Reviews// Halo 2

FPS: Formulaic Production Standards

Posted 17 Nov 2004 13:48 by
MC wireframe
MC wireframe
That question is even more poignant bearing in mind the scheduling of this release. Wedged between Doom 3 and Half-Life 2, which on high-end PCs are capable of casting shadows over the Xbox?s new leader, the extent of Halo 2?s shock and awe effects are somewhat subdued. But for those less inclined towards PC gaming, it is difficult to argue that Halo 2 is anything less than the best console FPS ever made. Indeed, from a superficial perspective, it could also be suggested that Halo 2 is the best Xbox game ever made. But that will only last until the next big FPS comes along, at which point Halo 2 will be all but forgotten, bar the most fervent fans.

SPOnG?s still in two minds as to whether or not Halo 2 is worthy of praise. As a pure FPS, it is fantastic; but for FPS purists, the Xbox isn?t necessarily the best tool. The true Quake-schooled trigger loon generally prefers the keyboard/mouse set-up for the most precise and speedy control. So straight from the off, Halo 2 is angled at the slightly less than hardcore. And in this case, it becomes more reasonable to criticise Halo 2 for just being an FPS. If you only own, or only intend to buy, a handful of titles for your Xbox, is Halo 2 really as essential as Microsoft Game Studios would suggest?

MC maps
MC maps
Bungie hasn?t made any pretence about Halo 2 being anything other than an FPS, and we?ve never expected anything else, so in many regards we have no cause for complaint. Just like when Pro Evo 4 and Burnout 3 were released, nothing was asked for other than football and racing respectively. However, bearing in mind the impressive and substantial engine behind the game, we just wish it came with a more interesting design. Fundamentally, Halo?s sci-fi setting is as about as generic as it could possibly be.

It?s no secret that there is a distinct cross-over between fans of sci-fi and fans of video-games, but equally, it?s no secret that sci-fi plotlines are often turgidly formulaic and devoid of any genuinely engaging factors. We weren?t particularly fond of the Halo universe in its first po-faced iteration, and the return really hasn?t added anything more appealing. Although the story is far from crucial to the general level of satisfaction gleaned, particularly in the case of a straight-up shooter like this, it does seem that Halo 2 could have made much more of its ?cinematic? aspects.

MC Final
MC Final
The last FPS we thought really made the most of its character cast was probably Goldeneye. Seeing the world through James Bond?s eyes made the whole experience seem more exciting (like a great many other British males, we want to be 007 when we grow up); but when the first-person perspective afforded is through the soul-less, bionic goggles of ?Master Chief? it does feel markedly less involving. There just doesn?t seem to be any appeal to this character, right down to his entirely meaningless name. It?s just some anonymous figure in a robot suit thing who is somehow a famous hero in the process. Considering how much thought has gone into the larger structure of the game, one might imagine that a more creative approach would have made it immediately more interesting.
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ben mills 17 Nov 2004 17:01
I very good and fair review but i feel the reviewer has maybe been a bit 'anti-microsoft' on us.

The gameplay in single player is pretty much the same as many other FPS. But maybe its not what it looks like at face value that makes this a great classic. From a AI programmers point of view it shows some amazing techniques. For instance when a comrad or a foe falls other NPC's will come over and talk about him/her/it. The AI in Halo 2 is matched only by Half-life 2.When you say there is stealth on Thief and not on Halo 2 maybe try playing it on a diffculty harder than normal.
I feel that the reviewer has not looked at it in a very semiotic way.

For instance there was no mention of the sound and music in the game. The music in Halo2 is some of the best seen in any game. Metal gear solid maybe had something that came close, but the music here inspires and impresses.

The reviwers says that online co-op is not a option but does he actually know what it would take to make it work? The bandwidth needed to send every deformed object, every sprite, projectile and AI instruction between Boxes would be about 100mb/sec.

Graphicly is is maybe a bit of a let down - The cutsceans are good but the poping is bad. However the fact there are no loading screens does make up for it and it helps move the story through alot better.

When the critic talks about the lack of 'evil' in the covenant has he plaid the game through?!
The covenant are not evil, they simply are following thier beliefs. The thing with Halo is that sides are not clear cut. The flood is the only true evil. The covenant, Mankind and the Forerunners are all coming from diffrent points-of-view.

The story is maybe lacking and Halo does indeed have better plot. I feel that bungie have tried to fit to much in a short period of time and they are unable to develop the plot as much as could be possible. Also being able to play as a elite is maybe a cheap gimic. Playing as a elite should be like a wild sexual fantasy - never actually acted out but always lusted after.

As for online - Nothing comes close on ANY FPS ever. The detail on the bungie website is fantastic and the screenshots of your movements and kill placements can help develop stratagies well.
Rod Todd 17 Nov 2004 18:03
ben mills wrote:
I very good and fair review but i feel the reviewer has maybe been a bit 'anti-microsoft' on us.

Anti Microsoft sentiment is one of the things to love about SPOnG ;-)

But it's true, Bungie used to be wildly creative in comparison to other games at the time of Marathon, it was a narrative masterpiece. But Halo 2 seems kinda run of the mill.

If that isn't corporate development methodologies eroding creativity, then it must be something else, far less sinister instead.
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fluffstardx 17 Nov 2004 19:31
Halo 2 plot, boring?

Read First Strike.
Follow all of ILB.
Read "conversations from around the universe".

The plot isn't boring, it just simply cannot all fit in.
QuaiD 18 Nov 2004 00:43
Whose gone onlibe with it and found it slow?
fluffstardx 18 Nov 2004 10:52
You got the patch? It fixes a LOT.

Plus, on a 1mb/sec line... no, i notice no slowdown. Ever.

As for the game being "run of the mill"... watch the DVD. They had to cut a ton of stuff, because frankly they were just too damn creative. So, the plot we got was a little... jagged. Time constraints.

It is, however, still a LOT better than Killzone, the supposed "PS2 Halo". If you want to really fry a game for being overhyped, look no further. The AI is ropey, the controls missing a little something (jump, for example...), and the multi-character implementation made totoally pointless.

Oh yes, and the plot is non-existant.
Master Chef 19 Nov 2004 11:24
fluffstardx wrote:
You got the patch? It fixes a LOT.

Plus, on a 1mb/sec line... no, i notice no slowdown. Ever.

Totally awesome --if you have a 1mb line

As for the game being "run of the mill"... watch the DVD. They had to cut a ton of stuff, because frankly they were just too damn creative. So, the plot we got was a little... jagged. Time constraints.

Yeah, I'm hardly pumped by the stuff they left out.

It is, however, still a LOT better than Killzone

I thought this was a discussion about Halo2, not something that has been hyped as baing a Halo-beater by the game's own publisher.

I'm totally whelmed by Halo2. More of the same. IMO it doesn't offer a great, mindblowing leap in the Halo story arc like we got with the progression of Marathon. Following the plot in the ILB/Haunted Apiary game was better than progressiong in the game. I can handle another run of the mill FPS if the plot rocks, otherwise it's a dud.

Still, I'll plow thru and finish the game.
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