This section will cover the advantage features of the PC followed by an overview of the new multiplayer content that's been added to Halo specifically for the PC.
High Resolution. On the PC, Halo will support whatever video mode your hardware is capable of. My preferred resolution is 1600x1200 - which is about 300% as many pixels as the Xbox version is capable of, after all, it's limited by your television. It's not a fair comparison, but who cares about being fair, right?
Interface. If you've tried the Xbox version of Halo, playing the game with a mouse and keyboard for the first time is nearly a religious experience. From a development standpoint, the trick wasn't so much in getting the mouse and keyboard to feel right, but in getting the front end to feel like a PC game instead of a console game. To that end, tons of new UI screens and options had to be added to allow users to customize their mouse and keyboard configurations as well as all the other things you'd expect to have control over on the PC.
Load Times and Memory. The Xbox has 64MB of total memory. Many PCs have that much memory on their video card and an order of magnitude more main RAM.
To get around memory limitations on the Xbox, Halo had to be very clever. It expected to be streaming data off of the DVD or the hard drive. To make that process as fast as possible, it stored the data on the DVD linearly -- so that the drive wouldn't have to do much seeking around, if any. And, it copied as much data as it could to the hard drive as a level "loaded."
We've employed the same trick, except we're using the hard drive and your computer's RAM. Level load times in Halo on the Xbox averaged about 20 seconds. At Gearbox, Halo PC loads in about one second. It's amazing.
Internet Play. To compliment the new networking engine is a user interface for browsing, joining and creating games of Halo PC. Powered by GameSpy technology, features are robust and include everything you'd expect.
We've added a couple of new features -- a message of the day in the browser itself so we can unobtrusively tell you about things like new content and modification releases. Another cool new feature is a ticker tape that describes the details of the currently selected game including game rules and names and scores of the active players.
New, New, New. Gearbox has had a full team dedicated to adding new features and content to Halo specifically for the PC version. Since it had been decided to not muddle with the single player game and since our biggest excitement has been about taking Halo to the Internet for the first time, our efforts focused on multiplayer. It's best left to other stories to cover this in detail, but I will say the following:
We've added at least six new multiplayer maps. Each with unique themes and highlights, each expertly designed and play tested for many months - this isn't just a thrown together add-on collection.
We've brought new vehicles into multiplayer that have never been there before, including the Banshee fighter.
We've created new weapons and vehicle types only available in Halo PC.
We've added multiplayer options and mode configurations that will add more variety and depth to free-for-all and team-based game modes.
A few other surprises ...