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343's guide to Halo CE: Anniversary

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CVG

 News of Microsoft's HD Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary has been warmly welcomed by the franchise's mega-fans.

Not only does the game offer a cut-price chance for us all to relive the heady days of the first time we met Master Chief - but it's an ideal point for newcomers to drop into the series.

At E3, CVG caught up with the game's exec producer, Dan Ayoub, in which he discussed much of what fans can expect to change - and what will stay the same. 

Here, we repeat Dan's words verbatim, so you too can get 343's side of the story....

Obviously 343 has been really busy with Halo for some time as the stewards of the franchise. I guess this is a sneak peak at what we've been doing, talking through some of the campaign and letting you know what we're doing with Terminals, multiplayer and more.

The big question we hear is: 'Why?'. Obviously it's ten years since Combat Evolved initially launched, so we wanted to do something to celebrate that, but most importantly we're just responding to our fans. This is something Halo fans have been demanding for an extremely long time. This felt like the right time to do something to commemorate that event.

The first thing you'll notice in Combat Evolved Anniversary are the graphical upgrades. The game looks spectacular, like a modern day game. That was part of our goal, to show what Halo would have looked like if it launched today. 

But something you may not have heard a lot about is the sound, which also getting a full makeover. All of the audio effects, weapon effects, the orchestral stuff is being worked on with Skywalker Sound, so it's going to sound spectacular.

However, the big test for us is: 'How does it feel?' Everyone remembers the first time they played Halo. It had such a distinctive feel and it launched a generation of shooters, so it's really important to us to make sure it plays exactly as it did ten years ago. 

On a personal level I was a PC shooter guy, the guy that was saying: "You're never going to get me to play a shooter on a console, it's never going to feel right." This is the game that changed things for me, and millions of others as well. 

The way we retained that feel is quite interesting. On each disc, we're running two pieces of code: the original Halo engine is running to make sure the game plays and feels the same as it did ten years ago, and then on top we've also run a separate graphics engine over-layed on to the original engine code. That gives us the best of both worlds, so again, it looks and sounds like a current generation game but feels exactly like Halo. 

It's a daunting task. That gameplay holds up today against any shooter out in the market. It launched a generation ago, and inspired a generation of shooters. We had extremely loud arguments about it - because it's very tempting when you get into it to say: "Oh, we could correct things that maybe people didn't like so much." But that's where this guiding pillar came in handy: to deliver the gameplay exactly as it was, warts and all. We definitely want it to be true to that original gameplay.

That said, we are going to give the players certain tools so if they want to play it a little differently, they will have that ability. And obviously in the new modern version, we can change a few other things, like using lighting to make navigation a little easier in certain places where people traditionally got lost. But honestly from a gameplay standpoint we didn't really have that temptation. From the beginning, everyone in the room just agreed: Combat Evolved had such perfect and iconic gameplay that we just didn't want to touch it.

One of the other ways we're helping people relive what it was like to play Halo ten years ago is something called 'Classic Mode'. At the touch of a button anywhere in the campaign you can revert and see how the game looked ten years ago at that exact point and then switch back. You can go back and forth as much as you want. It's a pretty magical experience for everyone. At the touch of a button you can see ten years of gaming evolution.

Initially this option was a menu item. Players could decide whether they wanted to play in 'Classic Mode' or new, but we had so much fun with it that we decided it should be something the player could do at any point. 

When you play in Classic Mode, you'll play to a tee exactly as it was ten years ago. Obviously the hi-res super sweet sexy version, we've taken a lot of liberties because we had to make it look like a present day game. 

And in other good news... Achievements. You'll finally be able to complete your Halo experience and have Achievements. There's also two-player co-op over Xbox Live, split-screen and - we say this is all about making it feel like Halo one, so... we've put the Magnum back in. Everyone remembers the crazy overpowered pistol. It's ridiculously nuts but fun as well so we're really happy to be bringing that back.

So you guys may remember Terminals from Halo 3. They were very much like Easter Eggs in the game. You went through, found them and got some story info. It was usually just text on the screen. But it's not really that interesting to read text on a screen, so we're doing some very cool things with it.

You'll hear Tim Dadabo, the actual voice actor for Guilty Spark from the original game [narrating these Terminals]. The Terminals are definitely setting the story for Halo 4 but we'll talk about that more in the future.

We're giving Terminals a much more visual treatment, where we're telling each story in a graphical way. It's a lot cooler than reading text on a screen and also allows us to convey a lot more emotion in our storytelling. We've got Terminals hidden throughout the game and if you find them all you'll learn story about the Halo universe, the ring and also story elements of things you're going to see in Halo 4.

Multiplayer is built on the same principles as the single-player in that we want to take the past and make it better. Damnation is just as you remember it, it's a blast from the past but looks spectacular in the present day. 

We're going to be taking fan favourite maps and putting them into the Reach engine for multiplayer, that provides a different take on it since now you're able to play with things like armour abilities like Jetpack. In total we're going to have seven fan favourite maps taken from Halo one to Halo 3, and one of them will be a Firefight map.

We're working with our partners Certain Affinity down in Austin, they've got a great history with the franchise, they done the 'Defiant' map pack and we're taking these maps that fans have loved for years and bringing them into the modern day.

The game will be releasing November 15, ten years to the day of the launch of the original Halo. This is very much a labour of love for 343 since this is the game that got many of us into the industry, so we're really excited to be able to give this back to the community.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, though. We're going to be announcing more as we get closer to launch and at Halofest in August, which is our big anniversary celebration.

http://www.computerandvideogames.com/309556/343s-guide-to-halo-ce-anniversary/



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One of the other ways we're helping people relive what it was like to play Halo ten years ago is something called 'Classic Mode'. At the touch of a button anywhere in the campaign you can revert and see how the game looked ten years ago at that exact point and then switch back. You can go back and forth as much as you want. It's a pretty magical experience for everyone. At the touch of a button you can see ten years of gaming evolution.

That is insane!

Also 7 new maps for Halo Reach, ontop of all the original maps from Halo 1, played on two separate game engines (Reach, and this one). Wow for $40, I'm giving this a vote next Most Wanted.



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For $40 this is a steal.

- Given the economics of map pack DLC, 3 maps tend to cost $10. Given were getting 7 maps id say thats $20 of DLC right there

- $10 is for paying to play classic mode

- $10 is for playing the game in next gen mode, achievements, and 2 player LIVE coop. Possibly a Halo 4 beta next year

Id say the value is very evident





___________

Older and wiser. Still bias and proud though ;)

Wow this sound simply fantastic!!!!!!

And at $40 this is seriously a steal!



Day 1 purchase



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Oh yeah and just to add I think the thing I'm most excited for is to see what the Terminals have in them. That was one of the high points of Halo 3 was reading the terminals and learning all about Mendicate Bias and the Forerunner / Flood War.

Considering 343 is basically saying these terminals will be even better and more interactive along with story hints to Halo 4 that alone makes it worth the purchase for me



I'm excited for this game and I don't even own a 360!



I'm excited for this game and I don't even own a 360!

Edit: Whoops, double post...



@Thechalkblock

So excited you had to post it twice



With all we are getting with this I feel like I should be paying more haha. Can't wait to go through this on co-op and relive this fantastic start to one of the best series.