343 Industries have confirmed they’re working on a playable version of the original Halo Earthcity demo shown in E3 way back in 2003.
The demo, which has been immortalised on YouTube, saw a battle between Covenant and Marine forces in a city on Earth.
Set between the events of Halo: Combat Evolved (2001) and Halo 2 (2004), fans will recognise the array of familiar weapons, as well as vehicles like Ghosts and Warthogs, and quotes (like “When I asked for reinforcements, I didn’t think they’d send a Spartan”).
Sure, the graphics are chunky in the light of the current high-def standard, and it’s not like we don’t see bits of Earthcity in Halo 2 but as Ari Notis of Kotaku noted, it’s hard to understate how important this demo was; Halo would redefine the entire genre of shooting games but Halo 2 didn’t just change the online multiplayer experience forever, it would also go on to spawn a multi-billion dollar franchise that involved not just games but books and a TV series.
343 Industries said the move to make the 2003 demo playable is not a trivial process, one impacted by the fact that it was built on a game engine that doesn’t exist anymore.
They also said the Earthcity demo was “never made to be played ‘off script’” and speaking of script – the demo had over 3,400 “lines of barely documented haloscript originally written under an insane time crunch almost two decades ago which itself was made to work around various bugs of the engine at that time. Not a joy to recipe and translate.”
Unsurprisingly, 343 Industries said they can’t promise when a playable version of the demo will be released, or if it’ll ever make it to console players.
What they can say is – they’re making the stage playable for PC versions as part of the Master Chief Collection, which includes a remastered version of Halo 2.
*Featured image from 343 Industries
By Samantha Chan \ 11:20, 14 July 2022