Review: Halo 2

October 15, 2006

Still the definite reason to own a Xbox
Bungie / Xbox / Mature

When the first Halo came out in 2001 it was a huge hit and guaranteed a long healthy life for the then fledgling X-Box. The power of this game is still seen on the Xbox top sellers list where it still frequently appears three years later. Now the most anticipated sequel has arrived finding its way into the loving hands of gamers everywhere.

As with many of the biggest games of the year, Halo 2 holds to the philosophy of more, more, more. The first more is more polygons. As with the first game Halo 2 raises Xbox graphical potential to new and stunning heights. Every environment is wonderfully rendered and truly puts the player inside the game, and player models are beautifully articulated and textured.

Graphics aren’t Halo 2’s only draw. The second more is more gameplay. New weapons include a sub machine gun, an energy sword, and others both new and old favorites from Halo. Also weapons such as the needler and pistol can be used two at a time both with two of the same gun or mixed up for twice the firepower. Main character Master Chief has learned some new moves such as hijacking vehicles and beating up their occupants. All these additions make the game’s central activity (shooting aliens) extra fun.

The final more is the one that should put Halo 2 above all others and put a huge spike in Xbox Live subscription, more multiplayer. The multiplayer sports the usual new levels to play in plus some old favorites that have been given face-lifts with new weapons and larger bases. Also new online are clans: groups of people that form together and game amongst themselves online. To boost the emphasis on online play, Bungie has scrapped bots (computer controlled players) that have been a staple of console multiplayer for many years.

With all this emphasis on the new features one crucial thing got left behind: the single player campaign story, which is amazingly short and has a disappointing ending that practically guarantees a Halo 3. Amazingly video framerate takes a hit on some cinematics, which is confounding on Xbox and should have been handled during the enormous delays that stretched this game’s production schedule.

Ultimately the too short campaign is held up by the stellar multiplayer that will have fans playing online for years to come. The game play is still the level at which all other shooters are judged. Halo 2 is by far the top Xbox game this holiday season and still is the main reason to own an Xbox.

9.5/10
By Zack Rovinsky

Halo 2

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