It makes sense the Microsoft wants to milk the Halo series for all it’s worth. Since the launch of the Xbox, the series has been it’s flagship. Each game a bigger success than the previous, spawning numerous extraneous material such as books and animated movies. It’s not surprise then that Microsoft isn’t welling to let the series die with Reach. What I wasn’t counting on at this E3 though, was Microsoft announcing not one, but two, new games. Halo 4, and a reboot of Halo 1, Halo Anniversary.
Halo 4 will be the start of a new trilogy, with 343 heading the development. It might feel strange not to see the Bungie logo, but quite a few people working on it are ex-Bungie employees, so we’ll have some continuity at least. The trailer is a pre-rendered cinematic, and so doesn’t give any indication of the game play graphics. I think it’s safe to assume that they’ll be at least equal to Reach’s, hopefully better. Thing is, the trailer cinematics seem to me to be inferior in some ways from Halo 3. The movement is wonderful, but the texturing looks much more blocky and low res, though that could just be the dim lighting. Watch the trailer and comment, I’m interested in seeing if it’s just my impression.
Much more exciting to me is the reboot of Halo 1, because they seem to be doing everything right. Anytime you touch a classic, extreme care has to be taken to avoid change and alienating fans. To that end, Halo CE Anniversary is built on top of the source code from the original. Because of this, 343 is going to be able to include a feature which I’m very excited about. With the click of a button, players will be able to switch between fancy graphics and original graphics, without pausing or reloading. Not only should this help fans who are lukewarm to the idea of a remake at all (preservation of the original), it will also make the changes more significant, because any time we start to take the new graphics for granted, a quick button press will show the difference.
The audio track will be unchanged, though the score itself is being re-recorded as Skywalker ranch. And lastly, the Halo 1 maps we all loved so much are being remade, but using the Reach engine instead of the Halo 4 engine which the rest of the game is built with. Not only will users be able to play them using Halo CE Anniversary, a code will ship with the game allowing the maps to be ported into Reach itself, which will then have nearly all the greatest maps from the entire series under one roof.
Granted, these won’t be out this year, but I’m sure we’ll be getting more trailers over the next few months, hopefully more polished than the above.