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by Ferrex (Dead)

Halo Wrap UpOne last whack at the pinata, eh? A few final thoughts on the Halo demonstration at E3, including something I've left out of the prior reports...

While they went unnoticed the first few times through the demonstrations, there were a few flaws in the engine. In particular, distant hills and pieces of the terrain mesh took on a peculiar look that I also saw while watching the Tribes2 demonstration.

Apparently, Halo is using a very thin fog to restrict the maximum viewing distance. It did look good and was difficult to detect (largely because it's very, very thin and doesn't affect things until they are very far off), but the problem was that the distant hills were a solid light blue (the color of the fog) and stood out very badly against the gorgeous sky beyond. This is because the fog is applied to the distant mesh, but not to the sky, resulting in a nasty contrast. As I mentioned, Tribes2 also had this problem in spades, since the cutoff distance is closer. Of course, it wasn't quite as noticable since their sky is a lot less detailed... an interesting problem.

In addition to this, at one point in the movie, we are treated to an unfortunate view of a distant hill (well, large chunk of land) being culled out, vanishing before our eyes. Bungie has their word cut out for them with Halo... I do wonder how far a refined LOD can go to solve problems like this one.

There also appears to be a bit of work to do on the vehicle collision detection. The jeep's tires sink a bit deeper into the mesh than one would expect them to, though that's probably only a matter of tweaking things a bit. A little more glaring was when the long barrel of the jeep's gatling gun vanished into the mesh when after a wipeout--hit detection seemed absent that time. Twit that I am, I never asked about this... another tricky problem for Bungie to tackle.

And am I the only one who wants the jeep to have the same horn as The General in the Dukes of Hazzard? Heh...

A few gloriously cool things I missed or forgot about, though. The water fall long praised by Bungie employees on the forums was in attendance, and was every bit as cool as we had expected. Winding down through a gorge, it is only seen very briefly (and the scene is undeniably dominated by the ambient life in the foreground), but it looked great, and had of us wishing that particular scene had been longer. Not what I was expecting, but every bit as good.

On the firearms front, someone pointed out that the trailer contained no new weapons, which is not entirely true. A previously unseen Covenant weapon is shown briefly moments before it is used on a hapless BOB, and it has been proposed that this is the fuel rod gun mentioned many moons ago. I believe it has been nicknamed the needler, and it resembles a standard Covenant handgun, except that it is wider and the top of it is bristled with glowing white spikes. As mentioned before, this weapon is the one with which a BOB is riddled, the glowing white spikes seen sticking from the top of it finding their way into the BOB's back and sticking there for a moment before exploding in small, secondary blasts. If this weapon doesn't kill you outright, the secondary effects might finish the job. The rate of fire also seemed very high, since the BOB (whom I believe shared faces with Bungie's Matt Soell) was hit by at least half a dozen of them in the span of a second or two. A very cool weapon, in appearance and function.

Finally, a bit of errata in the prior transcripts of the E3 movie. The commander BOB is the one killed fleeing from the Covenant inside the alien structure, not the BOB who rushed in to help (he makes it out and ultimately survives). Also, the jeep mounted rocket launcher may actually be a cannon of some sort... we noticed that it is reloaded by means of a large, revolver style rotary magazine. Not quite sure about that one, though.

Anyways, this concludes our E3 coverage. Any and everything else will likely be posted to the forum, though I think we've got it all by now...

Originally posted May 15, 2000