Reviews// Halo 2

Living it up

Posted 17 Nov 2004 13:48 by
Indeed, despite instantly impressive sales in Europe and the United States, Halo 2 went straight onto the bottom shelves of cob-webbed corner counters all over Japan. It was claimed that even on the day of release, promoters couldn?t even give the game away to passers by. We can understand the lack of interest. The last video-game alien to make noise in Japan went by the name of Katamari Damacy: and scooping several nominations for multimedia design awards as well as stealing our hearts and charging customs and excise duties for the privilege, Japanese gamers seemingly understand that aliens are more fun this way. And we concur with them entirely. We want our imaginations pandered to, teased and titillated; we don?t want the product of a focus group of fat ten year olds who think that Linkin Park and stuffed pizza crusts are the defining moments in human civilisation.

But, for the most part, that?s our whingeing over. One of the biggest and most expensive (to produce) games of the year has decided to stick to a rather tired formula, and that is a disappointing thing. However, now that you know that?s the case, it?s time to have a look at the good bits. Halo 2 is the best console FPS game ever made, and the first console FPS to completely smash open the opportunities for online multiplayer shenanigans. Xbox Live has come on leaps and bounds in recent months, and the release of Halo 2 marks the service?s elevation to a new status. The framework has been established and this is arguably the first game created with the intentions of fully flexing it. The last console game to have been created with such an obvious online agenda was Chu Chu Rocket for the Dreamcast: clearly a world apart from Bungie?s eye-massaging masterpiece.

With the Halo 2 Live Starter Kit retailing for around 60, this could well represent the most critical push towards mainstream Live uptake before Microsoft starts muttering about Next-boxes and such like. And most importantly, not only does it represent a step forward for the functionality of online console gaming, but it is, in itself, extremely good fun. After you?ve experienced a few single player FPS titles, particularly high-grade PC fodder, there?s not much left to want for. No matter how big or elaborate the scale of the enemies, it can only ever be about shooting stuff. That?s why Halo 2?s multiplayer aspects are so welcome. As cunning as the AI may be, absolutely nothing beats chasing organic competitors around a digital battle zone, and now such sporting pastimes are no longer the reserve of Desktop-jockies. Importantly, this also means that you might find more casual competitors of a similar standard: rather than having to take on an ultra-hardcor3 cyber-g33k who can right-click 1,000 times in the time it takes you to spit a four letter swear word across the voice-communicator.
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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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