Review by diaper dog
"This is… mediocre."
Halo: Combat Evolved has to be the greatest first person shooter I have ever played. The weapons are great, the enemies intelligent, and the levels, despite being repetitive, are pure classic. It is too bad, however, that Bungie did not have all the time it needed to shape Halo: Combat Evolved into the game they felt players wanted. They spent the next three years building and testing a game called Halo 2 -- now they'd have oodles of time to fine-tune the game play for this Block-Buster sequel.
Unlike some people who were very disappointed, I bought Halo 2 with very little expectations at all. I simply expected it to play like the original. I was still disappointed by this game. I will explain why:
The graphics in this sequel may look more detailed, but it is my personal opinion that they are far from better. There is too much detail and too small a view. Not to mention, I noticed the view is slightly cropped when I went to play split screen. In the original, the view WAS NOT cropped when playing split screen. I find it really, really hard to tell what's going on now, not to mention it gives me a bit of a headache because the game play has been slightly sped up but the view has slightly shrank. I do not care for the gun graphics either. The graphics pretty much remind me of Nintendo 64 graphics -- really, really good Nintendo 64 graphics (see Duke Nukem 64). People say this game has bump-mapping, and all that high-tech stuff that's supposed to make games look good. Well, it may have worked in Dead or Alive 3 but it isn't working in Halo 2.
Voices, radio chatter, and the little sound effects throughout the game are memorable. However, it seems that Bungie cut down on enemy dialogue and gave the Marines more. The Marines now have quite a bit of personality with what they say. I would have liked an option to garble the Elite's dialogue once again; I find it much too corny for me to get intimidated by. The Grunts dialogue seems to be a bit less inspired as well. To make up for it, though, the lines the Brutes have to say during cut scenes are pretty scary, as are The Prophets. My biggest gripe, however, is that Bungie didn't think that the sound in Halo: Combat Evolved was good enough, so they changed some FX here and there. I do not like the way the plasma rifle sounds now. If it ain't broke DON'T FIX IT!
Game play: 6/10
Here's where the game suffers the most, I feel. Though you now play as both Master Chief and an Elite given the title: Arbiter, play as an Elite in Multi-player, fight new and frightening enemies, dual wield certain weapons, hi-jack vehicles, use Banshees Multi-player, that all is not enough to make up for how disappointed I am, and other people have/shall be, with this game. One of the aspects of Halo: Combat Evolved I like so much is the vast, mysterious playing field. You just want to get a lay of the land while playing that game, explore it to its very bowels. Halo 2 is different, though: the player is restricted to a very small playing field for most the game, and the whole idea of game play this time around is to wipe out all the enemy waves that come in for a fight. That is not what the original Halo was like. There are some other objectives throughout the game, but I find in Halo 2 it is much easier to get disoriented as opposed to Halo: Combat Evolved. Master Chief's speed is slightly faster in Halo 2 than it was in Halo: Combat Evolved, and that doesn't help at all. The whole pace of the game, the main reason I bought it, isn't as good as the original. Not to mention, a good portion of what I was looking forward to was a little one-on-one and one-on-two multi-player with my friends -- now that the view in split screen has been messed with I have three options: 1) put up with it (no) 2) buy two more x-boxes/tvs/Halo 2's (no) 3) Don't play (ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!). The game is so bad in this department I'm actually thinking of selling it and I've only only had it less than 1 whole day.
The story's average, with a few twists here and there. I do like Arbiters part in the story, not to mention the overall darkness of the game in comparison to Halo: Combat Evolved. There isn't really much I can say here without spoiling it, so I'll just say this: it's not as good as the original, it moves at a much quicker pace, and overall, it's kinda ... bleh.
I urge you, whether you're a long-time fan of the books, an eager Veteran of the lovable Halo: Combat Evolved X-box game, or new to the scene, to rent this game before you buy it. You may find that you love it, or you may find that there is more to be desired.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 11/12/04
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