Review by BigT
"Take one part Awesomeness, one part hype and divide expectations and you get Halo 2."
Halo was one of the best games to ever grace the new monster systems known as the X-box, with its visually appealing graphics, different environments and the life-like tactics that you as well as you enemies could perform easily made Halo a classic. The multiplayer as well single player experience coupled with the high sells made Halo an easy candidate for a squeal. On November 9, 2004 everyone got their wish, Halo 2 is now here, its bigger, longer, more detailed then its predecessor, however one question still remains; Did it live up to the hype? Well, some parts it did, however in other parts it is lacking .
First off, lets get to graphics. What can I say, but wonderful? Their pretty, detailed, great to look at and really nothing short then what you can expect from the original Halo. However, there are some noticeable but ultimately ignorable problems.
Today many new games are incorporate Bump mapping and other techniques into the actually character models themselves. Though it adds a significance detail, like wrinkles in the face, and very realistic armor it does come at a price, During cut scenes mostly the characters will pop up on screen just a split second longer then they should, and as their popping up the Bump Mapping is still going on, so it gives it that sloppy add on feel. What I mean by this is that the models will pop up without bump mapping then a split second later the bump mapped texture will finally cover the character. Though the final product looks great, it looks sloppy when executed.
Another problem is the very rare hiccups and slowdown during some parts of the game, ironically, enough most of them happen during the cut scenes as well. While their ignorable, they do add a little bit of a letdown considering the amount of time as well as hype the game was receiving.
Overall, the graphics are pretty much what you would expect; pretty scenery, great outdoor environments, and detailed models make Halo 2 are all you could expect.
What would a FPS game be without great sound? Well it would not be as good it could be I can tell you that, and thankfully, Halo 2 has great sound. This is one of the biggest achievements that Halo 2 offers. Each gun has a distinct and different sound, all the enemies, and allies sound great. The explosions, bullets wising by your head (sometimes plasma rounds) and vehicle's motors all are great. However, the biggest star in this is the music. IT SOUNDS GREAT. Each stage has a unique song, some even having multiple songs in them. Their just great, there is no other way for me to describe and at first I thought the soundtrack CD was kind of a stupid idea, but now I have to say it was a good move by Microsoft.
Well now that we got the pretty things out of the way, lets get to the core of the game, the Game play. Wow, just wow, its like Halo Yes, my friends if you've played Halo then this should be just up your ally. Master Chief moves just like he did in the first one, you marine allies move the same way, hell, even the Enemies move the same. There are some tweaks here and there, like flying enemies and the environments a few opportunities to do something unique and interesting, but other then that its basically the same in the move department. Now you might be saying why am I dissing the movement? Well I'm not. I enjoyed the movement in the first game, so why fix something that isn't broken?
The gunplay has totally been updated, which is great. There are now at least 8 new weapons as well as modifications to almost all pervious guns from the first game. One cool new feature is the dual wielding of smaller arms; nothing looks more badass then charging into battle with two sub-machine guns, or two plasma rifles. One interesting new modification was that the infamous pistol from the first game has been stripped off its scope and is now just a wee bit weaker. While some will curse at this, it is a nice relief for others. The bullets added with the updated physics engine really add a punch when they tear through your enemies' soft flesh. The blood gushing out of your foe really adds some coolness to the game.
The vehicles departments had been updated as well, there are now a few new toys for you to play with, as well are your old favorites. The biggest difference now are battle damage. As your vehicle is hit, it starts to break apart, at first it is only a cosmic problem, but the more damage it takes the less reliable it becomes. For example, the warthog slows down as it is damaged and is harder to steer, and finally will explode if your not careful.
Good old AI . actually good now! Yes folks, the AI has been updated and boy o boy is it good, not perfect, but good. You'll notice off the bat that your allies can now actually drive while you take gunman, and it feels as if your playing a first person rail shooter for a bit, which is pretty nifty. Even though most of the enemies will use the same tactics in the first Halo, they do have some improvements. The nasties will now try to ambush you by baiting you into a trap, the grunts will hide in small corners and pop out when you have you back to you, and they'll trey to flank you if your not paying attention.
Overall, the game play rocks, and rocks hard, the vast options to customize your Chief for multiplayer, and the options to change your controls really adds variety to the game, the overall additions are nice and fit right into the Halo universe and the updated tactics make the game play really good.
What would a FPS be without a great multiplayer? Well it would not be Halo 2 that is for sure. Moreover, Halo's multiplayer is awesome! No, say it with me . A-W-E-S-O-M-E. It is just that good. First off, when you first join or create a game you will join a game with people of your experience and skill level, which makes getting up in ranks and getting better easier. Now you might encounter your newbie vet who played Halo for years and just got Halo 2 and is dominating you and everyone else like no tomorrow, but hey what can you do? Now for those who want clan matches and what not, there is the ability to make custom games however, they wont count towards your ranking, which is perfect for clan matches. Their will be downloadable patches and updates as the game gets older and official tournaments and what not from Xbox live, which makes Halo 2 the perfect gift for the online junkies. Tons of maps, tons of differences, loads of fun!
Multiplayer 10/ 10 (I'd give it higher if I could )
Now, most people usually save the best for last, however I'm BigT and I save the worse for last, now I have to fair in a review and that's why it pains me to have to use the Story as the worse feature in Halo 2. Now its not horrible, but it is the worse in Halo 2. Why? Simply because it does not feel Haloish. What I mean by this is that the first game's story while not original by any means made sense and felt right, in Halo 2 it feels rushed and unorganized, now I won't give away any twist or plot elements but lets just say if you've played Metal Gear Solid 2 you have an idea of how crazy it gets after a while. To be honest, it just does not feel right. In the first game, the Covenant felt like an unstoppable, faceless juggernaut that would do anything to destroy all humans, in Halo 2 it just feels awkward.
Well, Halo 2 is differently worth the buy if you have Xbox live and/or a lot of friends to come over, if your just in it for the single player you might be a little disappointed, but lets be honest, very few people played Halo for 3 years for just the story. The part that matters (multiplayer) is phenomenal and really makes Halo 2 shine, for the story, ehhh it could be better but its not super terrible that will make your break your Xbox in anger, but it could have been better.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/09/04
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