Review by shneepshnop

"Who is it that has awakened me from my 4-month slumber? Ahh its Halo 2, and it's about time..."

Like I've always stated. Hype alone cannot make a game great. I think that it is safe to say that, even only a couple days after Halo 2's release date, that Halo's sequel was probably the most hyped game of all time. More so than Final Fantasy VIII, Chrono Cross, Metroid Prime, and the long awaited sequel to Baby Boomer. Wait, What? How'd that last one get in there? Sorry. Anyone who knows me knows I can't miss out on an opportunity to take a stab at a crappy game. Anyways... Lets face it, ever since the original Halo came around people had been awaiting a follow-up. A sequel to what a lot of people hail as the, “greatest game ever made”, and a game that is without question the best game on the Xbox. Something this great obviously has a lot to live up to. So did Halo 2 make the cut? How does it stack up when it's all said and done? Is it worth the 3-year wait, or is it just another Final Fantasy VIII (that's right I said it)? Lets see…

Game play – 21/30
Without question game play is the most important aspect to games. All the new additions we've been reading about for the last year make Halo 2 seem a sure-fire winner, right? Ehh, kinda. Lets begin with dual wielding. Yeah this concept has been around for a long time, Golden Eye, Perfect Dark, and Red Faction 2 were some of the first to do it. The reason dual wielding seemed so cool was that you can combine any 1 handed weapon with another, meaning you can dual wield 2 different kinds of weapons. This is the first time I've played a game where you can do this, however I think Red Faction 2 let you wield 2 different kinds of weapons but I may be mistaken. Most of the time dual wielding works extremely well. Its annoying on split screen because the weapons take up a lot of the room on the screen, plus you cant throw grenades and if you want 2 melee attack you'll toss your left handed weapon before doing so. So dual wielding in my opinion is very annoying and should be passed upon unless you are anticipating a firefight. On a separate note dual-wielded weapons will own almost anything at close range.

One of the things a sequel should always have are tons of new weapons, new enemies, and in Halo 2's case, some new vehicles. Well Halo 2 pretty much fails in this category. There are new weapons but not any that you didn't see coming, like the energy sword, alien sniper rifle, and a grenade launcher for example. Basically if there is a human weapon then the aliens will have their own version of it. Assault Rifle – Covent Carbine, Rocket Launcher – Fuel Rod Gun, Sniper Rifle – Particle Beam Rifle. In other words the creators could have stretched their minds a little more to make some more creative and unique weapons. If you need examples you can go check out Half Life 2's new weapons and witness some originality/creativity and you will more than likely start seeing my point of view.

There are new enemies as well, but not many. Plus just like the first game you'll get tired of killing the same enemies over and over again as the game progresses. The same concept applies to the vehicles. They have the exact same ones as the first game. The humans have no new vehicles and the Covenant have 1 (2 if you include being able to control the Wraith). You can use the Banshee in multiplayer now which is nice, but the other vehicles are barely in single player.

Also during single player there are levels where you will play as a covenant instead of as the Master Chief. Big whoop. To me this is a tactic used by the makers to make the sequel seem more like, well, a sequel. You may like this but I didn't care for it.

One of things I did enjoy about Halo 2 was that the levels are better. It doesn't seem like you are going through the same places over and over again like in the original. I've read some other reviews, including the one on Gamespot and they mention how the levels become dull and repetitive like the original and I disagree. I enjoyed the levels in Halo 2 and I think they are a step up from the 1st Halo.

Multiplayer – 18/20
Unless you live in a cave in Afghanistan or under a trashcan in an ally you know that Halo 2's main focus is on the multiplayer mode. After playing split screen and system link I've discovered the obvious, Halo 2‘s multiplayer is awesome. Of course the online mode will more than likely be a lot better (I don't have Xbox live yet, so I don't know). Halo 2 has probably the third best multiplayer mode I've ever played for a 1st person shooter. 3rd only to Perfect Dark and Battlefield Vietnam. It is disappointing however that you still cannot use bots in multiplayer, but I guess you don't really have a use for them if you have your Xbox connected to the internet. One of the aspects of multiplayer I liked was that everything seems so evenly balanced. There isn't one strategy that will own people 100% of the time; there is a way to counter everything. The Banshee's aren't unstoppable godlike machines of death like the choppers in BFV are, and each weapon can be stopped by using another weapon. Everything just seems so balanced and fair. One of the other things I liked was that you could hijack your opponent's vehicles by pressing the X button next to the vehicle you want to hijack. This makes the game more fun and makes it so the person in the vehicle has to play carefully and they cant carelessly (or skilllessly) camp an area. I wish they had more multiplayer levels though. There doesn't seem to be enough, plus most of the levels seem too small. I like how 2 of the levels from the original have returned.

Fun factor – 15/20
Honestly I thought the original Halo was more fun. The single player isn't that great and after you finish it once you probably wont care enough to play through it again. There are actually times during the single player mode where it just gets downright boring. Two days after I bought the game I stopped playing single player and waited a few days to finish where I left off just because it wasn't fun. The only reason I finished it was so that I could write this review (I try not to write reviews for games I don't finish). Multiplayer is a lot of fun and this is where the true replay value lies. But this goes without saying.

Graphics – 9/10
The graphics are great during the game, and I don't mean to beat a dead horse or jump on a band-wagon, but the graphics during the cut-scenes are just not as good as they should be. Its nice to just take a moment and stare off into the distance to appreciate the graphics during the game (like through a window in outer space or on the level where you go across a bridge to a city in a tank). It is hard not to appreciate the graphics here. The graphics during the cut scenes look blotchy and odd. Character faces don't look great either. The special effects during the game look very good though. Watch the stuff you blow up closely and you can also appreciate the graphics here. When vehicles explode they look very realistic. Halo 2's graphics have probably the best console graphics available now.

Control – 9/10
The controls are good but could have been better. I think the right joystick turns your guy around too fast and will take some getting used to before you become accustomed to it. Of course you can change the rate of a turn around in the options menu. Plus, like the original, ducking is done by pressing down and holding the left joystick. This is very inconvenient and makes ducking more of a hassle than anything else. It's hard to hold down the stick you use to control your movement, while moving, and evading bullets. Also dual wielding gets annoying after awhile. Having to toss your left handed weapon and then go find it and pick it up again every time you want 2 throw a grenade, do a melee attack, or switch weapons is annoying. Another thing I don't like is the height you jump. It seems Master Chief has Vince Carter's vertical and then some. Maybe they installed some springs into his shoes this time around, maybe not… The jump height is very, very unrealistic. Other than the problems listed above the controls are good.

Music/Sound – 9/10
We all know Halo 1 had great music. Well so does Halo 2, thanks to the fact that most of the tracks from the original return. Even without this kind of help the music would have still been very nicely done. It is, of course, orchestrated and it sound great. Also like almost everyone else who has written a Halo 2 review on Gamefaqs I like how the guns and explosions sound. They sound cool and most importantly realistic. Also why the hell can't you play your custom music? One of things that makes the Xbox better than the Gamecube and PS2 is that you can play your own music during some of the games. So why is this feature disabled on the most popular Xbox game released so far? Especially on one released by the Microsoft? Very disappointing…

Story – 1/5
Um, yeah… Talk about a quickly thrown together story. Whoever created this story will not win any awards for creativity. You start when Master Chief has to protect a spaceship from a Covent attack. After this task is finished you pretty much follow the Master Chief to earth, then to space, then to a Covenant ship, and blah, blah, blah. A lot of the story focuses on the Covenant, from the Covenant point of view. Its like they tried to make it so you would feel sorry for the covenant. Do we want to feel sorry for them? Of course not! We want to blow the !?$& out of them, we could all care less about them. Its obvious that this game was intended for multiplayer and the single player mode kinda just comes along for the ride. It's hard to explain the story without including spoilers (no this isn't a copout).

Overall – 82/100
When it was all said and done I felt disappointed. Maybe its because Halo 1 was so good that it made my expectations for its sequel too high and unrealistic. To me this game feels like a mere expansion pack sequel. I mean what took this game so long to come out. There isn't anything revolutionary here and the game is basically the same as the original except for a few measly additions and a minor graphical upgrade. Don't get me wrong Halo 2 is a great game, but I think it could have been a lot better if Bungie had taken the time to add a few more things to it. Halo 1 is better than Halo 2 but Halo 2's multiplayer makes this game the game to pick up. Don't get swallowed in the hype, and although this game is good it is very far from perfect. I don't think it is even one of the 5 best FPS I have ever played, but of course that says a lot. I hope my review provides another light on this game.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 11/17/04

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