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Halo Anniversary: Hands-On Preview

Ten years ago it was widely believed that it was impossible to have a truly great First Person Shooter on a gaming consol. Halo was the game that proved it could be done.  With a control scheme and design choices that became industry standards, Halo Combat Evolved indisputably earned its place as a classic. Now, ten years to the day of the first game’s launch, 343Industries is releasing an enhanced edition.  Our correspondent got some hands-on with it at the New York Comic Con and here’s what we’ve gleaned about Master Chief’s rebirth.


It will be more than just an HD upgrade, for starters. Players will be able to use an HD version of the original graphics, but there is also the option to switch (at any moment with the touch of a button) to a completely re-mastered set of graphics that offer a drastic improvement to the classic look.  While the visual overhaul is a nice addition for fans who’ve been playing their old disks at 480p on a 4x3 aspect ratio, this edition offers what players have been clamoring for since the original Xbox arrived ten years ago: Online support.


Until now, the only people who have experienced the original Halo with online play are those who bought the PC version (Or who tried the “Tunneling” software sometimes used for the last console generation).  Now those original levels can be played properly.


Our NYCC correspondent got to play a round of Team Slayer on High Noon, the enhanced version of Hang ‘em High.  The multiplayer feels exactly like Halo Reach, and that’s because it’s running on the Reach engine (The single-player is a modified version of the original engine).  For Halo fans trying to reclaim the old game, this might be a disappointment, but Reach fans who see this Anniversary Edition as a map pack, it’s that and more.  There are six re-mastered maps from the original Halo and Halo 2. Each has both a classic, and re-mastered mode to satisfy old-school players and Reach fans.


There will be an ODST-style Firefight map (According to federal regulations which require every Xbox game to have a “Fight off the endless Horde” mode).  Fans of the original game will recall that there were a few sequences in the early parts of Halo where Master Chief had to defend positions from wave after wave of Covenant dropships, so this Firefight map will feel quite natural.


In addition to the head-to-head and Firefight, Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary will also allow online-co-op, much like the local co-op from the original.


Other features include Kinect support which might draw in some new players to Halo’s world, but will likely be ignored by true shooter fans.  It allows players to use voice commands, like throwing grenades, but won’t be used for things like running, jumping and aiming.


The most notable Kinect feature is the “Scan” which will function much like the visor from Metroid Prime. Those without the Kinect can gain similar intel through Terminals scattered around the levels.


Halo buffs know that Bungie put a ridiculous amount of detail into the setting and backstory of Halo, and there is a fabled Codex locked deep beneath Bungie headquarters that details everything there is to know about the Halo universe. Halo Anniversary edition will finally let players learn many of these secrets about their ringworld.


Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary will cost $39.99.  Check back with us for our full review when the game launches on November 15th.


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