NYCC ‘11 – Falling in Love with Halo All Over Again

Joey, Mike and Erik go hands-on with Halo Anniversary and relive some fond gaming memories.

Erik Norris, Joey Davidson & Mike Whiteby Erik Norris, Joey Davidson & Mike White

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At New York Comic Con, we got to play a round of competitive multiplayer in Halo: Combat Evolved: Anniversary. We all walked away with huge smiles on our faces after reliving nostalgic moments from earlier in our gaming careers. The original Halo means so much to each of us and Halo Anniversary is shaping up to be an incredible callback to multiplayer gaming of yesteryear. Now it’s time for us to share our experiences with the game and detail why Halo Anniversary is something truly special that should have your attention.

joeyJoey Davidson: This was classic Halo, as I remember it, with the polish of Reach and the pacing of the franchise. I picked up two Kill Streaks and 21 kills in the solo race to 25 amongst a group of something like 12 players. It felt incredible.

Just like before.

Halo: Reach was a great, great game. Its multiplayer component managed to suck me back into the Halo experience with ease. It was a return to form for me, as a gamer, and my love of the franchise.

Halo 3 felt too different. Honestly, I don't know what it was about the game that drove me away from the love I'd garnered with years of Halo CE and Halo 2, I just didn't like the multiplayer arm. And that's always been the part of the series that keeps me coming back, again and again.

I can safely say that after playing a single round of classic Slayer in Halo CE Anniversary, I am genuinely pumped to get back into the fight. For all of those purists out there that feel they've been snubbed by Halo's multiplayer since 2, this is your game.

It's my game.

The guns felt pure, the gameplay was perfectly frenetic and the pacing was right on par with my LAN parties of yore. Walking away from the booth, after slathering on roughly 10oz of hand sanitizer, I found myself grinning like a dope. Over Halo. And you have no idea how excited I am because of that fact.

erikErik Norris: Out of our gaming group that attended New York Comic Con, I’m the only one that’s played Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary in any capacity prior. I saddled up and tested out the waters at PAX Prime roughly two months ago. So I knew what I was getting into when I grabbed the controller at NYCC to play the title alongside my Crave partners in crime. And as expected, this play-through at NYCC reaffirmed the feelings I had about the game from PAX: Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is a satisfying callback to one of gaming most influential console first-person shooters.

The multiplayer map we got to check out for this demo was a completely different beast from anything I tried at PAX. The map was a classic from Halo 2 called "Headlong," yet upgraded both cosmetically and structurally to cater to Halo Anniversary’s use of the Halo: Reach gameplay engine. Running through the rundown hallways, hopping in a warthog and jumping off the top of a broken bridge felt satisfying, yet familiar.

It’s been made clear that developer 343 Industries is not just unceremoniously releasing the original Halo for its 10th birthday. They are going above and beyond with Halo Anniversary to make sure every aspect of it feels not only nostalgic, but as fresh and exciting as it was when we first played it ten years ago. From what I’ve played thus far, I think 343 has managed to walk that tightrope like a Boss. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is a bloody good trip down memory lane and I’m honestly excited for its release. Coming from a jaded Halo fan, that should speak volumes.

mikeMike White: My experience at the Halo booth was slightly different than Joey and Erik's. When we were in college, Halo and Halo 2 were huge hits. I unfortunately didn't own an Xbox back then, so my play time was relegated to hanging out at friends' houses or during our weekly meeting of the video game club we started at our University. That's actually true. Joey wrote the group's charter.

I loved both of those games. The multiplayer kept us occupied for hours. Sometimes we'd play deathmatches over the internet or just play split screen 1-on-1 Warthog chicken in Blood Gulch. Halo 2 marked the start of new exciting ways to play multiplayer like energy swords only. So what is the moral to this long-winded story? I don't think I ever played Halo or Halo 2 the correct way.

When we loaded up the local match at NYCC I was clearly at two distinct disadvantages. Not only was I not used to the proper techniques for effectively killing other players in a straight forward map, but I also was not aware of the Halo: Reach controller configuration. You'd think this couldn't get any worse for me, but lo and behold there was a nice line forming right behind the end station I was perched at with a rather large HD television showing off my terrible play style.

The merciless hecklers only assumed the headsets provided to us would keep their jeers out of earshot, but sadly that wasn't the case. Luckily, these gents had a good sense of humor so between their hilarious comments and the new and exciting ways I found to get myself killed, I was chuckling the entire match.

The sights and sounds were all enhanced from the original versions of the game. I cherished my time with Halo eight years ago when I played it for the first time. The Halo Anniversary quickly reminded me why that was. The truth is, I don't need to have the most kills to have a good time, which is good, because I doubt that will happen any time soon.