Review by Carnival Nights

""There are those who said this day would never come. What are they to say now?""

Midnight Madness was on the tip of everyone's tongue on the night of November 8, 2004. Moments before 12:00AM. The anticipation had reached its peak, the most hardcore of fans stood in front of their video game stores about to rip their heads waiting for 11:59PM to already pass, and Master Chief was preparing for his next epic journey in his quest to save humanity.

Compared to the campaign mode in the original Halo, the sequel proves to be epic in proportions. Without offering much spoilers, the game's story is a lot more cinematic with both sides being viewed. Conspiracy, lies, and plot twists are bountiful and by the time the plot has thickened your jaw will be dropping. No longer are the Covenant the monstrous aliens that want to eradicate human life. They now speak in English (God knows how the hell that happened) showing you much more depth than before allowing you to actually see how the Covenant operates and how the hierarchy is run. The only real letdown with campaign is the ending. Obviously it won't be revealed, but there is without a of a doubt that there will be inevitable disappointment.

A flood of music with remixes and actual bands contributing to the soundtrack give the campaign a much more grand and epic feeling. The electric guitar solos in a lot of the famous tracks in the previous Halo pump you up and even make you want to just rush head first into battle even though it's against hundreds of Elites and you know you stand no chance using the Rambo technique and the symphony of string instruments as you charge into battle with your brethren gives you the epic feel of charging with honor and pride as you strike down the heretics and traitors. Famous lines make a return to the game such as "Wort, Wort, Wort!" and "They're everywhere!" have made a return making Halo fans feel right at home.

A lot of new features have been added such as dual-wielding, trading AI weapons, online play, new weapons, improved melee system, more vehicles and some old ones with upgrades, vehicle wear and tear and etc. Although all of them are great features, one in particular is a bit tedious, but can be overlooked. Dual-wielding is a great feature, but when multiple weapons are on the ground that are available for dual-wielding, it becomes very cumbersome to equip the proper weapon. The weapon you want is usually always going to be the last one. Other than that it is almost mandatory to dual-wield in order to survive online.

Online is a blast to play, but there is a complaint about ranked matches being completely random meaning you're not able to choose maps, plays modes, and etc. It's no problem though since it keeps maps from getting boring as opposed to Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow, where the top three maps had a rotation of 50 or more rounds. There are also unranked games for those too timid to jump into the fray, but it's still entertaining because of the customization allowed for each of the play modes such as plasma blades only, frag fest, and etc.

Character models are somewhat changed such as Hunters. In the manual booklet of the original Halo it stated that they were 12 feet tall, but they didn't even look like the giants as described. Now they are towering ogres that truly leave fear in your heart when you encounter them. Facial expressions are also a lot more realistic and those wrinkles on faces are incredibly detailed. Other than those two features there isn't really anything new about the graphics, but they still retain their pretty look.

Epic in proportions and more story orientated, this installment in the Halo series is an excellent addition and adds even more replay value with Xbox Live support. Although there are minor problems, they're easily overlooked because of how grand this game is. Definitely the best the Xbox has to offer.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/11/04

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