Review by x Asad x

"Arguably the Best Console FPS Ever..."

Lets face it: Halo was one step further in FPS Genre. I'm not calling it Revolutionary but what it did was Evolutionary. Bungie did an awesome with adding everything possible in a FPS game. The gameplay felt so polished that it made us realize what next-gen gaming is all about. It was almost flawless, everything was balanced out. Not many FPS games have flawless gameplay with major vehicle battles, smooth controls, tons of action on screen, Smart A.I., awesome storyline, deep multiplayer and great co-op which works as good as single player. Halo 2 does it again and it's the only Halo Killer on consoles.

.: GAMEPLAY :.

Enemy A.I.- One of the most intelligent enemies you'll ever face in a game. It feels like you're playing against tons of people online. These enemies make the campaign much more fun and a different experience every time you play it. They can hide behind stuff, constantly move around to dodge your fire and group together to give you a hard time. This was in original also but they are improved a lot this time. Now if you try to hide somewhere, they can easily find you. They've the ability to jump on things and locate where you are hiding. Moreover, they can swap weapons with each other and can hijack your vehicle if you're too slow. Overall, Halo 2 has a great variety of enemies unlike its predecessor. Bungie has added quite a few new enemies to the list such as:

Drones- Really smart and annoying. They come in groups and fly really fast. They can hide almost ANYWHERE and also carry a gun.

Brutes- Well, these guys don't have shields like Elites but they're much stronger. They carry a deadly weapon (grenade launcher) which is also pretty good for melee attacks.

Prophets- I'll just say that these guys are religious and think Master Chief is a Demon. You'll figure out the rest in the awesome storyline.

and couple more as surprises..

Marines A.I.- Much more improved than before! They will give you a lot more cover fire (that doesn't mean this game is easy), can drive vehicles for you and let you have the fun with machine gun. Now you can also swap weapons with them (by tapping A button). This adds more strategy into the game. In tougher situations, you gotta give them better weapons. Otherwise, they'll die faster so be careful.

Controls- As good as Halo. Xbox has the best controller for FPS (still not better than keyboard/mouse) and Halo series prove it. The button setup is the same but couple of new things are added: Hold Y to Dual-Wield and Left Trigger to fire another weapon. If you try to melee attack, throw a grenade or switch weapons while Dual-Wielding, then he automatically drops the other weapon and does it. Nothing to worry about, everything works fine. You'll get used to it within 15 minutes!

Campaign- Even though Bungie said it's twice as long as the original's campaign, you'll still end up beating it in between 12-15 hours (and that's the same length like before). It depends on your skills though. If you're a Halo master, then you can beat it easily. If you're new to the series, then I guess it will take up to 15 hours. Okay lets put that aside… Right from the beginning, you'll be hooked to this game. It's much more action packed with jaw dropping moments and plenty of surprises. In simple words, it's just the best single player experience you will find on Xbox. Yeah, it's kind of short but sweet as hell. If you've nothing better to do the whole day, you'll be glued to the screen till the end. As far as storyline goes, it raises more questions. I won't reveal anything, but all I can say is the ending is a cliff hanger. Some people liked it, some didn't. That shouldn't bother you that much since everything is so great. Bungie has added bunch of new weapons such as Brute Shot, Covenant Sniper and some secret ones which you'll find out.

There are also Turrets now which are pretty useful to kill bunch of enemies in a second. The most noticeable new addition to weapons is Swords. Now you can finally get your hands on them and kick some ass. Now some weapons are changed this time like Pistols. They toned down its power because it was so unbalanced in Halo 1 and it was a cheap way to kill opponents in Multiplayer. The rife is changed too. Now it's more powerful, but it fires less ammo. It also has a scope for convenience.

One of the best new additions is Dual-Wielding. I know it has been done before, but Halo 2 handles it perfectly like no other FPS on a console ever. Some weapons are weak when you pick them up, but when you dual wield, they become deadly and wipe out enemies faster than ever. Of course, you can't melee attack or throw grenades when you dual wield. Also you can't dual-wield with some weapons like Sniper, Rock Launcher, Swords and a couple more.

New vehicles are added too. Remember the Covenant Tank from Halo 1? Now you can drive it and cause mayhem. It's easily one of the best and most useful vehicle in Halo 2! If you were looking forward to this game since Day one, then you probably know that they took out some vehicles like ATV. I was expecting a human flying vehicle too but oh well. Let's just hope Bungie release some with Downloadable Content. Anyways, now you can hijack enemy vehicles. It adds more fun to the gameplay! Vehicles have awesome damage effects now which I will explain in Graphics section.

So almost everything here is vastly improved! Bungie did some awesome things which other developers fail to do (especially on consoles). If the campaign feels short, there's a higher difficulty to play through. The Legendary mode is as awesome as it was in Halo 1. It's challenging but loads of fun at the same time. You haven't truly experience Halo 2's Campaign until you invite a special friend to play Co-op. It's infinite fun! You can make lots of strategies with your buddy so you must try this. Sadly, there's no Co-op support with System Link or on Xbox Live though. Doesn't hurt me much, but it may disappoint some people.

Bottom Line: The story will make you play the game till the end and the incredible action will keep will keep you on the edge of your seat!

Multiplayer- Best Multiplayer on a Console Ever. It's so deep that you can easily compare it with PC games. You can customize almost everything. There are 11 maps and more will arrive soon via Xbox Live. Sadly, there are still no Bots but other things make up for it. Every new weapon and vehicle which is in Campaign is also here. Now you can finally fly Banshee and have loads of fun. Swords are here too which makes melee attacks more useful than ever. And of course, it supports Xbox Live and System Link. Up to 16 Players can have a match together. Moreover, you can invite up to 3 guests on your Xbox Live. This game is the Best Xbox Live Experience. Not only it will push Xbox sales, Live users will be increased too. Halo 2 is the game you've been waiting for!

Score- 9.9 out of 10

.: GRAPHICS :.

Best looking Xbox game…okay change that, Best Looking Console Game Ever! Now you might ask “But Chronicles of Riddick looks more impressive?” Yes, it does look visually more impressive but there are reasons for it. It has long loading times, tight areas, less enemies on screen and overall, nothing much going on screen at once. You gotta look at everything in Graphics department. Once again, Bungie did an awesome with graphics. First, I'd like to say there's NO loading time from the beginning to the end. That's very impressive! The draw distance is improved…you'll see much larger areas than Halo 1. The only bad thing in Halo 1's graphics was repetitive level designs. Now it's gone! Bungie worked hard on it. Not only that, you'll see much more enemies on screen at once. That's because of less polygons on each character and clever use of Bump Mapping.

Enemies are much more detailed. There are more explosions on screen at once (you'll notice it early in the game) and more vehicle battles. Speaking of vehicles, now there are awesome damage effects. If it gets damaged a lot, you'll see effects in driving. Now they can catch fire and explode. Cutscenes look very impressive and now they're longer than before. This game also supports HDTV for the guys who have it. You'll just love every moment in this game, its awesome.

Furthermore, there are Ragdoll Physics and Destructable Environments. Now the death scenes look really stunning with ragdoll physics. You'll especially notice this in Multiplayer matches. Another thing improved here is the ability to blast a lot of things in Environments and the effects look great. If you shoot down Banshees flying in the air, they'll crash in great effects.

Score- 9.8 out of 10

Yes its the best looking xbox game but still doesn't get a perfect score. You'll notice Pop-up textures in SOME cutscenes AND they aren't in high quality like the other ones.

.: SOUND :.

Halo 2 has probably the Best Music this Year (IMO) and it will probably be remembered in the history of Gaming. We all loved Halo 1's music, this one is even better. The music plays on the right timings and makes it feel like you're watching a movie. Voice Acting is much better (including performances from Michelle Rodriguez and Laura Prepon) and there are about 20,000 dialogues now. When the enemies are wiped out, you can get close to Marines and hear them say funny dialogues. Now Covenant speaks proper English too.

The sound effects are much better…one of the best you'll hear in a game. From shooting to explosions, its all incredible. It also makes the cutscenes much better than before. This game also supports Dolby Digital 5.1…what more can you ask for?

Usually I don't care much about sound but the music in this game gets a 10 out of 10. Hopefully it will win awards…there is also a Halo 2 Soundtrack in stores. You guys should pick it up.

.: CONCLUSION :.

Halo 2 is Xbox Game of the Year. In fact, it's just the best Xbox Game Ever and I doubt any other Xbox game will beat it in the future. If you're an Xbox owner, you MUST have this game! The gameplay is near flawless and you'll hooked to the screen from the moment you start. All new additions are perfectly done and overall, this game is much more fun than the Original. Bungie is probably the best developers for Xbox and I just hope they make Halo 3 (it's possible) for Xbox 2. Single Player is incredible and you'll be hooked on Multiplayer for months or even years especially because it supports Xbox Live. This game is a System Seller…it's selling like hot cakes. So what are you reading for? Go get the game now…games like this don't come everyday!

My Final Score- 10/10


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/11/04


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