The most anticipated. The most talked about. The most pre-ordered. The fastest selling. Halo 2 has become the game that everyone wanted it to be: the most important reason to ignore reality and escape to a world that’s 100% better than your own.
Everyone waited for Halo 2 because of its multiplayer gameplay. That’s the reason why it has a chance at becoming the most played game of this console generation. Based on my personal experiences, it seems that no less than three people are playing Halo 2 for every copy sold. If it sells as many copies as the first game (over five million), it’ll reach at least 15 million players.
When your friends aren’t around, you can log into Xbox Live and play it against thousands of gamers from virtually anywhere in the world.
There are times when you’ll end up playing the game alone, and in Halo 2’s case it will be by choice. The new single-player and co-op campaign is an ultra-fun, out-of-this-world, non-stop action-fest. What Metal Gear Sold did for espionage Halo 2 does for action. I literally felt like I was inside of an action movie, shooting my way through a legion of ferocious enemies that want to take over the world. (The whole galaxy is in their long-term plans, but they’ll settle for one planet at a time).
The action is backed by Halo’s award-winning controls and a new set of levels that are better than any featured in the original. You heard right – better than any level featured in the original Halo’s single-player campaign. Halo 2 is bigger, badder, and a whole lot better in every conceivable way. From tiny things like mounted weaponry, to the more major improvements like vehicle controls and the intense battle sequences (which you’re a part of!), Halo 2 is nothing short of an amazing experience.
Halo 2 has a lot of new gameplay features: new weapons, faster shield repair, the ability to use two weapons simultaneously, etc. Those are great, but my favorite is the ability to steal vehicles. Halo 2 gives you the power to chase opponents, kick ’em out of the vehicle, hop in the driver’s seat and take over. You have no idea how much fun this is to perform (unless you’ve played the game already. Then you know it’s the coolest and most brilliant addition Bungie has given us).
This is an especially cool treat for multiplayer games. Your friends will get so mad when they’re battling someone with a Ghost, only to lose it when you snatch it from them. The best part is when you’re playing Juggernaut (one of the many multiplayer games). In Juggernaut, only one enemy exists: the Juggernaut. Only the Juggernaut can score points by killing other players. Killing the Juggernaut turns you into the Juggernaut; killing anyone else will deduct points from your score.
The Juggernaut will likely search for a vehicle, thinking it’ll give him/her the upper hand. It might for a while…until the Juggernaut becomes distracted. That’s when I run in, steal the vehicle, kill the Juggernaut, and destroy the players I once called teammates. They hate it when that happens, which is precisely why I love it so very much.
Halo 2 has the expected multiplayer modes: Slayer (kill the most opponents to win), Capture the Flag, and King of the Hill. It also has a mode called Assault where you gain points by carrying, arming and dropping your team’s bomb in the other team’s base. Oddball is like Capture the Flag with constant movement: find the ball and hold onto it the longest. In Territories, players must control various areas on the map for as long as possible.
Halo 2’s weapon selection is the best of any console FPS. You can find pistols, shotguns and sniper rifles in any FPS, but they’re all better in Halo. The new dual wield system might take some getting used since each weapon is controlled by a different trigger. To fire both weapons at the same time you must hold down both triggers. This felt a little awkward at first since I tend to hold the Xbox controller very loosely. The awkward feeling began to fade as soon as I realized how much quicker enemies die when wielding two weapons. This greatly improved my chances for success in multiplayer, a mode I do not yet dominate (but will dominate very soon. Mu-ha-ha-ha!).
The vehicles, old and new, are undeniably cool, and undeniably Halo. Controlling the enemy’s vehicles is the best part, whether you’re the good guys or…do you really want me to spill the beans? If you haven’t heard by now, you’re best discovering this little secret on your own.
The Ghost is the vehicle you see everyone stealing, and the Banshee is the awesome aircraft that takes Halo to new heights, both in multiplayer and during the single-player campaign. The M808B Scorpion MBT (a near-indestructible tank) has the power to crush almost anything. It can drive over rugged terrain, take out enemy aircrafts, and cruise through a Ghost like it wasn’t even there.
Like every Halo vehicle, the Banshee doesn’t fly like a typical aircraft. The right trigger handles the Banshee’s powerful plasma cannons; the left trigger increases your speed. This aircraft moves in the direction of your crosshairs, so if you have them pointed at a ground-based enemy, you can be certain you’re losing altitude.
The new weapons and gameplay features would be useless without great multiplayer maps. Halo 2 has several. The cat’s out of the bag, so I’m sure most everyone knows that Coagulation is the Blood Gulch map, revived and revised for Halo 2. The other maps are extremely rewarding. Ivory Tower is an instant classic, featuring lots of areas to climb and a central dome-like area for all-out battles. Waterworks is perfect for the happy camper who likes to grab a tank and sit and wait for opponents to come.
If the vehicles don’t appease you, go to the options menu and change them. Same goes for the weapons. Halo 2 has a huge list of options that can be tweaked. The only thing I haven’t been able to do is eliminate ALL vehicles from a map. It’s not something I would normally do (the vehicles are one of the best things about Halo), but there were times when me and my friends wanted a game where our only line of defense was sniper rifle. The temptation of having a vehicle on the map is too great to resist. Eventually someone would cave and grab one, then we’d all cave and start using ’em.
As if there was ever any doubt, Halo 2 is the best Xbox game ever made. This means that it’s better than the first Halo. It’s better than Splinter Cell, Ninja Gaiden, Knights of the Old Republic, The Chronicles of Riddick, RalliSport Challenge 2, and every other Xbox game that, at one time or another, stole our hearts as the best game available. Halo 2 won’t be topped until the day Bungie releases Halo 3. Join the revolution now and buy the game that no one can stop talking about.
Review Scoring Details for Halo 2
Everything you loved about the first Halo times two. Twice the addiction, twice the replay value, more than twice the number of gameplay features, and more than twice as many multiplayer options. Everyone who’s played it will tell you the same thing: this is the game makes you glad you bought an Xbox.
Some of the best visuals the world has ever seen. Take a look at the water, the textures, the destructible environments. Almost every moment is breathtaking. I was especially impressed by the effect the game demonstrates when using a sniper rifle or some other type of scope. The backgrounds gain detail as you zoom in, just as they would in real life.
A couple of things keep the game from receiving a perfect score in this category. (1) Graphics are always improving, so no game truly looks perfect. (2) The game seemed to slow down every once in a while during co-op. What gives? (3) Some of the movie sequences have clipping. Halo 2 looks gorgeous, then you watch a real-time sequence and see the game clip. The gameplay is good enough for us to forget that this happened, but why did it have to occur at all? They had three years development time. Was that not enough time to make it look as good as it played? I’ve seen EA work wonders in just 12 months.
Good voice acting, but the music is split 50/50. I love the orchestral score – those songs are awesome. The rock-oriented tracks are good, but completely out of place. I know why Microsoft wanted to include them, but they’re not Halo’s style. Halo 2 is an epic game. The soundtrack should reflect that throughout the journey.
Surprised by the imperfect score? Halo 2 is not entirely innovative. Bungie created innovation with the first game. Halo 2 improves on what they already made. The developers somehow managed to make the gameplay, which already seemed perfect, even better.
If you expected the multiplayer to live up to the original, you might be disappointed. Bungie didn’t want to make a game that played as good as the original. They wanted to make one that played better. I know it’s hard to deal with, but you’ll find a way to go on. We all will.
What do you mean you want an overall score? Doesn’t my review say enough? Kids these days. Back in my day, it didn’t take a review to get us gamers to go out and spend money. We flew to the store whenever a game like Halo came out, regardless of the cost.
Back then we didn’t have a game like Halo. We had the Marios and the Street Fighters, but not until Bungie came along did we get a game like this. A game that brings people together in a way that no other has. Halo 2 is the Xbox revolution you’ve been waiting for. Not just you – but all of us.