Review by Cubular
"Halo 2 gives the gamers what they want and improves on its predecessor"
Let's look at Halo 2. Well, what can I say? It's the sequel to the biggest game for Xbox, Halo 1. There was a lot of hype surrounding the second version of Halo. Does it live up to the standards of the first game? Yes and no. Halo 2 takes what was great about Halo 1 and improves on it. Fun and addicting gameplay, intense story, jaw dropping graphics, epic soundtrack, and of course the never ending fun of multiplayer. The biggest addition to Halo 2 is the online multiplayer that Xbox owners had been waiting for so patiently. I myself haven't played on Xbox Live, but I'm certain that there are thousands of users playing as of right now. It has its own metagame and strategies (Google Halo 2 online and you'll find lots of FAQ's on how to be good in Halo 2). Now most of you out there (especially non-Xbox owners and Nintendo fanboys) are wondering if Halo 2 is revolutionary. As groundbreaking as Halo 1. The answer to that question is NO. Although Halo 2 is a great game and makes better use of the Halo engine than the first game, it doesn't do much to revolutionize anything. This is not necessarily a bad thing though. Basically, Halo fans got what they want; more Halo with online multiplayer. Nothing more. Let's go into detail with this:
Gameplay: Halo 2 is unlike any other First Person Shooter, and that's why it wins so many award and lovely praise. Unlike most FPS where you can hold an entire arsenal of weapons, Halo 2 restricts you to only letting you hold 2. A lot of fanboys and Xbox haters say this is the most flawed concept of Halo. I'd say it's the best concept which seperates this game from other FPS'. Being able to hold only 2 weapons forces you to use strategy, and adds a whole new metagame to the online community. So yes, you are only allowed to have 2 of the wide variety of weapons in Halo, but it only makes the game better. Halo 2 is also known for the regeneration shield. For those who don't know, you have a shield which can replenish itself. So if you get shot and hide for a bit, you will be back to full health. This is another reason why Halo 2 stands above all. The guns in those game are very unique and well balanced. Previously, Halo 1 had a pistol which was powerful and by far the best weapon in the game. In Halo 2, the pistol has been weakened, and now all weapons have their strengths and weaknesses, depending on the situation. However, some of the weapons are somewhat useless, such as the Battle Rifle. Even the SMG has disgraced our trademark abbreviation! Enough about the guns. There are also vehicles in this game which are very fun to use. From the alien flying "Banshee" to the traditional "Warthog", you will find lots of rewards when you use these vechicles. So how does the single player stand up? Not so good. A lot of the single player missions are very repetitive and boring, and the ending of the campaign is very disappointing. Don't bother playing the missions alone. Co-op mode is much more fun, so force your friend to come over and play the single player missions with you. Other than that, if you play the multiplayer, you will find that Halo 2 is one of the most fun games to date.
Graphics: This is as good as bump mapping gets! If you're unfamiliar, "Bump Mapping" is just making the environment of a video game more "Bumpy" so that it looks more curvy and in essence, more realistic. Once you play Halo 2, you'll see how beautiful everything is. Master Chief has never looked so damn sexy. The environment is so realistic and detailed, sometimes you'll just want to sit back and enjoy the view. The animations are awesome as well. Blood has never looked so good! The shadow effects are amazing. Bungie totally made use of the Xbox hardware. Even by today's standards, with all the next gen consoles out, Halo 2 is still one of the best looking games of all time.
Sound: One of my favorite aspects of the game. Never have you heard a First Person Shooter have such an epic soundtrack. The moment you turn on Halo 2, you will hear a guitar riff of the Halo theme, which is an awesome welcome for the player. The orchestrated music you will hear very often, suits the mood when you're playing an intense campaign mission. This isn't the only music you'll hear though. At times, the music can be soothing and calm. Then there's those moments where you'll be spooked by the scary music when the Flood is around. There's even intense music being played from a piano! I'm glad to see that Bungie and Microsoft put some high production values on the music. It totally makes Halo 2 a better experience. The voice acting is top notch as well, sounds very similar to a Sci-Fi show. The only complaint that I would have is the sound effects of the guns. Honestly, when you shoot, it's really quiet and it feels like you're using a silenced pistol. If you play FPS games like Counter-Strike, they are loud as hell and if you get shot, you really feel like you're dead. In Halo 2, if you get shot, it only feels like you're getting tranquilized. Other than that, sound production is terrific.
Control: Forget all those people who say First Person Shooters are only for PC because of the controls. Halo 2 proves that theory wrong. Never have I seen FPS controls work so well for a console, even better than the N64 shooters. The Xbox controller usually gets panned for its large size and awkward button layout. However, the controls for Halo 2 are perfect. It seems the Xbox controller was meant for Halo. It doesn't take too long to get used to using all the buttons, such as the flashlight and mass crouching! Halo was meant for the Xbox only, and if it does get ported to other consoles (which probably won't), they will have trouble implementing controls!
Value: If you're a Xbox owner, you probably already have Halo 2. No Xbox library of games is complete without this game. If you need a reason to impress your friends and show them why Xbox is a contender for a great console, Halo 2 is the game to do this. Fun and addicting gameplay, beautiful graphics, breathaking soundtrack, and large replay value make Halo 2 one of the most valuable games to date.
Summary: Once again, Microsoft and Bungie have proved that Halo is one of the best shooters of all time.
PRO: Innovative two weapon and shield system
PRO: Incredibly detailed and realistic graphics
PRO: Wide variety of music
PRO: Online multiplayer opens up possibilities for Halo 2
PRO: Co-op single player can be fun
PRO: Smart AI
PRO: Top notch controls
CON: Single player missions can get boring and repetitive
CON: Horrible ending
CON: No co-op missions online like Gears of War
CON: Sound effects of guns somewhat weak
Since Halo 2 gives gamers what they want, and nothing much new, I'm gonna give Halo 2 a 9.0/10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 05/05/08
Game Release: Halo 2 (US, 11/09/04)
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