Review by Zylo the wolf
"If it ain't broken don't fix it!"
Even if I didn't have an xbox back in 2004, it was impossible to not notice Halo 2 when it was about to get released. I had a couple of class mates who only talked about this game, and even took a day off from school the day the game was released. I have never been a huge fan of FPS games but I had had a couple of fun hours with the original Halo with my friends. The day after the game was released one of my friends called me and asked if I couldn't help him with the campaign, and that day we played through 50% of the game without taking a break. I don't know what it was, but back then I thought HALO 2 was a huge improvement and I wouldn't be surprised if it's one of the 20 games I've spent the most time with.
What made the first game so good was that it wasn't so complicated to play as many other FPS games. You never had to search for keys or other items in order to advance, there were no difficult boss fights and you never had to worry about losing all your ammo because the enemies used the same type of weapons. You could also quickly carry two weapons at the same time which didn't make it to complicated when you wanted to change to another weapon and it was really simple to throw away a grenade.
Sometimes you also got the chance to ride different vehicles instead of walking to your destination, and if you had a buddy one of you could drive and the other could ride and blast at the enemies. There were a lot of checkpoints in the game which gave you a lot of help when you died. Instead of starting from the beginning of the stage you started at the checkpoint with the same type of equipment that you had when you passed it. And of course the game was a blast in multiplayer mode. I guess this quickly sums up why the series have become such a success.
The game begins where the previous game ended. Masterchief blew up the weapon known as HALO and is back on earth to get a military award. At the same time as we see this cut-scene, the game shifts to show how a Covenant Elite soldier is about to get executed since the Covenant leaders known as the Prophets blames him for the destruction of the first HALO. This soldier's name is "The Arbiter". As you might have guessed, the war between the humans and the Covenant is far from over.
Now Masterchief must go back to earth to get rid of as many Covenants as possible, but the game also has a plot where you play as Arbiter who needs to redeem himself. I think you play as Masterchief on half of the stages in the game and as Arbiter on the other half. The only difference between them that I could find was that Masterchief can use a flashlight while the Arbiter can stealth for a short time. Another big difference is that you almost always uses the same weapons that Halo: Combat Evolved had when you play as Masterchief, but Arbiter has an alien version of those weapons.
As I said in the tagline, Bungie knew that had found a great concept with the first Halo game and there isn't much which has changed in this sequel. One of the few changes is the shield system in this game. In the first Halo game you had a health bar and a couple of hit points. The health bar did refill when you no longer took any damage but you had to find health packs in order to get back any health points. Now you no longer have any health points, but instead the shield recharges much faster. I don't know if you still can take as much damage as in the first game, but personally I prefer how it's in Halo: Combat Evolved.
Another thing which many thought was a big deal and one of the main reasons why Halo 2 would be even better than the first one is that now you can carry two weapons who only requires one hand. This allows you to fire with twice as many bullets against the enemies, but it also comes with a con. It's not possible to throw grenades when you are using two weapons at the same time and you also throw away the weapon your character carries in his left hand when you change to your other weapon. It takes some time before you get used to it, but you can always pick up the weapon that you threw away again when you want to, but I wouldn't say that this really improved the game play.
There are however a couple of things that makes this game's campaign not as good as the one in Halo. The game shifts between Masterchief's story and Arbiter's story from stage to stage, which made it a bit difficult for me to follow the plot. Another thing is that you have Covenant allies during Arbiter's stages, but you also fight another Covenant race called the Brutes. They look a lot like your own friends the Elites, and sometimes it' tough to know if you should kill it or not. Lets say you have just played through a Masterchief stage and fought Elites, then on the next stage where you play as Arbiter you see a monster with a beam sword as kills it as quickly as possible, only to later find out that you just killed a friend.
But if the game isn't as fun when you play alone it's even more fun to play with others in this game. One best things Bungie did in this game was to keep my two favourite stages from the original and then replace them with stages where you can both play with 16 others or just have a one on one with your best friend. Just like in the first game it's possible to play CO-OP in the campaign with another player if you want to play together instead of killing each other.
I'm not sure if it's still possible to play this game online or not, but it was a huge deal that two players could play online with a splitscreen. I don't know how many nights me and my friend played this game online against other players, and I loved every second of it even if I never was that good. Today that's something that every game can handle (at least I hope it's standard) but that was one of the more revolutionary things about HALO 2.
So which game is the better one, Halo: Combat Evolved or Halo 2? I'm not really sure but I had more fun alone with the first game since I thought the campaign was better, but the multiplayer maps in this game are better than the maps in the original, so I think it depends on if you want to play alone or with your friends. Of course you can still have great time with your friends with both games and both games are fun when you play alone, so I suggest that everyone gets both and that we agree that both are excellent games.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/17/11
Game Release: Halo 2 (EU, 11/11/04)
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