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Score: 9.2 / 10
*An Average of the scores below.
Some games everyone wants to review. Not
content with just waiting for a review copy, some of the AE writing
staff actually waited in line for Halo 2! Because most of us have played
it you get a compilation review. Read on...
Score: 9.3 / 10
Halo 2’s much-anticipated launch tallied 2.4 million copies sold and
$125 million in revenue in just the first 24 hours of its release.
What’s even more astounding is it even outdid in sales the newest Grand
Theft Auto game on the PS2, and the PS2’s installed owner base is at
least double that of the Xbox. Totally mind-boggling numbers to be sure,
but totally deserving, because Halo 2 is a magnificent gaming
development achievement. Halo 2 is simply
one of the best video game experiences to be had today or maybe even
Halo 2 is one of the rare sequels that outdo a truly classic original.
With a stellar single-player experience and the inclusion of online Xbox
Live play, Xbox owners are the envy of every Nintendo and PS2 fanboy out
there. You name it, Halo 2 does it at an A+ level: wonderfully
improved visuals, a solidly engaging and well-scripted storyline (with
an unexpected sense of humor intermixed with the strong religious
overtones), good voice-acting, splendidly ear-pleasing orchestral music,
and the coup de grace, exciting online play.
You can drive more vehicles than you could in the first Halo (jacking a
vehicle so much fun, it should be outlawed!), and you can now dual-wield
weaponry (many that have been upgraded from the first game). There’s
nary a place to complain. No game is ever perfect, but Halo 2 is as
close as a game gets to being perfect. It’s simple: if you own an Xbox,
you must buy Halo 2. If you don’t own an Xbox, Halo 2’s going to make
you want to go out and purchase one today.
- Lee Cieniawa
Score: 10 / 10
I feel that the multiplayer factor of Halo 2 is so unique, original, and
in-depth that it deserves its own section. There is so much within the
multiplayer component that you might think there are two versions of the
game. While the single-player is a disappointment to some, the
multiplayer is what will keep the Xbox running for the next few years.
Once you find that certain Gamertag that fits you best, Bungie.net
allows you to link that Gamertag to their website, allowing players to
view stats, game logs, as well as view other people’s daily stats. Stats
are taken into account in all Xbox Live modes with the exclusion of
‘Training Ground” – that’s pretty self-explanatory. New to Xbox Live is
an all-new “Clan” feature. Inside Halo 2 players can create a clan name
and invite all those they feel worthy to join. Within the clan feature
the creator can promote/demote other members as well as set up other
clan matches against different clans.
In order to ensure that every game is fair and relatively evenly
matched, Halo 2 has implemented an automatic search feature that seeks
out other players with around the same ranking, that way you won’t plow
through the enemy or get rocked.
The maps that Halo 2 offers play differently from its predecessor and
force each player to take on new strategies. No longer is the pistol
your holy savior, now that most weapons feel similar, although there are
valuable combinations. You’ll soon realize, if not already, that
“bigger” usually does not mean “better”. A fully charged plasma pistol
and SMG combo can put an enemy down an enemy faster than a naked Rosie
O’Donnell. (Sorry for the poor and disgusting imagery).
Here comes the somewhat disappointment of Halo 2 multiplayer: the modes.
In many team-based matches you’ll see that “Team Slayer” is a rarity and
almost unseen in most cases. However, other modes such as Assault and
Team Oddball can turn gamers off of the multiplayer very quickly. These
modes are idiotic in nature and experienced teams can find certain
little “strategies” to ensure a victory (throwing the oddball off a
cliff only to pick it up at the spawn a moment later).
Not to worry, Bungie has promised another update in which some of the
modes will be altered, hopefully the ones mentioned above, and “Team
Slayer” will be given a bigger spotlight.
- Eric Lahiji
Score: 8.7 / 10
Halo 2 is hyped as a "Save the Earth" game which makes for the biggest
disappointment of this highly anticipated sequel. For all the earth
saving the Master Chief does, he spends precious little time there. Two
other letdowns is the amount of backtracking -- fighting through to
point B then fighting back to point A -- and dual firing. I admit that
it's pretty cool to go in guns blazing away but I found myself using the
feature less and less as I progressed through the game. Dual needlers
produce a cool effect but it's still no match for a well-thrown plasma
grenade. This means, Halo 2 isn't much more than what the original was,
although jacking vehicles is pretty cool.
I was much more taken with Halo 2's storyline -- a triumph since the
story is usually non-existent for games in this genre. Viewing the
conflict from the other side is especially cool and it has some nice
twists. The graphics received a nice update, too.
With the ultra-spiffy collector's edition, a second disc is included
which features a ton of additional information that shows what went on
behind the scenes at Bungie during Halo 2's development and explains why
there was a delay releasing the game. There are quite a few spoilers
though so I recommend that you take a look only when you've ploughed
through the campaign.
Halo 2 is a good game, solidly executed and better than the original in
some regards (especially the story) but it's still not as mind-blowing
as I thought it was going to be.
Score: 8.9 / 10
Halo 2 is the sequel to the first game I reviewed for the Empire. Back
then, I gave Halo a "9", which was on the low side of the average review
score for Halo at the time. Looking back, I'm pretty happy with the
score. Still, I have a problem. Halo 2 clearly improves on every aspect
of Halo. The graphics are better. The story is better. The multi-player
has been expanded to include online play. Still, Halo 2 hasn't had the
same kind of impact on me that the original had.
For one thing, this time around the slow framerate bothers me. At times
(and I'm thinking on the Earth level where you can drive the tank), the
game seems incredibly slow. I appreciate that by locking it in at thirty
frames a second Bungie eliminated most of the annoying slowdown that we
would have likely seen, but after playing Far Cry, Doom 3, Painkiller,
Unreal Tourney 2004 to death lately, Halo 2 just feels too slow.
It is nice to have online play, but I'm a little annoyed with the online
options and the speed of connection. Bungie is apparently working on the
speed of the matchmaking sessions, but seems to think there, is nothing
wrong with the lack of options in the ranked matches.
Still, these complaints aside, Halo 2 is a fantastic game. It won't be
my "Game of the Year" choice (I'm leaning toward Half-life 2 there), but
if it had been released most other years, it would have definitely got
my GOTY vote.