Halo 2 Graphics Comparison: Windows Vista vs. Xbox

How much better does Halo 2 look in Windows Vista? Find out in our graphics comparison feature.

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Halo 2 is finally making its way to the PC platform after its initial 2004 release for the Xbox console. The game is still going through the official GameSpot review process right now, but based on our initial impressions, the Vista version feels like an accurate port. The game doesn't include any new DirectX 10 features, but the platform switch alone will ensure that Halo 2 looks better on Windows Vista than on the Xbox. Going from 480p to PC resolutions will still give players a sharper picture and more detailed environments.

Moving a game from the Xbox to the PC still requires a significant amount of graphics work. Games can get away with using low-resolution textures at standard definition, but those fuzzy surfaces will stand out once you get to high-definition resolutions. The Hired Gun team in charge of the Halo 2 for Vista project updated the game textures to ensure that the quality level remained high at PC resolutions. Some textures have increased detail. For example, weapon textures went from 256x256 to 512x512. The team also upgraded other textures with higher-quality compression settings.

You can see the texture improvements by toggling the level-of-detail option in the video settings menu. According to the developers, setting the level of detail to low will reduce the textures down to the Xbox level. The Xbox 360 gave Halo 2 a slight image quality boost, but the graphics in the Vista port put the older version to shame. DirectX 9 hardware and more efficient shaders let the Windows Vista version of the game use more "cinematic" shader effects, such as environmental mapping and normal mapping during gameplay. Models will also retain high levels of detail rather than degrade down to low-polygon versions at far distances.

Halo 2 for Windows Vista definitely offers a visual upgrade over the Xbox version, but don't expect a DirectX 10-sized graphics leap. The graphics in the Vista port are a polished version of the original Xbox game. Some of the differences are so subtle that you might miss them without a side-by-side comparison. We've put together a set of comparison screenshots to show the improvements we noticed while taking a short tour of the game.

Roll over each screenshot to see the comparison image.

Xbox vs. Windows Vista with High-Quality Details

Xbox vs. Windows Vista with Low-Quality Details

Are you a Halo 2 fan? Do you plan on playing Halo 2 on Windows Vista?

Xbox vs. Windows Vista with High-Quality Details

Xbox vs. Windows Vista with High-Quality Details

Xbox vs. Windows Vista with High-Quality Details

Xbox 360 480p vs. Windows Vista with High-Quality Details

Are you a Halo 2 fan? Do you plan on playing Halo 2 on Windows Vista?

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