Review by FrZnChAoS
"Well Worth the Wait"
Halo 2 the anticipated sequel to what some call the greatest game ever made. Personally I was not a huge Halo fan and I found the game merely average at best. With all the hype surrounding Halo 2 I could not resist to get it. So after waiting 3 hours in line at midnight I proceeded home with my game.
Halo 2 puts you in the roll of Master Cheif and your returning from your mission in Halo 1. Suddenly you notice a Covenant fleet approaching earth and it becomes a race to save earth...
Story - 10
If anyone can remember back to Halo 1 you can recall who relatively weak the story was. Sure there were basic reasons why you were shooting enemies but it never really seemed like it mattered why. I personally found this to be a huge dissapointment. To my surprise in Halo 2 the story is extremely well done. There is a lot more scripting and animated scenes. The game feels much larger in scope than it ever did before. You feel a larger connection with the characters thus immersing you in the game far more thans it predecessor. The story itself isnt overly complex but there are some plot twists thrown in to definitely surprise the player. If there could be any complaint it would be with the ending but I guess that is for the player to decide.
Graphics - 10
If there was anything that made me want to play this game it would be the incredible visuals. The character in enemy models now utilize what is called normal mapping. This allows an insane amount of detail to be shown while allowing the game to run smooth. With this in mind all the models are breathtaking. The animation is extremely fluid from everything from the gorilla type run of the brutes to the explosions of the vehicles. The amount of works is unparalled on the X Box. The worlds themselves are huge and detailed. Although not completely interactive enough effects happen to keep the player immersed in the game. The locals in which you will visit are very diverse. Although at the start of the game its sorta repetive. This soon changes so you just have to presevere.
Music/Sound - 10
The music for Halo 2 is extremely well composed and every scenes music is very fitting. It ranges from instrumental to what seems like rock music depending on the current situation. Never does it feel out of place. The sounds themselves are also top notch. Everything from gunshots to explosions is very well implemented. I see no complaints whatsoever in this department.
Controls - 9
If I had any complaint with this game here it lies. Although usually perfect and work well in most situations. I found myself periodically getting annoyed with small things. For instance I would be trying to hi jack an incoming vehicle and land right on it while pressing the x button. Every once in a while the vehicle would keep on going and strike me down. You could argue it was bad timing but when the same exact jump results in different results makes me wonder. Another small thing is with the dual weilding of weapons. Although it makes sense that you use both the triggers to shoot the guns. The picking up a second gun or switching to another gun becomes a problem. They are both allocated to the same button. To pick up a gun you have to hold it a little longer. In the heat of battle though and you scramble to change your gun and to accidentally dual with a gun on the ground or vice verca is a real pain sometimes. Although you get used to it and do small things like jump while switching or make sure no guns are around you to change, it really should have been considered. As far as the rest of the controls go Master Cheif controls and accurately like you would expect. The ground vehicles are all very responsive, the banchee I found a little awkward to control sometimes. Although a very small issue and it does not detract much from the gameplay.
Gameplay - 10
I really dont know where to start with this topic. The developers at Bungie really set the player up for a hell of a ride. To start the basic fighting engine seems far improved. In the sense that all the guns seem very balanced, everything seems to have a use and function. Where in the first Halo you could utilize the pistol the whole game and was arguably the best gun in the game. Not so in Halo 2 though, as that and guns from the original have been tweaked and changed. On top of that a whole new slew of weapons have been added. My personal favorite being the Covenant blade which allows the player to do instant kills if locked on. A new feature to ensure balance is the fact single handed weapons can be held in both hands. Although not a new thing to first person shooters this changes halo drastically. The amount of strategy and style that goes into fighting is heightened by this fact. For instance I usually take a sub machine gun and a magnum in each hand. The pistol allows me to shoot at enemies and get them to stop moving so i can than decimate them with my sub. Its all about preference in the end but the options are there. Another minor thing that was added is the fact that when your with your allies you may trade guns with them rather than kill them like in the first Halo. Another factor that has been improved is the enemy and ally AI. Your opponents seem far more cunning this time round. Using flanking and other strategic tactics to take you down. This really ensures you think on your feet and move fast. When your with your allies and vehicles are involved you can actually hop on the gunner instead of driving. Your ally will than drive you around and try to position you in good vantage point while shooting at your enemies. Although they get jammed from time to time it is a nice feature overall. Vehicle combat in general feels similar to the first Halo which is not a bad thing. You have more vehicles at your disposal this time though which is nice. One thing to mention is the fact your vehicles can actually be destroyed, unlike in Halo 1 when your Warthog was invincible. With all these elements put together is what makes Halo 2 so amazing. Its the pacing of all the events, it never seems to get boring. You will be shooting through a city at one moment. Than right when you might even have a thought of repetitiveness you are thrown into a whole new situation. Whether that be a new location a new weapon a vehicle sequence. It all seems to come together so smooth. Even the introduction of story elements seems extremely well integrated giving a very slick production.
With everything said Halo 2 is a great game. It excels far among its predecessor and definitely deserves respect among gamers. It is a nearly perfect game in most regards, Even if you were not a huge Halo fan this game is definitely worth checking out. If you have a X Box I dont see why you should not own this game.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/10/04
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