posted 11/15/2004 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
One Page Platforms: Xbox
You can check out Charlie's opinion of the game here

Writing reviews for games as hyped as Halo 2 is always hard; do you rate it against the hype or against all of the other games in its class? If you believed all of the hype behind Halo 2 you would almost expect the game to do clean your house and help you make money on the stock market. The reality of it is that the game will live up to most of the expectations gamers have for the sequel.

The job of any sequel is to expand on the success of the first and add something new to the franchise. Halo 2. From the new single player campaign, to the new weapons (and ways to weild those weapons), to the new multiplayer over Xbox Live, Halo 2 delivers a solid gaming experience but it’s not with a few quirks.

The single player portion of the game is about the same quality as the first game if not marginally better. In order to discuss this I’m going to have to talk about some plot points which may be construed as spoilers so you may want to skip to the next page of the review to avoid reading details about the plot.

The game picks up almost immediately after the end of the first game. Master Chief has returned to Earth and while he’s receiving some well deserved medals the Covenant attacks. Meanwhile the Elite who lead the forces against Master Chief in the first game is labeled a heretic, branded, and then in an interesting twist, promoted to the Covenant Arbiter, a Covenant special forces role where he is sent to “solve” problems for the Covenant leadership. Interestingly enough you will play as both characters though out the game, switching to the other character after each level of the game. The only difference between the two is that the Arbiter has a stealth shield that he can activate to sneak around (or behind) enemies.

Everyone remembers the Silent Cartographer mission from the first game and I’m happy to say that the new game has a few signature moments as well. I really dug the assault on the Scarab tank towards the end of the first level but there are some other nice missions within the game (your first fight against the monster sentinels in the game was enjoyable as well). Bungie did a nice job of crafting an interesting plot that compels you to finish the single player side of the game. The plot allows you to learn a little more about the Covenant and the religious value of the Halo rings. While the game expands the Halo universe a bit the plot isn’t exactly going to surprise a lot of people. The game does re-use some of the plot mechanisms from the first game so there are times when you’ll figure out things before they happen (*cough*the Flood *cough*). The single player experience does drag in a few places but it didn’t feel like the end of Doom 3 where it became a drag to continue slogging through the end of the game.

The single player side is a bit on the short side (you’re looking at about 10 hours or so) but like the first it’s something you might want to go through multiple times at the different difficulty levels. Why? Because Bungie has created an exceedingly cinematic experience for gamers and you’ll probably miss a thing or two the first time though. There’s a real sense of being in a larger conflict in portions of the game but there are times when you do feel like the only one taking on the covenant. Bungie also does a great job of interlacing humor into the game and which provides a nice stress reliever after wiping out the Covenant hoards. Cortana and the Sergeant from the first game get some great lines in and your squad mates are worth keeping around to hear them back and forth.
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