. By activating the analyze function, you turn your worldview into a blue-tinted blur. You can then scan highlighted elements like enemies, weapons, and vehicles to unlock encyclopedia descriptions of them in the library. This could be mildly interesting to fans that enjoy reading up on the Halo universe, though folks who don't own a Kinect will have to resort to searching the Internet to get their information fix.
Find the new terminals and learn more about your casually genocidal acquaintance, 343 Guilty Spark.
Regardless of what hardware you own, Anniversary is an impressive remastering. It's worth noting that Halo: Combat Evolved is still available for download from Xbox Live for $14.99, but if you're in the mood to replay this classic, Anniversary is absolutely worth the $39.99 asking price. Though the single-player and multiplayer modes will all feel familiar to anyone who has played a Halo game before, the signature action of the series is still as exciting and expertly tuned as it was 10 years ago. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is a remarkably well-done update for a game that has deservedly earned an honored place in gaming history.