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343 to Halo 4 critics: "classic Halo is still there"

Microsoft studio talks Halo 4 graphics, "perks", early bugs

Earlier this week, Microsoft released the first Halo 4 trailer along with a bevy of hard details. The internet knows but the one course of action in such circumstances, and that's to rip apart and obsessively pick over each and every quote, factoid or video frame for hidden truths.

As always, not everybody's barking up the right tree, and 343 boss Frank O'Connor has stepped forward (via NeoGAF) to issue a few clarifications.

For one, don't interpret Halo 4's having the odd line of code in common with Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary to mean that it's the exact same engine. "It shares no engine tech with Anniversary. Almost every single system, audio, rendering, lighting, you name it, has been either radically overhauled or rewritten from the ground up. At this point saying it's based on a previous version of the engine basically speaks to a few pieces of code." Said to have "exhausted" Xbox 360's capabilities, the new Halo engine runs in native 720p.

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For another, don't let talk of multiplayer unlocks persuade you that Halo's doing a Call of Duty. "I've responded to it a couple of times," wrote O'Connor of an 'offending' interview excerpt. "There aren't 'perks' in the game as being described here. And classic Halo is still there. But there are things we will be rolling out soon to put all of this discussion in a much better perspective and I suspect calm frayed nerves.

"We didn't mention them. That's why I put it in quotes. That term was coined by someone else to interpret stuff they saw in the UI. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things and to be expected during announce fervor. And yes, it's partly our fault since we're rolling out more information about this stuff at a later time."

Speaking to VG247 in the interview in question, O'Connor explained that 343 is taking recent multiplayer "trends" on board but carefully subordinating them to Halo's vision. "It's super-dangerous to chase somebody else's tail, but it's also incredibly dangerous to ignore the changing habits of players, so really rather than looking at the specific games and their functionality, you look at changing and emerging trends for players and what players expect.

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"That's a really important one to get. You have to at least meet their baseline expectation for various gameplay features. But if you chase someone else's tail and do it badly then it's twice as bad as if you hadn't.

"We have to make sure that the things we're adding are our things, from our vision, and, yes, they're modern and involved. Halo has such a grand history of, if not revolutionizing the console FPS space, at least pushing it and nudging it forward, and we're going to try to continue to do that in our own way."

Back on NeoGAF, O'Connor waved away criticisms of graphical faults in this week's reveal vidoc. "It's a video of very early footage. There are LOTS of bugs and work in progress in that footage. We do not intend to ship with them."

For more on Halo 4, check out our first-look preview. Microsoft has yet to announce a Halo 4 release date, but you can expect the game sometime this Christmas. Cheers, GA.

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