The Halo: Master Chief Collection is a relatively large undertaking by 343 Industries. HD remakes and re-releases aren’t as simple as most would think, and 343 had extra work ahead of them since they’re bringing Halo 1, 2, 3 and 4 to the Xbox One. Unsurprisingly, many Halo fans are eagerly anticipating the collection’s release, which will allow them to replay all of the classic Halo games but with newly updated visuals.
The downside to this, however, comes with their expectations. In this particular case, the fact that Halo 2: Anniversary won’t be running at a full 1080p could very well be a major annoyance to some, especially when they hear the reason why. As of right now, the game runs at 60fps, but its resolution only comes in at 1328×1080, as opposed to 1920×1080.
Speaking to IGN about the upcoming release, 343 executive producer Dan Ayoub explained the reason for Halo 2: Anniversary’s lower resolution is due to its ability to switch between the classic and Anniversary engines instantly. Both engines operate simultaneously, so the resolution for the game was compromised. Ayoub reassured that it’s the only game like this, though, as the rest of the games in the collection will run at a native 1920×1080.
“The campaign of Halo 2: Anniversary looked fantastic at 720p with the level of detail and clarity it gave us, but like every other aspect of the game and tech, we wanted to push it further. So in the last weeks of development, our teams were able to meet a stretch goal and the campaign of Halo 2: Anniversary now runs 60 fps at a crisp resolution of 1328×1080, which is a significant and meaningful boost in image quality we think fans are really going to appreciate. All of the other games across the entire package of The Master Chief Collection run 60 fps at 1920×1080 native.”
As was previously stated, the cause for Halo 2: Anniversary’s resolution may bother some. Sure, being able to jump between original Halo 2 and the Anniversary version is a neat feature, but when it begins to impact the game itself, perhaps compromises needed to be made. That said, 720p isn’t bad for Halo 2 — a game that came out for the first Xbox console back in 2004.
Digital Foundry’s Richard Leadbetter criticized the game’s resolution, though, and offered up the idea that players should be allowed to turn off the instant-switching feature, thereby opening up the resources used to run Halo 2: Anniversary at 1920×1080.
On NeoGAF, where resolution discussions can often be found, Halo franchise development director Frank O’Connor weighed in on all the resolution talk:
“Here’s what H2A is running simultaneously: Two game (graphics) engines – the OG H2 and H2A, and the original audio (music and FX) and completely new music and FX. And the switch is instantaneous. If it weren’t running the OG engine it could in theory run at a higher resolution but that’s not the intended nature of the project. It’s designed to be a remake that lets you switch between the two instantaneously. Now you can feel one way or another about that, but that is indeed the intent.”
Halo 2: Anniversary isn’t the first game to offer a look back to its original version. Its predecessor, Halo: Anniversary, also implemented this feature, although the switch wasn’t as seamless. Either way, we doubt that the resolutions will keep the Halo collection from being a hit next month.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection releases on November 11, 2014 for the Xbox One.