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Halo 2, XBox, Shooters

Product: Halo 2
Company: Bungie/Microsoft
Website: Official Game Site
Estimated Street Price: $39.99/34.99
Review By: Byron Hinson

The Features

Everyone who has purchased an Xbox since it's launch has just about played or certainly heard of Halo. It's still regarded as one of the best games on the console, although the lack of online multiplayer modes has made the launch title lose a small amount of its shine. Halo set the standard for other first person shooters to follow, it had fantastic graphics, excellent 5.1 sound and was the first console first person shooter to actually have good controls!

3 years on an no Xbox shooter has come close to knocking Halo from it's standing as the number one game, well here we have Halo 2, years in the making, well at least 2 years anyway and this time it ships with Xbox Live! support straight out of the box.

Gameplay

Review Quotes
"The sound is also top quality, there are so many voiceovers in the game you will hardly hear the same thing twice, and I really mean that. The Dolby 5.1 is great too, I've had the game setup on my LCD TV and Dolby Digital Decoder in the front room and it's like a war zone when playing online. I have to say that the sound is what has impressed me most about Halo 2 in cosmetic terms, Bungie has really gone to town on it."

The single player game is where most buyers will start the game simply because such a low percentage of Xbox games still have Xbox Live. The single player game isn't what you should buy Halo 2 for, I'm not saying it isn't good, as it certainly has it's moments but Xbox Live! is where Halo 2 should be experienced.

I won't spoil the Halo 2 single player story, but most people will already know that the game now lets you play with two weapons at one time, and the excellent sword that the enemy had in the previous game. The way the game caters for dual weapons works superbly, the only downside of this is that carrying two large weapons at once can fill up the screen, making it quite hard to see the enemy in front of you.

The action is just as intense as in the first title, but the game doesn't flow as well as it did in Halo, things feel as if they have been thrown together in a bit of a rush and don't gel so well in the Single Player game. I'm certainly not saying the single player game isn't fun, as it is still probably one of the better first person shooters on the Xbox (Well behind Project Snowblind now maybe) but you can't help feeling a little let down on this side of the game.

Xbox Live!

This is where Halo 2 really comes into its own, the Halo 2 Xbox Live! experience will turn it into one of the best online games there is. The setup is so easy and well thought out it shines. Setting up a game is easily done and there are so many game types to choose from its unbelievable. I have played probably no less than 100 Halo 2 games over Xbox Live and for once I didn't feel like i was going to be beaten in every game I played so the way the setup is done for picking out the best opponents has worked really well. Both Bob and I have had a game or so, playing over live! there is no lag and updates have been released over the months of release, but not as many as I expected there would be.

Graphics & Sound

Review Quotes
"The single player game is where most buyers will start the game simply because such a low percentage of Xbox games still have Xbox Live. The single player game isn't what you should buy Halo 2 for, I'm not saying it isn't good, as it certainly has it's moments but Xbox Live! is where Halo 2 should be experienced. "

Graphically there isn't any game on the Xbox that can touch Halo 2 (Well maybe Dead Or Alive, but even then it doesn't have as much going happening on screen as Halo 2 does), it looks fantastic. There has been various changes to the graphics engine since Halo, most notable is the great textures characters now have, although humans still look a little too static for my liking. Shadows have been improved and the havoc physic effects look great in the heat of the battle.

The sound is also top quality, there are so many voiceovers in the game you will hardly hear the same thing twice, and I really mean that. The Dolby 5.1 is great too, I've had the game setup on my LCD TV and Dolby Digital Decoder in the front room and it's like a war zone when playing online. I have to say that the sound is what has impressed me most about Halo 2 in cosmetic terms, Bungie has really gone to town on it.

Final Comments

How It Grades
Controls: 90%
Gameplay: 91%
Presentation: 90%
Graphics: 93%
Multiplayer: 95%
Sound: 94%
Interface: 90%
Lastability: 94%
Price/Value: 92%
Overall: 92%

It has taken me a heck of a long time to review Halo 2, the single player side of the game an easy one to take apart and view within just a few days of playing the game, but playing all the game types over Xbox Live has been exhausting, although beating fellow ActiveWin staff on there is too easy. Halo 2 is an excellent example of how Xbox Live! games should be made, its easy to use, has great features, has updates you can view online via your PC and runs smoothly.

Specs & Package
Overall Score 92%
Version Reviewed Halo 2 (PAL)
Release Date Out Now
In The Box? 1 Halo 2 DVD-ROM
1 Set Of Instructions
The Good Points Excellent graphics
Fantastic Online
Excellent Sound
The Bad Points Miss mash Single Player
Xbox Live! Enabled? Yes
Widescreen Support Yes
PAL 60 Support (Europe) Yes
Progressive Scan 480p


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