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Halo 2is one of those rare video games that garnishes attention from regular folk who wouldn't know which direction to point a game controller. With more than 1.5 million pre-orders and a massive release party in Times Square, the game enjoys the sort of buzz, and sales, generally reserved for boy wizards. But does it merit the hype?

 

Opening Scene

Halo 2 opens with a cut scene in the Covenant Holy City of High Charity. Much has happened since Master Chief (that's you) created so much havoc for the Covenant in the first Halo, and the Arbiter has much atoning to do for his failures. This first cut scene is long, but the lush graphics, orchestral sound, and polished voice talent for both this and other cut scenes as well as the game itself put most animated television shows to shame.

 

Much has happened since Master Chief created so much havoc for the Covenant in the first Halo, and the Arbiter has much atoning to do.

In the end, though, Halo 2 is unabashedly a first-person shooter. It has a Mature rating and is not meant for kids. Gameplay is constant and intense. No sooner is one bunch of aliens taken care of than another descends. The controls are identical to the first game so those familiar with it will be up and blasting in no time. And the sound and graphics have been beefed up so that Halo 2 is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful console games available.

 

Opening Fire

Most of the weapons from the first game return, although strangely the MA5B Assault Rifle (the default weapon in the first game) is not available. There is a single melee weapon known as the Covenant Sword, but the controls for it are the same as that for all the shooter weapons, making it difficult to direct. Also, for a new twist, you can hold two of the smaller guns at the same time and shoot double-fisted.

 

As for vehicles, the old favorites are back and joined by a few new, mostly Covenant wheeled monsters. Some improvements have been made to the AI so that the nonplayer characters can drive without running into too many obstacles while you man the turret. This improved AI also has enemies ducking for cover, and the banter from both the Marines and the bad guys has undergone massive improvements so that it no longer sounds quite so repetitive.

 

On Your Own

The most significant change in the single-player game is with Master Chief's much-touted defensive suit. At the beginning of the game, he is told that the suit has been upgraded, but it's really undergone a severe downgrade. In Halo 2, the player has only one lifeline. Unlike in the first game, there is basically no defensive shield on the suit, making gameplay tougher. It can often take multiple--sometimes a maddening number--attempts to make it through thorny parts of the game.

 

 


Or with a Friend

Finally, no review of a Halo game is complete without mentioning multiplayer. One of the main reasons to buy Halo 2 is the ability to play through Xbox Live, a feature not included in the first game, which was among the original releases for the Xbox. Multiplayer for Halo 2 uses all of the same weapons and vehicles as in the single-player game, and the types of games available in Halo (King of the Hill, Slayer, Capture the Flag) return with a host of new maps. Multiplayer Halo 2 offers customizable profiles, control layout, and screens as well as a voice proximity feature, where you can talk with other players via an Xbox Communicator so that those closer to you sound louder than those farther away. Players can also create both permanent clans and temporary parties in the Xbox Live world. Undoubtedly, this multiplayer feature alone ensures that Halo 2 will remain a top-selling game for years to come. --David Morel

 

Pros:

  • Lush graphics and orchestral sound
  • Constant, thumping shoot-'em-up action
  • Multiplayer available through Xbox live

 

Cons:

  • Suit downgrade makes single-player often overly difficult
  • Get ready for some bleary-eyed mornings
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Details

ESRB:  MATURE
Number of Players:  1-16
Publisher:  Microsoft Game Studios
Developer:  Bungie Software
Console:  Xbox
Genre:  First-Person Shooter
Release Date:  November 09, 2004
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review by . June 03, 2009
Halo 2 is a game that really starts well, but piddles out in the final acts of its single-player campaign. The story of this game falls into clich├ęs and doesn't really try to surprise the gamer; most of the game is just predictable and offers far less replay value than its predecessor.     The game just goes on, and on, and on without getting much done for its story, and aside from two levels taking place on Earth there aren't many levels that offer much in the ways of entertainment …
review by . January 24, 2008
posted in The Gaming Hub
The original HALO was the game that saved the X-Box and kept Microsoft's fledging HALO 2 continues the adventures of Master Chief and the soldiers of Earth as they try to save the universe. Besides Master Chief's adventures, the game also has a parallel story that begins with a cut-scene on the Covenant homeworld. A Covenant Elite Supreme Commander is disgraced, beaten, and punished because of his failure to capture Master Chief and is selected by the High Prophets to be the Arbiter and atone for …
review by . June 22, 2007
posted in The Gaming Hub
Until a really stable and easy to install patch comes out, this will only work with Vista, and a really good video card. (I'm sure that sometime this year we will see a true patch that will allow you to use it on XP, but then...)    According to the cover box and Microsoft website, your video card must be "NVIDIA 6100, ATI X700 or above." That leaves a lot to interpretation, and nowhere does it state the minimum technical specs required to run the game. So, here it is:    Vid …
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