Halo 2

Platform(s): PC, Xbox
Genre: Action
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Bungie
Release Date: May 31, 2007 (US), June 8, 2007 (EU)


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Xbox Preview - 'Halo 2' Part 1

by Inexhist on Sept. 16, 2004 @ 3:41 a.m. PDT

Halo 2 is a sci-fi FPS game that continues the story of the Master Chief, a genetically enhanced super soldier who is the only man who has successfully defied the Covenant, a coalition of alien races on a murderous march toward Earth.

Genre : Action
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Bungie
Release Date: November 9, 2004

Pre-order 'HALO 2': Xbox

I have decided to write this journal of my experiences with a game that may or may not have been Halo 2. If it was Halo 2 it was without question an early beta version so it is entirely possible that many things have changed since. Now I can’t say one way or another if this is a preview of Halo 2, but if it is then I would expect that it’s jam packed with information that I would have gotten had I played the game. If I had played the game it would have been for 50 or so hours, maybe more, with a friend who may or may not have existed. If it was Halo 2 that I played for those many hours when I was playing a game that may or may not be Halo 2, then Halo 2 would without question be one of the best games I have subjected myself to in a long life of video game addiction. Please consider yourself adequately disclaimed and proceed to read the rest of my notes on this mystery game.

Chapter 1: They call me Duck, Sitting Duck

When I first started playing I felt the same way I did the first time I put on rollerblades (uneasy, dizzy, unbalanced, and frequently in pain). Don’t get me wrong -- the game controls very similarly to the first and the weapons work in a reasonably comparable manner -- yet the whole feeling was just different enough to require a little time to adjust. The overall flow and feeling was slightly different than the original as the characters run almost twice as fast and jump twice as high (and I thought they banned steroids?). I really only had one complaint about the change to the movement no longer would you take damage from falling and in some stages that seemed a bit silly however I hope that was just due to the fact it was a Beta build. After a short time playing I felt at home with the movement and was able to control my character as smoothly as I could in the original Halo. Now it’s time to grab me a gun!

Chapter 2: Moving Target or the Human Decoy - Your Pick

So now I’m capable of running, jumping, and dodging. However, I still don’t seem to be doing all that hot. Running around like a headless chicken, albeit a well-controlled headless chicken, doesn’t help all that much when the objective is to be blasting people to bits and pieces. So it was time to get reacquainted with my old friend The Pistol. Anyone who was a big Halo fan knows of the amazing, overwhelming, unbelievable power that was The Pistol. It was the juggernaut and unstoppable beast of destructive power and was, quite simply, perhaps the most unbalanced aspect of the original Halo. Much to my chagrin when I did finally find myself with a pistol in hand and a target in my sights, I pulled off a half-dozen shots and he did not fall. In fact quite the opposite happened as he turned and planted his shotgun against my braincase and made me into modern art. The Pistol had been changed. No longer was it three shots for death. No longer was it able to zoom in and act as a makeshift sniper rifle at long range. To be honest the gun itself was just… unremarkable. My momentary state of disbelief and dismay was quickly replaced by a feeling of satisfaction. The Pistol was always a tad annoying to me as a weapon in the original and they fixed all my concerns with it. I set out to test all of the weapons and compare them to both the original and each other.

Chapter 3: Weapons of Mass Destruction for Dummies.

After a day of testing I can say with fair certainty that the weapons have all changed in one way or another. Some for the better - some for the worse, however most if not all of the changes brought the weapons towards that ever-important thing called balance. Here are my notes on these tests and experiments.

Magnum: You’ve already read most of what I know about the magnum but to repeat: it does not have the sheer damage it used to have and cannot fire while zoomed. It is barely a sidearm and not a primary choice of weapons.

Plasma pistol: This weapon has remained essentially unchanged. It still proves its metal when it comes to removing a shield with a fully charged blast. This does however work with a new strategy due to dual wield as it allows you to strip the shield and take a fatal shot in record time.

SMG : This weapon has filled the battle rifles shoes. It is purely a high rate of fire automatic weapon that hopefully shreds the target with a hail of lead. In reality I found that it was generally lacking in that department and personally would ditch it for just about any weapon I could find. One thing of note with it is that it can do some decent damage when dual wielded with the plasma rifle.

Plasma rifle: This weapon has remained generally unchanged as well it still stuns with every shot that hits however the stun is not nearly as long as before. It no longer will allow you freeze the opponent in your hail of plasma so you can circle around behind them and club them with the butt of your gun. It does strip shields faster than most of the other weapons as before but that is a bit more noteworthy now since the characters don’t have health per-say just shields.

Needler: This weapon has changed drastically as it no longer fires slow-moving pink “spikey” things that explode 20 seconds after impact. My initial feelings were that this was not an improvement. At first glance it seemed like a less damaging version of the SMG. However my friend found the key to the needler – dual-wielding. Pick up two of them and they change from a pathetic annoyance of a weapon into the death-dealing-duo-of-pink-wonder. So the weapon has changed from a decent sniper suppression weapon to a high damage variable-range dual-wielding option. It’s neither a bad nor a good change in my book, but one worth taking note of all the same.

Battle Rifle: This gun has changed as much if not more than the pistol. It is closer to a whole new gun than the battle rifle we all knew and didn’t waste our time with in the original. It no longer is an automatic weapon, only a semi-automatic that fires in three-round bursts when not zoomed in and fires in single shots when zoomed in. In case the previous sentence didn’t clue you in the weapon has a zoom now. So not only is this weapon the only one that changed more than the pistol it basically changed into what the pistol used to be.

Carbine: This is essentially the covenant version of the battle rifle. It fires full-automatic when zoomed out instead of in three-round bursts and does single shots when zoomed in. All in all it seems capable of doing more damage when zoomed in than the human version and seems a bit harder to use zoomed out. The difficulty comes from visibility as the gun is fairly large and takes up a decent portion of the screen. Add to that a bright green glow emanating from the gun that seems to grow with every shot, explosions, chaos, and confusion and you get a gun that basically blinds you. I am hoping that the glow effect gets toned down a touch before the final release as it would make this gun far more useable. As for now it seems to be an alien failure at the reproduction of a human gun.

Sniper Rifle: In the small amount I used this I noticed two differences. First, due to the fact that the game has no real “health” anymore there was no health impact per shot. The second and perhaps more important difference is that with the kick in the first game you could tap the trigger twice and put two shots in close to the same spot. In the sequel there is enough of a kick to, depending on the distance to the target, take you from chest shot to missing over the head in a quick double tap. So in general firing the sniper rifle was slower, requiring better aim and more patience.

Alien Sniper Rifle: How did these aliens ever survive this long without one? I mean it is only inferior to the human version in just about every fashion, but still... That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. The alien sniper rifles seem to have a lot more kick per shot than the human model. This means that you can’t tap off two shots very quickly at all or the second shot will end up above the target. It also appears to do a touch less damage on a body shot - thankfully a headshot still kills. The one benefit it has over the human version is the ammo capacity, which is much, much higher than the human rifle.

Rocket Launcher: Probably the single most annoying weapon to be killed by in the original Halo, this has been changed with a lot more balance in mind. The rockets themselves travel slower towards the target, allowing players slightly more time to dodge - this makes the weapon slightly less powerful against players, especially when you take into account the increased running speed you now possess. In order to keep the weapon from losing all appeal they also added a nice little feature when it comes to firing on vehicles. When you have your weapon zoomed in and you place your reticule over a vehicle the reticule will change to a beautiful blood-red color to let you know that the vehicle’s pilot is in for a very painful surprise. Now when you fire, the rocket will “heat seek” and travel towards the target following until it impacts something (hopefully the target). To be perfectly honest I felt more comfortable using the old method of just firing where the vehicle is heading and leading it so that the impact is on target. The only point that I put this new feature to use is when I was firing upon a Banshee as you cannot exactly aim at the ground in front of it to any great effect. There is nothing quite as beautiful as watching a banshee fly away in terror as your rocket chases it like a rabid dog.

Brute shot “Alien Rocket Launcher”: Those aliens are trixy devils as a lot of their weapons appear at first glance to be utterly inferior to the human versions. The alien rocket launcher for example at first glance seems to be a terribly horrible version of the human rocket launchers (Last Action Hero meets Titanic being done by mimes type of horrible). In all reality however the weapon can really shine when you understand how it works. See it fires this little lazery beam of explosive explosioness (It’s a technical term) that bounce off of a hard surface then explode roughly 1 second later. While the beam itself does some damage the key is in placing the shot so it will ricochet into your opponent and explode near his body. Placing it in that manner is the ONLY way to get a blast as powerful as the human rocket launcher from it. Otherwise you will just put the shots through the person doing minimal damage and feeling like a jackass. So if it’s generally harder to use than the human version why is it good? I have two words for you, ammo capacity. The aliens sure know how to pack a lot of shots into a “little” gun. While the human rocket launcher has a loaded capacity of 2 rockets and a very limited number of maximum rocket cartridges. The brute shot carries many, many more loaded shots. The brute shot also has a far higher rate of fire so you can pelt an area with glowing explosive blobs of doom if you are so inclined.

Plasma Sword: Dare I say that this is what the Covenant thought of the shotgun? This weapon is a beast at melee range as it can “lock on” when you manage to get close enough and line your reticule up with the target. When it is locked on you do a lunging attack that can cover quite a bit of ground and even track the opponent. If you can get close with this weapon then it’s past time for them to search for a burial plot. So in some ways it is better than the human melee-range meat grinder in the fact that it never runs out of ammo, never needs to be reloaded, and is perhaps a touch easier to kill a squirmy opponent with.

Shotgun: Not a big change here, it’s still amazingly powerful at point blank, decent at short range and mediocre at medium. Well ok, I can’t say that there was NO change as the spread on the shotgun seems a bit sparse as it requires a touch more care in aiming for those one-shot-kills. Not too much else to say about this gun - it’s an oldie but a goodie.

Fragmentation Grenade: The area of effect for the explosion on fragmentation grenades has been cut about in half (or so it seems, could be that everything else is twice as big I suppose), so no more peppering a room and taking someone out. They can actually get outside of the blast radius without much problem. The timer has changed slightly as it seems to be about a second after the first bounce before it explodes (they can explode while still in motion or so it appeared). They also bounce a bit differently. And by differently I mean less - no more of the super ball grenades from the old days that seemed to bounce for ages. They are still a wonderful tool for taking out enemies, they just take a little more skill to use. In my book they are generally a bit more balanced and have been changed in a manner that supports the balance of the game.

Plasma Grenade: These have barely changed. Still perhaps the most pleasurable way to kill someone as there is nothing like planting a glowing blue glob of high explosive goop on your friends face plate and cackling as they run around blinded by burning plasma in the eyes. Like the fragmentation grenade the explosion radius seemed a bit smaller, however it did not seem to be as drastic of a difference as with the frag grenade.

So now I was not only capable of running around with some skill I was also educated in the inner-workings of the weapons. It was time now to go on mass killing sprees in an attempt to redeem my name. There was only one small little snag… I had no clue where I was going and spent more time lost and looking for action, all the while traveling in what seemed to be chaotic circles, than actually killing. It was time to learn the lay of the land!

See 'Part 2' for a rundown of the playable maps and vehicles ...

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