|System: Xbox 360|
|Dev: 343 Industries|
|Release: November 15, 2011|
|Players: 1-2 Local, 2-16 Online|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Patriel Manning
Ten years ago, the first game in what is now known as a juggernaut was released under what many considered to be less-than-favorable circumstances. Some couldn't understand the concept, and many believed it couldn't be done. Gamers themselves were skeptical.
That game was Halo: Combat Evolved.
First-person shooters on consoles had had a mixed reception at that point. GoldenEye 007 was excellently received while Perfect Dark from the same developer got some mixed reviews. Halo: CE, however, would use a completely new control scheme: dual analog. Both console gamers and PC gamers alike were a bit skeptical as to whether it would actually work or not. Fast forward ten years and a few million copies sold—not to mention the many billions of hours spent in online multiplayer—and it's difficult to even identify the reason behind some of those concerns.
Fans of shooters have reason to rejoice this year, as during E3 2011 Microsoft announced that a remake of the classic shooter was being remade and will be released this fall. While most are excited about this announcement, some have given way to skepticism, and it's not without cause. This is, after all, one of the most beloved franchises in the history of gaming. So how is the effort by 343 Industries shaping up? In a word: Brilliantly.
We sat down with Dan Ayoub, Executive Producer of 343 Industries, and Dennis Reese, the Producer of Halo Anniversary, to find out what the team has been up to. They started the session by showing us what they'd been doing with Campaign, the game's main single-player career mode. Dan was quick to note that the game is undergoing a complete graphics overhaul. This means that, in every way, the game will look like a current-generation title.
The result is stunning. The lighting is crisp and dynamic, and the particle effects are impressive. All of the sound effects are being handled by Skywalker Sound, and it shows. From what we heard, the sound design was very good. This was all running on the Reach engine. Sort of.
More important than the graphics, especially in a remake of a classic, is the gameplay. If it doesn't play similarly or identically to the game it's based on, most of the levels just won't work. The fans are justified in their desire that the remake be as close to the original as possible, and Dan and Reese agree with them. Thankfully, the development team set as a core development principle that the remake needed to play exactly as it did ten years ago. The way they are able to achieve this is by running two game engines simultaneously.
As a base, they laid down the original Halo code to ensure that the game felt and played like the original. In partnership with development studio Saber, they've laid down a second engine to make it look and sound like a current generation title. "It's the best of both worlds," says Dan. "You've got a title that looks and sounds like a current generation title that plays just like Halo did ten years ago."
Another addition that will keep the player experience in line with the original is "Classic Mode." At any point in the game, you can press a button that will strip off the fresh and clean current generation graphics engine to reveal what the game was like visually when it was first released. We were shown that this could be done on the fly. There appeared to be a slight delay between the button press and the result (it looked like it would freeze for a few frames) but overall, the effects were stunning. You could, according to Dan, play the whole game in this mode.
They're also adding terminals, a popular feature from Halo 3, that will tell the story in a way that is a bit more fleshed-out than the original. Instead of using text, though, they'll be using voiceovers to tell the story. They're also looking to plant the seeds for the story behind Halo 4 via these terminals, so those willing to explore will be rewarded for their efforts.
Achievements will be added to the original experience, and multiplayer will also be enhanced. Since the Reach engine is being used to power the multiplayer, some tweaks to the maps have been made. All in all, you can expect the same maps found in the original Halo, as well as some additional maps they haven't discussed yet.
There are a great many features that they weren't ready to announce yet and we can look forward to more later in the year. Stay tuned to Cheat Code Central as we continue to dig up the details on this remade masterpiece.
CCC Contributing Writer