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Tuesday, August 17

Have you caught the Halo fever yet?

I know what the ladies like....

Anticipation for Halo Reach is getting feverish, writes Irish writer Joe Griffin.

UNLIKE FILMS, videogame sequels and prequels usually equal and often surpass the originals. From two-fisted classics ( Streetfighter II, Grand Theft Auto III ) to recent home runs ( God of War III, Modern Warfare II ), game sequels are traditionally blessed with superior graphics, smoother gameplay and better characterisations.

The main reason is probably that the developers themselves are better equipped to exploit the platform. Uncharted II, for example, capitalised further on the PS3's engine. Also, game developers are in touch with their fans like no other media, largely thanks to online gaming.

There was certainly excitement among game journalists at the Halo Reach press event in London. After allowing us to play the game, Bungie community director Brian Jarrard and campaign designer Niles Sankey sat down to chat.

" Halo was one of the first games on a console that let you customise game types and game rules," says Jarrard. "Community and social interaction have always been a big part of Halo , and it's just gotten bigger with each release. It's a large part of what makes Halo what it is today. We love seeing awesome stuff that people have built and that we didn't know were possible. It gives us plenty to work with."

Sankey, however, is aware of the inherent difficulty of sequels.

"People like the familiar fun and experience but they don't like to repeat things too much. The nice thing about Reach is that we feel like we've done a good job of making new experiences and a more fleshed-out story. We're doing stuff that we've never allowed players to do before. So even in the campaign, every mission is unique and the story is definitely more fleshed out and impactful than anything we've done before."

The Halo franchise is Bungee's signature, but Jarrard promises that the series will soon end.

"Every day we work on this project it's a step closer to the last Halo game. But it's also a source of inspiration to go out on a high note and set the bar for what a Halo game should be, to leave something that we can be proud of and our fans will enjoy.

"We don't really spend any energy thinking about what other people are doing," he adds. "Bungie has always been more heads-down and coming up with ideas we think are interesting and listening to our fan community itself."

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That first sentence of the last paragraph is amusing. It's basically a fuck you Microsoft, we don't care that you're making a Halo bastard! Still, I'm gonna buy that game! 

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