Review by Fossil

"BOOM!!! Headshot!!"

Probably the most hated game of its series AND genre(FPS) is back again. Of course any old fogey that is a hardcore game junkie hates pretty much any video game sequel in existence kind of like a movie critic. Take The Matrix 2 & 3 for example. But anyways, passed all those biased opinions it comes down to how much fun the game is right? Duh. If you say otherwise, quit playing video games now.

Bungie became a millionaire reborn after the first day of Halo 2's launch making over 75 million dollars from the game alone. That says quite a bit about the games popularity. And we all know that popular games are generally hated by all the "different" people. Sucks for them. A lot of people will compare Halo 2 to games like Half Life, if you are this person, stop reading.

Gameplay - 9/10
Halo has a knack for destruction... in a non-gory sense(compared to Resident Evil). You play a bad ass genetically created super soldier that single handedly owns the Covenant and the Flood(I hate them..) again... but this time with more add-ons!

The one thing that has to kick more ass about Halo 2 over Halo 1 is dual-wielding. You can now dual-wield most of the weapons in the game. However, unless you ever plan to play Halo 2 on Xbox Live, which you probably won't since Halo 3 comes out soon from the point I've written this review, then you don't have to worry about the massive changes the online updates caused for the gameplay in general. Mostly dealing with weapon damage. Speaking OF the weapons, you got the old skool pistols, machineguns and sniper rifles. The beloved rocket launcher and the fun-to-throw grenades and stickies. I'm not actually sure if there are any new weapons in Halo 2... but if you played Halo 1 recently you'd know quicker than I would. The biggest change with weapons in Halo 2 is the damage they can deal. HOWEVER, this ONLY affects people that play online or plan to play online. Bungie has a pretty big update as far as weapons and damage go. So I'd really play through campaign one time, then if and when you do go online, play it again and see if you notice any difference. I won't give away any hints as too what changes, does more/less damage, but you'll figure it out very quickly.

Campaign mode is awesome. The levels are moderately long, but not too long. However fans of the series would probably enjoy a longer campaign mode as Halo is known for keeping it short. That's ok though, the action is top notch. You don't have to wait to use the best weapons in the game or wait to enjoy using a tank to obliterate the opposition.

Out of ammo? Have no fear! A turret is near!

Well... most of the time one is... or a ghost. But yeah, onto the next big mention, vehicles! Pure awesome, pure fun, PURE ANNIHILATION! You got the bad boys ranging from the ever popular Warthog, to Ghosts, Wraith, the Banshee and the once indestructible Tank. Take the Warthog for example, this thing has AWD and 4 wheel steering! Hop into this baby with a few of your friends and COVENANT BEWARE!! Just hope a rocket launcher doesn't fall in love with you(online vs. matches).

Multiplayer - 9/10
The ONLY reason I gave multi-player a 9 is because, without online, offline is seriously boring for you and your friends. The only thing that is fun to enjoy is campaign mode, imo. When you play Halo 2 online, its a whole new ballpark. I've based most of this review on offline play so far, but this section will give you a reason to pay money for playing Halo 2 online, or the current Halo game that is out, because it kicks that much ass.

First thing is first, up to 16 people can play in games online. Tons of new levels are available for download and all the basic offline ones as well. Match modes range from Team Slayer, Capture the Flag, Clan matches, Team Snipers, Action Sack, Big Team Battles and even training games for when you just want to practice and have nothing negatively affect your overall skill rating for said match type. Which by the way doesn't even matter these days. Since people cheat to boost their level, it's not surprising to see level 1's completely own 40+ guys. Which just goes to show how irrelevant leveling is. So have fun! Trust me, when you jump into a match, the way you play Halo will change for good. You'll learn your lesson for hiding or "saving" that ammo you think you'll need later but realize you didn't live long enough to use it. Your reflexes and reaction times will be severely tampered with! This is what separates you from everyone else... well, maybe your accuracy also.

Playing online tends to... well, give some players the sense nothing is around them...take the title of this review for example. So here I was one random night and I decided to play Halo. Me and some friends go heavy into Team Slayer(which rules btw) and we were kicking some serious ass, right? Now this whole time, I'm shouting out my lungs talking smack to the other guys, just having a good ol' time, no idea how loud I am. About an hour or so passes and my mom walks into my bedroom room asking me what that noise was? I'm looking at her like a complete idiot, wondering what pot she's smoking and why she got out of bed. So she leaves and comes back a few minutes later, except this time she catches me screaming "YOU JUST GOT OWNED!!" and then realizes it was me this entire time. Needless to say, I was rather obvlious. Now that my friends, is what defines fun. Seriously though, if you buy Halo 2, get online, now.

Controls - 8/10
Usually FPS don't ever have an acceptable control setup that players can enjoy. However, Bungie went up and beyond like they did with the first Halo giving you the option to mix it all up. Mostly with how you control the Chief. I believe there are 4 different joystick setups that help you decide which thumb controls what for moving. Which is good, because I happen to use Legacy and I don't know very many other games that have this option. It's extremely hard to play other FPS when using this setting because you're so used to it. The button setup is generic for the most part. There are a few alternatives but nothing drastic like the joysticks. Overall you should have no problem conforming to the setup.

Story - 7/10
You prepare yourself for a massive invasion that takes Master Chief right into the middle of all the action, because that's where heros are made. Sure, you have soldiers running around doing nothing but talking trash, but once in a blue moon they will make themselves useful by not getting run over or hit by a giant ball of plasma from a Wraith. Or you could just give them the Rocket Launcher or Sniper Rifle and sit back. Other then that, you will more then likely be amused by the things they say as you toss grenades into a fray of Covenant. Which usually cracks a few laughs out of me.

The story has its ups and downs. But overall it's enjoyable. I see no reason to dislike it just because it's an FPS. Most FPS tend to steer somewhat away from the point of what you do in campaign, but not all. Take Doom 3 for example. An FPS built around graphics. Mostly for the surreal feeling of a bad dream, but still has a fairly decent story behind it. Pretty much every objective you take on in the campaign mode deals with the storyline. The places you go are awesome, the scenery is jaw dropping for those of you that are fascinated by massive structures and things of the like.

Graphics - 10/10
Halo 2 is state of the art with graphics these days. Everything is realistic(as real as games can get anyways). Most of the levels are gargantuan. You really have to stop just to appreciate how much time and effort went into making buildings taller than anything in the world. Heck, even the online bonus maps are huge. It takes a few minutes just to walk across some of them, which is pretty damn impressive. All the little nooks and crannies, ledges and hiding spots make for one heck of a fight. You might think you're a happy apple making your way to the enemy base, then BAM! Next thing you know you get KO'd from the back because someone was crouching from above you.

Music/Sound - 8/10
Oh I know what the ladies like...

The things NPC's say in this game are hilarious. Mostly when you least expect it. But onto everything else, the music is awesome. It fits pefectly with the game whether you are in a heated battle against the Covenant or feeling uncomfortable knowing the Flood are lurking around every corner.

Replay Value/Overall - 9/10
This gets a high score because of the option to play online. Without ever playing online, I'd probably give Replay Value a 5. I mean all you really have is the Campaign, unless you have 3 or more friends that love to beat the crap out of each other in multi-player. Then hey, it isn't so bad. But even then, you're seriously missing out on half of the game's fun by not playing online. It changes the way you play, the way you interact with the environment and overall makes you a better player. You will have EVERY advantage over your friends or anybody you know that plays Halo if they don't have access to online and you do. I remember my friend originally had Halo 2 before I did and he was way better than me when we tore up campaign mode. He'd take care of the baddies and I'd be runnin along, pussy footin around trying not to get shot. But after I got online and was heavy into it for a month or so, his skill didn't even compare with mine anymore. It was like throwing a Fireant in a cage with a Lion. I was causing destruction and raining hell on the Flood. My friend was the one lolly-daggling around and looking like a newb. He never did get better after some online play... anyways, great game. Fun to play and worth at LEAST a rent for campaign mode.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 09/25/06, Updated 08/25/08

Game Release: Halo 2 (US, 11/09/04)

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