Review by ZeonAce0079
"Say Halo 2 my Lil Friend!"
Halo 2 is arguable as the most hyped and most publicized game of all time. Heck this game had more pre-orders than most games will ever sell. This tells us that people go into this game expecting nothing short of an epic. While the game is quite an amazing first person shooter (one of the best in console history) some people had the bar set a little too high.
One of the few problems I had with the game occurs in this category. Why you ask? The frame rate has some minor slowdown through out the game, but this is nothing compared to the huge problem that appears throughout the entire game. Pop ups! That's right the game takes a few seconds to load up each environment because they are so big and detailed. The lush environments unfortunately don't make up for this problem, which bring down the graphics quite a bit. As for the rest of the graphics well they are tip top to say the least. Water reflects, environments are large and lush, character designs are flawless, and vehicles show their damage. Load times aren't bad between sections, but the pop ups are really horrendous and this game could have easily got a perfect ten if it wasn't for them.
Dolby Digital 5.1 how nice you sound. Yes, total surround sound is in your grasp with this game, and believe me it's worth owning a home theater system just for this purpose. The surround setup gives you a real sense of being in an actual gunfight with your enemy and is something that should be included on every game. Ok now onto the rest of the sound. The background music in this game will stick out like a sore thumb, and not because it's bad but rather because it is so amazing. Each part of each level seems to have a different track that plays perfectly into the fast paced action or vehicle mayhem. The sound effects are the same from the previous Halo which is just fine seeing as they had no problems. Voice acting in this game is very well done and full of the Master Chief one liners that are infamous in action movies and games. Sure the annoying little oracle (343 guilty spark) has returned but he has a much smaller part similar to how Jar Jar was phased out of main character cast of Star Wars Episode II. The prophets have an interesting tone along with the arbiter. In the end we are left with some of the most sound heard in all of gaming today, well done Bungie.
If you can't use a mouse and keyboard then we must use the next best thing, the Xbox controller of course. This controller is made for first person shooters it's as simple as that. Sure computer gamers will say that a mouse and keyboard will beat it any day, and they are right but this is a console and those tools aren't available to us. Controls are very responsive, and both joysticks work well with aiming and shooting. Although the controls haven't changed that much they do have some new additions which are a result of ..well new additions in gameplay. The first major switch is that while dual wielding weaponry the left and right attacks are controlled by the L and R buttons. Vehicles now have multi functions such as a boost button or alt fire button similar to the scorpion tank of the first game. You can turn on your flashlight with the white button while playing as Master Chief or you can turn on your stealth camo with the arbiter using the same button. The control system and controller itself are made for games like this so it's no surprise in the end when they work out perfectly.
One of the main problems I had with the original Halo was that every level played the same no matter what you seemed to be going through corridors that looked very similar blasting enemies over and over. Although this problem isn't completely 100% fixed in this game it does however restructure the game giving it variety. For instance, you will be in a classic cityscape laying fire at enemies one second. Then you'll end up speeding through what I can only assume as a abandoned subway system in your ghost. Sure the original Halo had all this vehicle usage too, but they weren't implemented correctly. Like when you enter an air battle in the sky with banshees, which if your banshee decides to break down there is no soft ground below you for another twenty thousand feet. The game is surprisingly much more interactive then its predecessor.
New features such as dual wielding weapons are a nice touch, yeah I know it's been around before but never has it worked out like this. Sure you could use two machine guns at the same time, but before you run out into a crowd with your trigger happy self you may want to think about the fact that you cannot use grenades while being so ambidextrous. Another thing which may sway you away from such a feature is that you can't switch weapons or enter vehicles without discarding one of your two dual weapons. So what does this provide? Something that was sort of missing from the first game called balance.
Something else that would represent a major change is that during single player you know play as a covenant elite yep you play as a guy who wants to kill Master Chief. This may play a little odd at first, but do to story the circumstances may actually seem to work out. The covenant elite (arbiter) plays the exact same way as Master Chief himself except for one key difference. The arbiter has a stealth camouflage system that once charged will make you invisible for about fifteen or so seconds. This provides a some what page of the Metal Gear book, neatly tucked into the surroundings of Halo. Sneak up behind an enemy on his sweet spot and smash him over the head with your gun. Or simply get close enough to chuck one of your friendly sticky plasma grenades on his foot. In the end this character gives you a little sense of apathy for your enemy, and gives a little depth to the Halo universe.
The A.I system in the game is slightly more beefed up this time around. One of the major differences in A.I is in the original you had to do all the driving while the computer would be the gunner, not any more it appears some of the marines went to a driving school and are now able to assist you with what I like to call mad road skillz. Sure they would probably fail a drivers test, but they are pretty handy behind the wheel when you feel your shooting is simply superior. This is also a major improvement when you are traveling as a squad since you can have multiple non playable characters driving different types of vehicles to assist you. Dropping an enemy shield will send him running for cover as most of us would seconds from death, only to have him return with a clean bill of health searching for a new target. If you don't like the wimpy needler one of your squad members is using pick up a brute shot and switch with him, you will be greatly surprised at the reaction of Oh, I see the arbiter is feeling generous. One thing that is still lacking is that there are no ways to control the squad when you are in one. Then again people may not want to enter the whole squad commanding setup, let us leave that to a Mr. Tom Clancy.
The way the game is setup seems to be more of a justified first person shooter when compared to the original. The new features are enough to give Halo veterans a run for their money, and will keep newbies attached to this game for months to come. I'll put it bluntly this game is just more fun than the first.
What's this? A non perfect ten in multiplayer, I cast ye out! No, this is no misprint the game does not deserve the perfect ten we all seem to see online daily. So what could possibly be the problem with what the game excels in the most? The levels are simply to big. How can this be a problem? Oh it be a problem are right, especially when your looking for a quick one on one game with a friend or some 4-player showdowns. Sure there are a few levels that are considered for the 2-4 player amount but these are very limited. Playing a two player match in the bigger stages are simply unthinkable as it will take you an average of about 5 minutes to find and enter a fight with this person, and with the normal score set up to 25 to win we would be looking at an average low time of a little over two hours a game. On the plus side Bungie has announced that in the future they will release new maps for the game over Xbox Live. Will they be made for a more common 2-4 player matches? Only time will tell. The rest of the multiplayer setup (through Xbox Live) is quite amazing. Leaderboards, a ranking system, variety of match types, and up to 16 players in a single game it's all here. After the main game is done and gone most of your time will be spent fragging your way to the top. Many people complain about the online players being to cheap, as far as I'm concerned if it was made into the game it's fair play. The game is very balanced and every weapon/vehicle has it's strengths and weaknesses. You will easily drop hundreds of hours playing game after game. The Xbox Live features you ask? Well they are all here (yes, even the new clans feature) and that's all that really needs to be said.
God knows this won't win any awards for best story in video game history, and to tell you the truth the story is something out of a B-sci fi movie. However the story in the original Halo was practically absent. Little background information was ever given about anything besides the mission and the objectives. This game however features between level cinematechs that in the lowest form are at least cool to watch. You get to see who is really controlling the covenant, and what Halo itself is for. Basic stuff that was left out of the first game is here in the sequel. The ending however was extremely disappointing, and I will leave it at that so not to give any spoilers away from the game. The story really isn't dire to a game like this, but at the same time some background info would be nice rather than blasting away at some faceless aliens.
Overall 9/10 (not on an average)
The hype over this game was simply set to high for any person who was counting the very seconds till the release. Those who were only mild to moderately interested in the game however, will find that this is a very worthy sequel of the original and perhaps the best First Person Shooter on the console market today. If you can't find any fun in the single player campaign then you will find it in the loads of people playing the multiplayer on Xbox Live. With enough features to keep you interested till either the new Xbox is released or we see a console copy of Half-Life 2, this game will have you entering frag fests for some time to come. As an owner of an Xbox you should have already bought this game so I need not say if it is deemed buy worthy.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/27/05
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