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M (Mature)



November 9, 2004



- Great cosmetic upgrades
- Dual firing is kind of cool
- Bonuses with the Collector's Edition
- Multiplayer is extremely fun
- Outdoes its predecessor



- Backtracking
- Some incredibly slow sections



Review: Halo (XB)

Review: Halo (PC)

Action Figure: Master Chief (Halo 2)



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Halo 2

Score: 9.2 / 10 *An Average of the scores below.


halo 2 review          halo 2 review


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




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development achievement. Halo 2 is simply one of the best video game experiences to be had today or maybe even ever.

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).


halo 2 review         halo 2 review

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.

- Omni

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, and
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.

- Tolen Dante
(November 21, 2004)


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