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Halo 4 'still feels' like original trilogy

Halo 4  - 1092435

Halo 4 will mark the return of Master Chief to the popular Xbox franchise, but for the first time under the direction of a new company.  343 Industries is developing the new Halo 4 game, the first of planned trilogy.

Naturally, fans of the Halo series are worried.  Anytime a beloved franchise gets new ownership or direction, you run the risk of alienating the old fanbase. 

Speaking to CVG, 343's creative director Josh Holmes admitted the studio is feeling the pressure of working on such a huge franchise, but at the same time is "honored" to be working on it.

"Personally it's incredibly exciting, in a lot of ways it's an honor and it's daunting," he said. " I won't lie to you; it's something that is a tremendous amount of pressure on a new studio and a new team, and yet at the same time we built this team with this task in mind."

"We all came to the studio knowing that this was the goal, that we wanted to create the definitive Halo game and that we were following in the footsteps of giants in Bungie Studios. I think it's one of the things that energizes us as a team and it gets me up every morning and motivates me to want to do everything I can when I go in to work each day."

One of the most difficult aspects of working on such a huge franchise are the already established mechanics of the game.  When asked if it was difficult to balance the new ideas with the original features that fans grew up with, Holmes emphasized that it's "important to give yourself the freedom to take chances."

"If you find yourself constantly in a defensive mentality where you're afraid to change because, 'what if someone doesn't like the changes that we introduce?' I think that would lead you to a place of stagnation, and that's obviously not what we want."

He added: "We want to create a new experience that feels fresh and brings back those fans that love the universe, love Halo but also can introduce a new group of fans who've never experienced the Halo universe before."

With that being said, 343 isn't in any rush to abandon the old trilogy.  While combat is said to be "faster paced and more intense in terms of the imerssiveness of the experience and just the overall visceralness of the experience", he maintains that Halo 4 "still feels like Halo".

"You're still a Spartan so all the Spartan-related rules apply. You have this amazing powered battle armour, you have a shielding system and you have the ability to do amazing athletic and physical feats. Those things are core to the fantasy and we wanted to make sure that was reflected in the gameplay," he explained.

Currently, there are over 200 developers working from around the world to build Halo 4, which has been in development for roughly three years, Holmes revealed.  Last week, in a Halo waypoint bulletin, it was said that the game is currently in "crunch" stage, with an expected Holiday 2012 release.  It was also announced that the actual release date will soon be revealed.

"We're deep in production and working hard to make it the best game it can be."

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Matt Liebl You can follow Senior News Editor Matt Liebl on Twitter @Matt_GZ. He likes games, sports, musicals, and his adorable dog, Wrigley. And his wife.
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