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by Ferrex (Dead)

Cortana is back. More on that later.

Halo is being shown in a closed theatre here at E3, with showings of about 20 people a piece. The line up is half way around the booth, and people are bringing food for the wait. Even if the line was double thick around the booth, the wait would be well worth it.

What we have seen of Halo so far is nothing.

The movie is a scripted sequence, similar to the MWNY demo. It was done in the Halo engine, but the similarities end there. The camera opens, high above a small structure on the Halo. Two Covenant, wearing the new sort of armor seen in the new GameSpot screenshots, step out. And start talking in their own tongue. That's right folks, we're hearing Halo in Dolby Surround Sound, and it sounds good.

A few moments later, two flyers cruise over, groaning through the air, their control surfaces moving as they turn. The Covenant wish them happy hunting, and discuss how they can't fail. A sense of unease falls, with the Covenant looking around. You know something is going to happen... and Bungie doesn't disappoint.

A whistle, a crack, a thump. A half second later, the cracking of a sniper shot (yes, there is a delay between the sound and when you hear it... according to Joe, the sound in the movie isn't created by the engine, but the eventual result will be similar, delays and reverb included). The confusing remaining Covenant looks at his dead comrade for a moment, and a second later another shot rings out. With a burst of blue blood, the Covenant crumples, and a voice fills the theatre.

Recon unit reporting... the drop zone is clear. Holding the sniper rifle, which moves slightly from his breathing, is the green armored Marine. And that nasty, first screenshot does not do this awesome new model justice. Reflection maps abound on his gold plated visor and chrome rifle barrel. Bump maps shown in an earlier demo give the armor even greater depth. Impressive.

Cut to a scene of a dropship coming in through a canyon, with a jeep attached to the bottom of it as though held by a magnet. Into the dropship, and we are treated to a group of BOBs, one barking orders at the rest. The leader shouts his orders, his face texture lip synching to the words. The other BOB's obey, and the dropship swoops in, turning on a dime by tilting it's engines. Coming to a stop, it hovers for a moment, and drops the jeep. The suspension sucks up the impact, and we see that the jeep doesn't have a gatling gun on the back, but an anti armor rocket launcher. We asked Joe about this, and he commented that vehicles may have swappable weapons, a sort of base model with different guns, similar to how players have a basic model with add ons.

The cutscene goes to the BOBs moving into position, on foot and by jeep. Jeep travel we've seen, but when the jeep inexplicably comes to a stop, we stop and wonder for a moment as the camera swings around behind it. And suddenly, we're face to face with a herd of ambient life. Resembling at first glance armless, eyeless raptors, the bipeds travel around the jeep, baring some large teeth at the BOBs but continuing on. Switching back to the BOBs on foot, we are treated to a distant shot of them running, showing off character animation so smooth it didn't seem real. As if to keep you from keep you from dwelling on it for too long, the marines travel in front of a group of new ambient life, these ones large, stegosaur like creatures with spines on their back. One rears up as the marines pass, howling, but they otherwise seem uninterested.

Cresting a hill, the jeep crew comes upon a tall, immistakably alien structure that looks very unlike the Covenant vehicles and the base we've seen from the MWNY Demo. The BOBs wait for everyone to get into position, and then we get a look at what waits at the base. Several flycycles, which were referred to as Ghosts afterwards, and two previously unseen vehicles. One is clearly a heavy tank of Covenant origin, purple and bulging, and the second seems halfway between the other two, but red instead of Covenant purple. We wondered if this was an officer's vehicle, but Joe described it as the Covenant's answer to the jeep, a three person vehicle with a top mounted ball turret.

Quickly, everyone is in place, with the jeep hidden behind a hill and the BOBs ready to rock. Touching off the conflict, one of the BOBs runs to the top of the hill, and takes aim. The assault rifle chatters, jerking back with every shot, and we have our first, real taste of what combat in Halo will really be like...

Originally posted May 12, 2000