THE INQUIRER got an exclusive hand-on experience of the upcoming anniversary edition of Halo and we liked what we saw.
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is a re-mastered version of the 10 year old classic that so many gamers know and love. As Dennis Reese, producer at 343 Industries put it, "It's more than just a new coat of paint."
The game has been built using original Halo code and attaching updated graphics and audio engines. This means the game is now in full high definition and the classic mode is now in a 16:9 aspect ratio rather than 4:3.
A couple of features that the original Halo didn't have but have been added now are terminal videos, skulls and achievements. Two player co-op mode can be accessed over Xbox Live so you don't need to play on the same console and TV.
We really enjoyed our time playing on Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and we particularly liked the unique feature where you can switch, mid-game, back to how the old Halo looked. This was originally used as a tool during development but stuck once the team realised how cool it was.
To switch between old and new, you hit the back button on the Xbox controller. The transition takes a second or two but that's only a minor quibble. It gives an intriguing insight into how far the game has come over 10 years and it's really fun switching as you play.
343 Industries has decided to keep up with the times and now, for the first time, you can play Halo in 3D. We tested this out on a huge Samsung TV using active shutter 3D glasses. The results were hugely impressive and just made Halo look even better.
One of the best things was the way the heads-up display really comes out of the screen and makes you feel even more a part of the game. The environment also looks great in 3D and if you can land a grenade in the right place the enemies fly at you in a spectacular fashion.
If you own a Kinect with your Xbox then you can also use this along with the traditional controller. Because we were playing in a room full of people we couldn't test out this feature but it can do a few things.
Instead of frantically waving yourself around in front of the sensor to perform moves or run around 343 Industries has decided to just make use of the Kinect's microphone and speech recognition features.
You can shout commands whilst you play such as 'grenade' or 'reload' to keep your fingers on more important controls. We wonder if this might have more of a time lag than just pushing a button, though. You can also say 'analyse' when looking at an object to bring up a library that gives you detailed information about what you're looking at.
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is a must have for Halo fans and if you never played the original then this is a great way of playing a classic title as it was and re-mastered. Exclusively on Xbox 360, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary will tip up on 15 November. µ
Pre-orders to begin on 9 September with release to follow on 16 September
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