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343 Industries' O'Connor Speaks Out On  Halo: Anniversary 's New Visuals
343 Industries' O'Connor Speaks Out On Halo: Anniversary's New Visuals
August 29, 2011 | By Tom Curtis

August 29, 2011 | By Tom Curtis
More: Console/PC, Art

While the upcoming Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary bills itself as a faithful recreation of the Xbox classic, franchise overseer 343 Industries took some liberties with the game's enhanced visuals to differentiate the title from its 2001 predecessor.

Speaking to Gamasutra at last weekend's PAX Prime, 343 Industries' Frank O'Connor explained how updated tech inspired several tweaks in the game's overall art direction.

"For example, [the level] '343 Guilty Spark' had a lot of fog, and people associate that fog with broodiness, mood, terror as the Flood came out," he said, "But one of the realities is that yes, the fog was there for all those reasons, but it was also in there as a performance saver, as fog used to be."

The new version of the game abandons the fog altogether, and O'Connor notes that the team had to find "other things we could do to give it mood and give it a somberness."

"We also said at some point, 'If we're doing something with the graphics, we should really do something with it, not just ape exactly what was there," he said.

In addition, Microsoft Game Studios internal division 343 Industries, which worked with Saber Interactive (Timeshift) on the remake, also chose to revamp some of the game's visuals to improve the usability of some of the game's more confusing segments.

"'The Library' is another good example," O'Connor said. "It had this big pillar in the center which was put in, again, to occlude objects so you don't have to draw every enemy in the game. We took this opportunity to re-light the level, so stuff with the textures, and some of the effects to make it much more navigable."

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary was first announced at E3 last June and is due to launch on November 15 on Xbox 360.

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Germain Cout
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Another way of saying they don't "get" the original game's style so they'll blind us with tons of lens-flares and high-res textures.

The more I see what they do, the more is smells like fan art.

John McMahon
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You know they allow players to switch between the old graphics and the new one, right? So at the very least you get to play the original on the 360 without all the compatibility problems

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@Germain: That's funny considering O'Connor worked on the first Halo. He's simply trying to up the game he worked on before. No one releases a game and doesn't go back years later and say "Oh man, with the graphics we have now I would of done this and that".

And as John said, you can switch back and forth.

Maxwell Zierath
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O'Connor didn't work on the first one. He was assistant, and eventually editor-in-chief of OXM at the time of the first one. He got pulled on about a quarter to a third of the way into Halo 2's dev to work on the second one as community manager.

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@Max: Ah you're right, my bad.

Still, I stick with my previous comment. Simply trying to up the original. No harm in it. Plus, it's not like he is an outsider to the franchise coming in to work on it. He's pretty familiar with the franchise, so it's safe to say it's in good hands, at least in terms of story and setting.

Gameplay may be in questions perhaps, but I like that it's not a simple port.