Review by Muck0 Man

"A console FPS worthy of this long review"

Now here's my turn to write a 1750 word review on why Halo 2 is the best game for Xbox. I could do this for you lovely people who are still for some reason unsure whether to buy the game or not. But i'm doing this for the game itself, a dedication, if you will, for the fun and experiences that I had while playing this game. So sit back and relax while I give you a long and detailed review on the genius that is Halo 2. I have played many first person shooters in my day, a lot and up until now I thought that 007:Goldeneye was the greatest first person shooter ever made. Even for me I thought the first Halo was over hyped and a great game, but not the best first person shooter I ever played. Until I played the sequel. Halo 2 is the long awaited sequel from Bungie for the best launch title for a console ever made. The first Halo was a groundbreaking title that featured some of the best multiplayer action ever in a first person shooter. Everything from the story to the enemies was done perfectly and the game sold like hotcakes. So it was a no brainer that Bungie would have made a sequel. Halo 2 was along time in the making and many people hoped that the title would live up to the first game. This game had more hype about it than any other game before it. There is a lot more attention to story and cinemas than in the last game. This game itself almost has at least 2 hours of cinemas and the story is full of detail and plot twists. Trust me when I tell you that the game is everything you could have hoped for and more. There is a ton of new weapons such as the fuel rod gun, sub-machine gun, the brute shot, and the awesome Covenant energy shield. Many new vehicles include the Spectre and the Warthog LAAV which has a cannon on the back, you can even hit enemies off and take the vehicle for yourself. There is also many new enemies including the not so friendly Brutes, the Drones, and the Prophets. Every level has many memorable moments and you can even dual wield some weapons. This is the best the first person shooter ever to grace a console. This is Halo 2.

Gameplay:10/10 The controls have changed little from the last game and you never find yourself feeling frustrated with the them. Everything from melee attacks to throwing grenades feels so perfectly placed to the buttons. This game was made for the Xbox controller. The games levels are a lot more varied than the first Halo and it's always throwing something new at you. There will never be a moment in this game where you feel like you've been here before or doing the same thing over and over again. From the moment you start up the game til the ending you'll be having the most fun a game can provide. There is no loading times after you start up the game so the action never drops. You'll get to play as a different character early on in the game. I don't want to spoil it for you, but you'll be surprised by who you get to play as. Enemy AI is a lot better than the last game. Enemy's will even jump on your vehicles in an attempt to punch you off. The marines are a lot improved over the last game and will even drive for you in the Warthog, while you shoot the guns. Enemy's will react to what weapons your using on them and if they're losing the battle or not. They will attack in vehicles a lot, especially the ghost, and are much harder to kill this time around. one enemy I found myself having the most trouble on is the Hunter, which is back and bigger than ever. His armor is a lot stronger this time around and I soon found out that he won't die easily from grenades or any other high powered weapons that I usually could fire at him and I found you needed to develop a strategy to kill many of the enemies in the game because of their higher intelligence. This game has enemy's that have sniper rifles, which caused me to be more cautious when walking through open environments. Things like this make the Covenant seem more like a worthy foe and less like a punching bag. Enemies will also talk to one another a lot more than in the last game. It helps make them seem more like living things than something to shoot at.

Story:10/10 I don't want to give away that much about the story, but let me just say that there are a lot of big surprises in store for you. It is a great story and takes place a short time after the events of the first Halo. Some old character will return such as Sarge and Cortana. The only thing that I'll say is that the game has a lot more than just the Covenant taking over Earth, by the end of the game there will be more twists than you can expect.

Graphics:10/10 This is one of the best looking games on the Xbox. If you have HDTV 480p then prepare to be amazed. On HDTV this game shows just how great it looks, probably the best graphics in a console game to date. From the scale of some of the levels to the nicks and scrapes on the Master Chiefs armor, you can tell that Bungies time developing this game was well spent. Just as The Chronicles of Riddeck: Escape From Butcher Bay this game does a lot of "normal mapping", which is when low polygoned models are applied with high detailed skins. Then lighting is used to make the object look more real. Characters look so realilistic you might think your looking at a high quality cinematic from a Final Fantasy game. The animation is awesome and characters and aliens move great. All the beautiful cut scenes in the game, really show off the games graphics. There will be times in the game where you'll stop to look at the environment around you in amazement at the level of detail in the environments or how huge they actually are, wait until you see the Scarab destroying the city, it will take your breath away. Some things like how the enemies mouths move, especially the Elites, I found very impressive. Other things such explosion effects and shooting the plasma pistol are well done. Another very cool thing is vehicle damage and destructible environments really add to the game experience. The only gripe that I could find with this games graphics is that since it streams from the disc so that there's no load times, during cinemas you can see the textures being applied to the objects. It's a minor flaw for such a grand game and nothing bad enough to take away a point from the score.

Sound:10/10 This games soundtrack is amazing. All with great Dolby Digital quality, the music is usually occurring with whats happening on screen. At times it's fast paced during huge battles and other times it's moody and dramatic like when your flying in the Banshee through one of the levels. Halo 2's Composer did a great job with setting the tone of the game and bringing out the thrill of it. The music is great and never fails to impress. Voice acting is top notch and weapons sound realistic. I liked how the Marines would talk about stuff as there coming with you. Some of the things they say about the Covenant are pretty funny. I also thought it was good that they had some Hollywood voice actors such as Orlando Jones and Michelle Rodriguez as the marines. By the end of the game you'll want to buy the soundtrack, it's that good.

Multiplayer:10/10 This is where you'll spend your most time with Halo 2. Whether it's you and your friends on a couch on Friday night or you playing on Live with people across the country. This is the reason you will buy Halo 2. No multiplayer game can match the fun or the excitement of Halo 2. You can play this with four people split screen, or two to sixteen system link. And then theirs online play. This game is probably the best game ever to grace Xbox Live.You can create your own clans, and even download new multiplayer maps. This game takes advantage of all of Live's features. There are seven game types including Slayer, Capture the Flag, Assault, King of the Hill, Oddball, Juggernaut, and Territories. Each game type can be customized to your liking such as setting the amount of players, weapon types, or the types of vehicles. You can customize your multiplayer character using a variety of colors and symbols. You can even play as a Covenant Elite in multiplayer. It doesn't add a big advantage to the multiplayer game but it's fun to do a battle with Master Chiefs against Elites. Every single weapon and vehicle are used in multiplayer depending on the size of the map.

Playtime/Replayability:9/10 Halo 2 has an average length and when you get to the end you'll be yearning for Halo 3. The game takes an average player about 12 hours, but it's so good you'll want to play it over and over again. There are many things to do and see in Halo 2 that you may miss the first time around. The plot is also a bit complex so, if your like me, then it will take you two or three times through to get the entire picture on whats going on. The real longevity in this title is in it's multiplayer. If you have Live you may never play another Xbox game again. The amount of options you can customize can make your own unique multiplayer game. From weapons, to time limit, to what vehicles are present on the map, you can customize it all. You can even customize your multiplayer character. You can change the colors of your character and his logo. Trust me when I say you'll be playing Halo 2's multiplayer, for a very long time.

Final Recommendation: Buy it. If you own an Xbox you would have to be a complete moron to not have this title. If you don't have an Xbox, then go buy one right now and then buy this game. There is also two versions of the game, Halo 2 and the Halo 2 Limited Collectors Edition which includes a DVD that has loads of extras. It will show the making of Halo 2, featurettes on game design, animation, and music. There is also deleted scenes and outtakes from the game and even an art gallery which shows from concept image to game. If your into collector's editions like myself then you should get it while it's still in stores. Otherwise just get the regular, whatever you chose you'll still be getting the same great game. This is the game people will be talking about when they think of the best multiplayer game on a console.

So concludes my tribute to the best game to ever grace the library of Xbox games. Whether you actually took the time to read it or just looked at the score. Know that from start to finish this game is a roller coaster ride of non stop fun. Maybe when your done reading it you'll be tempted to right a review also for why you either loved it or hated it.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 11/22/04

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