Review by Yoh_of_Izumo

"An Adequate Multiplayer, A Mediocre Campaign."

Halo 2 was a long awaited game by many Xbox fans who got a taste of the great prequel, Halo: CE. Halo: CE (know as Halo: Combat Evolved) was released with the release of the Xbox in 2001, and was considered one of the greatest consoles FPS ever, and even ranked with the great FPSs of the PC. The campaign was considered wonderful, though its ending was dreadful. The Bungie company decided to make profit from everybody wondering how the great Halo: CE game could end with such a pitiful ending, and they released Halo books to better explain the story of Halo. Cheap, yes, but it did make people feel better when they learned that not only Master Chief (and Cortana) had survived, but that other marines, including Sarge, lived to tell another day. This is how we now progress into Halo 2.

After taking several years, Halo 2 was released on November 09, 2004. It came in two editions: standard and limited edition. Those who got the standard edition received the game, the two-month Xbox Live trial, and the game (mini) manual. Those who wanted to spend an extra $10-20, got a DVD that talked about the making of Halo 2, a book on the “Conversations of the Universe,” and a case that was metal on the outside and recycled plastic on the inside. As there was so much hype up about Halo 2 being an unfathomable game after its preview at E3, people were disappointed that Bungie in the last few months, destroyed what many believed to be a well-worth waiting Campaign, after many of the previews shown at E3 were totally altered in the final campaign to follow only a few months later. Not only that was said. People started to bicker over how this campaign was so poorly done, that Bungie must have just spent a few months on the storyline. That is for you to decide. In my opinion, I believe though the graphics are improved, the storyline faltered, especially after the changes they made from E3 (watch the films if you want; you can also find them in the Game Demos or Halo: CE games released after Halo 2). Though the game faltered in storyline, it was saved by the fact that Halo 2 was linkable to Xbox Live, and the world, and thus a possible disastrous sequel was mended by its multiplayer.

Enough with the history, on to the Ratings!

Gameplay: 7/10
Having played Halo 2 as my first game on the Xbox, I was quite impressed. Though as the game progressed, I started to slowly get board. The repetition of just walking down hallways, killing aliens, killing flood, it just got boring. However, Bungie sort of saved themselves when they added boss battles. Bungie also made the game more fun by adding the Energy Sword, the Particle Beam Rifle, and the ability to not just play as Master Chief, but also to get the other flip of the coin, by playing as the Arbiter, the will of the Prophets. I found that gameplay at the easy, normal, and heroic levels to be fair and clean, yet when I progressed into the Legendary and Mythic levels, Bungie just broke the rules of fair gameplay. AI is supposed to be smarter, not stronger. AI is supposed to be realistic, and not far-fetched and laughable. That is what Legendary and Mythic difficulties on Bungie are. The AI is basically the same, and the only difference is that the enemy has had its strength enhanced and its weapon power increased. Sniping you in the head only takes one shot from a feeble jackal that always possesses over 90% accuracy at hitting your head on legendary. Though when you try to snipe an elite on legendary, it can sometimes take 3-4 shots to the head to take that one elite down. Oh yah I forgot to mention this, they fire 2 times to 3 times faster than on heroic. It is a great trainer for Xbox Live, since the enemies are stronger, but since it only makes people frustrated that the enemies are just stronger and not smarter (which humans on Xbox Live are usually, hopefully), people get annoyed. Now if you just want to go crazy with gameplay, talk about Mythic difficulty. Not only are they all of the above following, but the elites recharge their shields in half the time. If you try to use the sniper rifle, you will fail miserably, since it takes about 6-8 headshots to kill, and by the time you finish reloading, the elite's shield will have already finished recharging, what a bummer. Though away from the insane levels…You will find heroic a very good Xbox Live simulator in difficulty: if you don't kill the enemy fast enough, they will kill you in about the time you take to die on Xbox Live. Normal is a great difficulty to test FPS on consoles for the first time, and if you just want to do speed runs, then Easy is awesome. There are also Easter eggs, and glitches to improve your gameplay: superbounce, sword lunging (if you haven't updated), holographic images, and much more. In legendary, though very annoying, you can also access “Skulls,” which I consider the only thing that makes Halo 2 Campaign fun, and also, there is that incredible Scarab Gun. Learning how to play this game is relatively easy, learning how to aim is another easy. Only through practice can somebody become decent at playing Halo 2.

Story: 5/10
It is true, the story was a flop. The only things that saved it were the twists in the plot, and the decent cut-scenes. Basically, it appeared that the story had been slapped together quickly, without much thought. The game ended as quickly as it started, in which most decent players could easily defeat legendary in under 8 hours, heroic and below in under 5 hours. The story continued off from Halo 2, though there were many loop holes in the plot that had you not read the books that Bungie made as a profit source, you would not understand the plot. Basically, a person would get more enjoyment from the plot in the books than from the game. The game was just pure tasteless with loophole after loophole, and another horrible ending. It gave the player a not wanting for Halo 3, but a question mark over their head asking, “That's it?” “What, Halo 2 is not the end?” Many people found it very damaging that Bungie would prefer money over a classic, and though it is sad to say, Halo 2, in my opinion, will never make it into classical gaming. Once the corruption for money game into being, the story was ruined. Instead of making the game the thriller, Bungie made the books, and since there are so many Sci-Fi thrillers out there, Halo 2 will never be able to compete with such classics of Sci-Fi literature as Stranger in a Strange Land, etc…Though the story left disdain in many hardcore Halo fans with its many pitfalls and inability to evoke people's desire for more, the spirit of these fans was rekindled with the multiplayer.

Multiplayer: 8/10 What??? That's all?
Sadly to say, yes. The multiplayer has so much potential on Xbox Live and through LAN parties, but as the years progressed, Bungie has continued the policy of “If it ain't broke, fix it...” rather than “If it ain't broke, don't fix it.” Playing Halo 2 on Xbox Live was awesome, and even better on Split-Screen and LAN. But the real power of multiplayer was via Xbox Live. People could play each other around the world at any time. I've played people from several countries in Europe and several other states than my own in the US. Now then why did Halo 2 not get a 10/10 in multiplayer? The reason is the decaying awesome gameplay of Halo 2 on Xbox Live. Halo 2 on Xbox Live was probably a 9/10 when it first started, it was good, but needed fixing. Melees and grenades were weak, and so Bungie updated the system, and drastically made gameplay better. But with that update they took wonderful glitches that made custom games fun on Xbox Live, such as Sword Lunging, and thus Xbox Live slid from that possible 10/10 on the update to 9/10 again. Now then, what about it going to 8/10, well…here's the explanation. Bungie has released maps, and some have been awesome, others not. Bungie has released new gametypes, some wonderful, others not. But with these new maps game the hordes of cheaters. Bungie did attempt to fix this by the automatic ban system, but now a new cheating has surfaced: Bridging, and instead of Bungie trying to fix this, they are off trying to port Halo 2 on to the Windows Vista…Not only to complain about cheaters that can standby and bridge, and blue screen, and lag, and lag you out, but Bungie has decided to contribute messed-up gametypes to Xbox Live. Team Snipers in Team Slayer, even though there is already a Team Snipers and people who don't feel like playing Team Snipers and go into play Team Slayer are annoyed that Bungie would then force a Team Snipers game on them, heck why not a Team Swords game, I have yet to find one in over 3 months on Team Slayer. Not to mention, putting Team Snipers in backwash when the haze obscures your vision, and also refusing to include grenades. Then they have the cheek to say that the colors Red and Blue are quite fair even though according to the light spectrum, and the contrasting colors of maps such as Midship, Red is far more attractive and a tremendous disadvantage to those who get put on the team. There is nothing done about quitters, delevelers, and players that somehow get to such high levels but manage only to get one kill and die 20 times, it boggles the mind. There are so many other issues on Xbox Live that compromise gameplay…and with this said, I feel it rather giving and more to bias to let the Multiplayer receive an 8 out of 10.

Graphics: 10/10
I have to say, despite all the negative feedback I have been dishing out about Halo 2, the graphics are quite wonderful. They are so much better than those of Halo: CE. You can enjoy in great detail, especially on Campaign, and if you go outside the maps on those such as Containment, you will be astounded. The texturing, the weapons, the conservative view on blood (not allowing blood to gush out un-realistically), the scenery, the people, the cinematics, and much more, will make you have respect for those graphical designers after such massacring of the story. It appears to take the hardware of the Xbox to the limits as sometimes in intense moments, the fighting can turn into Matrix style fighting as the system starts to slow, but that adds flavor.

Sound: 10/10
The sounds in Halo 2 were truly spectacular, from the Start Screen to the Credits, the music was just delicious. The music was varied, and rarely became repetitious, and it matched quite well with each situation. It sounded as though a person were listen to true music, and not computer generated crassness. The guitar breakout during the Credits was just the clincher a well-composed musical score.

Replayability: 8/10 (6/10 in Campaign, 10/10 in Multiplayer)
The game will take new users to the Xbox about 10 hours to beat, and well-seasoned people less than that. The game is replayable since it can be played on different difficulties, and it adds great flavor if you try legendary despite its horrible gameplay. What makes the game more for replaying though is not that, but the hidden features in the game. The Skulls make the game fun, by people being able to jump high, having Overshield, or making the game tougher. Not to mention, the fabled scarab gun. Also, I enjoy playing through levels as fast as possible to get a very quick time trial. I have defeated Easy in under 2 hours, sweet, isn't it? Playing the Campaign is awesome to polish up if you haven't played for a few weeks or months on Xbox Live and wish to get your aim back. Though you may get bored with Campaign, Multiplayer never grows old. Despite the cheating and horrible sportsmanship, I'll always love playing Multiplayer on Halo 2. The main reason is since it is always different.

FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS

Using my rating system for a Campaign Game:
20% Gameplay, 40% Story, 20% Graphics, 5% Sound, 15% Replayability

This game in Campaign: 6/10 (I do not round)

Using my rating system for a Multiplayer Game:
10% Gameplay, 50% Multiplayer, 20% Graphics, 5% Sound, 15% Replayability

This game in Multiplayer: 8/10 (I do not round)

For overall game rating, 50% Campaign, 50% Multiplayer…

OVERALL RATING: 7/10

Final Comments: This game is awesome for multiplayer, but if you do not have Xbox Live (the high-speed service or desire to pay $50 a year) or you do not have friends to play with constantly, then there is no point in buying this game. Buy this game if you plan on using this for multiplayer, borrow/rent this game if you just want to play the storyline.

By: Yoh_of_Izumo (harryjamespotter)
Evan T. Delaney


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 03/27/06


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