I knew I wanted Halo Anniversary because, well, I have every other Halo title; I like the Halo series, for all of you newcomers. I have played all titles multiple times for reasons I cannot fully explain. Wonderful controls, excellent music and atmosphere, story–sure, those are three big reasons right there, but there is something else to it.  I don’t get bored when it comes to Halo, I just don’t.  Because of this, purchasing Halo Anniversary was a foregone conclusion. The question became, “when?”. I, like so many others, already owned Halo CE for the Xbox when Anniversary came out, so the prospect of paying full retail price ($40) for a game I already owned was not an idea I relished. But seeing the game at $20, I was fucking on it fast. The question then remained, was/is Halo Anniversary worth $20, let alone $40? No.

First, the good.

The remastered graphics look amazing, like a basket-of-chicken-wings amazing. I love the amount of detail added to the most subtle of areas, like grooves cut into the walls of the Library or the swamp’s meticulously-designed trees. The ability to switch back and forth between graphics new and old is a nice touch; I found myself at various points stopping all progress to see what the environment looked like ten years ago. It was often not good–a true example of where video game graphics have gone in just a decade.

Also added to this Halo birthday present was the inclusion of skulls and terminals, a nice addition for the completists (like myself) who bought this game looking to dive back in to Installation 04. The terminals add to the Halo-verse’s canon with some nifty, Halo Legends-style animation FMVs. They delve into the Forerunner mythology more than other games have to this point, perhaps foreshadowing (or is it 4-shadowing) Halo 4.

Then, the not-so-good.

I, for whatever reason, had high hopes for this remake. Reach’s multiplayer comes equipped on-disc, but multiplayer isn’t really my thing–plus I had already owned Reach. I had hoped Anniversary would feature some of the small details that really shone in past 360 Halo titles, like the meta game, or Reach’s challenges, only geared towards Halo CE. Seriously, how fucking hard could it have been to put these features in the game? The architecture was already laid out from games past–throw it on Anniversary and be done with it. What a small bone to throw those who invested money on Halo CE…again.

The other flaw with this game isn’t really a new flaw, though it is glaring after ten years. The controls were revolutionary in 2001 and are still tight today, as long as you aren’t travelling via Ghost or Banshee. Wow, I forgot how bad those things controlled, my memories suppressed by ten years’ worth of fictional, futuristic vehicle improvements. You are also thrusted back into the monotony of some of the level design, like aboard the Covenant ship with its MANY identical corridors or the Library with its MANY identical corridors.

Kinect functionality, as you probably expected, is wholly unnecessary. The voice commands are sluggish, with a call for “Grenade” requiring ‘much more’ (hyperbole) time than a push of a button can accomplish. The only useful Kinect option is the newly-added environmental scan, much in the same vein as Metroid Prime’s scan visor. By commanding Kinect to “Analyze” a blue filter takes over Master Chief’s HUD and allows you to scan weapons, vehicles, and enemies for more information later. While it is something to strive for in scanning all available objects it is hardly a saving grace for the Kinect functionality. And, as far as I can tell, the ability to analyze does not exist if one doesn’t have a Kinect to bark orders at. Maybe it works differently with no Kinect hooked up??

Awesomeness-By-Volume (ABV): 160 Proof (80%)

I still love Halo, and I have greatly enjoyed running back down Nostalgia Boulevard with Halo CE Anniversary, but there is no way this game was worth $40 unless you had never played Halo before or didn’t already own it. I really feel like 343 Industries missed a great opportunity with the lack of a meta game and Reach-like challenges; the graphical upgrades and the addition of skulls & terminals are great, but those were expected. Anniversary pairs best with a frosty, draft-poured Miller Lite, the old stand-by. Both are what you should expect them to be, relics that are still enjoyed in modernity, but nothing that will reinvent the industry.

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