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343's guide to Halo CE: Anniversary

Executive producer Dan Ayoub on revitalising a classic...

News of Microsoft's HD Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary has been warmly welcomed by the franchise's mega-fans.

Not only does the game offer a cut-price chance for us all to relive the heady days of the first time we met Master Chief - but it's an ideal point for newcomers to drop into the series.

At E3, CVG caught up with the game's exec producer, Dan Ayoub, in which he discussed much of what fans can expect to change - and what will stay the same.

Here, we repeat Dan's words verbatim, so you too can get 343's side of the story....

Obviously 343 has been really busy with Halo for some time as the stewards of the franchise. I guess this is a sneak peak at what we've been doing, talking through some of the campaign and letting you know what we're doing with Terminals, multiplayer and more.

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The big question we hear is: 'Why?'. Obviously it's ten years since Combat Evolved initially launched, so we wanted to do something to celebrate that, but most importantly we're just responding to our fans. This is something Halo fans have been demanding for an extremely long time. This felt like the right time to do something to commemorate that event.

The first thing you'll notice in Combat Evolved Anniversary are the graphical upgrades. The game looks spectacular, like a modern day game. That was part of our goal, to show what Halo would have looked like if it launched today.

But something you may not have heard a lot about is the sound, which also getting a full makeover. All of the audio effects, weapon effects, the orchestral stuff is being worked on with Skywalker Sound, so it's going to sound spectacular.

However, the big test for us is: 'How does it feel?' Everyone remembers the first time they played Halo. It had such a distinctive feel and it launched a generation of shooters, so it's really important to us to make sure it plays exactly as it did ten years ago.

On a personal level I was a PC shooter guy, the guy that was saying: "You're never going to get me to play a shooter on a console, it's never going to feel right." This is the game that changed things for me, and millions of others as well.

The way we retained that feel is quite interesting. On each disc, we're running two pieces of code: the original Halo engine is running to make sure the game plays and feels the same as it did ten years ago, and then on top we've also run a separate graphics engine over-layed on to the original engine code. That gives us the best of both worlds, so again, it looks and sounds like a current generation game but feels exactly like Halo.

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It's a daunting task. That gameplay holds up today against any shooter out in the market. It launched a generation ago, and inspired a generation of shooters. We had extremely loud arguments about it - because it's very tempting when you get into it to say: "Oh, we could correct things that maybe people didn't like so much." But that's where this guiding pillar came in handy: to deliver the gameplay exactly as it was, warts and all. We definitely want it to be true to that original gameplay.

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That said, we are going to give the players certain tools so if they want to play it a little differently, they will have that ability. And obviously in the new modern version, we can change a few other things, like using lighting to make navigation a little easier in certain places where people traditionally got lost. But honestly from a gameplay standpoint we didn't really have that temptation. From the beginning, everyone in the room just agreed: Combat Evolved had such perfect and iconic gameplay that we just didn't want to touch it.

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