I've written before on the influence that Halo: Combat Evolved had on my experience as a gamer, so when Microsoft announced a remake, I was thrilled. I imagined revisiting the plot mysteries of the original release with all of the gameplay improvements of Halo: Reach.
Upon loading the game, I made an extremely disappointing discovery: Like the first titles in the series, co-op in the campaign was again limited to only two players.
Some of my greatest gaming memories have me and my best friends playing through Halo on increasingly harder difficulty settings. While the first two titles allowed two players at a time, Halo 3 (and the follow-up, ODST) offered four-player co-op though system link or Xbox Live. This completely changed the campaign for the better. We recklessly raced around in Warthogs with two players driving and the other two manning the chainguns behind them. When the time came to really whoop some Covenant ass, we’d get everyone to jump into a Scorpion.
We even had fun when bad things happened. One time, an invisible Elite shanked the player who thought it was a good idea to run ahead of the group on Legendary difficulty. The rest of us just rolled around the floor and laughed at him.
The worst part about the lack of four-player cooperative play is that I can't think of a good reason for 343 Industries to not include it. Maybe the Xbox 360 can't handle it with the new graphics engine? Give us the option to use lower settings then. One of the developers told me that they literally ported the game engine from the original so that Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary would feel exactly the same. But would giving us the ability to play with four people detract from the mechanics of the first release?
While I appreciate the fact that local cooperative play is still an option, I will miss the group experiences of the past. Since the series added the abilty to enjoy the story with four people at a time, I have felt that Halo is almost like Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64: It felt best when I had a group to enjoy it with. Hopefully, others will feel the same way, and eventually 343 Industries will enable four-player co-op though downloadable content.