The Final Say!
Review Date: November 2004
The most anticipated
game of the year returns... Halo 2... and it surpasses its
predecessor in just about every sense.
Platform: Cairo Station 2:16pm
Your adrenaline is
The Covenant have just boarded your ship...
clutch your weapon...
Boarders have breached the fire control centre. They have a bomb!"
feels like yesterday
"Can you defuse it?"
but I'll need the Chief's help to make contact with the detonator."
reload your weapon
"Chief! Get to the bomb... double time!"
Those bastards are back!
Halo 2 has finally arrived and Earth will never be the same again.
With the unified world wide release of Halo 2, Australia was one of
the first countries to finally experience one of the most amazing
gaming experiences of the year. And if you've never heard of Halo
then obviously you've been living under a rock or have been held
captive by the Covenant. In order to grasp the Halo phenomenal, the
original game by Bungie spawned three novels (which also tie into
Halo 2) and also spawned a variety of fan web sites from Australia
to the UK. With that said, this is not a game... it's an experience!
Halo 2 takes places a
short time after the events of the original game and unfortunately
for mankind, they could only muster a short respite from this
mysterious alien alliance... for the Covenant have returned...
and Earth is their prime target! Fortunately for the citizens of
Earth, gamers once again take on the role of Master Chief to help
liberate their planet. The game starts aboard the Cairo Station with
a ceremony for Master Chief and Sergeant Johnson for their valour
against the Covenant when the presentation ceremony is interrupted
by this insidious alien coalition.
"Cortana, prioritize targets and fire at will!"
As with the previous
instalment of Halo, the game wisely uses a variety of cinematics
(both in-game and pre-rendered) to progress the story along and with
over fifteen chapters included in the game, the storyline of Halo 2
is quite simply amazing. Unfortunately I cannot give away any more
of the storyline of Halo 2 because it must be experienced to
believed and I don't want to spoil any of the surprises that Bungie
have included in this title. After you have witnessed the first
cinematic treat of Halo 2, you immediately get the sense that this
game will be rather special.
The gameplay of Halo 2
is extremely reminiscent of the first game with the player using the
XBox controller to navigate their character in the gaming
environment. Probably the most noticeable difference of the sequel
is the ability to wield two weapons which really makes for some fun
and exciting gun battles. Although this increases your firepower in
the game, it does make for some fun gaming strategies because in
order to throw grenades in the game, you can only wield one weapon
at a time so the developers have nicely neutralised this effect.
Another addition to the
gameplay engine is the introduction of "gun fire" recoil that causes
your accuracy to be hindered, depending on what weapon or weapons
you are wielding. This also makes for some interesting gameplay,
especially when the odds are against you and you are mindlessly
firing at the enemy... knowing that although you are wasting ammo,
you are also praying that some of your bullets will hit their
Your character (err...
sorry sir!), Master Chief, can also perform a variety of other
manoeuvres (movement & combat) such as jump and crouch to traverse
difficult obstacles and also has access to a trusty flashlight
(which now has an infinite charge) , a variety of grenades and of
course your personal shield system. Halo 2 also boasts a variety of
weapons such as your trusty pistol, the powerful SMG and the new
battle rifle that is quite lethal in the right hands with its deadly
zoom capabilities. Although my personal favourite is still the
rocket launcher which easily allowed me to lay waste to the forces
of the Covenant. Unfortunately, the forces of Earth are not the only
race that are sporting new weaponry and the Covenant also has access
to a variety of new killing devices such as the energy sword that
really slices up the enemy.
What really set the
original Halo apart from the competition was the inclusion of
vehicles (Warthog, Ghost and Banshee) in the game that have once
again returned in the sequel which really makes for some fun gaming.
Another new instalment in Halo 2 is the ability to commandeer your
oppositions vehicle which really makes for some interesting gaming
strategies, especially when playing online. There is also a variety
of fixed weaponry such as Shade Plasma Cannons and UNSC Chain Gun
turrets that literally blows holes in your opponents forces. It
should also be noted that just because you can commandeer an enemy
vehicle, so can your enemy... so be wary!
The online part of Halo
2 is simply phenomenal and players have the ability to play the
Spartans or the Covenant. Another impressive feature of Halo 2 is
that gamers can also create their own customised emblem to help
distinguish themselves from the various millions of people from
around the globe who will be playing Halo 2 online. The online mode
of Halo 2 also supports up to four players on one XBox, which means
you only need one XBox Live connection to let your friends join in
the action. It's also a good advertisement for your friends to
finally lash out and buy XBox Live because it's as good as online
gaming can get. Halo also supports gloriously widescreen with an
aspect ratio of 16:9 which also assists in co-op and allows you to
see more of the gaming world when playing solo.
For those that don't
have access to XBox Live, Halo 2 supports the system link that
allows up to 16 gamers to play simultaneously at once for some of
the most exciting LAN play of the year. I must admit that we've only
had five XBox's connected at the impulsegamer officers but all I can
say is wow! Prepare to say goodbye to your time and your loved ones
for a few hours... well, days actually.
The campaign mode of the
title also allows the Master Chief to fight side-by-side marines
with aide from the sexy Cortana who really has had a huge makeover
from the first game. The artificial intelligence of both allies and
foes have also been vastly improved and in some circumstances, you
may be mistaken to think that you are playing against real human
opponents. With that said, the veteran first person shooter gamer
fan will easily complete this title in around 15 hours and all I can
say is thank God... err... Bungie for online multiplayer.
Fortunately, the last chapter of Halo 2 will leave all gamers
wanting more and one cannot but help smile at the cliff-hanger
ending of this amazing series. Halo 3? Of course!
Graphically Halo 2 on
the XBox puts just about any game on the system to shame with its
amazing gaming world that features a variety of special effects and
also a beautiful colour palette that looks wonderful on high
definition televisions. What was that you just said? Yes.. you heard
correctly, Halo 2 also supports a resolution of 480p that almost
looks like monitor quality. All the characters in the game have been
professionally created with nothing going to chance and match that
with an insane amount of polygons and some beautiful texture details
and you have one impressive looking game. The facial features of all
the characters in Halo 2, especially the humans contain a variety of
facial features that also move with a human-like grace to truly help
immerse the gamer into the world of Halo 2.
Apart the amazing
looking characters in Halo 2, the game also boasts a variety of
different gaming locales that range from Earth to some extremely
familiar places that I unfortunately cannot mention. Let's just say
that a familiar place (yet different) makes an exciting return. The
special effects of Halo 2 feature everything you would expect to see
in a first person shooter from beautiful lighting effects to some
amazing Hollywood style explosions that really helps getting your
adrenaline pumping and pumping.
Halo 2 also supports in-game
Dolby Digital 5.1 which really makes use of your speakers and if you
don't own 5.1 surround sound speakers than you are truly missing out.
The soundtrack of the game features a beautiful orchestral symphony and
match that with the Buddhist Monk sounding sounds of the Covenant and
this game easily has the most impressive soundtrack of the year, thanks
to the talents of Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori. The soundtrack
has not just been written as an after through either because it suits
the action and waiting of the game perfectly with the music really
starting to pump when the heat starts to build. Halo 2 also features a
few bands from today that include Breaking Benjamin and Incubus which
really lift the mood of the game.
The voice acting of Halo 2
once again features the return of Steve Downes as the Master Chief and
also Jen Taylor as sexy Cortana who now sound more comfortable with
their characters that not only makes for better gameplay but also for a
better storyline. There is also a variety of other actors who grace this
title and fortunately nothing sounds hammed up or tacky in their
character acting which really lets the gamer become immersed into this
futuristic world. Halo also contains a variety of sound effects from the
various weapons that grace this game and also the sounds of Covenant
aliens with a plethora of background sounds that are sometimes left out
of even the best games on the market at the moment. It's the small
things like the background ambiences of games which really enforces the
aspect of retreatism and only a few games are capable of that.
In conclusion, Halo 2 has
been a long wait but I can now safely say that it has been worth it and
I must also congratulate Microsoft and Bungie for getting a rare 10/10
for a game. With amazing graphics, one of the best storylines of the
year and of course a sturdy gaming engine, Halo 2 is a must have game
that I would recommend to all gamers.
- Andrew B
all hostile vessels in the kill zone. Thirteen Cruisers, two Assault
Carriers. I'm going live!"
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