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Halo 2

Developer: Bungie Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
09 November 2004
Halo 2 - cover art
Glitchwave rating
3.93 / 5.0
0.5
5.0
 
 
2,003 Ratings / 2 Reviews
#278 All-time
#27 for 2004
Covenant commander Thel 'Vadamee is determined to prove his worth as Arbiter after being branded a heretic due to his failure to protect the Halo. The Master Chief is tasked with defending Earth after its location is found by the Covenant. And an old enemy takes a new form and rears its ugly head.
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Halo 2 Anniversary Anniversary
2020 Bungie 343i  
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Title
There’s a famous GDC talk by gaming pioneer Warren Spector on the making of Deus Ex about rebuilding the game after completing it. They finished everything they needed to but realized the game simply wasn’t fun. With player feedback, better knowledge of their systems and a solid understanding of the full narrative, they rebuilt everything. The end result was a coherent game story from beginning to end.

I have never played a game that needed this kind of editing more than Halo 2. The game was incredibly rushed, with Bungee spending over half of its development in crunch time. The team was trying to do so many things at once that they never considered how all the pieces would fit together. This scattered approach results in empty spectacles, incoherent themes and a lot of wasted potential.

It’s difficult to discuss how the game doesn’t fit together without talking about all the individual pieces and their place in the bigger picture. Halo 2 opens with a story of duality, how two warriors in similar places take radically different paths in life, how one’s success necessitates the other’s failure, how the UNSC’s military meritocracy is stronger than the covenant’s uneasy theocratic alliance. The game ends with two completely different characters locked on ship while the real protagonists have no closure. The conjoining pieces are split between Chief’s bombastic sections (attempting to recreate the gung-ho militarism of Halo 1’s first half) and The Arbiter, a powerful but disgraced elite born into a new life of servitude. Chief’s sections are enjoyable but irrelevant to the other characters. He’s a demon to the covenant. He’s too distant from the rest of the characters to feel welcome in the covenant story. The Arbiter is at the center of the entire conflict, but he doesn’t get anything approaching thematic closure. The game robs him of his agency halfway through and abruptly ends without concluding his story. This game never has Chief and the Arbiter confront each other or fight side by side as brothers. The themes established in the opening stay in the opening while missions waffle from place to place.

With some more time I imagine Bungee could have cut the fluff that doesn’t work and actually utilized their two-protagonist system for the better. As it stands the end result is messy, incoherent and lacks direction.
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Kankato 2022-05-12T02:56:11Z
2022-05-12T02:56:11Z
2.5
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Halo 2 was one of the most disappointing games I had ever played on release. I remember buying it on the way to work and ringing in sick before I even left HMV with it. At the time, I adored Halo: Combat Evolved. It was the reason I owned an Xbox. It was the game I sat playing at my friends’ houses, either co-op or versus… Halo 2 absolutely ruined both of those things for me…

My friends and I loved playing couch co-op on Legendary on Halo CE. It didn’t matter to us that we weren’t “doing it for real, solo”. It was just so much fun going through those missions together. We played it so many times. Dying and watching our co-op partner frantically running to get to a safe space to allow us to respawn…So when Halo 2 came out with a new rule on Legendary, that rule being that if one player died, both were reset to the last check point, that destroyed how I loved to play the game.

But all was not lost. Couch Versus modes. I’d spent thousands of hours playing 4 player split screen on Halo CE. Rocket Matches on Hang Em High, FFA on Rat Race… great times. In walks Halo 2 and yeah, its still got 4 player split screen but… the game was the launch title for Xbox Live. The multiplayer wasn’t designed for 4 players. The maps were all far too big for my friends and I to really play with 4 players.

So, there it is. Halo 2 ruined everything I loved about Halo CE, and I haven’t even mentioned having to play as the fucking Arbiter yet.

However, …

This is how I felt in 2004. Fast-forward 19 years and I absolutely adore Halo 2. Co-op? I don’t play co-op… I am the only person I know who plays Halo these days so it doesn’t bother me that “Iron is always on” in co-op. And the multiplayer? Man, when a Halo 2 game rolls round in Masterchief Collection, I am 100% in awe of how good this game is online. However, this review will be 90% focused on the campaign, and further to that, it will be based on the Anniversary edition of the game from 2014, with the beautifully redone graphics.

So, Halo 2’s campaign, amirite? This is the game where like, 95% of Halo lore comes from. Prior to this, the story was largely just “Super soldier fights Aliens, holy fuck what is this awful brainless enemy and why to they have rocket launchers?” Well… there were novels and comics etc, but who the fuck reads them? Do you think that I, a man who spends an inordinate amount of time reviewing music and computer games for free on the internet, is in fact a fucking nerd? Come on bro…

Halo 2 shows you the Covenant, it gives them personality beyond “Wort Wort Wort!” and honestly, it works incredibly well. The story is pure sci fi schlock and is all the better for it. We already knew humanity was losing the war with the technologically superior Covenant. We already knew they were religious maniacs, hellbent on their ‘Great Journey’ but we had no idea how their civilisation was built, who was in charge or anything. And yeah, it doesn’t really matter does it? That Elite over there, whether he is being lied to by false prophets or not, the result is the same. I’m stripping his shield with a plasma pistol and then headshotting him with a Battle Rifle. But the story is there none the less and seeing it all through the eyes of the disgraced Arbiter (Who has another name I am not nerdy enough to Google) is interesting. Plus, you know, The Covenant largely defeats itself, so it’s good to see that playing out.

Seeing Arby, a character I was gutted you had to play as when the game released, learn the truth of his Prophets betrayal and the subsequent shattering of the Covenant itself is fantastic and his missions in the game are also great, largely because there are no fucking Jackal Snipers in them. Fuck those guys. Seriously, get fucked. It gives the game this sci fi schlock that I just fucking love though and it’s a crying shame you didn’t get to be him again in Halo 3. Bungie listened to fans on that one, further proof that Games Developers should never, ever listen to fans.

But yeah, the story is great and… unfinished. Who can forget that ending? “Finishing this fight” roll credits. That is the thing with Halo 2; Bungie’s ambitions, both narratively and with gameplay itself, could not be supported on the Original Xbox, both due to the consoles lack of power by the time of release and the Developers lack time to get the game finished. Now, this is on Bungie, they should have toned it down a bit, and the campaign and story both suffer accordingly but the result is a glorious mess. A game who’s ambition sometimes outstrips its engineering, but fucking hell, what an incredible game.

The first thing everyone mentions about Halo 2 is… Well, it’s the Sniper Jackals, but the second thing they mention is the games brutal difficulty on Legendary (The only way to play a Halo game). Why is Halo 2 so fucking hard? Well, its simple really, Masterchief has the least health of any single thing in game outside of Flood Infection forms. Couple this with the Covenant being able to dual wield their weapons, and there being no negative to this, they literally just shred your shields twice as fast as the already ridiculous speed they do with one weapon… you’re going to die. A lot. Dark Souls has nothing on this game in terms of difficulty.

But why is it like this? And again, it’s simple; there wasn’t enough time to test it. The game is stupidly unbalanced. You die in fractions of a second, but the enemies, particularly the new Brutes, are just ridiculous bullet sponges. Its flawed, there are no two ways about that, but the sheer ambition of the campaign is something to behold. A level of ambition that wouldn’t be met with the technology to do it justice until Halo 3. Just take the Scarabs for example. The walking tanks of the Covenant are nothing but a scripted even in Halo 2. It was mind blowing at the time, but it wouldn’t be until Halo 3 that they would be proper, AI driven participants on the battlefield.

That’s the thing with Halo 2; the OG Xbox really struggles with the game. It struggles to maintain 30fps at 240p on the OG Hardware. The Anniversary edition of the game though… wow. Obviously on modern technology the game runs at whatever resolution or frame rate you want it to. I played it on Steam Deck, so I played it at 1080p60 on an external monitor and 720p60 on the consoles own screen. But that is obvious, the game is 20 years old. Of course, it runs flawlessly on modern hardware. But the Anniversary Edition does something more (Or rather, the same thing as the CE Remaster, only better). The game has been completely redone with modern graphics. Its all the original game, just a much more modern rendering engine driving the texturing and effects and it is absolutely fucking glorious. Of course, the bones of the game are still 20 years old, and covering them with new paint doesn’t change that, but also, it’s not meant to. Halo 2 is Halo 2 wart(hog)s and all but the remaster is truly beautiful to look at. The new graphics are much more in keeping with the OG game than those of the CE remaster and there are far less times where you shoot invisible scenery this time around.

The game is still frustratingly difficult on its hardest setting but too easy on anything less than that. Its still an unfinished mess at the end but my god, the things this did with the Halo CE sand box still stand up today. Dual Wielding can be a game change if for some reason you aren’t using the Noob Combo, and things like boarding enemy vehicles are revolutionary. Truly, Halo 2 will never be as revolutionary as the original, which introduces instant grenades, two weapon limits and recharging shields to the FPS world, as well as a control pad control scheme that worked. But as far as Halo goes, no other game would innovate as much as this one.

Its flawed, its unfinished and its too fucking hard most of the time, but the story and voice acting are fantastic (Special shout out to the redone cut scenes in the remaster) and the combat… man its almost perfect in this game. A truly legendary game and for my money, the most ‘special’ Halo game. The one that grew on me the most and the one I most likely to come back to the most… Well, so long as I am in the mood for teeth gnashing difficulty.
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Splinteredsilhouette 2023-11-06T15:46:25Z
2023-11-06T15:46:25Z
4.5
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mm. christmas of 2004.
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yoitu 2023-10-10T14:59:52Z
2023-10-10T14:59:52Z
›80%
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This is my favourite game in the halo franchise, it always has been because it has the best levels, mechanics and character dynamics the series has to offer.

Allow me to address the criticisms of this game and why they don't bother me, first off, the false advertisement. It's true that it was advertised as the earth needing to be saved by the master chief which he only does in two levels, admittedly this is more the case in the third game where he's on earth for much longer, but it's not complete false advertising here. The bigger issue is the introduction of the arbiter as a playable character, even the instruction manual doesn't mention this which makes his gameplay come completely out of nowhere. I'd agree this is a major issue if it weren't for the fact that his addition to the game is invaluable as he offers more of a stealth mechanic given his ability to camouflage himself at will in order to surprise his enemies. His character journey is well handled as he realises he's on the wrong side of history by fighting for the covenant, although that's about the only thing the story does right as its admittedly hot garbage. It's basically the franchises take on the cool aid cult to give you an idea of how ridiculous it is, although thankfully there isn't too much focus on the events unfolding. The real winner here is the dynamic between Cortana and master chief, specifically how they've reversed roles so that now she's the one coming up with crazy schemes that scares him, this culminates in her famous line "fortunately for you, I like crazy" showing how much she's grown as a character from the first game. My favourite character is Johnson, yes, he's the games version of Emil Foley from an officer and a gentleman, but I love that character and how Johnson interacts with everyone around him is a highlight for me. Miranda Keyes is also a huge improvement over her father as she's far more competent than he ever was, she's not perfect but I feel that's more to give our heroes and Johnson more chances to shine in order to save her. There's not much to say about the gameplay that I didn't cover in Halo: Combat Evolved, it's addictive as hell whether it's single player or multiplayer, the addition of greater weapons further emphasising this.

It's a classic that’s well worth your time, ignore those early negative reviews because those complaints no longer have merit to them.
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Foxylover92 2021-06-23T00:24:43Z
2021-06-23T00:24:43Z
5.0
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Por mais relevante pra indústria que o primeiro Halo seja, pra mim, é no segundo jogo que a franquia ganha um corpo suficiente para sustentar um título mesmo quase duas décadas depois do lançamento.

Absolutamente tudo melhora: a campanha é mais interessante, as arenas são mais divertidas, as armas, mais variadas, e os cenários ganham muito mais personalidade. E, não sei explicar bem porque, achei que atirar nesse jogo é muito mais satisfatório.

O tom militaresco do roteiro ainda não é minha praia e o final é muito anticlimático, mas fora isso, Halo 2 é irretocável.
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gabrielctps 2023-01-28T00:11:12Z
2023-01-28T00:11:12Z
4.5
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Decent game seen by most through rose-tinted glasses.
Not to say that it's necessarily a bad game by many stretches, but it definitely hasn't aged very well. Balancing issues alongside a myriad of other issues, and an overall lack of content sees it kind of just overshadowed by many other games, even just by its' own brothers and sisters within the Halo series.

Only people who seem to say this game is a masterpiece are the ones that grew up with it. Decent game, but there's definitely better games, especially in the series. Obscured and overlooked by the games that came after.
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headway8553 2022-11-10T04:55:13Z
2022-11-10T04:55:13Z
2.5
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Catalog

EhLeeUht Halo 2 2024-04-13T17:51:08Z
2024-04-13T17:51:08Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
water_king1 Halo 2 2024-04-13T10:40:13Z
2024-04-13T10:40:13Z
4.0
2
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
GreedyGherkin Halo 2 2024-04-13T02:04:03Z
2024-04-13T02:04:03Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Akeptune Halo 2 2024-04-12T08:00:19Z
2024-04-12T08:00:19Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Selvmoord Halo 2 2024-04-12T04:59:01Z
2024-04-12T04:59:01Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
pearguy Halo 2 2024-04-10T21:30:16Z
2024-04-10T21:30:16Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
VoVoV22505 Halo 2 2024-04-10T16:13:58Z
2024-04-10T16:13:58Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
blacktomatoemperor Halo 2 2024-04-10T10:56:10Z
2024-04-10T10:56:10Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Spitfyr Halo 2 Anniversary 2024-04-05T01:06:48Z
Windows
2024-04-05T01:06:48Z
8
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
PvtFunnyGuy Halo 2 2024-04-04T22:18:47Z
2024-04-04T22:18:47Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
SergLeDerg Halo 2 2024-04-04T03:25:00Z
2024-04-04T03:25:00Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
LesbianKit Halo 2 2024-04-03T20:33:32Z
2024-04-03T20:33:32Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Content rating
ESRB: M
Player modes
1-16 players
Media
1x DVD
Multiplayer modes
Cooperative , Deathmatch / FFA, Team play
Multiplayer options
LAN, Local, Online
Franchises

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  • Previous comments (33) Loading...
  • Pumas 2023-10-31 22:41:19.89031+00
    There is much talk, and I have listened, through rock and metal and time
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  • DomMazzetti 2023-11-01 12:13:58.062963+00
    Halo 2. Two Halos.
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  • townandcountry 2023-11-03 13:48:30.1678+00
    Military recruitment officers should just use the Halo 2 box art for advertising guaranteed they’ll meet all quotas.
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  • Laax 2023-11-21 12:54:39.324251+00
    the documentary about the making of this game is the most 2000s shit ever lol
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  • Zaphyra 2023-12-09 12:00:01.441224+00
    there are so many cool glitches in this game
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  • Moo_Moo 2024-01-23 18:55:47.409343+00
    Used to play this game when I was a kid. I didn't really have all the "new consoles" so I was kinda stuck playing on the Wii or the Xbox. This game has so much nostalgia for me as when I was 6 this was the coolest shit ever. Thanks, Halo 2.
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  • Pumas 2024-02-13 23:38:37.120074+00
    This game stands alone in the Halo series for its incredible cinematic approach to storytelling. Not to mention the story itself is so much better than in any other entry. It’s just so layered and nuanced, the dialogue is brilliant, and it begins to incorporate the lore in a way that doesn’t feel hamfisted as fuck (cough cough H4). Perfect amount of mystique as well. It’s like Bungie realized how intriguing the underdeveloped concepts from CE were and said hold on a second let’s take a more in-depth look at all that shit. Then H3 came around and fucked it all up.
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  • YesYes2L 2024-02-26 21:27:15.740647+00
    Given all the praise and nostalgia tripping, you'd expect this game to be top 10 on the site
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