Last night I loaded up Halo: Combat Evolved (the original game) on my Windows Vista laptop and connected an Xbox 360 Wireless Controller through the USB Wireless Xbox 360 Controller Receiver.
This is scary. It’s like having a laptop Xbox except with much higher resolution graphics. The game play is really similar to the original Xbox except with some noticable differences.
The first and most stunning is the fact you can play at 1600×1000 resolution. The original Xbox Halo: Combat Evolved ran at 480i. I’m running at the equivalent of something close to 1080p. (Alright, alright.. 1080p is actually 1920×1080, but it’s close) I’m playing Halo at a level of detail I never thought possible for the original game. I can actually see bullet shells with decent detail on the ground as they fall from my gun. I didn’t even know that Halo HAD bullet shells that fell on the ground up until last night.
Also, the because of the fidelity, it’s much easier to target and lock onto an enemy. It’s like putting on glasses for the very first time and being able to see the chalkboard. It’s THAT different.
The sound is spectacular. They have a high definition audio setting that makes you feel like you’re listening to the game in 3D sound instead of the stereo speakers on your laptop. I have to say that the sound quality is much much better than what I’m used to and what I’d anticipated.
NO .NET 3.0/WINDOWS PRESENTATION FRAMEWORK
Here’s the thing: None of this is running over the Windows Presentation Framework (WPF). WPF is Windows Vista’s high performance graphics engine for displaying vector-based graphics. What makes WPF different is that it packs most of the necessary graphics development libraries directly into the operating system, effectively eliminating the need for applications to "install" graphics related software on a machine – since it’s already in the operating system.
Additionally, WPF is designed to be very closely tied to the Windows Vista OS, providing performance benefits previously unavailable on Windows XP. WPF was originally supposed to be incorporated into the kernel of the Windows Vista operating system but WPF would have needed the screws tighten on it to do so and it was eventually taken out of the kernel but kept shipping with Windows Vista to allow the OS to ship on time. This made many "pretty UI features" disappear from Windows Vista unfortunately, but was a necessary step to get it out the door.
So, now with WPF available in Windows Vista, it begs the question: How good is Halo 2 gonna be?
HALO 2: WINDOWS VISTA ONLY
I’ve been looking forward to this product shipping for a long time but for different reasons than you might think. Halo 2 just shipped to stores this past month and it REQUIRES WINDOWS VISTA. You can’t play Halo 2 if you don’t have Windows Vista…. period. The game requires Windows Presentation Framework and it needs it close to the OS to perform.
This will be the first really awesome demonstration of Windows Vista’s awesome graphics capabilities available to the consumer. And when used in tandem with XBox 360 Wireless Controllers…
Man, oh man… let the fraggin’ begin!