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Platform: Xbox

Genre: Shooter

Publisher: Microsoft

Developer: Bungie

ETA: Q4 2003?

 

Related Links:

Review: Halo 2 (XB)

Feature: E3 2004 - Halo 2 Hands-On

Review: Halo (XB)

Review: Half-Life (PC)

Review: Metroid Prime (GC)

 

 

 

 

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Halo 2

 

halo 2 xbox preview          halo 2 xbox preview

 

Before we fall into the evolving “facts” culled from Bungie’s own site, I challenge you to figure out what predictable summation I’ll write.  Now, on with the facts:

 

"Halo 2" continues the story of the Master Chief, a genetically enhanced super-soldier who is the only human ever to successfully defy the Covenant—a coalition of alien races on a murderous march toward Earth. To the mysterious leaders of the Covenant, the human victory at the ancient ring structure known as Halo was an unacceptable failure. They will not fail again.

 

A completely rewritten graphics engine, which allows our artists to work in previously unimaginable complexity and detail.

 

New advanced real-time lighting engine. Dramatic lighting and shadows will behave realistically and interact with characters and environments.

 

"Self shadowing" where every model in the game will cast shadows on itself as well as its surroundings.

 

There will be several new weapons in addition to the reliable old standards from the first game.

 

The Battle Rifle is an evolved version of the original assault rifle and features increased accuracy, a scope, and a slower rate of fire. The SMG (Sub Machine Gun) is a rapid-fire gun that trades a high volume of bullets for decreased accuracy.

 

New vehicles.

 

The solo campaign in Halo 2 deepens and expands upon the story that began in the first game: old questions will be 

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answered, new mysteries will unfold, and the truly epic nature of the story will finally be revealed.

 

That the Covenant forces will attack Earth, another Halo ring comes into play, and MC will take the battle to the Covenant.

 

Halo 2 is designed from the ground up to support Internet multiplayer games over Xbox Live.

 

Halo 2 will be done when it's done.

 

Some of the battles will take place on a war torn Earth, a moon base, and several other completely new locations.

 

Destructible environments, new weapons, low gravity levels, online play, Human vs. Covenant multiplayer battles, improved AI, and more.

 

Windows, columns and doors will shatter into pieces when they take damage. Enemy soliders will be able to recognize these objects and strategically destroy them to make you an easier target. In addition, MC will be able to shoot out lights and hide in the shadows when stealth makes more sense than confrontation.

 

halo 2 xbox preview          halo 2 xbox preview

 

Downloadable content is still up in the air.

 

Multiplayer modes will return including Oddball, Race, Slayer, CTF, etc. In addition to these classics, we have some big plans for Live that we'll reveal a little later.

 

The Brute has been described as a cross between a gorilla and a rhino and will be a serious force to reckon with on the battlefield. The Prophets have been referred to as "giant space popes" and they provide the political, religious and spiritual leadership in the Covenant.

 

The Human forces will also be smarter this time around. They'll work better as a team and flip over objects to create cover. The Marines will also know how to call in support from a Warthog or point out an enemy sniper for an ally to take down.

 

MC will get his hands on a new suit of armor, some "tools", and a few new moves.

 

When things get hectic, the Chief can lower his gun and sprint at almost twice his normal speed. Before rushing into battle, MC can peek around corners and scope out the situation. When the action gets up close and personal, the Chief can string together melee attacks into devastating combos.

 

A big gold star for those that figured out I was going to write, “Halo 2 promises to do what every sequel should – expand on previous success without totally relying on it.”  The above reads like a shopping list of how to make a better sequel: better graphics, better friendly and hostile AI, more weapons, complete multiplayer support, new enemies, a new story, and an upgraded hero.

 

What strikes my interest is the inclusion of melee attacks.  It makes me wonder if we might finally see Halo in it’s original 3rd Person mode.  This mode would probably only be in use during unarmed combat since it’s hard to accept stringing together melee attacks in a first-person perspective.  We might see something like Retro implemented with Metroid Prime – except instead of rolling into a ball, Master Chief can go toe-to-toe with Covenant opponents.  Of course, this is all speculation on my part – you can bet that E3 will offer more concrete information, like if the Halo featured in Halo 2, will sport native fauna (something else planned for the original but never included).

 

halo 2 xbox preview          halo 2 xbox preview

 

Destructible environments, pioneered by Volition’s Red Faction series, could affect gameplay drastically.  Instead of trying to blast entrenched foes, what about blowing out supports of a nearby tower to send it crashing down on them?  If Bungie can pull off this feature, the amount of gameplay considerations will be quite a bit more than what was found in the original.  And how well will this work during multiplayer games over the net?

 

PC die-hards are likely to feel ignored yet again with points like “designed from the ground up to support Internet multiplayer games over Xbox Live.”  With Halo coming for PC later this year (that’s the plan at any rate) it’s almost a given that Halo 2 will probably appear on the PC – eventually.  Maybe.  But with Half-Life 2 arriving later this year (maybe), will PC die-hards care by then?

 

Speculation, questions, speculation…

 

More details are sure to be forthcoming at this year’s E3, so I’ll just keep my other speculations to myself.

 

- Omni

(April 26, 2003)

 

 

 

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