A decade is a long time in video games, and going back to Bungie's very first Halo game goes to shows how far we've come since 2001's Combat Evolved.
There's a pastel wash across the original's textures, an endearing naivety to its threadbare narrative and a raw simplicity to its gunplay that all speak of an era that seems so much further away than it really is. It's a relic, but it's a fairly youthful one.
And, in Halo Anniversary, ten year's worth of progress is condensed onto one button, with a simple press swapping out the original's visuals for a sparkier, more cluttered world.
It certainly looks good enough to rub shoulders with the shooter class of 2011, even if it's missing some of the loud-mouthed bombast of Call of Duty and Battlefield.
Play Halo Anniversary on a hulking 3D TV in surround sound and it even seems like Combat Evolved has found its true home - plasma grenades sparkle with furious fidelity, while the alien worlds are brought to vivid life as the matte skybox of the original now shimmers with detail.
It's a remake, but it's one of a very different order to the recent HD ports of Bluepoint Games on the PlayStation 3 - a curious tangle of old and new that's both faithful to the original whilst managing to reimagine it completely.
And as a collaborative effort between Saber Interactive, 343 Industries and Certain Affinity, it's a unique achievement. Here, producer Dennis Ries takes us through Halo Anniversary, the challenges it presented and its controversial Kinect implementation.
Prima: How long's work been going on with Anniversary?
Dennis Ries: Well, we say it's been ten years in the making. But as far as work on this one goes, it's probably been a year and a half to two years. As long as two years ago we really started talking about a remake, and it was very challenging to know how to do this because we knew we wanted to stay true to the classic gameplay - and how to do that took a lot of effort. We went on a partner search to find someone to do that, and that's when we found Saber.
Prima: So why Saber? What is it about them that attracted 343 to the studio?
Dennis Ries: One of the things about Saber is that they're a great tech house. We sat and we met with them and they had a great solution, which really allowed us to use the existing game code with their updated graphics and audio, and it gave us the best of both worlds.
Prima: Was that tech that they had up and running already?
Dennis Ries: No, it was something they had to put together for this game.
Prima: It's quite an eccentric and unique take on the concept of a remake. Was it always the plan to have this approach?
Dennis Ries: Not always the plan, but when we sat down and started talking about it we started talking about how we'd use the existing game engine and improve it. But after we went through all the [potential] partners, Saber came up with the most elegant solution.
Prima: Was the artwork for Anniversary taken from Bungie themselves, or did 343 and Sabre produce their own to guide the game?
Dennis Ries: Where we could we used assets from Halo 3 or Reach, but when there weren't any available it was 343 working with Saber for the campaign. Obviously for the multiplayer it was Certain Affinity [the studio behind Reach's most recent multiplayer maps] but we had the same art director on both so you have the same feel, even though they're both completely different.
Prima: There are a growing number of remakes that are starting to hit the market recently. Why do you think that, at this point in the console's lifespan, there's this new trend for revisiting older games?
Dennis Ries: Well, we're reaching that ten-year mark, and oftentimes it becomes the tailend of a console era - and you end up with a great combination of this developed IP and people trying to figure out how to keep it alive, and how to keep it interesting. It's been something the fans have wanted for a long time, and they've been asking for it since the launch of Halo 2 - it's funny, we've been searching for the right time, and with the Anniversary and with Halo fest and all these great things happening, we thought now's the best time.
"There were times when we contemplated tinkering, but we really wanted to keep this game, warts and all, as it was."
Prima: Remakes and remasters are slightly more prevalent in films - but it does prove slightly problematic sometimes, and I'm thinking particularly of Star Wars and its subsequent releases. Have you been mindful of those problems when making Anniversary?
Dennis Ries: Well, you think about continuity of the franchise and making sure that you don't change things too much, and staying true to what the original was. Without speaking for whether or not Star Wars was good or bad or how they did the remakes, from our perspective one of the things that was important to us was making sure we stayed true to what it was ten years ago.
So even now with the fiction, Kevin Grace and Frank O'Connor who overlook the fiction of the franchise were really involved with the terminal videos, so that they're inline with the books that are coming out. We tried to make sure we had real continuity there.
Prima: One of the problems with the Star Wars remakes is how they've come to replace the originals. In sixty years time, what should be the version of Halo Combat Evolved that people should play?
Dennis Ries: In my perspective, it would be the version that you like best. What I love about this version is that you can flip back to the original and see what it looked like ten years ago. When we started looking at the remastered version, we knew gameplay would hold up, so it came down to the graphics. We knew there were going to be decisions we would make that some of the hardcore fans maybe wouldn't like. And that's why we have something like classic mode available.