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Halo CE Anniversary Review

Halo CE Anniversary

Release Date: November 15th, 2011
Genre(s): First Person Shooter
Publisher(s): Microsoft Studios
Developer(s): 343 Industries/Certain Affinity/Sabre
Multiplayer: 2-16 Player
Co-op: 2 Player Online/Offline

Halo CE Anniversary Review

Posted by Peter Carpenter | 16 Nov 2011 |

Go back to where it all began.

The year was 2001, and Microsoft had just released a new gaming console called Xbox. The first game I put in was this sci-fi shooter called Halo, and my life was changed forever. I can remember playing 4 player split screen multiplayer with Scott and some of our friends all night long, eating Timbits (mini-donuts) and having the most fun we had ever had with a video game. Fast forward to 2011 and 343 Industries are taking over from the creator of Halo, Bungie Studios, and have released Halo CE Anniversary on the 10 year anniversary of the original game. Do they give it the makeover it deserves without messing anything up? Yes, and no.

Single Player

343i have been faithful to the single player campaign and left it mostly untouched, except for the major graphics overhaul thanks to a new engine by Saber Interactive. The rest of the game including the story, gameplay, and features remains the same. The new graphics are great, and while they may not beat out other new games this year, they sure are the best we’ve seen in a remake. Since we are back in the original Halo CE story, that means we are Master Chief again, and it’s been far too long since we killed some grunts with him. With ODST and Reach, we played as new characters so it’s nice to hang out with the Chief again. You just can’t beat the old crew of Chief, Johnson and Cortana.

Since the gameplay is the same as it was 10 years ago, a few things don’t seem quite as good as they used to. For instance, it’s quite noticeable the first time you get behind the wheel that the Warthog has been tweaked and refined quite a bit over the years, and the handling was pretty bad 10 years ago. There are also a few things like campaign scoring and medals (Double kill, Headshot, etc) that have made the game better over the years, that going back to a time without them, just isn’t as fun. I get that they wanted to stay true to the original game, and I don’t want them go crazy and remake everything, but they could have added in a few of these features from more recent Halo games to bring Halo CE up to the current standards. You can add the right things to a remake not ruin it.

It looks a bit better.

Halo CE Anniversary also comes equipped with a set of optional voice commands delivered via Kinect. They mostly consist of being able to yell at your Xbox to change options like subtitles and brightness, and there are a few in-game commands such as “Grenade”, “Reload” or “Flashlight, if you’re too lazy to hit those buttons. The main Kinect feature is the Library. During play, you can say “Analyze” and the game will go into a detective type mode that reminds me of the Batman Arkham series. When you see a weapon, vehicle or downed enemy you can say “Scan” and this will add the object to the Library. You can then go into the library and read all about the objects you have scanned and even rotate them using Kinect gestures. The scanning and library functions are a cool addition for those who are really into the lore and back story of the Halo universe. The only drawback is that you have to have a Kinect sensor to access this feature. That seems a little unfair to me, and they could have let you use the controller to navigate the library as well.

The last thing to note is the inclusion of hidden skulls and terminals, that weren’t in the original game. The hidden skulls can be found on each level, and can be quite hard to find. Once you find them you can activate them to change different variables of the game, such as Fog which causes you to lose your Hud, or Iron which restarts the level if you die in solo or the last checkpoint in co-op. There are also some fun ones like the classic Grunt Birthday Party and new ones such as Bandanna that gives you infinite ammo. The terminals they added are also found hidden in each level, and when activated play a cryptic cut scene, from what we can tell, to lead up to Halo 4. Some of them give obvious references to Halo 4 and some are so cryptic we have no idea what they are about. Still, it’s fun to find them and soak up any info we can to tease Halo 4.

The campaign is still fun, and it’s great to be able to replay it in HD, even if it feels like going backwards with a few features from newer Halo games not present. If you are like us, the real reason you are here lies in the co-op and multiplayer.

He's baaaaaack!



Halo CE Anniversary supports up to 16 player online multiplayer via the Reach interface and engine. It wouldn’t be Halo without multiplayer and since the original Halo only included split screen and system link multiplayer, it’s great to be able to jump online and stick people in the face on some classic maps from both Halo and Halo 2.

There are 6 multiplayer and 1 firefight map that have been redone graphically with some slight layout/object changes as well. The maps still feel as good as they did before and I am having a blast reliving the old split screen days on some of my favorite maps such as Beaver Creek and Hang’Em High. Since the multiplayer runs on the Reach Engine, your rank and stats are carried over directly from your time playing Reach, and vice versa if you go back to Reach multiplayer. This is good and bad. I like that regardless which game I’m playing I still work towards the same rank, but I also think it could have been fun to start over from scratch and do it all over again. I guess this is going to differ between gamers and will probably have people prefer both sides. I don’t really hold it against them, but it’s worth noting. It’s also worth noting that included with each copy of the Halo Anniversary is a redeemable code for the Anniversary Map pack which lets you download all the maps to play when using the Halo Reach disc, so you don’t have to swap back and forth.

The original Halo only supported split-screen campaign co-op, but now you can grab a friend and jump online in the campaign together. It’s great to add this online co-op, but every Halo game since Halo 2 has included 4 player co-op campaign, so this also feels like going backwards in a bad way, and I really wish they had updated it to include 4 player. Sure this would have taken more time, but it’s something we have grown to love about Halo, and rely on for always supporting 4 player co-op. It just feels wrong to not have 4 player co-op in a Halo game.

Even with the flaws I feel it has, the multiplayer is great and the co-op (even as 2 player only) is still fun.


The achievements are pretty standard for a Halo game with ones for completing each level, beating the game on the different difficulties, which is quite hard on legendary, even with 2 players. Then there are a few for doing specific tasks on certain levels, and then some for finding the new hidden skulls and terminals they added. The thing to note is that since the multiplayer runs on Halo Reach, there are no extra multiplayer achievements. When you play multiplayer, the achievements switch over to Halo Reach so you can earn them for that game instead.

Closing Comments

The Halo series is one my favorites and the original Halo was one of the games that really sucked me into video games on a console, so this trip down memory lane was fun, but bumpy at times. Personally, I wish there were a few gameplay features added to bring it up to par with current Halo games, and the 2 player only co-op leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Still, Halo CE Anniversary is a must have for any hardcore Halo fan and should help extend the life of playing Halo online until Halo 4 comes out.

Final Score: 8.5/10


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  • Jesus

    Halo is definitely on of the greatest games available and I am very happy that 343 Industries has remade the first game in the series; Halo: Combat Evolved. I cannot wait to see the new improved graphics, so I already put this game at the top of my Blockbuster queue list so I can get it as soon as possible. As a DISH Network customer/employee, it’s nice to get a break from TV, so Blockbuster Movie Pass is a good way to mix things up. Blockbuster Movie Pass is definitely better than Netflix, especially since they are losing content along with their contract with Starz. With Blockbuster I can rent movies and games with no late fees and I get access to online content and new channels through DISH.


Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary Preview

Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary Preview

Posted by Travis Price | 19 Sep 2011 | 1 Comment
He’s Baaaa-ack!


Halo CE Anniversary Playlist and Map Pack Details

Halo CE Anniversary Playlist and Map Pack Details

Posted by Scott Grant | 10 Nov 2011 | 1 Comment
Sticking with Reach? 343 still has your back!
Halo CE Anniversary Achievements Revealed

Halo CE Anniversary Achievements Revealed

Posted by Peter Carpenter | 14 Oct 2011 |
They always have fun achievements.
Halo CE Anniversary Solitary Map Screenshots

Halo CE Anniversary Solitary Map Screenshots

Posted by Scott Grant | 29 Sep 2011 |
This Prisoner is getting a makeover.
New Halo CE Anniversary Screens

New Halo CE Anniversary Screens

Posted by Scott Grant | 30 Aug 2011 |
A still look at the upcoming multiplayer map re-makes.

E32011: Halo CE Anniversary Details

Posted by Peter Carpenter | 06 Jun 2011 |
Go back to where it all began.


halo ce boxartlg
halo ce anniversary
halo ce anniversary chief
Halo_CE_Anniversary_Solitary_01-1 (1)


Halo CE Anniversary Campaign Trailer

Halo CE Anniversary Campaign Trailer

Posted by Scott Grant | 01 Nov 2011 |
Here we go again.
Halo CE Anniversary “Behind the Scenes” Video

Halo CE Anniversary “Behind the Scenes” Video

Posted by Peter Carpenter | 17 Oct 2011 |
A special look at the campaign.
Halo CE: Anniversary Weapons ‘Then and Now’ Video

Halo CE: Anniversary Weapons ‘Then and Now’ Video

Posted by Scott Grant | 06 Oct 2011 |
Guns are loud!
Halo CE Anniversary Multiplayer Trailer

Halo CE Anniversary Multiplayer Trailer

Posted by Peter Carpenter | 29 Aug 2011 | 5 Comments
Get a behind the scenes look
Halo: Combat Evolved Campaign Demo

Halo: Combat Evolved Campaign Demo

Posted by Scott | 22 Jul 2011 |
This isn’t just a resolution upgrade.
Halo: CE Anniversary Pre-Order Bonus

Halo: CE Anniversary Pre-Order Bonus

Posted by Scott | 18 Jul 2011 |
Grunts get no love.