Review by gamelord12

"Halo 2. I doubt you've heard of it."

Halo 2. It's the game that made Microsoft even richer because they bought out Bungie studios, the people who brought you the Marathon games. It bought Bill Gates his 10000000th hot tub. It's made more money than any movie or game ever sold in the history of entertainment. It's a game that redefined the first-person shooter genre and appealed to the widest range of consumers to-date. Why is Halo such a successful series? Probably due to the lack of a good library on the Xbox at launch. Halo may have been the only game worth owning an Xbox for for almost a year. This made all the Xbox owners get excited about it. This is the definition of hype. Because of the dreaded hype, a game tends to seem to better than it really is before you actually play it. This is definitely the case with Halo 2. However, it doesn't stop it from being a really good game.

Story: 10/10

You want to know how good the story for this game is? They have three long novels to expand upon several huge plot points. The story is an amazing epic. Very few series (Metroid and uh...that's it) have better stories in a game than Halo. You are a super soldier, from the SPARTAN-II project. You are Spartan 117, a biologically and mechanically enhanced "Master Chief". In the first game of the series, you defended a ship that was invaded by a alliance of alien races called the Covenant, whose only line of agreement between each other is their religion. Their religion, unluckily for you, basically says that humans shouldn't be kept alive. Well, that stinks. You land on a ring world called, Halo (hence, the name; it's a really good title if you ask me) that happens to be a religious symbol for the Covenant, so you can guess how ticked off they are that you landed on it. You later find out that Halo is home to the Flood, Halo's version of Zombies. So, you have the Covenant that want you dead because you insult their religion by being alive and the Flood that want you dead because they want everything dead. The news gets better. Halo is a weapon that, if activated, kills everything that will ever be close enough to you to see in your lifetime. Anyways, you blow it up and come back to Earth to celebrate. The Covenant aren't too happy about this, and now they know where you live: this is the premise for Halo 2. With enough twists and turns to keep you occupied in the story and the ability to play Master Chief and one of the Covenant, you get a truely cinematic experience. So really, it's like a movie that you play. There is a really open-ended cliff-hanger, which millions of people are aggrivated about more than anything else in the game, but you'll just have to be curious for 3 or 4 years until Halo 3 comes out.

Graphics: 9/10

Anyone who knows anything about 3D modeling knows that this game is one of the pioneers of normal mapping. It's a technique that allows an object with less depth, to show depth realistically by "mapping out" where light would penetrate. In other words, it can make an object as simple as a ball look like a head. A problem with this is that when you watch a cut-scene, your Xbox isn't finished loading the video. This causes some details to sort of flicker in. It gets kind of annoying, but it only lasts about .25 seconds each time you see a new area. Once the models are fully loaded though, man! These things are detailed! You can count how many scales a Brute (an enemy in the game) has. You can tell how old the first in command is by how many wrinkles he has on his face. You can see the damage on the vehicle as it adds up throughout play. Beautiful, but still short of games like Half-Life 2, which, at the time of writing this review, has the best graphics of any game ever released.

Audio: 10/10

Man, I wish I could give the audio an 11/10. This is, by far, the best musical score I've heard in any game. Seriously, it'll make Danny Elfman jealous. That's right! It's that good. They have orchestral and choral scores that make it feel like an epic, contracted rock music by some of my favorite bands (but they didn't sign Alter Bridge...they should have) that came in at just the right times, and voice acting that is second to none. Integrate this with the great story mentioned earlier, funny one-liners, and sound effects that make you feel like you're in that battle and you have a great presentation.

Gameplay: 9/10

Okay, here's what it all comes down to. Is it overhyped? Well, yes. But that's not saying much considering how much hype Halo 2 got. I mean, G4TechTV dedicated a whole day of programming to the release. What makes Halo really cool is the selection of weapons. It's not the largest or the most innovative out there, but it is defintely the best. See, you have a selection of human and Covenant weapons. The Covenant weapons are better at taking down shields, where the human weapons are more focused at taking out their health. Learning the rate of fire for each weapon and the advantage that each has in different situations is a major strategy development point. Good job, Bungie. The biggest difference between Halo and other first-person shooters is the open-ended vehicle use inbetween shooting stuff on foot. In this iteration, two major differences were added. Along with new guns, multiplayer modes and levels, and online capabilities, Bungie studios added hi-jacking vehicles (as well as blowing them up) and dual-wielding guns. This might not seem like much, but it changes your strategy around a lot. One big feature in Halo is the shield. You have a slowly regenerating shield, that once it's gone, you're vulnerable to anything that a normal person is vulnerable to. In the first Halo, you had a health bar. They got rid of this in Halo 2 to add a different kind of challenge. So, after your shield is gone, you don't get health packs to stay alive forever. You just die realistically from there on in. Anyway, hi-jacking can turn the tides of war in any battle so no one person has the advantage once they get in the vehicle. Dual-wielding lets you dish out twice the hurt at once, but at the expense of grenade use. You can mix and match different one-handed weapons to dual-wield and see what works best in what situations. A big issue with the original Halo that people had was "cut-and-paste" levels, claiming that they were too repetitive. I agree. But they were still pretty fun. Well, now you play some levels on Earth. Because of that, the levels really make you feel like you're on a futuristic Earth. Well done here, too. In the end, single player comes out to be about ten hours. Even the alien levels aren't repetitive. The game itself, however, does get a little repetitive. You can remedy this with its famous cooperative mode through the intense campaign mode. Play with a friend through the game to make your strategy that much more possible. It also makes the campaign mode a lot more fun. You are, after all, just shooting stuff the whole game. But fear not! If you get bored with single player, Xbox Live has the most fun FPS multiplayer on the market. You have seven game modes: Slayer, Oddball, Capture the Flag, King of the Hill, Assault, and more. You can even customize your own gametype and play with up to 15 of your friends. Get in on it!

Overview:

Positives:
+Great story
+Incredibly detailed graphics
+Best audio in any game. Period.
+Best multiplayer in any FPS
+Fun game
+Co-op mode
+Intense game

Negatives:
-Textures don't load all the way when they're supposed to
-Can get repetitive after several hours

Buy or rent: I have to reccomend this game to anyone who plays games with good stories or people who love multiplayer. There's really no point in renting it because everyone on your street owns this game anyway. Just play it at their houses. But trust me: you'll like it. Overall, this game isn't perfect. But, after averaging out the score, it comes so close to a 10/10 that I have to round up the score to a perfect 10. If that doesn't convince you, then you're missing out on a large portion of pop culture by not playing this game.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/01/05, Updated 05/12/05


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