For those that recall the 2003 E3 demo for Halo 2 – yes, the Earthcity one that everyone loved at the time but that never made its way into the final game – I have good news for you. 343 Industries has teamed up with some modders, and as a result, almost two decades later we will soon be able to actually play that demo again.
“We have a special treat for you this month,” started 343 community writer Alex Wakeford in a very in-depth blog post yesterday.
“Something that becomes part of the great journey of many Halo fans is learning about all the stuff that didn’t make it into the games over the years,” he teased before revealing, “I can confirm we are working on a rebuild of the original E3 Earthcity scenario that makes it playable in modern retail Halo 2.”
“This was NOT a trivial process,” he stressed. “We should probably layer on a whole page of caveats that come with taking a demo map for an engine that no longer exists and getting it to not blow up the current lightmapper (among other issues that come from letting people go into areas that were never intended to be seen).”
Meanwhile, General_101, a modder working alongside 343 on this project, added, “this map requires little introduction, I think. [It’s] a piece of legendary content.”
Going into more detail about the plans to bring Earthcity in to the modern day, General shared: “We originally didn’t have a lot of assets lying around for the map from previous analysis of leaked builds and the like. Just the source JMS files for the BSP and a few scenery objects.
“However, once the source map files turned up it was only a matter of time before we had all the data we needed.”
They went on to state that the “end goal” is “get it running in the MCC and playable end-to-end and working as intended if you follow the presentation script (including the Ghost hijack!).”
The team working on this Earthcity revival hope to “make a few things shown in the presentation a ‘real thing’ by using retail [Halo 2] elements where appropriate.” General acknowledged this “may be a shocker for some” but explained it was necessary as “several parts of the demo gameplay were smoke and mirrors!”
However, there is no word as yet on when we may get our hands on the new Earthcity, with 343 only assuring us that it will be “worth the wait”.
Until that time, however, you can catch up with Paramount’s take on the Halo series with its TV adaptation, or even get ready to whip up a meal worthy of a Spartan army with the upcoming Master Chef (sorry, I meant Chief) cookery book.