Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, the high-definition remake of the landmark Halo: Combat Evolved, will feature new narrative content and on-the-fly switching between its new presentation and the graphic mode of the original.
The news, first revealed to the gaming press last month, was delivered publicly to a couple thousand Halo fans packing a panel on the game's universe, touching largely on its novelization but still offering teases and tidbits about the games.
Halo: Anniversary will incorporate information terminals, seen in later games in the series, to deepen the story of what is taking place in the remainder of the Halo continuity at the time of Combat Evolved. Informational only, they will not intrude on the gameplay or become new objectives. Some will be narrated by Guilty Spark, the artificial intelligence serving as the antagonist in Halo: Combat Evolved. As the settings shift between human and Forerunner environments, so will the narrators, said Frank O'Connor, Halo's franchise developer.
To great cheers, the panel gave a short demonstration of Halo: Anniversary's first level. [pictured above] O'Connor said the game will in essence be two sets of code running concurrently: The updated presentational code, and the enemy and squad AI from the original. "It's about reliving that experience of playing Halo 1 for the first time," he said.
Upon reaching a familiar point in the game, players might wonder how it had looked in the original, O'Connor said. For that reason, developers elevated "Classic Mode" from a pre-mission menu selection to an on-the-fly choice. Developers simply had too much fun switching between the two modes mid-level, he said, and they wanted to extend that experience to the users.
There was a slight lag as the visuals changed, something O'Connor said wouldn't be so pronounced in the final version, as an early build was being shown. As the monitor switched from high definition to low, clear blue water had a matte surfacing, and sunlight reflection off it became sea foam.
"This represents 10 years of gaming evolution," O'Connor said.
Responding to a fan's question, O'Connor added that the original Easter eggs of the game will reappear, though some may be updated. "Some reference girlfriends who are no longer girlfriends," he said. "We've updated those. That was awkward, going to back to a guy and asking if he was still in love with her."
Finally, "the Magnum is back," O'Connor said, as the badass sidearm reappeared on the screen, to great cheering. "You'll be able to take the Magnum, go back, and mow through the game," he added.
Halo: Anniversary is due to release Nov. 15.