To mark one year of Halo 2 being on sale, Bungie has broken its silence on the 360 remakes both Halo games are undergoing:
A year after Halo 2 arrived in stores, and almost four years since the original Halo, it seems only logical that we should make them prettier, right? Although that prettiness has a relatively high entry point ? the arrival of a new generation of hardware in the shape of the Xbox 360.
A while back, Microsoft announced that the 360 would have some level of backward compatibility. A handy feature for folks with big Xbox collections moving into the future. We worked closely with that team to ensure that Halo and Halo 2 both performed according to plan. That meant a lot of work for our test team.
To clarify, the "new" version of Halo or Halo 2 is simply the disk you have already. Pop it into your 360 and it'll load up just like before. You will have to log into Xbox Live to enable Halo 2's online functions, but both games will work immediately.
But here's another bonus ? the hardware in the 360 can do a lot of nifty stuff, and specifically in the cases of Halo and Halo 2, it can display the graphics in wide screen, at 720p, with full scene anti-aliasing. And it doesn't look kludgy, artifacty or smeary like an upscanning DVD player. The best way to describe it is that both games look like they're running on a PC at those resolutions.
We'll have some more information about these resolutions on Friday.
Now, to reiterate, we didn't redo any of the old textures or geometry ? this is simply the game you already own, running at a higher resolution. The results are not miraculous, but for owners of HDTVs (or VGA monitors with the appropriate cable) they are sweet.
Do they work on Live? Like we already explained, they work exactly as they did before ? that means System Link and split-screen for Halo, but ? of course - no Live play (just like before!) ? and for Halo 2 ? System Link, Xbox Live and split screen as before. And yes, your existing Gamertag and Live Account will work just fine. I should note that split screen in 720p has obvious benefits.
Now our screenshots are pretty legit, but it's likely they'll vary from what you'll see here, thanks to the multitude of display technologies that make up the ball of wax called HDTV. We also had to jump through hoops to get these shots, since the way they're handled by the video buffer means our conventional method no workie. But luckily it took me three hours, 400 lines of DOS prompts and a thousand phone calls to discover that.
In the end, we took video at 720p and captured stills from that. So it's far from perfect ? Final Cut Pro was the software we used, and while it's very good, these shots are not identical to their on-screen counterparts. In fact, they look significantly better on an HD set (or a VGA monitor with the appropriate cable). But we thought you'd still like to see ?em anyway.
Feast your eyes, Halo-lovers.