STAFF REVIEW of Halo 2 (Xbox)

Saturday, November 13, 2004.
by E Nomini Patri

Halo 2 Box art Halo was a story driven game. Bungie put the Multiplayer in as an afterthought and didn\'t think that it would become even remotely as popular as it did. People spent lots of money to buy new Xboxes, TV\'s, and copies of Halo so they could get people together and have Halo parties. This phenomenon grew into tournaments where contestants have won up to $50,000. Halo has definitely earned that kind of popularity. The Multiplayer is so incredibly fun that when you have a large group of people over playing you lose track of time and can (from personal experience) spend over 17 hours straight playing Multiplayer without realizing it.

Although, while it is immensely fun to play it doesn\'t even come close to touching the Multiplayer experience of Halo 2. The absurd amount of control over the gameplay options makes creating a custom gametype almost hard to do because you debate with yourself constantly trying to decide what sounds fun. It is easy to spend a couple hours making your own custom gametypes to experiment with what the game gives you.

The options for playing with your friends are a lot more robust as well. You can have up to 16 Xboxes linked together to play 16-player matches. This is great because now you don\'t have to split a screen with someone if you don\'t want to. Playing split-screen with 4 people is a lot of fun, but the icons and HUD do clutter your screen too much.

Playing Halo 2 on Xbox Live is where it\'s at. Bar none. Halo 2 destroys every other game out there. Unless you are unlucky enough to find a bad server (or if your connection isn\'t very good) you will not get any lag whatsoever. Halo 2 is flawless. The ease of finding a game to play is incredible. The first time I played online it blew me away when I hit \"join\" for a friend\'s game and I was in the game lobby within 3 seconds.

The stats system for Halo 2 is superior to any other. After playing in some online games you can jump to, search for your gamertag, and look at your stats for every game you have played. You can see things like kills, deaths, who you killed the most, who killed you the most, shots fired, shots hit, headshots, medals, and even your average lifespan. By far the coolest thing I have ever seen done for stats is the Game Viewer. You can see pictures of the level you played from different angles, and overlaid on the pictures are logos for you showing where you shot someone from, or where they shot you from. You can also choose to look at it for the other people you played against to see who they killed and where. It is definitely a good way to approach levels with a better perspective of where fights happen most or where the general safe-zones are if you need to recharge.

The work put into the Multiplayer for Halo 2 is so in-depth that it is hard to believe that only 4 people worked on the design, as well as the online team. Compare that to the 50+ people working exclusively on the Campaign of Halo 2.

The gameplay is very fluid. The levels are really well designed so that people aren\'t wandering around for too long without being in someone else\'s scope. The weapon placement is good too because you have to work to get to the better weapons, not to mention that someone else might get to a powerful weapon at the same time as you, so you really have to earn it. You could definitely ask them to let you have the gun using the proximity voice feature (players within 15m can hear whatever you say), but I am sure they will be in too much of a hurry to make sure you don\'t get it so don\'t be afraid to beat them down.

The Multiplayer levels in Halo 2 all feel and play differently, which is good because none of the levels are bad. I can\'t see myself getting bored of them, unlike Halo where you play around 5 maps constantly because the others just aren\'t as good. The variety of gametypes in Halo 2 will definitely keep all of the maps fresh.

With Downloadable Content, this game will last a very long time. 3-4 years easily.

The graphics were a definite strong point of Halo. The environments had textures that you could zoom in on up close and the little scratches and surface variations were very clear and defined. Unfortunately in Halo 2, I haven\'t seen this consistency. There are quite a few low-resolution textures on most of the geometry. It looks good from a distance, but doesn\'t hold the quality when it is in your face.

The bump mapping and lighting are the largest graphical improvement over Halo. The lighting looks very intense, especially when you throw a plasma grenade into a dark cave or check out the sun lighted side of a building. In Halo 2, the animation has also been kicked up to make the players seem lifelike. Blast someone onto a sloped surface and they will roll down. 3-round burst someone to the face with a Battle Rifle and they will fly backwards from the impact. It really makes the combat more gratifying.

If only the textures of some things were not so low-res and lacking detail, I would be fully pleased with the graphics.

The sound is one of the elements of Halo 2 that is so good that you almost don\'t notice it unless you choose to. The weapons all have a heavy firing sound, the grenades explode with real force, the surfaces take bullets like they should, the vehicles have more ferocity, melees are more crunchy, and the atmospheric and ambient noises of the Multiplayer levels give them a very distinct feel.

A good way to hear how great the sound is, is to go around the levels hitting and shooting the various surfaces and vehicles to hear the variety of noises.

Halo 2 is a great way to pamper your eardrums. They will like you for it.

I would like to see cumulative stats for all of my games so I don\'t have to go through with a calculator to see my total kills or medals etc...

Improve the detail and resolution of the textures so I can be spoiled even more by this game.

Overall: 10.0 / 10
Gameplay: 10.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 10.0 / 10


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