STAFF REVIEW of Halo 2 (Xbox)

Friday, November 12, 2004.
by Yellowlab

Halo 2 Box art (Very minor spoilers ahead) I\'ll try to avoid boring you with an overview of Halo 2, as everyone with a pulse knows what the game is about. It\'s very difficult for any much hyped sequel to live up to insane hype, whether it be a blockbuster movie or a video game. I was pleased to find that Halo 2 lived up to every bit of the hype and I was fully satisfied by every aspect of the game (single player campaign, XBL, and co-op play). Some may be put off by a cliffhanger type ending (think Matrix Reloaded), or the fact that it asks more quesitons than it answers, but I thought it was very well done and am very much looking forward to Halo 3!

The first thing I noticed - regarding the single player campaign - was that the level design was improved greatly over Halo 1. While I loved Halo 1, it did suffer from some repetitive level design, and less exciting levels as the game progressed. Every level in Halo 2 is incredibly diverse and stands very seperate from the others. Also a few of the later levels were some of the best in the game. Bungie still does some amazing outdoor battle designs, and they greatly improved the indoor ones too. The dual weilding weapon was a nice touch, and added an interesting aspect to the game. I thoroughly enjoyed experimenting with different weapon combination. The weapons have been tweaked, and for the most part improved, although I do miss the old pistol and AR. But, the improvements and dual weilding more than make up for the weapons that disappeared. Halo 2 has a beefed up story that was much improved over the first.

It goes without saying that it is a terrific looking game. But, I don\'t know if I would call it the best on the Xbox to date. I still think Tecmo makes a very slightly prettier game (Ninja Gaiden, DOAU). And, I would have preferred FMV cut-scenes as the in game rendered ones had some pop-up (with the texturing) and framerate issues in a couple spots. But, I\'m nitpicking as it is without a doubt one of the prettier games on the market today. The environments are just amazingly well done, and the character details are spectacular.

It doesn\'t get any better than this. A tremendous soundtrack that chimes in at all the right times and voice work that rivals the best games. The marine and grunt chatter is hilarious. I love that they brought in a few celebrities as the marines (David Cross is hilarious). The sound effects, gun shots, blasts, etc... are just so well done. I loved it on the first level on earth when you could hear gunshots ringing out in the distance. It truly sounded like you were in an urban warfare situation.

A couple minor things...there should be a split screen option (horizontal or vertical) in the game, without making us change our dashboard settings from widescreen to 4:3 TV size. A few more XBL options would be nice too, instead of Bungie choosing the gametype for ranked games.

Overall: 10.0 / 10
Gameplay: 10.0 / 10
Visuals: 10.0 / 10
Sound: 10.0 / 10


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