The Halo Origins bundle includes two great Halo games. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary was originally released in November 2011, marking the 10th anniversary of Halo's original release on the Xbox. Halo Reach is a prequel to the original Halo, and originally released in September 2010. So these games are a few years old now, but are still excellent entries into the series.
If you already own or are familiar with these two games, I will get to the point right now and say that you know what you are getting. The two games, their original cases and artwork, only with a new sleeve that covers them both (as pictured on the item's Amazon page). There aren't any new bonuses, collectors items, or DLC included. I bought them to have as extra copies of the games since I have multiple Xbox 360s, so I can system link or play over Xbox Live with a friend from within my house.
At $30 MSRP, it really is a good value if you don't already own either of these games. Especially considering it's very likely this bundle will fall to twenty bucks after not too long, bringing them to ten bucks a piece instead of fifteen.
For anyone unfamiliar with Halo Anniversary, I have to say that I think it's the most underrated Halo game ever. But this is because I played hours and hours of the original Halo, so there is a big nostalgia factor there for me. Perhaps someone who never played Halo 1 will not enjoy it quite as much. One of my favorite features is that at ANY point in the campaign for Halo Anniversary, you can push the Back button to switch the graphics between the classic original Xbox version graphics and the updated Xbox 360 graphics, which are certainly more than updated hi-res textures. The updated graphics look amazing. But I also like going through certain stretches of the game with the classic graphics to replay the original game like I did 10 years ago.
New features in Halo Anniversary include campaign terminals, as have existed in Halo 3 & 4. You can find one hidden in each level, and provide in-game unlocks and even bonuses in your Halo Waypoint career, as well as to Halo Reach. These two games make a good bundle together because of how close they released to each other. Halo Anniversary also serves as an awesome multiplayer expansion to Halo Reach. There are a bunch of classic Halo competitive and Firefight maps that Halo Anniversary allows you to play with the Halo Reach multiplayer engine.
Halo Anniversary also has integrated Kinect functionality. And as much as I love the game, I will go ahead and call out these features as 100% pointless gimmick. Who in their right mind would want to scream "throw grenade" (as one example from many) at their TV instead of pushing the "throw grenade" button. One way makes you look stupid and introduces a 2-second delay between your command and the associated action actually happening, while the other way happens instantly and doesn't make you look or sound stupid.
But the one Kinect feature I did like was that you can tell the Kinect to scan various items and characters in the game. There is a menu that keeps track of every item/weapon/character you've scanned and gives you a library of information on each item. It adds a lot of replay value to go through the game and try to scan every single item available. Some are trickier to locate than you'd think. However, this feature could just as easily be facilitated through a controller button instead of forcing you to talk to your Kinect to get it to scan. It would also have been cool to have an achievement for scanning every item in the game, so I have something to show for my work; but there isn't. That could be a positive though, if you want to 1000/1000 the game's achievements without being forced to use the Kinect in any way. No achievements require using the Kinect.
Halo's campaign is always best enjoyed co-op, in my opinion. But the original release could only do this via split-screen co-op. I love that you can now do two player co-op with each player having a whole screen to themselves (another reason why I bought this as a second copy of the game).
Halo Reach was a more mainstream release than Halo Anniversary was. It was the first game to introduce the semi-RPG elements of leveling up and unlocking various armor additions as you progress through your multiplayer career. Halo 3 (2007) had different armor styles you could unlock, but didn't really have much to unlock or work towards by playing multiplayer other than your rank, which is nothing more than a number and emblem icon. Halo Reach, for better or worse, also introduced armor abilities. It was the first time you could use a jetpack, sprint, or activate the armor lock (which I'm very happy they got rid of in Halo 4...).
Four player co-op via campaign or the new Firefight mode were probably my favorite parts of the game though. Halo 4 got rid of Firefight in favor of the Spartan Ops co-op missions. The story of Halo Reach is a good one, and enjoyable to follow if you are curious of how everything leads up to the story of the Halo 1, 2, 3 trilogy. Or you can ignore the story and still enjoy many great levels of killing Covenant enemies, which is of course extremely fun.
Even if you aren't a Halo fan, this could be a good, inexpensive way to find out what Halo is all about. I would easily place both of the games in this bundle in my top 10 favorite Xbox 360 games, but I am also a disproportionally-big Halo fan. While I'm disappointed at the lack of any extras in this bundle, if you have ever been on the fence about the games themselves, this bundle is a fantastic way to finally pull the trigger without dropping a ton of cash.
on April 23, 2014
I bought an Xbox 360 for my son and me, specifically to play Halo. When Halo was originally released, I wasn't gaming as much as I do now or as much as I did before. So I didn't get to enjoy the great gameplay of the original. Well, now I do! The Combat Evolved (CE) re-issue is stunning when compared to the original, which was at the time, very good. The ability to toggle between the original graphics and the up-dated version really helped to appreciate just how cool the CE version is. Plus the Halo CE/Reach bundle offers a great opportunity to experience the top notch gaming that the Halo franchise has to offer. So if you're not old enough to have played Halo when it was first released, or like me, just not in the right place at the right time, you will not be disappointed in this great title.
on August 4, 2015
I'm giving this 5 stars for the games included. I've written reviews of both games at one time or another, but a quick recap might be helpful. Halo Anniversary is a wonderful "HD" remake of the original first Halo: Combat Evolved, the first in the series. You can switch between old mode (showing the old Xbox graphics) and new HD mode, which is fun and startling. I found myself switching back and forth so much that I kept getting killed in the game. The original physics are still there from the old game, so only the graphics have been upgraded, not the gameplay or story or physics. That's okay, I prefer an exact duplication of the original without screwing it up.
Reach is a brilliant game, not starring Master Chief, which I have played so much over the years with my son that it's an obvious 5-stars. I just bought a 2nd copy and an extra 360 so we can play locally via LAN in co-op mode. This is one of the best features of the Halo franchise that sets it way above most other games. Call of Duty series? NOPE! They don't offer LAN co-op--too bad, that would be fun. In fact, few games do it at all, let alone do it well. I haven't played the Master Chief Collection yet, as I don't own a One, so I'm referring to the 360 version here.
When the price drops, this is a great way to get these two games at once. The logic of bundling these two together might not make sense at first until you've played Reach through to the end. I won't spoil it for you, but suffice it to say, Halo: CE follows Reach naturally due to the ending (you'll see if you haven't played it through yet). In fact, it might be kind of fun to play Reach first, if you haven't ever enjoyed the brilliance of Halo: CE yet (where have you been!?).
However, be mindful that both of these games have been out for many years already, so unless there's a really great sale on this bundle, it doesn't make much sense to buy it to save money since both can be had for a steep discount, not to mention the used market. I recommend buying one of the more exclusive versions of each game instead, even if you're coming into the series for the first time.