Switch it down
Just as The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition lets you switch between 'new' and 'old looks, so Halo Anniversary Edition allows you to flip between the new and original engines at any point in the game. Simply press the back button and a decade's worth of graphical advancements are undone in the blink of any eye.
Bay for blood
Obvious throughout, those advances are nonetheless most apparent in Halo's exteriors. Take the swamp in the level '343 Guilty Spark', for example. Switch to retro view and it's noticeably claustrophobic and lifeless. Muddily textured trees and mounds punctuate the barren gloom, while a static tree canopy barely protrudes through the surrounding fog.
A quick switch back to the Reach engine and the swamp is transformed into lush, verdant wetlands, where bioluminescent plants light the darkest corners with a panoply of colour and everywhere long grasses and tree branches sway in the breeze.
Cave of forgotten beams
Strikingly apparent outside, it's actually inside that benefits most from the overhaul. Most criticism levelled at the original centred on its repetitive interiors - nowhere more justifiably so than in 'The Library' and 'Silent Cartographer' levels.
In truth, the new engine does little more than paper over existing wallpaper, but it's transformative effect is nonetheless remarkable. Subtle shades of lighting break the monotonous architecture, while neon wall glyphs and additional floor markers disrupt the incessant déjà vu and minimise the backtracking that plagued Halo's most repetitive sections.
Damson in distress
Of course, a graphical overhaul counts for nothing if the gameplay doesn't stand the test of time. For the most part, it remains as peerless as ever. The evolving storyline - no mere pretext for absurd amounts of violence, no cardboard character cutscenes - continues to grip as a good sci-fi novel might.
And, despite years of innovation and advancement, no shooter has quite matched Halo's gunplay. Its narrow focus might seem rudimentary compared with the complex narratives, objectives and other ancillary distractions of modern shooters, but Halo was always unabashed in relying on scintillating sandbox combat alone.
Next page: Déjà vuvuzela
I am very surprised to see that there are no comparison screenshots showing old and new graphics, in this review of a game that is only really an upgrade from old to new graphics. Why the omission?
See, how this works is people do some work to make a product, which they then put up for sale. People see the product, decide whether they think its worth the money, and if so, they buy it. If not, they don't. What exactly is your problem with this?
No price has been mentioned, so you can't be objecting because its too expensive, so presumably you're offended at the idea of someone charging any money at all for the work that they've been doing. Perhaps they should should have done it all for free? Yes, I can see where I've been going wrong here, demanding a salary for my time. I should work for my company for free, live on the street and rummage in bins for food, that would be far more socially responsible.
> Are the PC games worth it?
Personally I don't think so, but YMMV if you can pick up a cheap copy.
The things that made it a great console game tend to work against it on the PC, it just comes of and dumbed down and generic.
The second one is just flat out shitty on the PC. The controls are appalling, the graphics are terrible and it's about as stable as an upturned pyramid.
Wait a minute, there was a price mentioned. Ooops. The point still still stands, though. I probably wouldn't pay that much for it myself, since I played the original, but for someone who hasn't yet played the original, and want to see the start of the story, their choice is the ancients graphics version for a fiver, or shiny new one for £30. Most people in that situation would plump for the latter option, and they would be sensible to do so. I've tried playing Halo 2 on the XBox 360, didn't finish the first level because the graphics were so shit, compared to what I was used to. It does matter.
Quick! get a comment in about all the playstation exclusives coming out.