The biggest graphical improvement on the PC is of course the addition of higher resolutions. While high-res graphics do tend to highlight the fact that Halo’s textures are relatively low-res, other details do come to light. Unit movement is easier to spot and looks much crisper. Small details such as the passenger gunner scanning the sky briskly are now more evident along with the general crispness of a monitor display versus a conventional TV.
Although Halo is unlikely to blow anyone’s mind after all these years, there are some things about it that still stand out today. The characters in the game, be they marines, covenant or other, are beautifully animated. Their motions are so smooth, natural and carry so much attitude that it’s impossible to not be impressed even in these days of ragdoll physics and hypermegaskeletalanimationbodylocationdamagesplicing.
The addition of keyboard/mouse control is both a major upgrade and a serious issue. On the one hand, it means freedom from a gamepad – even one as nicely laid out for FPS games as the Xbox controller. On the other hand, it poses a serious balance problem. After all, the game was designed for the slower movement and worse aim that comes with a gamepad, rather than the laser-pointer precision and speed of a mouse.
Strangely enough, my Halo experience at Normal difficulty has been comparable with the Xbox version. The level of challenge is the same, so it makes one wonder if the monsters have been upgraded in some fashion, or if the freedom of a mouse and keyboard induced too much confidence, resulting in sloppy play.
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Regardless, the system works as advertised. There are some left-over oddities from the Xbox version but these make perfect sense. For example, don’t expect to press 1 or 2 to choose your weapon, rather, there is a weapon switch button. Given that there are only two weapons, this works perfectly.
The main menu GUI has received an update but not an overaul. The menu text and buttons look humongous even on a meager 17” monitor, though they’ve obviously been updated with PC-related options like keyboard and mouse setup. Also, the development team has taken care to update the interface to support the mouse, unlike many sloppy ports which leave just keyboard controls active on the menu screens.