Review by Josh9327
"Nowhere as bad as people claim it is."
Okay, before I tell anyone how I feel about this game, I must tell you that I never bought Halo 2 on the Xbox, and am strictly a PC gamer.
I got my copy of Halo 2 Vista for $40 from Circuit City. That's the first point that many people make. The game is simply "too expensive." Consider it this way though. Those who bought Halo 2 on the Xbox bought it for $50 when it game out 3 years ago. HOWEVER, they couldn't get free online play like with Windows Live. Many people who bought Halo 2 Xbox probably have spent upwards of $100 in it through map packs and Xbox Live Subscriptions.
For those people who say that Windows Vista isn't worth it and "it's too buggy," I'd have to tell you that all my ancient games from the early 2000s like the original Hitman and GTA III work flawlessly with Vista. And that's just the thing. If you have compatibility issues with Vista, why not just turn on the compatibility mode wizard and try to fix it? 80% of the time it will usually work, and make your game play as if you were still running XP. If your complaint is that Vista is a resource hog, that isn't so either. Most of the time it's the user's fault for running anti-virus scans in the background while playing. I'm not running a supercomputer (Core 2 Duo @ 2GHz / NVIDIA Go 7900 GS / 2GB RAM) and yet I can still run Halo 2 Vista at 1680x1050 with Anti-Aliasing enabled and get about 45 FPS or higher depending on the effects enabled in the map.
Halo 2 Vista's graphics though, are quite a disappointment. Microsoft said they were going to have DirectX 10 support in H2V. Well..that never happened. But the game does look SIGNIFICANTLY better than its Xbox counterpart. And considering that Microsoft may release a patch that would enable DX10 support, (Like what Relic did for Company of Heroes) that might not be the issue soon.
Sound design is top notch. Marty O'Donnell's soundtracks never cease to amaze, as the fully orchestrated music and pitch perfect sound effects add an incredible amount of immersion into the game.
There are two control schemes in Halo 2 Vista as you probably know. Mouse and Keyboard, and the Xbox 360 Controller. I have a wired Xbox 360 Controller, and I have tried both control schemes. As many people have said before, the Xbox 360 Controller enables aim assist, which makes your reticule sort of "follow your target" to a certain degree. This is due to the lack of prescision in analog sticks. People have said that this gives controller users and unfair advantage. Well, let me put it to you this way. If there was no aim assist, M/KB users would completely destroy controller users. It is amazingly easier to make no scope headshots with a sniper rifle with the M/KB setup than with the controller. Also, you can remap the control layout to whatever you wish, but this may take some time as this requires you to remap every key. Overall, I would have to say that the control setups are pretty much equal, except for the fact that it can be extremely annoying if you are going up against a VERY experienced console FPSer.
Campaignwise, the game is exactly the same as its Xbox predescessor. The game has no extra levels or chapters, and still ends with the amazingly annoying cliffhanger that's supposed to "set the tone for Halo 3." There is a bit more replayability though, than the Xbox version because of Microsoft's desicison to implement the amazingly addictive Achievement system that we've seen on the Xbox 360. Honestly though, the campaign is short. Shorter than any game I've ever played except for HL2: Episode 1, but that game was $20. Honestly, the story in this game is very much above par, considering the crappy stories that are spewing out of many FPSes today. (Red Steel anyone?)
The Live service in Halo 2 Vista works very much like PC shooters should. You have a server browser like almost every other PC shooter, but what I want to know is why the hell Bungie took out the Xbox matchmaking, the clan system, and the level system? Those were pretty much the selling points for H2X.
Anyways, if you have an Xbox 360, you'll know the setups that you'll have to go through. You have to register a gamertag, and then go into the game and sign in accordingly. There are two levels, gold and silver. Silver accounts are the basic free accounts, and allow for voice chat and server browsing. Gold accounts on the other hand, allow for much more, including hosting your own games, multiplayer achievements, a stripped down version of matchmaking, and server filtering based off of custom gametypes. The Live service works pretty well, except it can be buggy. Hopefully though, these will be resolved in a patch soon. However, I'm really hoping that the online community in Halo 2 Vista will grow, as there is probably a max of 500 people playing at any given time. But since this game was released in late May, it will probably grow like how Halo PC did.
Overall, Halo 2 Vista is a solid shooter. If you've never played the Xbox version and you don't have plans to buy an Xbox 360 or Halo 3, Halo 2 PC works just fine, as free online multiplayer and achievements really make up for it. The only drawback are the dated graphics. Other than that however, I would highly recommend this game to anyone who's never entered the epic struggle of Master Chief before.
Online: 7/10 (due to limitations of Silver)
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/10/07
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