E3 2011: Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary brings the original console classic to the modern era with upgraded visuals, online co-op, and links to the newly announced Halo 4.

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QUICKTAKE: Ten years after it helped put the Xbox on the map, Microsoft brings Halo: Combat Evolved back with a high-def upgrade. While the game sports upgrades expected of a re-release this generation, it also includes a few other bells and whistles that are aimed directly at fans of the franchise. THE DEMO: Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary includes the original campaign from the 2001 Bungie-developed release, along with updated, modern visuals. At E3, Microsoft showcased these new visuals by playing the beach battle in the famous "Silent Cartographer" level of Halo: Combat Evolved. Being able to play in HD isn't the only trick the re-release includes on the visual front, though. Players will be able to turn the HD upgrade off and on with the press of a button, at any time during gameplay. Demoing this feature really shows off the difference between the look of the original Halo: CE and the new upgrade. Anniversary also includes online campaign co-op for two players and a "special" version of Halo: Reach's multiplayer, with six competitive maps and one Firefight map inspired by the original Halo. DETAILS: With the help of developers Saber Interactive and Certain Affinity, Microsoft's Halo team at 343 Industries is bringing the game that created the iconic franchise to the Xbox 360. In a world where we've seen a half dozen of high profile, this re-release was entirely unsurprising (and the news was leaked months ago anyway). What is surprising is detail attached to the project. 343 Industries is working with Skywalker Sound to re-record the audio, music, and effects throughout the game. The only thing that won't be re-recorded is the in-game dialog, 343 Industries' Franchise Development Director Frank O'Connor told me. Then, there's the ability to turn off the HD upgrade on the fly. This feature exists because Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary uses two different engines at one time. In order to preserve the gameplay of the original game, Anniversary runs the original game (graphics, physics and all) in the background and layers the new HD coat of paint on top of the game. Everything that you were able to do is possible once again, O'Connor notes. Warthog jumps? Done. The only change to the original code appears to be changing it to a 16x9 widescreen aspect ratio. (Turning the new graphic layer off means players can play the original Xbox game in widescreen on the console for the first time.) The game also adds Terminals in the mix that will give players a tease at future events of the franchise, particularly next year's Halo 4 (one was teased during the demo). Add to that achievements and the ability to play the campaign co-op over Xbox Live and it sounds like a solid package for Halo super fans, especially with its respectable $40 price.

It may look different, but this is the same Silent Cartographer you remember from 2001.

But multiplayer is where it gets confusing. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary doesn't offer an HD version of the original game's multiplayer . Instead, the game includes a slimmed down version of Halo: Reach's multiplayer mode that boots into its own menu once selected on the single-disc release. When loaded, this version of Reach includes only seven maps: six for competitive play and one for Firefight. The maps are inspired by classic Halo: Combat Evolved maps and run in the Reach engine. It's essentially a melding of classic locales and new features (like Armor Abilities). When asked if the seven new environments would be available for Reach players to download, O'Connor confirmed the new environments would be made available as separate DLC for Halo: Reach down the road. Additionally, he notes that installing the Anniversary disc will eventually add the new maps to standard copies of Halo: Reach. Halo has become a franchise some gamers love to hate. I'm still a big fan of the franchise and the ability to play the classic game--and I mean the actual classic game--along with the new HD remix is enticing. Being a budget game instead of a full priced affair like Halo 3: ODST makes it that much more exciting. I'm looking forward to revisiting one of my favorite games of the last decade when Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary releases on November 15. Watch the Shacknews E3 2011 page to follow all our coverage of this year's show. You can also subscribe to it with your favorite RSS reader.
From The Chatty
  • reply
    June 14, 2011 4:45 PM

    Xav de Matos posted a new article, E3 2011: Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary.

    Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary brings the original console classic to the modern era with upgraded visuals, online co-op, and links to the newly announced Halo 4.

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      June 14, 2011 4:46 PM

      I wish the were releasing a redone Halo 1 & 2 in the same package. That way we could have all of the games in roughly the same engine.

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        June 14, 2011 6:13 PM

        I want the maps from Halo 1, 2, 3 and ODST all in halo reach. I love the MP in reach but the map selection is the worst of all Halo games. It pisses me off.

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      June 14, 2011 5:39 PM

      Am i the only one that hated Halo? i got it on the PC and it was so bad

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        June 14, 2011 5:46 PM

        Didn't hate it but didn't think it was overly spectacular either. Maybe an 8/10 for me.

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        June 14, 2011 5:56 PM

        Halo 1 is still pretty good especially coop mode. Also wasn't this announced about a week ago?

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        June 14, 2011 6:05 PM

        Great AI, cool open levels, and amazing co-op. I dunno, it's awesome.

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        June 14, 2011 6:21 PM

        it was bad. but since it was the first of its kind on xbox that .... was not too hard. people thought it was great

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          June 15, 2011 4:38 AM

          As good as any pc game. It was two games in one. SP and MP.

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        June 14, 2011 6:38 PM

        halo is a POS, boring and uninspired.. i absolutely hated the aliens

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        June 14, 2011 6:41 PM

        It was more or less revolutionary on the console, but stuff like it had been done a hundred times on the PC.

        The games get better as the series goes on and a narrative is created. It's really one of my favorite series now.

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          June 14, 2011 6:56 PM

          I think that could be what hurts this...if its just Halo CE with better graphics...I don't think it would hold up well compared to its sequels. If they fix some of the shittier parts of the game (Library for example) it could be ok.

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            June 14, 2011 7:15 PM

            I never really developed any antipathy against the Library. Sure, it was overlong, but I guess it just didn't bother me. It certainly didn't bother me as much as the office locations in FEAR did. Talk about repetitious.

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            June 15, 2011 12:45 PM

            I'm re-playing it now, and trust me... it holds up great :)

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          June 14, 2011 7:25 PM

          it really hadn't been done a hundred times on the PC at all...

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            June 14, 2011 8:04 PM

            Halo came out in what, 2001? By that time, we'd already had Half Life, System Shock, and a bunch of other very well written games. Consoles barely had shooters at that time. It was the first console game that came close to replicating the same FPS experience that PC gamers had been doing for years.

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              June 14, 2011 8:06 PM

              Neither of those games had the combat AI or vehicles like Halo did.

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                June 14, 2011 11:07 PM

                Tribes blew Halo MP away years before Halo existed

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                  June 15, 2011 7:24 AM

                  Yea, tribes was awesome, but vehicles were still weak. But everyone had jet packs anyway.

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                    June 15, 2011 12:43 PM

                    Played a bit of Tribes too back in the day and I have to agree. It was extremely cool for its time, but vehicles in Tribes were just big floating platforms. Halo is the first game to do ground vehicles right.

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                June 15, 2011 12:48 AM

                Vehicles, yes, but Half-Life had amazing squad AI way before Halo.

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                  June 15, 2011 4:40 AM

                  Half life AI was like like a special Ed group in comparison.

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                    June 15, 2011 12:39 PM

                    I'm going to have to disagree. Played couple hours of Halo and didn't see anything special AI wise. Same old mindless cannon fodder, some of it with shield in front. Maybe I didn't play it enough but I hate fighting thumb sticks all the time trying to aim, so I space my shooters out on consoles. Next time I'm bored and feel like continuing Halo 1 I'll pay more attention to their AI.

                    Half Life AI though, and I'm talking specifically about squad AI (soldiers) was absolute blast to play against, if not a little frustrating. At the time when Half Life came out, it was highly praised for its AI. You try to hide behind some box so you can shoot it out from safety and you get flanked by two guys while other two will keep you under fire. If you try to get high ground advantage and they can't flank you, they will lob a grenade and flush you out, ect.

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              June 14, 2011 8:07 PM

              Yes there were shooters on PC. That doesn't mean they had done all the things Halo did numerous times. From AI to co-op with air and ground vehicles to the various FPS mechanics that have now become standard (the graphics were also as good or better than anything on the PC at the time).

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                June 14, 2011 11:18 PM

                "the graphics were also as good or better than anything on the PC at the time"

                Haha no.

                As for the rest, even more ludicrous. Tribes was out three years before the Xbox. Tribes 2 came out before the Xbox.

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                  June 15, 2011 4:48 AM

                  And SkyNet came out years before tribes.... SP what? Fact is Halo did alot of things right, which is why people still play it today. And halo did have amazing graphics for a 2001 game.

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                  June 15, 2011 6:53 AM

                  list some games with better graphics than Halo when it was released.

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        June 14, 2011 6:54 PM

        I always felt it was overrated, but it had its moments. The problem is that it had a lot of repetitive/annoying parts that the later games minimized as time went on.

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          June 15, 2011 4:33 AM

          Not at all. It combined a good scifi story with great, albeit limit to a off line, lan style game, fun multiplayer.

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          June 15, 2011 4:33 AM

          Not at all. It combined a good scifi story with great, albeit limit to a off line, lan style game, fun multiplayer.

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            June 15, 2011 4:37 AM

            What you said doesn't really contradict what he said. I quite like the Halo universe, but Halo 1 did have some segments that were repetitive to the point of annoyance.

            It was a good game, yes, but by no means did it "reinvent" the FPS or much of the other BS that's been thrown around. What it did do was bring that to the consoles as hadn't been done before, and that's a solid achievement - there's no need to inflate it into something else.

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        June 14, 2011 6:59 PM

        Of course it was bad on PC. It was a shitty half-assed port that came out 2 years late.

        If you compare the xbox version to other console shooters that were available at the time, it was pretty awesome. It definitely had some problems, but it was overall really good.

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        June 14, 2011 7:04 PM

        I got it on the PC and still fire it up on occasion because it is so great. It still has a huge online community too IIRC

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        June 14, 2011 7:26 PM

        Halo gets shit on constantly around here.

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          June 15, 2011 4:41 AM

          That's because there's a lot of PC fanboys here.

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            June 15, 2011 6:54 AM

            I guess i would be considered a PC fanboy by some and i fucking loved Halo. BAM! Shows what the fuck you know

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        June 14, 2011 7:27 PM

        The PC version was pretty bad, at least performance-wise.

        I thought they were all pretty good on consoles, though.

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        June 14, 2011 7:44 PM

        same here. played PC version until the library level. that level was awful; stuff before it was ok, but nothing made me want to keep going.

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        June 14, 2011 9:12 PM

        Halo was the first console game to get FPS controls right.

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        June 14, 2011 9:37 PM

        nope you're not, not at all, so we can end the thread now

        halo threads! they're so...2002

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        June 14, 2011 10:35 PM

        Played it on PC and enjoyed it. Didn't need 5 sequels though.

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          June 14, 2011 11:15 PM

          It's not like you are required to play them...

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            June 15, 2011 3:13 PM

            In a way, you are. Look at how many other FPSes went to two-weapon systems and regenerating health.

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        June 14, 2011 11:07 PM

        I loved Halo1. sucks to be you.

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        June 15, 2011 12:23 AM

        I loved it on PC, though I first played it on a friends Xbox. It's a fantastic game, I don't understand how anyone could hate it.

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        June 15, 2011 2:27 AM

        After Goldeneye, it redefined console FPS. The controls were great, much better than anything before, very close to mouse/keyboard (also because things like auto-aim and the use of vertical space was well tuned).

        Outside of that, it had great AI and weapons, amazing co-op, tank/jeep/flying bits that were seamlessly integrated, mostly strong levels, an interesting story, and on top of it all a balanced, addictive and competitive multiplayer. Regenerating health (was it the first game to do this?) combined with the strong enemy AI made all encounters very intense and gave it a great flow.

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        June 15, 2011 4:34 AM

        Halo 1 pc multiplayer was one of the best multiplayer experiences I've ever had.

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        June 15, 2011 4:55 AM

        Halo 2 MP ate my life.
        I don't begrudge the series anything, I think they were well made games. It might not have appealed to everyone who was looking for a high impact FPS, but I really appreciated the mechanics of the MP objective gametypes. It was fairly slow paced with an emphasis on teamwork and weapon/vehicle control over accuracy.
        It was also the first and last time I extensively used voice chat to coordinate and call out targets "they have the sniper, hes on the left side"
        Also grew to like the movement in that game, there was an inertia to running, and maps had quirks you use to make precision jumps into a base, or pick up some speed by clipping the far corner of a wall as you jumped over it. Obviously not to the level of quake movement or anything, but enough to get the enemy flag a couple more feet before you die.
        It wasn't necessarily better or worse than PC games of the time, but scratched a specific bug, just like CoD does for millions of people now.

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        June 15, 2011 6:51 AM

        I loved it. Played it at a friends and then immediately went out and bought an Xbox. It was so innovative and refreshing compared to anything I'd played before. The graphics were amazing, the AI, the blend of vehicular and on foot action, the weapon balance. I loved everything about it. It's basically what got me into console games having been a childish PC snob until that point.

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        June 15, 2011 7:13 AM

        Challenging solid AI. Best vehicles in game still to this day, awesome levels. Greatest Multiplayer split screen since Perfect Dark, awesome customization of multiplayer modes.

        All the haters just had no friends to play with, or never went to any LAN parties for 8v8 action.

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      June 14, 2011 5:57 PM

      I will definitely be picking this up. Probably not at launch, but I will pick it up at some point.

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      June 14, 2011 6:07 PM

      Wait, only 2 player online co-op? Come on.....,

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      June 14, 2011 6:52 PM

      XAV YOUR TASK FOR THE NEXT FEW MONTHS IS TO FIND OUT IF THE CO-OP ONLY ONLINE OR IF THERE IS SPLITSCREEN

      there has in every other halo game to date and me buying this game hinges on split-screen being in there :(

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        June 14, 2011 7:16 PM

        Why wouldn't there be?

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          June 14, 2011 10:24 PM

          Twice in the article it says something like "...and it also features 2 player co op over Xbox live!" sort of implying there might not be splitscreen. Seriously, the reason I would pick this up is playing through with a friend on the same console.

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            June 15, 2011 9:20 AM

            I resent the addition of an exclamation point to the article.

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          June 14, 2011 11:08 PM

          Because this is done in the reach engine, which so far hasn't supported that?

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            June 15, 2011 6:24 AM

            This remake is running in the original Halo engine in addition to a new engine (running the same code). It has split-screen.

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              June 15, 2011 6:25 AM

              Only the multiplayer is in the Reach engine. That's because the MP is just maps for Halo: Reach.

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              June 15, 2011 6:38 AM

              wat. Source? I know that the MP porten is Reach-only, but I figured they wouldn't bother to port the ancient Xbox1 engine to the 360 when they had a brand new engine lying around....

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                June 15, 2011 7:27 AM

                It has been stated a few times due to the way you can swap between the old and new graphics with a button toggle. It is the old engine with two graphic engines you can swap between on top. Multiplayer is just a map pack running in the Reach engine.

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                  June 15, 2011 8:06 AM

                  Well bugger. That kind puts a damper on my enthusiasm. I wonder if this means there won't be widescreen support either??? Surely not.

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                June 15, 2011 9:17 AM

                The source is this story you're commenting on. It requires you to read. I'm sorry.

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      June 14, 2011 7:09 PM

      So much anger in this room.

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      June 14, 2011 7:16 PM

      So is the AI the same from the original? Because the Halo series has come a long way...

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      June 14, 2011 8:35 PM

      This looks awesome

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      June 14, 2011 11:04 PM

      This looks sweet! Is it being released on PC?

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        June 15, 2011 1:21 AM

        Hahahaha! Cute!

        Microsoft renewed their commitment ot the PC, they never said they were going to put games on it.

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        June 15, 2011 2:19 AM

        Nope. Reach engine.

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        June 15, 2011 4:34 AM

        Ofcourse. Probably in 2015.

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      June 15, 2011 12:42 AM

      Loved HALO 1, but I don't really think it needed remake. At least not yet. The visual are still good. The style kind of allows for the blocky geometry, I think. Oh well, I guess it couldn't hurt.

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      June 15, 2011 4:35 AM

      great

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      June 15, 2011 5:11 AM

      For those who've played it, does Halo Reach ever recapture some of the epic feeling from Halo 1?

      I'm only a short way through Reach (to where you meet your first set of Hunters) and while the visuals are a great upgrade and everything has the Halo feel (which I felt was lost on what I played of Halo ODST), all of the battles/encounters have been ho-hum & less than epic.

      The first time I met Hunters in the game was not met with a big surprise entrance or any tension.

      The Hunters were just there, at the bottom of a long walkway, with their backs to me. There was no "oh shit!" moment. I played enough of Halo 1 to not really fear the Hunters anymore, but I always enjoyed battling them, and every new enemy in Halo 1 and 2 was always met with a cool/epic intro that you remember.

      I'm not disliking Reach so far, but I'm hoping it becomes way more exciting.

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        June 15, 2011 5:19 AM

        To me, nothing in the Halo series has recaptured the epic feel of Halo1. One of the reasons I'm really looking forward to the remake.

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        June 15, 2011 5:49 AM

        Yeah, some of the later stages are pretty badass. Almost done with a 3 player co-op run on heroic, then we're gonna run it on legendary before Anniversary comes out.

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      June 15, 2011 6:12 AM

      Ok. Online coop is good and to be expected. But can I match up with randoms? In other words, I need match making for coop or it's almost worthless. It's sad that it only supports 2 players in coop but it doesn't really surprise me if the engine hasn't been changed that much.


      But the multiplayer deathmatch sounds like a real bummer. I wanted to play some old school blood gulch vehicle ctf. Doesn't sound like that's going to happen. Also I was hoping for matchmaking custom games or at least not having to suffer through playlists. It doesn't sound like that's there either. I won't hold my breath but it really sounds like it will be missing the old school deathmatch/ctf maps.

      I have the pc version of Halo 1. It at least supported the ability to find a game mode you wanted and pick and choose a server that's playing the level you wanted. But I doubt there's enough players for it anymore and I don't really pc game anymore because of ergonomic reasons and other issues too (I prefer console gaming because it's much simpler to deal with and it's truly plug and play and no tweaking of graphic settings are required... etc...).

      So it's sad. The magic experience of Halo 1's multiplayer is hard to recapture.

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      June 15, 2011 6:17 AM

      Cool looking forward to playing it in 2016 or something like that when its totally outdated.

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      June 15, 2011 7:42 AM

      Everything sounds great. Would love for them
      To include the split screen MP of yester-year, and even provide
      XBL play, but that was wishful thinking. Curious about the 7 dlc
      Maps that are included on disc. Can't wait to play!

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