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Old 11-11-2004, 06:49 AM   #48
Joe Redifer
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 20,069
Halo 2
7/10
Xbox


I opted for the unlimited edition of Halo 2.
The Limited Edition costs $5 more.
Why would I want limitations?


Ahhh, the looooong awaited Halo 2. Halo 2 has been more anticipated, talked about and hyped than the second coming of Christ. With 3 years in the making, it should be absolute perfection in every single way possible. How is it really? Read on.

Story: 6/10
I lost interest in the first Halo before I completed it, so I never saw the ending. I guess this one continues from that. A normal looking alien gets punished right in the beginning. I guess everything that happened in Halo 1 was his fault. But the story itself isn't tremendously involving or anything. There are twists and turns just like you'd expect (thus negating any intended "twist" since it was expected). This time around, everyone speaks English, even the aliens. I can't recall, but I don't think the aliens spoke English in the first game. Regardless, most of their comments are just exhibition of 'tude, especially coming from the Marines. "You're even shorter than I am!". Nothing but elitism. Oh well. None of the characters are tremendously engaging.


The game offers a screen where you can spy on your
online friends and see exactly what they are doing at
any time. It will even tell you if they are fiddling
with a menu or some such thing! Kiss your privacy goodbye!


Graphics: 6/10
The graphics are only barely improved from Halo 1, which wasn't amazing in any fashion itself. The biggest improvement made over its predecessor is the inclusion of the much-appreciated 16:9 widescreen mode. 480p is also supported. However there are many graphical bugs in the game that bring it down significantly. The game does not run at a consistent frame rate, and frames really drop at times, especially in the cut-scenes. Also textures on objects are quite glitchy. As you approach certain objects that are in the distance, they will remap themselves with new textures as you get closer, and it is not done in a smooth fashion. There are lots of glitches in the cut-scenes as well, including the aforementioned frame drops and texture glitches. Sometimes characters will just pop in from nowhere after a scene change. The Xbox is rendering all of the cut-scenes itself. Then there is the 480p glitch. When the game is run in progressive scan mode, it moves all of the HUD objects to the very edge of the screen, and some TVs even clip off parts of the HUD. When the game is in interlaced mode on the same TV, the HUD is fine. Bungie messed up big time there. Maybe we should call them "Bungle" instead? It would be appropriate. Also, the HUD appears stretched in 16:9 widescreen mode. Other than that, the game looks pretty good and moves fairly well most of the time, but it in no way looks as nice as the "screenshots" that Bungie has been sending out over the last 3 years.


Here I blast forum member Gearhound as he drives
one of those things and tries to run over me. He missed.
And so did I.


Sound: 8/10
The game is presented in Dolby Digital, and the positioning of the sound make it easy to identify where an enemy is. If he is behind you, you will hear him from behind you, and you'll know to turn in his direction quickly. All the sounds are of high quality. Going out into space on the first level muffles the sound and it is a great effect (though I thought it was a glitch at first). Unfortunately there is no discrete subwoofer in this game, so it is only 5.0 and not true 5.1. I have heard of users reporting that they have had the sound cut out on them during the game, but I have not experienced that yet myself. I wouldn't be surprised being as how glitchy this game is. The music is fantastic for the most part, and really gets you into the game. Very thematic, well composed, and superbly performed. My favorite track is called "Heavy Price Paid" which is performed at the title screen 50% of the time. Unfortunately horrible bands like Breaking Benjamin, Incubus, and Hoobastank have "contributed" to the soundtrack. I have not run into their tracks in-game yet, but I'm sure they'll bring the quality of the game to it's knees. I have the Halo 2 soundtrack and the tracks provided by those bands are mediocre at best (the ones without lyrics) and horrible at average (the ones with singing). But for the meat of the soundtrack, Martin O'Donnell & Michael Salvatori did excellent work!


You can get in a lot of cool vehicles in the main and
multiplayer games. I don't know here Gearhound was trying
to go here, but he will go to the grave instead!


Gameplay: 8/10
Gameplay is remarkably similar to the first with a few additions and changes made. It is a wee bit faster and it plays kind of like they added a bit of "Unreal" to the game. The campaign mode is the heart of the game, and it's by far the best part in my opinion. The things you have to figure out and do can get pretty crazy, and it is damned fun. There is always a way to get past a certain spot, even if it doesn't seem like it. And because I don't want to include any spoilers, I won't talk about other aspects of the gameplay that come along in the game. But it's pretty cool. The enemies you fight against don't vary much. It'll seem like you're fighting against 2 different enemies for most of the game (short aliens with a high voice and tall aliens with a faux-deep voice), and even later on the new enemies look fairly similar to the ones you were fighting at the beginning. But in games like Medal of Honor, you only fight against one enemy: humans. So I guess I shouldn't complain too much, even though they all have the same voice. You can take the game multiplayer by going split screen, but everyone hates split screen and President Bush has signed a bill outlawing it, so we will not speak of it here. You can hook up to 16 (!) Xboxes together at a LAN party. That would be pretty sweet, especially if you knew everybody. Then there is Xbox Live. The way the online mode is setup in this game can be a bit quirky. When you create a party for your friends to join, there is no way for other people to randomly pop into your room, which sucks. And the optimatch mode is bizarre and full of menus, so I exited out of that quickly. But your typical game modes are here, and it can be fun for awhile. But when it comes right down to it, it's basically just like playing any other first person shooter online. You try to kill others, capture the flag, etc. Nothing groundbreaking here. I will admit that I suck ass online in FPS games. I don't know why, but people can always kill me in 5 shots or less, and it takes no less than 500 shots from me to kill other people. I can strafe them as they run along, and I can see that I am hitting them, but they turn around and kill me with one hit. As such, the online portion of the game is more frustrating than anything. It's not as fun as Out Run 2 online, and nowhere near as good as Crimson Skies online. The online option adds slightly to the overall package, though. If you can fill a room with lots of people that you personally know from someplace other than Xbox Live, then I imagine I wouldn't care if I only got 1 kill per session while others get 20. Oh well.

480i

Here is what the HUD looks like in interlaced mode.
Note the position of the radar especially.


480p

And this is what the game looks like in progressive
scan on the same exact TV! Notice that the radar is clipped
off of the screen, and other HUD items have been moved towards
the edges as well for no reason. One of the many bugs in this game.


Wrap up:
This game may have been an 8 if it weren't so riddled with bugs. I guess Bungle can't be bothered with inane things like beta-testing. I really have lost a lot of respect for them due to this, as they had tons of time to actually get things right. There is no excuse for their ineptitude. Perhaps now players will realize that Bungle is not God of all game developers. But regardless, this game is worth purchasing, but it's not worth waiting in a line of more than 3 people deep for.

Last edited by Joe Redifer; 11-24-2004 at 04:54 PM.
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