Revisiting the past can be a dangerous thing to do. Watching clips of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon on YouTube recently sullied fond memories of our youth due to the shoddy animation, lame jokes and predictable storylines. Did we really think the Ninja Turtles were cool? The fact that whole carrier bags full of action figures are slowly decomposing in the loft suggests so.
However, going back to Halo – in celebration of its 10th birthday – is like catching up with an old pal. One that introduced you to new things. We are of course metaphorically talking about the wealth of new ideas Halo bought to the first person genre – the two weapon limit, the rechargeable shield and those massive sprawling levels that still impress in size even now. Also remaining impressive are the both the enemy AI and the incredible amount of speech samples.
Predictably, the good bits are still good. We love mowing down grunts with Master Chief’s ridiculously over-powered pistol, sticking plasma grenades onto enemies and shooting banshees out of the sky and watching the pilots fall to the ground. But just as the good bits are still good, the bad bits are still bad. The Library level remains tedious while the amount of backtracking near the end of the game stands out more than ever.
While the visuals have been improved, mostly with recycled textures from Halo: Reach, it remains the same old Halo underneath. Quite literally – press the back button on the controller and you can see the game in 2001-o-vision. The amount of work that 343 Industries has put into bringing the visuals up to the current standard is commendable. The guns are more detailed with paint chips and scratches now visible while the outdoor levels have more vegetation. The Silent Cartographer level is a notable highlight with redrawn sandy beaches and a bright blue sky that’s seldom seen in games of this ilk. The music has also been re-mastered and the option is there to change it back to the OST if you wish.
Those hoping for new things to look out for will be pleased – there are skulls to find, which are used to alter settings such as making explosions twice as deadly, and also terminals to discover. The terminals unlock CGI clips narrated by Installation 04’s Monitor and help to elaborate on elements from the storyline.
Multi-player is taken care of by the Halo: Reach engine. The menus and options are identical; it’s intended to be a means of extending your Halo: Reach online experience, carrying over your previously created character, XP and playlists. There’s a new Firefight map, which features a segment of the second level of the campaign, and you can still access the Forge level designer.
If you’ve finished the original Halo on Legendary countless times before and are worried about a lack of challenge then the achievements will cater for your need to have your combat skills tested. They’re for things like finishing certain levels on Legendary without picking up any health packs or without picking up any new weapons.
Some may not agree with paying out almost full price for a 10 year old game with a new lick of polygon paint, but there’s no denying that it’s still a brilliant experience. In a perfect world all videogame remakes would have this amount of love and attention lavished onto them.