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.
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?
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.”