Review by Tomdogg

"A huge letdown on the singleplayer, but awesome multiplayer"

Back when I played Halo, I was blown away by it. With its outstanding graphical performance, pure sound, and flawless gameplay, it proved to be the best shooter ever, on any console. After several years of waiting day and night, I heard that Halo 2 was coming out, and I nearly lost it in hysteria. I read up on all the stories for it, and watched all the previews for it, and I was in heaven. This game looked, sounded, and felt better than ever, and it was. Halo 2 finally came out and I was both impressed and extremely disappointed on many aspects.

Halo 2's story may start out on earth, but is mainly told from the covenant perspective. The story actually takes the game away from earth surprisingly quickly, which I personally did not like. After only three levels, and a couple with playing as the arbiter, it was back to another Halo. The game also focuses more on the covenant and Halo which is both good and bad. Good because the story answered many of my questions about the covenant, and bad because the story went away from earth very quickly, and the game ended with me playing as the arbiter instead of the Master Chief. There was also one big question on my mind…”How did the flood get out on the second Halo?” All in all, the story basically sucks.

Graphics- 8/10
Well well…the visuals in Halo 2 surprised me. After viewing all the trailers and TV spots, I thought that the visuals were going to be light years beyond its predecessor, but they were actually very disappointing. Bungie claimed that Halo 2 harnessed all the graphical power of the Xbox, but after around 20 minutes of playing, I said “My ass!!!” It's true that everything in the game has more detail, but the lighting on the character models is crap. Where the real time lighting that was shown in all the previews? Where's the crystal sharp, jagged edge free character models I saw? Where's the promised package??? Some model's look like they are made out of clay, while other are fairly low detail and some even look like hideous zombies. The FMV's look ugly and there's a common glitch in where at a distance, everything looks low resolution. When players move closer, the high resolution textures pop in. On the other hand, the covenant grunts, elites, and jackals look pretty good. Most of the plasma special effects are good too, and the covenant vehicles look great themselves. The environments look nice, and the lighting on them looks good too. Overall, most of the graphics look good, but some really suck.

Sound- 9/10
I'll tell everyone this right now, the soundtrack is great. No, it's superb. Featuring a far better orchestration and the occasional guitar rock, the soundtrack is simply amazing. The voice acting is great overall, despite there being some issues with the radio acting. On the other hand, there were some sound effects that I hated. The sound of the plasma rifle and pistol have been changed to a very retro like sound. This makes the guns seem lame at times. The grunt and elite voice acting have been changed as well. In Halo, the elites sounded like a very tough, menacing enemy. In Halo 2, they all sound like an alien version of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The grunts must really be on crack this time around, because they all sound exactly like that, when compared to the helium like voice they all sported in the first Halo. The Master Chief apparently has a new actor, who sounds like he either lost his voice, is undergoing a mid life crisis, or apparently woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Despite those few flaws, Halo 2's voice acting is still exceptional and is good on the most part.

Gameplay- 7/10
Halo 2 definitely has made a few improvements over its predecessor. The new physics engine implemented into the game is pretty cool, but nothing really mind blowing. Players can now dual wield weapons at the cost of not being able to throw grenades, which adds a bit more variety into the game. The energy sword is now available for the taking, and so is the fuel rod gun. There are a few new weapons, including the covenant's version of the sniper rifle, called the beam rifle and the brute shot which is an alien grenade launcher. There are also turrets to operate in some areas of levels which help turn the tide of the battle. The AI can now drive for players, so they can all take the gunner position. Although good on the whole, the driving AI can seem very dimwitted at times. You can also give your teammates your weapons so they can be more useful during a battle.

Despite all these “improvements,” all I can say is “whoopee.” When I gave a lot of thought into this, the so called improvements really aren't improvements at all. In fact, the improvements are actually boring. In addition to the boring improvements, there are a plethora of flaw associated with the campaign mode. First of all, Bungie has done some so-called “taming” on nearly every human weapon and vehicle in the game. Many of the weapons can no longer carry as much ammunition, and are not as destructive as they were before. The assault rifle for example, could carry more than 600 rounds in the first Halo, but can only carry 144 rounds in Halo 2. That's a loss of almost 75% of its total ammunition! The pistol has gone from being the super weapon, to a worthless piece of junk that can only carry 108 rounds max, and only when wielding two of them. The shotgun is not so effective, and can only carry 36 shells total. The sniper rifle lost a capacity load of a full clip, and the so has the rocket launcher. The Scorpion tank is now very slow, and the cannon is a piece of crap now. The vehicles are also destructible, which make the game even more frustrating, since the vehicles can blow up and kill players. There also seems to be this “glitch” where players can actually die from receiving a melee attack in the front. Hmmm….strange….I thought it was instant death when players were hit in the back….hmmm… When all added up, the campaign mode is a worthless piece of crap. It's borderline broken and I hardly enjoyed the campaign mode on Halo 2. Just because I bashed the campaign big time does not mean I hate the game entirely.

While I hate the campaign, I love the multiplayer. The multiplayer has definitely been toned up from its predecessor. For example, in Halo, there was a blue base and a red base. If you knew your base, you knew your enemies. Not anymore. This time, neither base's are identical. In addition to that, virtually everything is customizable for the multiplayer match, and there are a greater number of maps to choose from. It's also possible to communicate with teammates via the Xbox headset, and each of you team has a marker over his/her head that can tell you whether he/she is dead or alive. So if its your big chance to charge through the gate at super human speed and grab the oddball or the enemy flag, then all of a sudden, you see all you buddies markers flash red, you will most likely say to yourself “perhaps now is not the time to go through that gate.” The multiplayer matches are fun, fast paced and in your pace action.

Overall, despite a crap story and a borderline broken campaign, Halo 2 attains its replay value and good ratings from some really great multiplayer. Halo 2 sadly, is flawed in many ways and is a very disappointing sequel in many of its aspects.

NOTE: Go ahead all you Halo 2 fanatics and don't recommend this review because I didn't give this game a 10. I don't care! My opinion matters too you know!!!

Update: Now that I really think back on it, Halo 2's multiplayer wasn't that great either. There were a bevy of glitches that could be implemented, such as the 3 button combo that could be used to instantly kill an opponent. Or how about all those glitches where you could get on map's "roof" All those little kids that play too...they all squeal "N00b!!!" every time you kill them. It drove me crazy due to all the people like that who played. I don't play Halo 2 anymore, nor do I intend to. I'm waiting for Halo 3, then we'll see just how good Bungie is. I look forward to testing their "Ultimate game" and you can all be sure that it will be one hell of a review.


Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 07/10/07

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