The odds of seeing Master Chief in familiar territory as opposed to a new adventure just got a whole lot better thanks to Official Xbox Magazine. The real news won't be coming for a few weeks, but the property is described as one of the greatest games ever made making its return to the Xbox 360. We're no experts, but we're betting everything on it being the official announcement of a Halo: Combat Evolved HD remake.
[Update: We've put together a list of all the games that OXM's editor confirmed could be the soon-to-be-announced title. Check it out here!]
You might think that the Halo:CE remake has already been confirmed, but at this point the project is still just a rumor. After industry buzz spread the idea of the remake being under production by 343 Industries, there were as many skeptics as there were believers.
But just over a week ago, Joystiq reported that they had gotten some concrete details about the game, being developed by TimeShift developer Saber Interactive for a holiday 2011 release. With this latest announcement made by OXM, the likelihood of an impending confirmation is growing by the day.
Whether that's good news to you or not, we'll all have to wait over a month to get any more information. For those unfamiliar with the mag, each issue contains a sneak peek at the next month's cover. But for the March issue, the cover featured only a blueish background in place of a major star. It seems that the publisher wants to keep the anticipation at a fever pitch.
"One of the best games ever made" refers to a small group of titles, and the fact that it is coming to the Xbox 360 narrows the playing field. Alright, let's be honest. We all know this is Halo: Combat Evolved.
Aside from being the worst-kept secret in the gaming world, there are few games that could warrant the title, and a magazine cover featuring Master Chief in HD is a guaranteed way to sell issues. What that could mean for Microsoft's other exclusive title at launch remains to be seen.
Unfortunately, the announcement has already been pushed back due to setbacks in the game's development. CVG spoke with OXM's editor Jon Hicks about the delay, who then gave a bit more insight into the details surrounding the production:
"It's a real nuisance, not least since we've been trying to cover this game for months, but these things happen...The publisher was very apologetic but apparently the game just won't be ready in time."
The next Halo game, regardless of its subtitle would undoubtedly be at the top of OXM's list of priority stories, and hearing that production isn't going according to plan seems to be a Halo tradition. The facts speak for themselves, and while some might point to other popular Xbox franchises, both OXM and Microsoft know what people are expecting. It's unlikely that they would set their entire audience up just to be let down.
Given Hicks' comments, it's a safe bet that the magazine has had some concrete details on any potential Halo news for quite some time. If we were the conspiracy theory-type, we might look back at their reporting of Joystiq's comments to see how they covered it:
"Joystiq seems pretty confident in their information, but obviously we can't start getting properly excited until we hear official confirmation from Microsoft. Hopefully we hear something soon."
Innocent, or devilishly leading? Either way, we will be shocked if OXM reveals anything other than a Halo: Combat Evolved HD remake. Especially since the magazine uses the word "reborn," not the industry-accepted 'reboot.' We may be wrong, but we'll bring you the reveal no matter what.
The issue of Official Xbox Magazine in question will feature its mystery cover boy when it hits newsstands sometime in April.
[Updated: OXM's editor Jon Hicks has responded to the guesses made by fans by clarifying a few points about the game, and confirming that the game is definitely NOT Halo: Combat Evolved:
"OXM never claimed it was an Xbox exclusive - merely that it was exclusive to the magazine...It has been correctly identified in the CVG comments thread, though. I'm impressed - although I still can't reveal which one of the guesses are right."
The guesses run from plausible to proposterous, but the blue background of the magazine seems to offer the most amount of leads. What seems at first to be a random assortment of shapes and lines is in fact a blueprint, possibly for an office building. The message board has been hit with suggestions of a return of Elite, Syndicate, Star Wars: Battlefront, Rainbow 6, or even Activision's ancient S.W.A.T.
For us though, we're thinking that a game needs to carry a bit more weight to be called one of the "greatest" of all time. Sim City has been off the radar for quite some time in favor of games like Civilization, and the capitalized 'WILL' on the cover could be alluding to creator Will Wright. While certainly big news, there's one other game that we still hope for more.
Counter-Strike. One of the first shooters to be adopted in massive numbers by the online and PC community, and still enjoys a rabid fan base. Console shooters have had the rule of the roost of late, with every publisher trying tob take down Call of Duty as the multiplayer king. Valve has stayed quiet, but now would be the perfect time to steal all of the momentum away from every military FPS by making a single announcement.
We'll cross our fingers and keep you posted, because the military shooter genre may be in for a massive shake up.