Just sitting here trying to put off playing any more Halo 2, we can think of a thousand things that would have made it feel like a more substantial sequel. But there is simply no novelty here whatsoever. Surely the FPS genre isn?t destined to a future as consistently stale as this. Keep your war games and bug-eyed muppets, how about an FPS with a slightly original concept? Thief 3 has shown how to meld stealth with FPS style engines, Chronicles of Riddick has shown how immersive a game environment can become with the addition of an engaging, interactive script, and Deus Ex Invisible War has lent an RPG like depth to FPS set-ups. If Bungie had truly tried to surpass expectations, rather than resting on its jewel-encrusted laurels, it would have conceded to incorporate at least one of these extra gameplay tweaks; and with that we would have been far more forthcoming in our praises.
We would still suggest that Halo 2 is an essential purchase for Xbox owners though, especially if you don?t own the original, which now pales in comparison. The single player mode is spectacular, if slightly monotonous; but the multiplayer mode is the best of any Xbox game yet. Buy it and appreciate it for what it is, but just don?t pretend that Halo 2 is anything close to the masterpiece it might have been. In a very Microsoft kind of way, it?s just boring, partly malignant genius that will somehow monopolise your console: a little bit like Bill Gates himself.
SPOnG Rating: A
Halo 2 is a superb game, but it also represents Microsoft's disputably heartless approach to the console gaming market. Technically, it's extremely accomplished, and it pretty much achieves what Bungie said it would, but it lacks the passionate design and creative flourishes needed to truly snare our attention and gain our loyalty.