Review by Qbsean10

"Amazing, But A Disappointing Sequal"

Written November 11, 2004

It's been 3 years since Bungie Software released their highly acclaimed first person shooter, Halo. Now, with the new release of Halo 2, things are looking good for all Xbox gamers and FPS fans. Overall, the game is much shorter than the original, but extremely fun in both Single Player and Multiplayer. However, Halo 2 does not live up to the hype offered and will leave you with a somewhat empty feeling after you complete it.

Story Line
The year is 2552. You are Master Chief, Spartan 117, the last of an elite squadron of cyborg killing machines. The main story of the original Halo is much too long to explain in a review, so I'll start by picking up where Halo ends and Halo 2 starts. After the destruction of the Ring, you head back to Earth for some rest and relaxation. Just when things were quieting down, a Covenant squad attacks the human fleet and you're forced into the heat of battle once again. There's plenty of other twists and turns thrown into the mix, but that's for you to find out on your own.

Graphics 8/10
This has got to be the nicest graphics I've seen to date. Everything is crisp and clear. Gun details are a little lacking, but the player models are superb. As you play through some of the outdoor levels, you'll find that the water is completely re-done and now looks amazing, as well as the rest of the terrain details. Halo 2 uses Real-Time lighting, creating a breathtaking view on many levels. One thing that really irks me, and which also pulls the score down a bit, is the pop-up scenery. In all of the cut scenes, and occasionally while playing, you'll turn around and watch as the level is loaded quickly before you eyes. Trees and hills will seem to pop out of no where. Finally, the frame rate of the cut scenes is dramatically decreased. The game play frame rate, however, is extremely solid. Overall, the graphics are stunning, but minor slowdown and a few major detail problems bring the score down.

Controls 9/10
Like the original, you can choose from a bunch of pre-set control schemes, allowing gamers of all preferences to find one of their likings. However, the controls are not completely customizable, bringing the score down slightly.

Sound 7/10
Sadly, the sound is pretty much the worst part of the game. I've always loved the crack of the sniper rifle from the original halo and the whir of the Assault Rifle. Now in Halo 2, the sounds are much crisper, but they seem a bit on the weak side. The new SMG sounds very nice, but if only they had upped the intensity just a bit, it would seem as if the gun were a lot more powerful. The enemies are also a lot more quieter and now they speak in English. I used to love listening to the Elites scream out in Covenant speak, but now they say one liners like “Come out and I'll make your death quick and painless”. Marines and other allies are more attentive this time around, and will alert you of enemies and vehicles by name. For example, Sergeant Johnson will be shouting out “Jackals, to the left”, while others are alerting you of approaching Ghosts. Voice acting is spectacular, so that saves the score as well. As in the first Halo, the music really adds to the tone of the game, but still seems a bit mellower than last time. Overall I found the sound to be below par, and a bit on the “quiet” side. In Halo, it was all about the explosions and stellar music that really got my heart racing. Now, however, in Halo 2, everything seems to be toned down a bit and much more mellow.

Gameplay 8/10
As you first start playing, you'll probably notice that the feel of the game is a bit different. I'm not sure how to describe it, but things just seem a little off. Nothing bad, but it will take some time to get used to. In Halo 2, Bungie changed many things, took out a lot, and added even more things as well. So, without further ado, let's jump into the meat and potatoes of Halo 2.

The moment you receive a weapon, you'll notice that there is no longer an Assault Rifle, but it is now replaced with the SMG, a smaller, lightweight and more compact version of the Assault Rifle. You'll also notice right away that you can Dual-Wield a variety of weapons, including the SMG, Plasma Rifle, and many others. Dual-Wielding takes a while to get used to, but once you do, you'll be having a blast as you tear through the Covenant lines with both SMGs blazing out lead in all directions. Added to the arsenal this time around are both new human and Covenant weapons, along with the Sentinel Beam used by the robotic Sentinels. New weapons include the Human SMG, the Battle Rifle, a downgraded pistol, and the new M68 Gauss Cannon mounted on the back of the new Warthog. Covenant weapons now include a Carbine which is equivalent to a human rifle, the Particle Beam Rifle which is equivalent to the Sniper Rifle, the four round grenade launcher called the Brute Shot, the massive Fuel Rod Cannon used by the Hunters, and then the one hit KO Energy Sword used by the highest ranking Elites, along with all the originals. New vehicles include the Covenant Spectre and Wraith, and the new Warthog with a high damaging Gauss Cannon.

As you progress through the game, you'll encounter a few new enemies. Along with the four main Covenant, Bungie added two separate airborne enemies, a massive ape-like Brute, and the Prophets, or leaders of the Covenant. All in all, there are now 8 types of Covenant you'll be fighting, along with the dreaded Flood.

Minor gameplay changes include the ability to jack vehicles from your enemy. As a vehicle approaches, hold down the respective key and you'll climb on top of it and force the driver out. This adds a lot to the intensity of Multiplayer matches, but not so much during the single player campaign. Bungie also thought it would be cute to take out the health meter, so now all you have is a recharging shield meter. Once it runs out, a single bullet will bring you down. It adds to the intensity, but can really be a pisser in tight situations. New to Halo 2 is the improved AI system. Your teammates now have a license to drive, and you'll find them operating all vehicles, as well as the Warthog, leaving you to hope in the turret seat and blast aliens.

Overall, Gameplay is stepped up a notch from Halo, but it takes a while to get used to the changes. Once you do though, Halo 2 proves to be a very fun and rewarding experience.

Replay Ability 6-10/10
This game is very short. I ended up beating it on Easy is a little over 6 hours. It's fun, but lacking. Multiplayer, however, will keep you entertained for weeks, if not months. Now with Xbox Live support, Halo 2 offers Downloadable Content, new maps, Clan support, new game types, and plenty of other additions. If you don't have Xbox Live, expect to breeze through this game in under a week max. If you have XBL a few friends willing to play, you'll have one hell of a time for ages.

Buy or Rent?
If you have ever played Halo and enjoyed it even the least, go buy this game now. If you have Xbox Live and enjoy first person shooters, go buy this game now. If you have any interest in the story of Halo or to piece together more of the puzzle, go buy this game now. If you're unsure about first person shooters, give this game a rental. You'll find yourself beating it before the period is over, but multiplayer is really where Bungie focused this time around.

Halo 2 is extremely fun, but pretty disappointing when compared to the original as well as all the hype the game received prior to launch. In a rush to finish the game, Bungie had to eliminate many of the features that they had planned on adding. The game is very short (7-10 hours max), and will only take you a few days to beat. However, you'll have plenty of fun in those few days, and plenty more after that if you own Xbox Live. Overall, Halo 2 does not live up to the hype, and will leave you wondering what the hell just happened. It is a great game by itself, but as a follow up to the highly acclaimed award winning Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 just does not cut it.

A brief rundown:

Graphics – 8/10
Controls – 9/10
Sound – 7/10
Gameplay – 8/10
Replay Ability (No Xbox Live) – 6/10
Replay Ability (With Xbox Live) - 10/10
OVERALL – 8/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 11/11/04

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