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Halo 2 Review
by Doom and Nixon
The most anticipated sequel ever, in actuality, is not the return of Christ. It's Halo 2. Halo 2 has been hyped up by idiotic drivel sites such as Gamespy, IGN and Gamespot. But this site has, instead, been conflicted regarding the hype that is Halo 2. A few had high hopes, others were cynical, others outright disdain. But everyone tried to enter this game without bias, and the results are still disappointing. Halo 2's bottom line, no matter what the fanboys say, is that it just ain't that great.
With Halo 2 comes the return of Halo's story, a combination of Starhammer rip-offs (admitted by Bungie somewhere in the myriad of FAQs on their site), references to a truckload of films, and one iota of original content. Beyond the fact that elites with their armor off look like steroid filled ET's, that the entire plot follows the Starhammer novel, and that the Covenent's flying city looks like Vespin's city in the clouds but with a fleet of Covenant ships looks like the second Death Star, the game was filled with original content. Oh wait, subtract the tunnel battle out of I, Robot, the Covenant walker AT-AT look a like, the badass sergeant, and some stuff I probably failed to notice. Or maybe it was all just a coincidence. Yeah, we can go with that too.
Halo 2 opens much like the first did, with Master Chief defending a space born installation from a Covenant assault, and while the first level of Halo 1 ends with a ride in a escape pod, this time Master Chief finds a bomb to ride. The second level, set on Earth, during the Covenant's assault on the planet, started off with real potential, and honestly got me in the 9 out of 10 kind of mentality. The level consisted of solid urban combat, which brought home close combat with more value on volume of fire power than accuracy and added to it a sniper hunt, with the player having to deal with a number of Jackal's equipped with the new Covenant sniper rifle. The combat became intense fights for every back alley, and I was just warming up. Then the next big revelation of Halo 2's single player appeared. It came in the form of an Elite called the Arbiter, the second playable character. He gets this wonderful name because he has been endowed with a SUIT OF ARMOR THAT HAS MANY A TIME SAVED THE COVENANT FROM DANGER. I capitalize that mostly because I could just feel where that was going, WACKY TEAM UP ADVENTURE, AWAY! Sadly, the suit doesn't talk back like Kitt from Knightrider. The main purpose of the character appears to be an excuse to play around with Covenant weapons more, be able to cloak for short (very short) periods of time, oh, and watch the story from a second view point, which means twice the Flood. The player will spend half, if not slightly more than half, of the game playing as said character. Well, you might be saying, does he take part in the siege of Earth too? Good news, neither character does! That's because as fast as the game puts us on Earth, a new environment, we get to go back to the old Halo, and a second Halo! Score. Granted, its not like the single player starts to suck at that point, but the game had a lot more potential for sticking to Earth than going to places we have already seen. Not soon after going to a second Halo we get the two classics from the original Halo everyone would have sorely missed, a second Library level and the Flood. The major shift in a lot of Halo 2 levels comes in the form of vehicles. Most levels are more vehicle orientated than in the first game. I call it, Carmaggedon, because that's how it feels. Pretty much any large open area will not be fought over with sniper rifles, or between buildings, but by blowing through it in a Scorpion or Ghost. And boy, do you blow through it, those areas take little time to cross lots of ground. I really felt that all these driving levels hurt the game as they don't innovate at all, if you can imagine Assault on the Control Room Remix edition, you just got a fair share of the game. As Halo 2 progresses, the Covenant have a civil war with Elites, Grunts, and Hunters against Jackals, Brutes, the Prophets, and the god damn fly creatures that I have no clue what their name is. As both characters, the player watches this war unfold as both try to perform the same objective, get the Index and stop the activation of the second Halo. God damn, I would have sworn I had played a game with the same object not three years ago. Thing is, most of the game gets spent trying to complete the exact same objective as the first game, and meaning you miss the siege of Earth, which would have been the highlight of the game. So, on the second Halo, and the Covenant city docked above, the player spends the game trying to get the Index, and then, failing, stop the detonation of Halo, as it and the city fill with Flood. Seriously, where have I seen this before? Along the way the player enjoys two boss battles, one of which is tolerable, and the final one being a prank. Honestly, a lot of people praised Halo for avoiding boss battles, so, uh, what now? Then, the ending. Halo 2's single player was going down as decent, still, in my book until the ending came, for two reasons. One, it comes way to soon, coming in at a point I thought was only midgame, and second, it's a cliffhanger. Oh, you heard me right. A cliffhanger ending that won't be resolved for at least two years, until Halo 3. Which by all estimates will probably won't even be on the Xbox, but its second generation. Christ, it's not even a good cliffhanger, because even though the player does prevent a second Halo from exploding, he does nothing to save Earth. It cliff hangs WITH HIM RETURNING TO EARTH. "Can Master Chief save the world before bedtime, find out, next week, on, "Halo 3: Give Us Cash In Advance!"
Oddly, there's next to no music during levels in the single player, which leads me to think that BUNGLE used all their money on making little toy Warthogs and decided not to give Halo 2 a soundtrack.
Actual single player gameplay stays pretty true to the original. The player gets to go down a linear series of hallways and kill things. Not to under glorify it but only in street combat did I ever feel Halo 2 going beyond what Halo 1 had already done. There, with snipers on roof tops, and enemies using side passageways to flank you (and vice versa) did the game truly come alive. The duel guns, the lack of health, but the faster regenerating shields all sum out to faster paced combat. As I said before, the game makes a transition to much less aim intensive, more just hose and run combat, for single player. While the gun battles may be more intense this way, they don't help liven the feel of "been there, done that". Further, Halo 2's more rapid paced combat feels far more generic. The more slow paced high accuracy combat of the first game was more unique than Halo 2's combat, which feels, like, well, about every other FPS out nowadays.
Difficulty and AI wise Halo 2 varies greatly. Easy sets phasers for retard with a bumbling into walls level AI, and for the record, while I expect easy AI to be stupid, that's just sad. Normal presents some challenge, but its really only for beginners. See, then Heroic comes in and acts, as it should, hard. But there's a massive gap between Normal and Heroic meaning that a player that played Halo 1, and wants a small challenge, won't have a mode to play. The only reason I could say that difficulty has been made over all harder for Halo 2 would be weapons. A lot of people hated the pistol for its universal abilities, and heavy damage. A lot of people were called faggots for holding said opinion too. So, luckily for us, those who hate pistols will have a lot more to cry about in Halo 2. The shotgun, the sword, and the Covenant sniper rifle (think, instant delivery of bullet) all qualify as one hit kill weapons if properly used. While the only effect this has on single player being to "avoid shotgun flood more", the impact on multiplayer was far more radical.
Multiplayer should, ideally, be the reason to buy this game. However, the multiplayer simply ... doesn't work. The new multiplayer levels feel as though Bungie played through Metroid Prime, and took some maps and environments from that game. Seriously, play through Metroid Prime, then Halo 2. They have the exact same maps. The maps from Halo did not make a smooth transition, either. Battle Creek [now Beaver Creek] transfers well enough, but Blood Gulch [Coagulation] has been drastically changed for the worse. The bases are now 3 stories high, making everything needlessly complex and confusing. The wide open space aspect of the original is also sledgehammered, as now the level is deluged with trees, rocks, and shadowed areas that were otherwise non-existent in the original. The fact that Blood Gulch had large open areas, seemed to be, the point of the first level. With weapons impact on multiplayer, Slayer matches rapidly degrade into "find the plasma sword first", which, while fun at first, got on everyone (we had over 10 people take the game out for a spin) annoyed in the end. Jumping has been improved, and everyone looks like a jumping Mexican bean. This is a slight positive, as now rocket matches are more playable. The vehicles, however, are ridiculously overpowered. That's a mistruth, only Ghosts are ridiculously overpowered. The Warthog is utterly useless and all other vehicles are either too bulky or slow. But the Ghost, the Ghost is unbeatable. It can easily rack up 10 kills in a row before exploding. We had shooting the ground right in front of the Ghost with rockets twice, putting 3 Battle Rifle clips in it, and tons of wild SMG fire into it, before it went down.
Beyond Slayer, the game has the return of King of the Hill, Capture the Flag, and just about all the old forms of gameplay. And with the exception of levels like Zanzibar all the largest multiplayer maps are made with the classic two teams, two flags Capture the Flag layout in mind, while, as some remember from the demo videos, Zanzibar is made more of for 1 flag mode.
This is slightly better than the Dukes of Hazzard.
The multiplayer set up seems needlessly complex; there are too many menus for a first person shooter. We really don't need a menu telling that 7 out of 10 on the sensitivity feature is "very sensitive". Controls are slightly improved from the original; they seem a bit tighter than in the first game, and the duel wielding feature works as well as could be expected.
The touted feature of Halo 2 is Xbox Live, which slightly amuses me, considering the percentage of idiots on XBC will increase tenfold when all the elites migrate to Xbox Live. Do you really want to pay an extra 50 bucks a year to be called "a cock"? I think not. Online play is, surprisingly, not a necessity in this day and age, and online play only leads to your sexuality being questioned across the country, and being accused of being a "fucking haxxor".
One fact that has to be made clear is that multiplayer should not need the full 16 players to be fun. However, all maps in Halo 2 are quite obviously made with XBL in mind. We found that a fair share of maps could not even get a good game going with 8 players, and that no map was small enough to accommodate good old fashion 4 player split screen. All the levels were so big that with only 4 people, it became hard to find other people, and battles would be separated with 30 second gaps. Plus the simple fact that Bungie has said to gamers "You must buy XBL to enjoy Halo 2" really disgusts me. Added to the cliffhanger ending made it the final insult, really.
Shovelfight! Shovelfight! Shovelfight!
Halo 2 was a very disappointing game that shows that Bungie tried to pull a fast one on gamers, release a game without the improvement in quality promised and see if anyone notices. Of course, no one will. It's fully expected that IGN will give this game a 15.9 [NOT AN AVERAGE] out of 10. And we get called Halo haters for not finding this game Christ with a Plasma Sword.
How many needles of black tar heroin to make this game good?: