Review by General Raynor
"And I thought Guilty Spark was misleading."
It's like time of year again. When the boys are separated from the men, chaff from the wheat, and fanboys from the serious gamers. Yes, it's the autumn months, when all the most hyped up games for the past year or so are released, and we find out whether or not it was worth the wait. Usually everyone follows a select few of games. Sonny once told me to only let three great women in my life. Unfortunately, I can't exactly do the door test with my car's locking system. With video games, it's a little easier. I only let three great-hyped games into my monthly earnings. The first two I was pleased... I find myself playing GTA: SA and The Sims 2 at the same time.
However, Halo 2 has been long anticipated. The hype spread like the Flood, the rumors hit harder than a Gold Elite with a plasma sword, and our anxiety was blowing up like the Pillar itself. However, now that we finally have it in our grasp... after three long years.... I find myself disappointed.
Lets start with the good...
Definitely one of the most amazing improvements to the Halo universe. The backgrounds are absolutely stunning and often interact with the chaos in the game. The enemies themselves are far more detailed, from the ugly birdlike Jackals, to the gruesome Flood forms which no longer look like giant popcorn people.
However, one of the most noticeable flaws is the sudden 'pop up' in the movies. Often times textures will be missing. Though the game corrects this within the few first seconds, a few time the textures never appeared at all, and some of the humans looked like something out of Jacob's Ladder.
No complaints. The music is great, and really picks up when the action in the game does. All the guns sound great, and are unique from their Halo 1 counterparts. Even the vehicles sound more like they should... from the hover of the Ghost to the tracks of the Scorpion tank.
Coop, split screen, X-Box live... There are plenty of unique maps to choose from, but moreso, also game types. This new additions including Assault, which is similar to the old 'flag offense' types in Halo: CE, and Territories, which are like Battlefield 1942... you must hold a point.
Okay, this is where it starts to get redundant. Though you play as two different perspectives in the game (I won't spoil it for you, though many already know), they can both get tedious real quick. The levels are massive, and on higher difficulties you will be overwhelmed by enemies. Legendary is far much harder in Halo 2 than it was in Halo 1, with snipers being able to take you down in one hit. OMGZ campers.
There are times when the action starts to pick up again, and it really gets you back into the game... until you realize that you're out of ammo. Human guns in this game are near worthless. Dual wielding SMGs will get you through about two rooms in the later levels before you trade it for a plasma sword. The new Battle Rifle fires in bursts of threes (even when scoped), and a single headshot to any enemy above a jackal will cause their eyes to water at most. Thus, you'll be losing ammo at a rate similar to the plasma rifles.
One of the most interesting things I discovered in this game is how quickly the levels go by without you noticing. When you get this game, and go straight into the game, play at least what you think are the first three levels. Then jump out into the selection screen and realize you've completed 7. Even worse is that the opening cutscene counts as a level itself.
Oh man did they screw this up. The story itself starts off great, and gives both perspectives of the war. However, as the game progresses, you start to get a sense of deja vu, and even Cortana says it... "Not very original, I know."
The story opens up many questions, but unfortunately, never answers them in the already infamously abrupt ending. I swear, what if Shawshank Redemption ended when the bars closed on Dufranse that final time? What if Apocalypse Now cut off as soon as Willard reached Kurtz's compound? What if Matrix Reloaded... nevermind. I'm not going to spoil the ending for you, as there are some interesting parts... but overall, I hope you brought a barf bag.
The graphics, sound, and to an extent, gameplay are all major improvements over the original Halo, but for those who followed this games development.... If you thought Guilty Spark was misleading, then Bungie took you for a long ride. I didn't care about the ATV, but Bungie promised an 'end of the Human-Covenant conflict'. This is at best only half true. If it weren't for multiplayer, this would only be half a game.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 11/11/04
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