Review by Fifth Beatle

"More of the same, and then a bit less... SINGLE PLAYER REVIEW"

Let me begin by making one thing very clear: this review is for the SINGLE PLAYER CAMPAIGN ONLY. I have not played the multiplayer via LAN or XboxLive. Please keep this is mind. this review also contains SPOILERS.

For the past three years, we have all waited with much anticipation for the sequel to what many call the greatest console shooter of all time, Halo. After numerous delays, we finally have Halo 2 in our hands. I was just as excited as everyone else, and even though I do not have XboxLive (can't get service in my area), I was looking forward to playing the single player mode. After all, the campaign in Halo 1 was was so damn cool, how could the sequel dissapoint? Well...

Let's begin with the good and work our way downward...

SOUND -8- The soundtrack to Halo 1 was a very moving piece of work, and Halo 2 has the same feel and in many cases, the same songs. I really can't fault the team for reusing most of the tunes since they worked so well in the first game. The sound effects of bullets, plasma, and crashing vehicles all sounds great. The recorded dialogue is very high quality as well. From the quick one liners of the marines to the cutscene banter, its all well written and played out well. no real complaints here.

GRAPHICS -8- Yes, the faces are bumpmapped with high detail. Yes, the enemies are all redone with higher poly counts and more detail. Yes, Master Chief's suit looks damn good. But damnnit all if the levels themselves look exactly the same as before. Basically, the only time the graphics really get to shine and astound you are in the cutscenes. Which is cool, I mean, thats kinda what cutscenes are for. But I was hoping for a bit more within the levels themselves. Give me some cool waterfall effects or fill those big empty alien rooms with some crazy machinery or other enviromental effects. Too often you go through the same giant empty halls, sometimes three or four in a row. Also, I never really felt that the system was taxed to its fullest with the number of models onscreen at once. In early previews, I remember reading of sweeping battlescenes with you leading a small army of marines against a huge covenant force. Yeah, I didnt see anything close to that in the game. As far as the problem of the weird popup on the character models, it didnt really bother me too much as it only takes a second to load. But after three years in development and all those delays... come on guys.

GAMPLAY -5- I'm rating the gameplay so low because I feel cheated. That's right - cheated. Even though Bungie added several new features, it wasnt enough to get over this nagging feeling that I was playing the first game. Dual wielding is the big one that everyone is going nuts over. I'm sorry, but I find it nothing more than a shallow gimmick. Accuracy is greatly reduced when firing both weapons at once, and personally, I would rather have my other hand free to melee and throw grenades with. It's a choice that you have to make, and I don't feel that the extra gun is worth that sacrafice. Speaking of guns, they have changed the arsenal up a bit for the sequel. The assault rifle is replaced with a one handed version with HORRIBLE accuracy that I think I only used in the early earth stages where they are overly abundant. Also useless is the once mighty pistol, now a ghost of its former power. I spent probably 75% of the game using the alien rifle and the new plasma sword, a handy weapon to have on you when you can turn on your stealth as the alien character. That's right, Bungie pulled a survival horror on us and gave us a second playable character. I would have found the alien levels much more enjoyable if he actually controlled different, or moved faster, or could double jump or something. But sadly, they play the same. At one point in the story, alien and Chief are assigned a similar task in different locations, and the levels truely felt like you were playing the same thing, just as a different character. I found these levels incredibly boring. Not that rest of the game is a barrell of fun either. Wooo its the flood again.. yeah im so excited. Admit it, the flood levels in the first game were boring. Just mindless guys that rush you and take forever to kill unless you have the shotgun. And the little spores are even harder to kill this time since the shotgun doesnt seem to spread as much and theres no true assault rifle. So the enemies in this game are basically the exact same ones in Halo1, except the new brutes, which you are sick of by the end anyways.

STORY -4- If the gameplay left me feeling cheated, the story left me insulted. How dare Bungie make us wait 3 years for this complete rag of a narrative. We all thought that this game would be about the covenant invading Earth, and damn we were excited! Bad news guys, three levels in, you find out that its not about that at all. (At this point in the game, some of you might feel a sinking feeling similar to that experienced when you relaized "Um, you mean I have to play the whole game as RAIDEN?" I know I did) Because guess what the big twist is in this one... are ya ready folks?.. There's another Halo! that's right ANOTHER FRICKIN HALO. Big whoop. The other big moment (when you play as the alien) was obvious from the start of the game. And then the Flood arrives and its a bad flashback to the swamps of Halo 1. They actually have a level in the library of the new ring with what appears to be guilty spark's cousin. And perhaps you've heard that people are dissapointed with the ending? well dissapointed is too mild a term. So is ending. NOTHING. I mean it. Even less than the first game. Bungie should embarassed for getting us so hyped up for a game that delievers basically very little of what it promised story-wise. And after the clever background story, I was expecting a story of first rate caliber. Instead, I am given a game where I have to go kill three dudes and then chase some other dudes to get some thing. Yay. And where was the level shown at E3 last year with Chief landing in a human city under attack. It looked so cool, and didn't even make it into the final cut. Bungie, you have let me down. Theonly real solution I can see is to release some single player levels as downloadable content. However, this is a copout from actually making a complete game at the time of release, and it might be difficult for those of us who dont have XboxLive to get these levels.

Overall: 6 (not an average)
Utterly dissapointed with the single player. I'll take the campaign from Halo1 over this trash any day. It seems evident that Bungie spent most of their time tuning the multiplayer (I would hope) and did not focus enough time and energy on the campaign.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 11/11/04

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