Review by Link165
"This game is simply not fun at all."
On November 9, 2004 people were waiting in midnight lines to get their copy of Halo 2(H2), the sequel to the highly popular launch game called Halo:Combat Evolved (H:CE), for Microsoft's Xbox. I was very excited when I received this game for Christmas a month later. Writing this review, I conclude that Halo 2 is way overrated, and my general feeling of the game has dropped.
Halo 2's graphics are excellent however. All of the character models have been upgraded from H:CE. Their faces look good, but sometimes they sort of glitch out and still need to load after the character appears on screen. This is to cut down on loading times(*cough*no load times *cough*) The environments in Halo 2 are very good and vary greatly. From the metal walls of Cairo Station to the snow of Quarantine Zone, they all look very good. In the Delta Halo and regret levels, I was amazed by the realism of the trees, water and stone ruins. The flood are much more gory looking then they were in Combat Evolved; they have more gashes in their skin, more blood, and grossly large arms(with VERY long fingers...) . Weapons and vehicles look great too, and they show their signs of disrepair as they are damaged. Using a Ghost once, I lost all of the purple(the color of the covenant) plating on it and the Ghost was merely a flying wreck of sparkling grey metal. I've had a Banshee lose both of it's wings and had the top part slightly ajar, while some of the plating came off. Overall, eye candy for the Xbox. However, there are better FPSs with better graphics out now.
Sound is H2 is also really good. For one, the voice acting in this game is excellent. Johnson's and Cortana's voices sound really good, and Master Cheif's is just bad@$$. Every gun sounds really good, especially the Sub machine gun. The vehicles also sound great. Grunts also have that high squeaky voice, while brutes have a big tough-guy voice. Music is also really good, and the title screen music is great.
Ah yes, the gameplay. Probably the worst part about Halo 2 single player wise. It's is basically "get from point A to point B and kill anything along the way". Levels are VERY linear in Halo 2, there aren't alternate paths or anything. New to Halo 2 is dual-wielding. I'm sorry to say this is not very useful and is just a gimmick; it is never required to be used.
In Halo 2, you can ride several different vehicles, from both the humans and the Covenant. They range from one man Ghosts to very slow but powerful Scorpions. Probably the best new thing to H2 is the ability to hijack these vehicles. I hijacked a Banshee after jumping off a Scarab(a huge four legged spider-like vehicle thing with a VERY powerful cannon, and no it is not usable) in the last level, and it was really cool seeing the driver fall 50+ feet to the ground(and his death).
Like H:CE, you can only carry two weapons at a time(a third if you dual wield). The 36 shot semi auto Battle Rifle is essentially the pistol from Halo 2, except it fires 3 bullet bursts. The SMG replaces the MA5B Assault Rifle from Halo CE(much to my dismay). The beloved pistol has been stripped of it's deadly scope, and is now a pistol instead of a rifle. Probably the WORST thing that Bungie has done is the rocket launcher can now lock on to vehicles being used by the enemy and it has a scope. This is damn cheap while playing in multiplayer. The needler is better then it was before, but it still is useless unless you hold two at the same time. In multiplayer, it sucks outright. The new weapons(especially the Covenant Energy sword) are all really nice weapons to use, but again, they suck in multiplayer(not the sword or sniper).
The allied AI is very good in the game however. In Halo Combat Evolved, they were able to shoot from vehicles while you drove. Not only is this the case in Halo 2, but it is also reversed, they can drive while you shoot. Although on harder difficulties, it becomes more of a liability(sure, lets drive right in front of a sniper tower at 5 miles an hour). The enemy AI is good too, they will hide, throw grenades a lot(especially on higher difficulties), and will ambush you.
As before, there are four different difficulties, Easy, Medium, Heroic, and Legendary. When I played Halo: Combat Evolved, they had a level preview for Halo 2. It showed Master Chief battling Covenant in what was probably an early version of the Metropolis level. I was REALLY looking forward to this, and was disappointed to find that the level was absent from Halo 2. Oh well. The controls are good and work well. In Halo 2, you are also the Arbiter for some of the game. The Arbiter is an Elite that was punished because the original Halo was destroyed since he was the commander of it. Instead of a flashlight, the Arbiter has active camouflage that turns off when he attacks, is hit, or time runs out. One problem is you can't aim down the iron sights in Halo 2 if your gun doesn't have a scope, and this is normally a must in a FPS nowadays. Instead, you just use binoculars. Also, some crosshairs are pretty stupid, such as the shotgun circle, that is really annoying.
Master Chief is on Cairo Station above the planet Earth. During an award ceremony, they are attacked by Covenant forces. After fighting his way through, he takes a bomb put on Cairo and throws it at a Covenant ship. He lands with a few others at a crash site on the outskirts of an old city on Earth. Master Chief gets into the city and stops a Scarab. As the Arbiter, you must kill a Heretic Leader and find the index for guess what: another Halo! Master Chief also finds it. Master Chief goes to the Covenant Holy City to get the index and destroy Halo. Problem with that is the Brutes, Covenant, and Flood are trying to stop him. Cliche, it's as if Bungie said that "oh look, a new alien race, that's surely original". Not. This is what pissed me(and others) off the most: the ending. Quite simply, this is one of the worst endings ever. A dang cliffhanger is all you get. I was stunned when the credits began rolling. I didn't know the game was over until I saw them. Well, there WAS a little short clip after the credits, but I'm not sure how this will relate to Halo 3.
Multiplayer is what makes Halo Halo according to almost every one of the six million+ that bought this game. I say different. No bots are allowed in Multiplayer. Games can be played on Split Screen, System Link, or Xbox Live. I have Live, and have had it for a while, I will get to that two paragraphs down. You can make an emblem for your profile, and choose to be a Spartan(like Master Chief) or an Elite(like the Arbiter). Your Spartan/Elite can be several different primary and secondary colors. This is what your character will look like to other players in multiplayer, unless teams are on, where you will be the color of your team. It's cool making your own character
There are several modes, such as slayer/team slayer(deathmatch) , King of the hill, oddball, Juggernaut, Capture the Flag, Assault, Territories, and more. You can even make your own rules for each game, so if you don't like the idea of starting with an SMG, you can change it to a different weapon. All of the modes have different game variants. For example, in slayer, you can choose to play with swords only or rockets only and in CTF, you can choose to play from different types of games, whether it is when you take turns being on offense and defense, using one flag, or the traditional CTF of trying to get your opponent's flag while defending your own. The maps are good. Some, maps like Blood Gulch are returning from H:CE under new names (Blood Gulch= Coalgulation), with a few modifications. These modifications can be from the following or more: there's a different vehicle, redesigned, or a different weapon in a different spot. Also, there is co-op multiplayer too, where you play through every single player mission with two people.
Halo 2 is a big supporter of Xbox Live. Up to sixteen players can play at once, voices are supported, which has good and bad effects. Even better, you can download things for Halo 2 via Xbox Live, such as the additional multiplayer maps, which are now all free. There are two main types of modes in Halo 2.
Matchmaking is all of the ranked games. You can pick from several different game types, such as team Snipers, Team Slayer, Rumble Pit, Team SWAT, Big Team Battle, and more. Depending on the game type, you are matched up with other XBL players looking for the same thing. Once the minimum amount of people needed to start a game is reached, the game wait a few seconds for any additional players and then sets up the game, using the default rules on any map(unless the gametype says different). However, Bungie's stupidity have caused an uproar in my mind. I enjoyed playing Big Team Battle Slayer(Bungie split Big Team Battle into BTB Skirmish and an unranked BTB slayer). I come back to find out that they were merged once again. Brilliant move! Also, due to the two new maps they reset all of the ranks. Another fine job. You didn't reset after the first nine maps came out, why start now?
The other type is a custom game, where you and some buddies can play a game by your own rules. This is actually the better mode. However, you can only do custom games if you have friends on Xbox Live. No friends=no custom for you.
The problem with the "great" multiplayer online is that there are some things that can seriously hamper your experience. Let's take glitches/bad moves by Bungie. For example, once I was playing a Team Sniper game on the map Terminal. I was killed in the parking garage when we were down by three or two. I respawned in the exact same spot I died, and was killed again. I respawned again....IN THE SAME SPOT! Once again, I was killed. I was killed once more before I finally respawned on the other end of the map. Another time, in Team Slayer on Colossus, I respawn right next to a pit and was pushed into it- and my death- by another respawning teammate.
Another thing is the playing community. Of the many many matches I've played, I've has a little 8 year old, a girl or guy who really sucks, a person who won't stop singing or screaming into the mic, or a teenager who won't stop cursing in 90% of the games I've played. When you have someone like this on your team, no matter if you have Bill Gates himself on your team, you're screwed. I once got 30 kills in a slayer match on Elongation once, and my teammates sucked so bad we still lost. One time in a snipers game, we had four guys on our team including me, the other team had two guys. We lost because these two 10 year olds would not stop fighting and cursing each other out. Also, Halo 2 is the home of the cheaters. Super bouncing is perfectly legal, yet it still annoys me. And before you say it's illegal, then why aren't these people banned? Surely everyone wants the game to be fair. Yet several times I've been approached by "hey, I got mods!" people. There is a feedback system though.....
I'm not going to dock points for a crappy community, that's not Bungie's fault. But you want more? I find it ridiculous that Bungie decided to put the sword on unlimited power in multiplayer. Oh, that's so smart of them. They also have some of the stupidest maps for things. Snipers belongs on maps like Coagulation, Waterworks, Headlong, and a few others, yet I get snipers on lockout. LOCKOUT! And I don't know what they were thinking when they made Turf. One of the worst multiplayer maps I've experienced. Recently, two new maps were released; Tombstone and Desolation. Desolation is a remake of Halo's Derelict, it just looks prettier and it's outdoors. Tombstone is a remake of one of the favorites from Halo; Hang em High. And I'm sorry to say, due to Halo 2's weapon imbalances, it's not nearly as fun as it used to be. What's worse, these maps are $4 to download, and you HAVE to download them in order to continue playing Matchmaking. Come on, we're already paying 50 dollars a year for Xbox Live, do we really have to pay $4 for two crappy maps just to play ranked matches?
Also, what's this I hear of LAG FREE ONLINE? This is one of the WORST lies I have ever heard. I don't know if Bungie ever said lag free(I would imagine they didn't), but whoever has claimed this is lag free must have been on every drug ever known to man. This. Game. Is. Laggy. And before you say ANYTHING, note I have a CABLE connection to the internet, and I'm not the only one complaining, all the time I hear others complaining about the lag. There is even a counter on the scoreboard showing how good of a connection everyone has. Sometimes there are games that are very nice, but half of the time the games lag severely. Sometimes I snipe a guy in the head and I don't get the message "You sniped xxxxxxx" until a few seconds later. And before you ask, the message bar was empty.
There are other times when Warthogs are literally fireworks. You know how sometimes when you're viewing fireworks from far away and you always see it a few seconds before you hear it(because light travels faster then sound)? I blow up a full Warthog with a rocket launcher and I see it blow up(I'm close enough to hear the explosion). Then I hear the explosion. Then a few seconds later I get "You killed xxxxxxx". Sometimes I don't even get explosion sound effects. The game crashes frequently and people(me on occasions) get kicked for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
But that doesn't hurt the game, it's just exploiting a lie. But don't be fooled, there will be times when the lag hurts the game, such as causing you to miss a kill because you found out those explosive cores were already destroyed, or select opponent will have lagged 5 feet away.
Now lets say that all of these problems are gone. Multiplayer boils down to just having the greatest weapon or greatest camp spot and using it to kill the other team (and plant the bomb or take the flag if necessary), the weapons are that unbalanced. Got the sword? The sniper rifle? The rocket launcher? Good, your team wins. This problem isn't as bad on maps like Coagulation where everyone starts with a battle rifle(which is a decent killing weapon) AND an SMG, but the maps where you start with only an SMG, this is a problem. For Team Sniper games, this problem is entirely non-existent seeing as the two sniper rifles are the only two weapons.
The SMG is one of the worst weapons in the game, and it's damn near impossible to kill anyone outside of 10 feet away. This causes a mad rush for every other weapon or grenade on the map. Sadly, besides the weapons mentioned above and the battle rifle, the other weapons on the map(such as the needler) are entirely useless.
There's also what has been called the "n00b combo". A person would get the battle rifle and the plasma pistol(it's only use comes here), and hold the plasma pistol charged. They'd release it on a guy, which instantly depletes his shield. Then they'd take out the battle rifle and one shot that person dead. It's incredibly cheap and takes away from the game.
Honestly, if you want the best Halo multiplayer experience, play split screen with friends. XBL's negatives far outweigh it's positives. Even so, the multiplayer here isn't anything special.
AMOUNT OF VIOLENCE
Halo 2 is rated M for Blood and Gore, Violence, and Language. Whenever a human is shot and/or killed, blood puddles form around them. Same for the Covenant, except their blood is blue. The flood lose limbs, but they disappear. The flood also look horribly mutilated as well. There is a lot of cursing, and can be more cursing when playing online(I'm not sure if there are voice filters). Not a game for little kids(ie 4-9 years), but there's worse out there.
Halo 2 is a very overrated game that is only played by teenagers and others who overrate this game. There are much better First Person Shooters out there that don't receive as much publicity yet are much better then Halo 2. Just avoid Halo 2, you'll be doing yourself a favor. Want the real Halo? Get Halo Combat Evolved. Hopefully Halo 3 will be better but I don't like some of the moves Bungie is pulling(bubble shield?!)
-story is alright
-multiplayer is generally very bad and not worth your time
-terrible single player game with a bad ending
Final Rating: 4/10
Reviewer's Rating: 2.0 - Poor
Originally Posted: 07/25/05, Updated 05/14/07
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