Halo 2! It's a sequel to another game! I forget what it's called... Doom?
Ahhh, Halo 2 - the sequal to Xbox's flagship game. It's here. It's green. No wait, not green. It has some green, but not all of it is green. Maybe you're just green with envy that you're not playing it right now. See, instead of reading this review, you COULD be playing the game.
Damnit Kayn, don't tell your readers to not read your reviews. Ok. Read this review, then feel the green envy. Not yellow.
The Master Chief has returned, continuing the epic story that the first Halo laid out for us. After making his return to some space station thing orbiting the Earth, the Covenant mounts an attack on our home planet, hoping to rid all of us for good. Or so it would seem. OOH SUSPENSE! Or IS IT?!
Meanwhile, some political stuff is occuring at the Covenant home base. One of the main leaders in the assault against you during the first Halo is being punished for certain non-spoiler reasons (you'll know why if you've finished Halo). I guess I shouldn't say much more - that's probably the first 15 minutes of the game or so.
Halo 2 feels almost exactly like the the prequel, which is definately not a bad thing. You've got most of the weapons from Halo 1 returning, plus some new ones. More ways to kill baddies is extremely good. Good as in, not bad. Perhaps the coolest addition to your arsenal is the extremely lethal Energy Sword - the very weapon some of the Covenant elites used in Halo (and if you also recall the controller throwing angst when one strike from this sword would kill you).
Along with a nice array of new weapons comes this newfangled dual wielding capability. Ohhh, yes. Dual Needlers. Dual Sub-machine guns. If you can hold a weapon with one hand (with the exception of the Energy Sword), you can dual wield it. This is extremely handy when you've got a Brute berserking right at you, and one measly gun will not take it down. For some reason, brutally murdering tons of aliens Clint Eastwood style just never gets old. Yays!
Vehiclular slaughter is also present in Halo 2, with a few new vehicles and some AI that is surprisingly smart. Now you don't just have to drive the vehicle - you can hop behind the mounted weapon on the vehicle while one of your AI controlled allies take the wheel. They're not perfect (of course) - sometimes you'll wind up slamming into another vehicle, or bump around against walls.
The Halo engine has been optimized and stretched beyond it's limits (or so it would seem). Like I mentioned, the game feels almost exactly like Halo 1. Controls, sounds - everything. This time around, a lot of polish, modification, addition, and tweaking has been made to the engine. There's a ton of extra special effects, such as shiny armor effects on the Covenant elites, and that mouth-matching-words-thing instead of flapping jaws. Plus, Cortana looks less butch than she did in the first. :p
The music is vastly improved, along with Joe Satriani featured in some tracks. The epic choir intro is still present, and the minor keyed orchestrated soundtrack booms as you fight your way through the game. Explosions, blasts, grunts - it's all extremely well done. My only gripe about the voice acting is that sometimes there is so much going on that you can't hear what's being said. Every so often Cortana would be talking to me, and 58 grenedes go off at once and I miss what she says. Ugh!?
Well, no game is perfect. Halo 2 is not perfect, and it's definately a game. There are a few glitches here and there. For instance, most of you will notice a texture glitch when some real-time cutscenes load. It's not that bad, but could have been prevented before release. I noticed some pop-up issues as well, which I haven't seen in a game since the PSOne days (granted I haven't played every game EVER since then). According to one of the developers (I saw this on a website that asked him about this), "This is the price you pay when you want fast load times." Hmm.
Halo 2 also feels more like an expansion pack than a sequel. Wait, let me rephrase. It's right in between an actual sequel and an expansion pack. As far as the story goes, it's a sequel. As far as gameplay goes, it's an expansion.
And on top of that, they left a ton of stuff in the plot open for a sequel. That's fine and all, but... goddamnit, there was zero closure at the end. It's one of those things that make you say, "That's IT!?" when the credits roll. Luckily for Bungie, the game was still fun. Heh.
After breaking all sorts of records on it's release date (something like 3 million copies were sold), along with the hollow ending, there's a very high chance we'll see a sequel - most likely on the XBox 2. Hopefully it'll take less than 4 years, and it'll have some closure.
Now while Halo 2 didn't redefine the genre, or set any insane new standards, it was still a hell of a lotta fun. I will be gettin' into the multiplayer with some buds in the coming weeks, which is what shall keep the game alive for me.
So pick yourself up a copy if you've got an Xbox. Just play Halo first. It's better that way. I think. Yes.
Time to go. Half-life 2 is out in ... 11 hours and 25 minutes. KILL!
|Gameplay||Fun! You get hooked!||4.5|
|Graphics||Perdy graphics! Noticable improvement over Halo. Nothing groundbreaking though.||4.5|
|Music/Sound||Joe Satriani! I think. Yes. Good voice acting, nice explosions, memorable music.||5|
|Replay Value||Multiplayer on Xbox Live will keep this game going forever.||4.5|
|Originality||Cool new stuff, but doesn't seperate much from Halo.||4|
|Plot Holes! Ending!||PHTTBBT!||3|
|Final Verdict: 4.25|