Remember the Halo Online gameplay trailer we told you about last week? If you go to watch it now, you'll notice that it's no longer there: Publisher Innova Systems had it taken down over a copyright claim. And we're unlikely to see another one anytime soon, as Microsoft has issued a DMCA takedown notice to Github, forcing it to remove access to the game files and a new launcher.
Modders have been poking at Halo Online ever since two of them, Gamercheat13 and Lord Zedd, got their hands on it and helped YouTube user Noble create the aforementioned video. One group was even working on a launcher called ElDorito, which provided "a framework for the game to be playable, as well as a custom console with a plethora of features we believe are necessary to the game," according to a team member.
But yesterday, Microsoft dropped the hammer. "We have received information that the domain listed above, which appears to be on servers under your control, is offering unlicensed copies of, or is engaged in other unauthorized activities relating to, copyrighted works published by Microsoft,” it wrote in a DMCA notice sent to Github. Github, understandably, has complied with the demand to remove the files, while the ElDorito team is "a bit spooked" and has put the project on hold.
Interestingly, while the launcher has been deep-sixed, the actual game files were, at last check, still available. The Halo Online Wiki notes that it can't post the link to the download, and so interested parties will have to look for it elsewhere. But "elsewhere" is a hyperlink that leads to Pastebin, which contains another link leading to Mega; and on Mega is a 2.1GB file called Halo Online.zip. I can't verify its contents (and, for the record, you dick around with it at your own risk), but it's reasonable to conclude that it's the unauthorized build of the game that started all this business.
Halo Online is hardly the hottest thing to happen to online shooters since 2Fort. In fact, it's built on the old Halo 3 engine so that it can run on lower-spec machines. But it's also, for now at least, only planned for release in Russia—and as we all know, nothing makes people want something quite so much as not being able to have it.