Review by Rare Trick
"An excellent sequel to an excellent game."
November 2001 marked the launch of Microsoft's entry into the video game console industry - XBox. Along with the release of the system, there was one title that stood out as the "killer app" for the system. This title was Halo. Halo was the one shining gem that XBox owners praised as their savior no matter what. Fast forward three years and we arrive at the release of Halo 2. Some are disappointed, some are enthusiastic, and some just don't know what to think. I think some people expected the second coming of Jesus Christ in Halo 2, while others expected it to be a good, quality game without being the end-all of video games - an opinion in which I think it lived up to.
Gameplay - 10/10
Halo, like any game, has it's flaws. No game is perfect, and no game most likely will never be. That being said, it's no secret that Halo gets such critical acclaim for it's gameplay. That's no different with the sequel. Bungie has added some nice new surprises this time around: the ability to dual wield weapons, the ability to pilot more vehicles, the ability to use the Covenant sword, and just a plethora of other things. Yeah, okay.. maybe the game is a little on the short side, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Not only that, I can NEVER get tired of playing the game on XBox Live. Deep down, as excellent as the Campaign mode is, the heart of Halo 2 is playing it on XBox Live. Offline or online, though, the gameplay experience is one of the best you will ever find.
Story - 8/10
If you've played the original Halo you could more or less know what to expect Halo 2. Our hero, Master Chief, is appointed with the task of saving our pitiful hides from the Covenant forces. While the whole "one-man-army" angle isn't exactly original, I do think it's pulled off rather well and the Halo storyline continues to be one of my favorites. Afterall, the game has spawned multiple books and a movie is always a possibility. That being said, the ending isn't as much as an ending as some would wish it to be. I won't spoil anything, but much like the first Halo it leaves much room open for a sequel and leaves a lot of pondering to take place in the gamers' minds.
Graphics/Sound - 9/10
The Halo series as a whole as had an excellent soundtrack in both games. The music sets the mood very well, and is superbly orchestrated. You really couldn't ask for more from a video game soundtrack as far as I'm concerned. The graphics are a mixed bag with me. From a technical standpoint they're an improvement over the original Halo, but from an appearance standpoint - I think the Master Chief looks "slightly" chubby. It's not THAT noticable, but it is noticable none-the-less. That being said, it's not much of an issue. It's still a beautiful game.
Longevity - 9/10
The game excels in longevity for the multi-player. The length of campaign mode can vary depending on the difficulty you play it on. Supposedly the game is beatable in 8 hours on the easiest difficulty, but come on.. who wants to take the easy way out anyway? Regardless, it WILL end eventually.The first night alone I was up to 7am in the morning playing the game online. Not only The heart of all first-person shooting games is a good, old-fashioned deathmatch. Halo 2 is no exception. The online mode is insanely fun and addicting. Annoyingly enough, though, the current matching system in the online mode is somewhat of a hassle. You cannot pick the mode in which you wish to play or the rules for the match. I hope Bungie addresses this in some type of update in the near future, during which time the online experience will be flawless. In relation to the Campaign mode, there's also a co-op mode to play through the Campaign mode with a friend. This mode is offline only, and after much consideration I think that Bungie made the right decision in doing so. Most people aren't going to sit down 8 or more hours at a time to play a game, so you'll be left alone after your "partner" leaves. In the end, as nifty as it would have been.. I see why Bungie made the choice they did. Regardless, co-op mode is still fun with a friend.
Halo was an excellent game in 2001, and Halo 2 is no different in 2004. I think anyone can enjoy the game if they try without expecting the end-all of video games from this title. Regardless, though, I give the game two thumbs up and recommend all XBox owners purchase Halo 2. Play it for what it is. Don't come to the forums to see what everyone else thinks and love/dislike the game before you even play it. Form an opinion on your own, and it most likely will be a good one. Long live Halo & XBox.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/09/04
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