The Library is the level you skipped every time you replayed Halo's campaign - four near-identical floors filled with Flood. Copy, paste, copy, paste, copy, paste. The same fights in the same spaces over and over and over again.
343 Guilty Spark and The Library are where 343 Industries and Saber's artists stepped in to address the more troublesome parts of Bungie's original campaign. In Guilty Spark they've carefully lit the outdoor areas to lead your eye in the right direction, and in The Library they've painted arrows on the floor to make sure you don't get lost.
Those arrows aren't a new thing for the Halo universe. Perhaps knowing the corridors on Assault on the Control Room were too similar for their own good, Bungie placed glowing triangles on the floor to keep you pointing the right way. 343 and Saber bring those arrows to The Library, and give each floor a slight palette shift to minimise the relentless drudgery of ploughing through four identical floors and four hundred identical fights.
After The Library you'll play Assault on the Control Room, revisit the Truth and Reconciliation, and finally explore the Pillar of Autumn one more time - essentially playing parts of the game's first half backwards. It's an inglorious final straight which leads to a spectacular finish that almost makes you forget just how bad those last few levels were.
Those levels - 343 Guilty Spark, The Library, Two Betrayals, Keyes, and The Maw - were Halo at its weakest even back in 2001 but they were never bad enough to make anyone hate the game. Those moments are even worse ten years on, but even now they're never bad enough to undo all the things Halo does well.
Even in those tight rooms and bland-o-corridors Halo's basic combat loop works. The grenades, guns, and melee all play important and distinct roles. Every weapon is built for a specific job with no weapon thrown in just to make up space. Halo's combat is either an incredible fluke by lucky designers or a meticulous piece of game-making by some of the most talented people in videogames. Take Halo's combat model and place it in the worst spaces imaginable and you can still have fun with it - it's that good.
The more time you put in the more Halo reveals itself, and most of us have been playing for ten long years so Halo is short on surprises. But remember when you learned how to use Halo's health regeneration to handle any fight? Remember the first time you realised Plasma Rifles dropped shields faster than bullets, but bullets cut through flesh faster than Plasma?
Remember when you learned which Elites needed killing first and how the Grunts would scatter when you dropped their leader? Remember when you jumped into the Campaign with a friend and rolled around the world in the same Warthog? Those moments were all brand new back in 2001 - and those moments hold up even now, even in the weakest levels.
Ten years on and Halo Anniversary's worst bits are more numerous than you remember - but its best bits are better than you could ever have hoped.
- Some of the best levels in shooter history.
- Beautiful new HD mode courtesy of Saber Interactive.
- A solid combat model that works as well in 2011 as it did in 2001.
- Were there really this many corridors in Halo?
- Bonus features locked away for everyone without a Kinect.