Combat Evolved: Revisited

The misty rumours of a 343i remake of the game that changed it all started floating around the internet a couple of months ago, and, as of yet, no confirmation or denial has surfaced from either Microsoft or the mouth of Frank O’Connor. So where does this leave us?

Most of us, myself included, probably jumped on the bandwagon of conspiracy for a lift down to the quaint town of rumourville, as we saw the lack of any denial of a remake, even when asked directly, as an obvious sign. In other words, Frankie is very much aware of a remake but now is not the time to reveal it. If the rumour is true, you do have to ask, “Why?” Why come up with a refinement of an already successful and well polished gem? Why not move forward instead, perhaps to Blue Team within Onyx or to Halo 4 through the eyes of the Chief and Cortana? After all, we are keen to see what comes of our favourite Halo duo. Obviously profit is a serious motivator, but there is more to a Halo CE remake than meets the eye.

The new Combat Evolved will, I think, be different to the original forerunner (no pun intended), not because of the graphical difference brought about by the change in technology but because of the reach of the franchise itself. Our first outing into the Halo universe was an introduction, a game devised to grab us by the throat (in a nice way) and shove our collective noses into a completely new and amazing universe. Bungie then built upon this very firm foundation with the subsequent release of Halo 2, 3, ODST and Reach. So by the time Reach arrived we were very much aware of the details and intricacies of the enigmatic Halo universe. We knew of the other Spartans, what the Covenant were all about and the existence and capabilities of the Forerunners. We were educated in Halo—honorary students in its lore. But some of us, either due to age or ignorance, have only just arrived, having played no part in the original Combat Evolved.

With a growing audience, 343 Industries now have an opportunity to begin anew, with the benefit of hindsight, of course. Areas of the original that weren’t quite perfect can now be recreated in their intended form, which allows Frankie and Co to tell the story in amazing clarity. But there are other opportunities as well.

Excuse me, do you know the way to the main hangar?

Remember The Fall of Reach, Eric Nylund’s first Halo novel? It threw us into a Halo universe filled with other Spartan’s who, obviously, played no part in Combat Evolved. And because of that, I’ve always felt significantly detached from the surviving Spartans that regularly featured in the novels. 343i now have the chance to amend that.

“What?” I hear you scream. “Involve other Spartans in CE? You can’t change the canon just like that.”

Actually you can.

(Halo: Reach SPOILER ALERT, if you happen to live under a rock or up a tree).

Bungie did. They changed a significant section of the canon with the conclusion of Halo: Reach. The Pillar of Autumn went from being in space and heading out of the system for OPERATION: RED FLAG when the attack commenced to a surface launch, with Keyes waiting for Noble Six to deliver the other part of Cortana. More confusing, though, was the fact that Red Team were already present on Reach, instead of launching, via pelican, to defend the surface-based MAC generators. And the only glimpse of Blue Team was a solitary cryo pod on the PoA with what appeared to be the Chief inside. So what happened to Blue Team? Did they launch as well? Did they head out to the Circumference to destroy the NAV data? And was Linda fatally wounded in the process?

What the hell is that doing here?

Now I’m not suggesting that a bunch of Spartan’s land on Alpha Halo and set about the Covenant like a dose of the clap, I’m suggesting that one simple addition could provide more than enough entertainment—Linda, for instance. Her near fatal wounds, originally sustained in the mission to destroy the NAV data, could instead be inflicted on Halo or on-route, perhaps during the Covenant boarding action. In addition to finding survivors, retrieving her cryo pod on the surface could actually become a mission.

Obviously, events like this need purpose. I don’t see Frankie going for Linda unless her involvement is needed. So she might only appear for the briefest of moments before being launched in her cryo pod as the PoA is evacuated. But this would serve to remind and inform us that there are other Spartan II’s out there, which would be perfectly viable especially if we’ll have the opportunity to see more of them in the future.

But Combat Evolved isn’t just about the Spartans. Sgt Johnson could play a larger role in a remake and so could Captain Keyes. Both of them were such interesting characters that were, regrettably, never really explored enough in the first Halo game. And though Johnson was later involved in both the sequel and the final chapter in the trilogy, I really wanted more involvement from him.

I’m probably asking for too much here, but even for the Chief to refer to him, by name, would have made things interesting, as we’ve never had even the slightest hint of camaraderie from the Chief, and while I don’t expect him to pick Johnson up in his arms for a big ‘Man Hug’, it would add another dimension to a more than silent character.

But could 343i go for another element of the story? The departing shot from Reach as it was being bombarded was a great visual addition to the start of Halo 2. But what If 343i went even further and put you initially on the UNSC Circumference to destroy the NAV data? What if you had the opportunity to save Johnson but also see Linda collapse under a hail of plasma fire? Then you make your escape and head off on a seemingly random jump vector.

I’d love to see a more emotional aspect to the loss of Reach, the Chief seeing Linda fatally wounded and the PoA having to leave everyone behind in order to preserve Cortana. I don’t want tears and tantrums from the Chief, because that’s not him at all. But maybe a dip of his head, a slight slouch in his usually defiant and stoic posture. Something to siginfy the impact of the events. But very quickly, the Chief picks himself up, grabs a weapon and prepares to dish out another dose of pain to the Covenant. I’m saying this because of one other SPARTAN-II, Jorge.

Though Emile looks as cool as hell and Carter is the typically selfless leader, I believe that most Halo fans have another Noble team member as their favourite, Jorge. He seemed different to his fellow team members. His displayed a sense of perception, of individuality–he seemed like he gave a damn. And that’s something I’d love to see from John. Not a lot of it, only a hint. Just enough for the player to realise that John knows the gravity of the situation and the enormity of the task ahead of him, but regardless of what the Covenant do or put in front of him, he’ll simply carry on and tear them all apart.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll hear him mutter under his breath, “That’s for Sam.”

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14 thoughts on “Combat Evolved: Revisited

  1. I disagree with everything you said. lol

    Leave Halo CE as it is. Changing the graphics, adding or removing levels, or changing the characters would ruin Halo CE. It would NOT be the same game.

    If 343i wants to do something with the original Halo, simply add four-player co-op and Xbox Live to the existing game. Do not change anything else, just make it work with Xbox Live. Maybe add achievements. Maybe.

    • A perfectly valid comment, Hyokin, and you’ve every right to be disappointed if 343i veer off too much. Personally I don’t think they’ll do anything like what I’ve said–most of the changes will be graphical in nature. They’ll probably smarten it up and present it in HD, and I’d love that. But I do want them to try something a little more adventurous.

  2. If they make significant changes to the plot of Halo: Combat Evolved, any that contradict the game, then I’m done with Halo right there. The series has received enough retcons, this would feel like a spit in the face to all those who enjoyed the game that started it all.

    Linda was found in her pod in space in First Strike, if she were active in the events of Combat Evolved then not only would it be a contradiction to the game, it would be a contradiction to the novel as well.

    • Obviously I don’t want them to change absolutely everything about Combat Evolved, but there are elements that could be included.

      As far as Linda is concerned, Bungie changed a great deal when Noble Six delivered the remaining part of Cortana to the PoA, ground side. Not only that, but Red Team were already deployed by the time Nobel Team were in New Alexandria. But you’re right, a lot has changed already.

      Perhaps a Legendary ending with the Chief finding Linda in her pod. Doesn’t interfere with the gameplay but gives the canon fanatics something juicy to chew on.

  3. Umm Frankie’s stated on at least two occasions that the game is non-existent.

    I honestly can’t see a remake happening, or even a point to there being a remake. However Halo is truly in Microsoft’s hands now, and a remake isn’t as crazy as some of the other cancelled projects.

  4. Ultimately, one rather poor and unnecessary retcon does not mean 343i should embrace it. It was Bungie’s game to make, but I don’t think that having the PoA planetside made much sense.

    If anything, I’d rather have an updated remake, but why not just continue the franchise? I really don’t think that Microsoft is planning on a “Halo HD” any time soon, given that they seem so focused on new entries in the IP.

  5. I have to disagree as well, I believe that any changes that should be made should relate to graphical improvements, original story intentions, or additional play elements.

    First of all, The Library was originally described to have large Bay windows that would allow you to see outside, as if the library complex had windows out to space, and was on the outer walls of the ring. This addition could break up the monotony that may people say the Library had by giving you somthing to look at, such as the Covenant Armada that followed you from Reach, Threshold or Basis, or just the stars.

    Second, Blind Wolf, et al. Add in creatures that were originally cut. I’d love to play the Level “Halo” with Blind Wolves running around. Maybe include a shark, or whale, or something to swim in the waters off of the island in “Silent Cartographer” that could harass players that venture out into the waters.

    Third, Cut Levels. As you may recall, Halo on the X-box was made in 6 months. I’m sure alot of great ideas were cut so they could focus on other priorities. Hell, I’d love to play an add on ODST side game, like defending the base that was described in the book “The Flood” (to be clear, this would be another game entirely, not interspersed in the game, like Halo 2’s swithc back and forth from Chief/Arbiter)

    Fourth, Boarding. This is an element that was added in Halo 2, and could add to the game. I’d argue against Armor Abilities and Equipment, as it was more a Brute and S-III thing. (And Brutes were not a part of the fleet that pursued the PoA to Reach)

    Finally, revisioned Retcon. I know it’s a big controversey, but I think that there could be one BIG change to the ending of Halo that could actually help the game (And make Steven Loftus Really Happy) Instead of driving down the impossible length of the PoA, You would take the elevator down to the Motor Pool on the Autumn, and then Drive off the Autumn, to meet Foehammer at a ridge (where she meets the same tragic end) So you are now on the Halo ring again, and are trying to escape from the soon to detonate PoA. Cortona will then re-route you to the base of the Resistance, where (Gasp!) there is a Longsword bomber, and only the Chief and Cortana escape…

    Sorry if I hijacked your blog. I just strongly feel that the game should not be changed too much. We fell in love with Halo from the original game, and the game should be kept the same as much as possible. Only originaly intended elements and fixes should be made.
    -Sparky

  6. Ok. I read the books and didnt notice any difference. Could you clarify the difference between Halo reach and the books?

    Leaving that aside I agree with Hyokin. I honestly like the graphics for Halo 1. They may not be perfect but they are good. If anything they should remake it into a movie not another game. I wouldn’t want to re purchase a perfectly good game just because there are better graphics or whatever.

  7. I can’t believe so many people remain sceptical to the concept of a remake. I mean yeah maybe the remake doesn’t live up to the old classics awesome experience, but it will be a new halo game, a new halo experience, and the old game isn’t going anywhere.

    As a huge fan of the old game, I would love to see a remake made by 343i, at least then I’d get to go back to playing as the Chief. Reach/ODST just isn’t my game, the legendary ending of ODST with the prophet was the only HALO feeling i got from it.

    I’m very excited to see what 343i can do with the franchise, and one more thing…

    How would Any changes ruin Halo CE? It’s still there, it’s not like the remake makes all Halo: Combat Evolved copies update into the new remake! What is the problem with a remake? I see no valid answer…

    So stop ruining my excitement for this epic revisit by making 343i believe the fans don’t want it 😦

  8. Grace, the big differences are the timeline and location/involvement of the PoA.

    Fall of Reach had the attack start on Aug 30th with a massive assault.

    Reach had the attack start on July 24th and had it slowly escalate, from a small strike force to a supposedly large attack on Aug 12th, I think. The battle was pretty much over by the 30th.

    The PoA was never on the surface in TFoR, it was actually heading out-system for the SIIs mission when the attack started. It was recalled to help in the space battle. They deployed the two Spartan teams on their missions, but had to bug out quick after Chief finished on Gamma station.

    The fragment of Cortana was made up for the game to give Noble team a purpose, and give a reason for the PoA to being the game as they wrote it..

  9. Having been playing halo: combat evolved for a while, I’m not even excited about a remake for the most part…. As you noted, why bohter remaking a well-polished game. Halo: CE exists to me as the old-style graphics friendly enviorment not daunted by the competeteive influence of multliplayer mathcmaking ranking. I enjoyed it for what made the game sentimental to me, and’d rather not see it reborn. I f they were going to remake it, i’d hope that a rank system did not exsist, i prefer my games light-hearted ( in mulitplayer, at least ) and enjoyable. Having been played it many times on the computer, it be much more intrested to see a server-based xbox live system, similar to the PC’s version, and close to the way it is created in Valve’s Team Fortress 2. That would player could experience the game like it was in it’s halcyon days, but with their games as servers over live, if they choose too. I do not feel much else should be changed, minus an upgraded graphics system, perhaps more custom games options, and better handling for the warthog.

  10. Mostly I would just love Halo: CE with the updated graphics and expanded gameplay sandbox of Reach. Same story and whatnot, but an infinitely more replayable experience. I think it would be worth it… but at the same time, I also want to see Halo pushing in new directions.

  11. I’m doubtful we will get a remake, at least not soon. Joystiq’s article was a little suspicious, and all other articles were based off theirs.
    However, an opening mission on the Circumference might be interesting.

  12. I like your ideas. Personally, I don’t think the game would sell very well overall if it was not polished up a bit. Sure, the Halo fans who played it might go for it, but I don’t think it would compete with new games. Some better graphics, maybe a forge and firefight mode would probably be enough to make it competitive. A second storyline (optional, not Halo 2 style) might be cool and add something new to the game.

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