Review by dantedevil4
"The best FPS Xbox has to offer"
A long awaited sequel to the hit launch title, Halo : Combat Evolved. I can tell you right now, this IS one of the reasons to own an Xbox. 3 years after Halo and a long wait, Xbox owners get Halo 2. There will be no story spoilers in this guide for those who havent played the game yet.
GAME PLAY 10/10
You get every mode from the first game plus the long awaited Xbox Live play. Campaign mode returns where Master Chief is given the task to protect Earth. To do this you will have a variety of ways to protect the human home planet. Weapons, and lots of them is one thing you will be using. Most weapons from Halo : Combat Evolved that are in Halo 2 have been tweaked or changed in appearance. Old favorite weapons like the Rocket Launcher, Plasma Rifle, Plasma Pistol or Sniper Rifle are and at your disposal . Some of the newer weapons include but are not limited too the Plasma Sword, Brute Shot, Battle Rifle or SMG. Many of the weapons have alternate fire modes like the Plasma Pistol fires single shots of plasma but charged up fires a massive blast of hot plasma.
Vehicles from Halo : Combat Evolved return like the Warthog (AKA The Puma) which is a jeep type vehicle with a gun on the back. A Scorpion Tank that is heavily armored and powerful but slow to move. The Ghost, a fast plasma firing hovercraft with a new boost feature, are just a few of the many vehicles you will be piloting online and off. However now you are able to steal vehicles from other players and cause realistic damage to a vehicle. What I was disappointed at was a lack of a human flying . Something to counter the Banshee I guess you could say. The Spectre is a new covienant vehicle similar to the Warthog that hovers around and is equipped with a fast fireing plasma cannon.
AI has been enhanced greatly for your comrades as well as your foes. Your marines now can drive vehicles, in which they essentially can chauffer you around. Marines are ruthless and no how to use their environment, friends and weapons. You will be glad to hear that your marines stand more of a fighting chance this time around. However, the enemy AI has to be beefed up to compensate. Expect the enemy to only get smarter on higher difficulties.
The variety of types of species you will fight is vastly varied. Enemies return from the last game like Elites, Grunts, Jackals, Hunters and more. Expect some new types of enemies this time around. At the higher difficulties the AI gets only gets more efficient and deadly. They know how to use absolutely everything they have at the higher difficulty levels. This isn't your Halo : Combat Evolved AI, the oppostion know how to dispose of you. Don't even begin to think you can run and gun at the higher difficulty levels or you will get torn to shreds.
Co-op returns with all it's glory. Have fun blasting away through campaign mode with a friend. You will find it's more fun when you cooperate at the higher difficulties than running and gunning. Use cooperative tactics and you will make progress. However the lack of an online co-op mode or even a LAN co-op mode is somewhat disappointing.
Split-Screen returns with for your local LAN party fun. Obsolete if you have Xbox Live unless you can get your friends together for a session. The game play that is here is still intact on Xbox Live. One plus is that there is virtually no lag on LAN games, not to say there is lag on Xbox Live servers. The game modes like, Oddball, King of the Hill, Slayer, Capture the Flag, return from Halo : Combat Evolved plus a whole bunch more. You can even make your own custom games in your feeling creative or tired of a game type.
Xbox Live is where you will spend most of your time. This IS one of the major reasons to own Xbox Live. Some of the special features are clan support, voice emails, invites, scoreboards, downloadable content, updated friends list and others. While I will say there aren't to many multiplayer maps right now there is most definitely going to be some downloadable maps. When on Xbox Live you can join a friends game, join a random team ranked game, or quick match game. The reason why a ranked game is random team to stop people from cheating.
You can optimatch for the setting you want, like if you want oddball, death match, team death match, capture the flag among others you can search for them exclusively. Or just hop into a game via quick match. You can choose to be a Spartan or an Elite.
The maps are well down with little features, like mounted turrets and destroyable environments. With a lot of support I have no doubt that this will climb to the top 25 most played Xbox Live games. Game play is one of the many great features of Halo 2.
As I said in the introduction, I'm not going to spoil the game for the people reading reviews before they buy Halo 2 however. If you heard anything about Halo 2 you know Master Chief is trying save Earth from Covenant forces.
There are quite a few twists that lead up to a climatic ending. What story is better than defending the entire human race and your home planet against alien invaders? Well told and well planned out story, definitely on movie par.
You probably heard that Halo 2 used less polygons than it's predecessor but takes full advantage of bump mapping. This is true and you would never tell that Halo 2 has less polygons than Halo : Combat Evolved.
Special effects are absolutely amazing. Everything from water to explosions looks incredibly realistic and amazing. Levels hold a lot of detail and the graphics surpass anything on the Xbox. Character models and map textures look unbelievable. Truly topnotch work in the graphics department.
The sound truly sounds realistic. It has to be heard in 5.1 Surround Sound, if you never owned a good speaker system get one for Halo 2. Explosions that rock the battlefield, the scream of a ghost boosting through a narrow beach, your marines calling out the locations or enemies sound authentic and how you expect them to be.
From the opening scene to the closing credit's the music and sound effects are spot on. Expect to hear a lot of upbeat music that get your blood flowing and your trigger finger pumped. Such a good job on the sound with the production values of a blockbuster movie.
PLAYTIME and REPLAY ABILITY 10/10
Halo 2 is a non-linear game and there are many different ways to complete a level. Not only that but you can beat it on different difficulties and unlock levels for later use. If you have the added benefit of Xbox Live I can tell you this game becomes even more addictive online. You can expect support in maps and patches and maybe even weapons for this chart breaking Xbox game.
Halo 2 is one of the classic games you will remember playing years down the road, just like early Mario's and Zelda's. Definitely a must buy, especially for anyone with Xbox Live. Though Campaign mode makes it worth a buy alone. If you never liked First Person Shooters, give Halo 2 a rent at least. Halo 2 is truly a ground breaking and genre defining game. That's why Halo 2 earns itself a 10 out of 10.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/09/04
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