Review by Element50

"Gaming will never be the same again!"

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

If there was one word to describe Halo 2, it would be WOW! This game is incredible, with almost everything being perfect. The story basically starts off where Halo 1 left off. Master chief and Sgt. Johnson are at an awards ceremony in their honor when there is an unexpected Covenant attack. You're given some weapons and from there on its non-stop action!

Gameplay. Score: 10/10
The gameplay of Halo 2 is absolutely amazing! Bungie did a great job of taking all the things that made the 1st Halo great even better. The enemy A.I. is greatly improved and there are plenty of new features like being able to play as an Elite (which is a huge part of the game), duel wielding, new weapons and probably my favorite thing, right up there with duel wielding, hijacking vehicles! It adds a whole new element to the game, especially in multiplayer. They have also added new vehicles like the Spectre and you can drive the Wraith tanks this time around! The controls are rock solid and feel smoother then H1 and you should get used to them in 10 minutes tops. Duel wielding also is great, it's very fun to mix and match weapons to see which ones work best for different enemies. Example: the plasma pistol/sub machine gun combo works perfectly for a shield-carrying Jackal. The new weapons are a nice change of pace, with ones like the Beam Rifle, which is the Covenants version of the sniper rifle. Also the old Assault Rifle now looks different and has been equipped with a scope. Also this time around the needler is actually useful this time, it flies much faster and the needles find their targets. Overall the gameplay of H2 is perfect with only a few slight flaws, but hardly noticeable.

Graphics. Score 9.9/10
Halo 2 has some of the best graphics I have ever seen! What they did was took H1's graphics engine and supped it up. They are clean and crisp, making you feel like you're really there. They really paid attention to detail this time around. For example, if you look at computer screens most of them will really say things. Also the weapons detail is much greater. The Covenant look great with bright colors and smooth texture. You can literally spend hours just staring at the graphics, they are that good. I also really love the new look of Master Chief's armour. You can really tell Bungie spend a lot of time on the incredible graphics. They whole game looks like it's in CGI! I do have one problem and that is when a cut-scene first appears there is no texture on anything, but only for a second. A very small glitch that is easily overlooked. On a side note that when played on a plasma or HDTV the graphics are mind blowing!

Sound. Score: 10/10
Usually when I play a game I really don't notice the sound very much, but in this game you can't not listen! Martin O'Donnell (the games sound director) did a really great job on everything. When in the heat of battle the music really compels you to fight on, no matter the situation. Everybody's favorite chanting monks from H1 are back along with many other great songs. They remade many of the old songs so that they sound even better. All they weapons sound great, especially the SMG (sub-machine gun). The plasma weapons sound.. well like plasma weapons, and the frag grenades really sound they are bouncing around a corner and straight to the feet of your enemy. The vehicle sounds are good, but sometimes sound a little odd, like the Warthog sounds a little too high pitched, but nobody will really notice this. This time around the Covenant speak English which I think is really cool. Another great thing they did was add the ability to put on subtitles, which is good because its hard to hear what they are saying a lot of the time. All the sounds in this game are amazing, and Marty really deserves his props. Also if you play this game in 5.1 surround sound you feel like there is a war in you own living room!

Story. Score 8.5/10
Now I would have given the story a 10 but the ending made me, and many other gamers very mad! This is the hardest section to write simply because I can't really say too much without ruining the story for gamers who haven't beaten it. The story of H2 is pretty much the same as in H1, its about you kicking alien ass. One thing that is quite diffrent than the first is that in H1 you were bringing the fight to the Covenant, this time the Covenant are bringing it to you. By far the biggest change is playing as an elite (the Arbiter). This allows you to see the story from both sides of the Covenant-Human-Flood war. This is a nice change of pace but the Arbiter levels outnumber the Master Chief levels. Also the Arbiter levels are long and tetious. I won't say too much but be prepared for a disappointing ending. Overall the story is quite good but has its flaws.

Enemies. Score: 9/10
Most people didn't put this in their review of Halo 2, but im not most people now am I? Ok im going to just name an enemy and give a short review of it. The Grunt, the Grunt is the lowest ranking Covenant there is. They are basically cannon fodder. Very weak and easy to kill, but high ranking ones have plasma cannons. The Jackal, Jackals are also weak but they carry plasma pistols and energy shields. The Drone, the Drones suck, they are little flying things that shoot at you. Not much to be said. Elites, Elites are the main Covenant. They are very smart and strong they carry all sorts of weapons and have shields like yours. The Hunter, the Hunter is a powerhouse, with heavy fuel rod guns and very heavy shields, don't mess with one unless you have to. The Brute, Brutes are also powerful and carry Brute shotguns. If hurt enough they then try to smash you into nothingness. The Flood, the Flood are, in my opinion the worst enemy. They carry weapons ranging from plasma pistols to rocket launchers. Also they dont stop until you or they, are dead. One more thing about the Flood, is that when then fall they might not be dead, they tend to survive amazing things. The enemies in H2 are quite an inpressive group of baddies. But some can just be too hard to kill so that's why this section gets a 9.

Multiplayer/XBOX LIVE. Score: 10/10
Many people say that the Mutiplayer/XBOX LIVE is the greatest thing about Halo 2. Now sadly I do not have XBL so I cannot tell you much about that :(. But Im sure that it is insanely fun. What I can tell you about is the multiplayer. The multiplayer in H2 is bing-bang fun, with plenty of large and small maps (11 in total). You can custom make about 2.38 million types of games with all the customization in MP. You can put any weapon, vehicle or anything else you want in a game. One of the funnest things about MP is the ability to hijack vehicles, trust me there is nothing sweeter than grabbing some active cameo and sneaking up on one of your friends who is riding in a vehicle and giving them a little surprise! Also there is an energy sword with infinite ammo in every level. There is also a secret MP map called Foundation that you can unlock on the last level, or just load up XBL. Foundation isn't really all that great just because it's so small but it is still pretty fun. You can't play with bots, which would have been nice, but still it's very fun. You and some friends can have infinite fun with MP and Im sure XBL is crazy too!

Replay Value. Score 9.5/10
Halo 2 is one of the best replayable games because of the different difficulties and XBL. The great replay value in H2 is from all the different difficulties. Legendary is like a whole new game it turns into a strategy game as well. You can't just run and gun, you have to think before you move. Another great replay feature is co-op you can play through all difficulties with your friends. Legendary is even harder on Co-Op because if one of you dies you both do, so you really have to work together as a team. You can easily play this game for years and not get bored of it. So I say this game has great replay value. The one negative thing I have to say is after playing campaign about a million times it can get kind of boring, but that obvious.

Conclusion: Halo 2 is probably the best Xbox title ever made. It is also the best FPS in my opinion. It will be a major contender for Game of The Year at E3 and probly all other game award shows next year. If you're a fan of FPS's or even if your not and you have an Xbox I very highly recommend buying this. You won't be disappointed!

Buy or Rent? BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY! This game is amazing and it is well worth every penny of 50$ especially with XBL!

Overall Game Rating: 10 out of 10

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 11/23/04, Updated 11/24/04

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