We got to check out Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary last night at Microsoft's "Best of E3" Showcase event, and we learned a lot more details about the game. First and foremost: Halo: Combat Evolved is a very awkward name. Halo: Combat Evolved HD wouldn't have been that bad. But name issues aside, the game actually looks very impressive. Everything from weapon effects to orchestral music (the team spent a lot of time at Skywalker Sound tweaking the audio) has been improved.
Most telling is the "Classic Mode" that they put into the game. At the touch of a button, you can flip from the uprezzed version to what Halo: Combat Evolved originally looked like on the original Xbox. That was originally going to be a menu item, but it is so visually arresting that the team decided to make it more immediate. We were dropped in to the opening moments of the game, and when they changed it to the original graphics, it's shocking to see how different the game looks. The water effects alone will blow you away. You'll be thinking "Whoa. Halo looked terrible."
The game is actually running two engines simultaneously. The classic engine runs to make the game play the exact same way that it did in the original Halo, and then they're running a graphical engine on top of that to provide the uprezzed visuals. 343 Industries worked with Austin-based Certain Affinity (and creators of the newly announced Crimson Alliance) helped build the new version of the game, while Saber Interactive is working on the multiplayer, which is actually running using the Halo: Reach engine.
What that means is that you're going to get extremely upgraded maps in the multiplayer (Damnation alone seriously looked off the charts impressive over the original map), and abilities like jetpacks and armor lock as well. That's something that wasn't even present in the original, and you'll be glad you have those jetboosts to help you get around.
Terminals are making a comeback and being retrofitted into Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. Except you won't be reading text on them like you did in Halo 3. Instead, you'll be watching full-motion video narrated by Guilty Spark. It will fill out the story of the Halo universe, and hopefully lead us into Halo 4.
- The game is disc-based, although 343 is "exploring other distributuon options."
- The game will retail for $39.99.
- Halo Waypoint will be integrated with Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, and there will be some secrets revealed there.
- When asked about the possibility of the same treatment for Halo 2, a 343 spokesman said "That's a good question... which I will be evasive on! Right now we're really excited to be talking about Halo: Combat Evolved."
- The game will "ship with seven maps," including one Firefight map, but you can probably expect more via DLC.
- The extremely overpowered Magnum pistol is making a triumphant return.
- There are more secrets yet to come, and those will be revealed over the next few months, including at 343's "Halo Fest" in Seattle, which runs during PAX East.