Also Known As: Halo 2
Genre: 1st Person Shooter
Platform(s): X-Box/PC (Planned)
Allegiance: Bungie Software/Microsoft
Vintage: 2004
Rating: M
Intelligence Agency Report by: Dave K
Master Chief has returned to Earth, having destroyed Halo and saving the galaxy from destruction. But he’s not alone, for the Covenant have also discovered Earth, and have launched a full-scale assault on the planet. It is up to Master Chief to drive them off and discover just what they’re up to.

Weapons Expert Report by: Dave K 
Story/Premise
Gameplay
Impact
Visual
Audio
5.00
10.00
9.50
10.00
8.00
Overall 9.00
(not an average)
Version Reviewed: X-Box It is often said that sequels cannot live up to their predecessors, and in Halo 2′s case, it had some incredibly big shoes to fill. Halo 2 was unable to live up to the previous expectations in terms of the story mode. However, Halo 2 was able to take the revolutionary gameplay of Halo, particularly its multiplayer aspect, to an all new level. The story for Halo 2 leaves a lot to be desired. During the production, Bungie suffered many problems which set the release of Halo 2 back by about a year. It is a popular theory that the mounting pressure to release Halo 2 led them to cut the game in half. Once you’re beaten the game you will almost certainly agree as the ending couldn’t possibly be more open-ended and literally screams “NOW WAIT FOR HALO 3!!!” Another point of interest is how you can play as a Covenant Elite known as the Arbiter for several of the missions. The Arbiter plays almost exactly the same as Master Chief, although he has other Covenant backing him up rather than Marines. 

There is not a huge difference in gameplay for Halo 2, seeing as it was built using the same engine as Halo. The physics of the game are not changed very much, except that fall damage is now negligible and jumps are higher. The weapons of Halo are for the most part the same. The Covenant fuel-rod cannon is an available weapon (as it was for the PC version of the original Halo), and the Covenant also have their own rifle-style weapon and sniper rifle introduced. They have been evened out to provide a more level playing field for multiplayer. However each weapon has its own high point and low point. 

The enemies are again the same; Hunters, Grunts, Elites, Jackals, and yes, the Flood. But there’s also a new enemy in the form of the Brutes – big giant apes who are slightly more difficult to fight than Elites. The AI, which was quite good in the original, is even better here. Marines are able to drive vehicles (although their driving definitely leaves something to be desired) and will provide covering fire for you if you decide to charge blindly at the enemy. The enemy AI has not been improved much, probably because the AI from Halo was already incredibly realistic. 

The visuals of Halo 2 are remarkable, considering that the same engine was used in the making of Halo. Everything about it looks as realistic as possible, and Covenant forces are now more diverse in appearance. The only problems people might have are with the occasional areas that are excessively shadowed – making it easy to become disoriented. 

Multiplayer has been greatly improved over the original thanks to the implementation of X-Box Live. For the fans of the original, the incredibly popular levels Blood Gulch and Battle Creek make their triumphant returns as Coagulation and Beaver Creek respectively. The aforementioned addition of new vehicles and weapons and the ability to play as an Elite, combined with the X-Box Live feature makes multiplayer in Halo 2 an incredible experience. 

Halo 2 brings a wonderfully fitting score once again, and while there is nothing that really stands out as amazing, it always sets the mood for the more intense moments of gameplay. Also, the voice acting cast brought in was an excellent group with some notable VA’s such as Julie Benz (Darla from Buffy and Angel), Ronald Perlman (Hellboy from Hellboy) and Robert Dave (Franz Sanchez from James Bond: License to Kill). The voice acting fits in well with the gameplay, with humourous taunts that one would expect to be yelled in the heat of combat. The cut scenes are also well done and just about everyone will grow to love Sergeant Johnson because of David Scully’s masterful job. 

So while the single player/co-operative story definitely does not live up to Halo’s lofty standards, Halo 2 manages to exceed Halo in terms of multiplayer action. So whether the game is 4-person Slayer, system-link Capture the Flag, or a massive game with dozens of people on X-Box live, Halo 2 is definitely worth owning.