November 21, 2004

Halo 2: My View

by psu

Just finished the single player in Halo 2, so I feel like I can talk about the game in more detail.


The single player campaign improves on the first game in almost every way. For example, in the first Halo, there was a load screen for every large chapter of the game, but then none within each level until you got to the end. In Halo 2, there is a load screen when you start the game but then there isn't another one until you quit. Ever. Whoever implemented this gets super genius kudos.

At first, the enemies seem a bit too easy on the Normal difficulty level. While they seem to fall down easier, they also seem faster and meaner than in the first game. The new enemies are mostly enjoyable. By the end of the game, they were beating me up pretty well. I like the energy sword, and I like the shotgun. Dual wielding the plasma rifle is also useful.

The plot twists and turns much like the first one, but overall the pacing is much better. The stages were more linear, with no backtracking and fewer sequences of dozens of identical hallways to get lost in. There are multiple moments in the game where the action is so frantic that you will want to cower under the couch and sob like a little girl.

The ending is a bit abrupt, and hints at a sequel much more explicitly than the first game does. But the final stage is much less annoying than "the drive the warthog off the end of the earth" deathmarch that ended Halo 1.

People have complained that the game is short. These people are nuts. What they mean is, the game's pacing was not padded out with worthless backtracking missions and boring driving.

Not so good:

There were some rendering glitches in my game, especially in the in-engine cut scenes. What would happen is that textures, or sometimes whole objects would just pop in from nowhere after a scene change. These were relatively rare.

Checkpoints still suck. But there were only one or two sequences between checkpoints that were so long as to piss me off. Usually, these took the form of "you must kill these 10 things over and over again because you keep dying on the 9th one".

I still hate the Warthog, but the power sliding makes it less stupid.

Too many of the weapons are basically useless. Or maybe I'm just useless trying to wield them.


The multiplay rocks. I don't think much more needs to be said about it. My only gripe is that the respawn times don't give my hands enough time to rest between rounds.

Posted by psu at November 21, 2004 08:25 PM | Bookmark This


The Covenant in the original game were basically ciphers. The sequel sheds much more light upon them as a society. It's hard to hate them, or at least all of them, by the time things have played out. (Although it might also be difficult to believe that they've held together for millennia, given how eager they seem to be to stab one another in the back during the relatively brief period in which you observe them.)

The visual design of elements throughout the game, both small and large, is beautiful. I loved the ceremonial armor the armor worn by the Elites guarding the Prophets, and the scale of the elements in the Gondola sequence literally took my breath away.

Not so good:

I think that "the game is too short" is a compact way of saying "it should not be possible for me to finish a $50 game that took three years to make in three days of casual play, while holding down a real job, and I sure as hell don't want to wait *another* three years before finding out how all of the plot threads that were left dangling in mid-air are resolved."

Also, the lack of co-operative multiplayer absolutely broke my heart. It defies rational explanation. The game has co-operative play. It has multiplayer code out the wazoo. Why, oh why, doesn't it have co-operative multiplayer?

Posted by Dan Martinez at December 2, 2004 09:55 PM

You make good points, except that the game didn't take me only 3 days to finish in causal play while holding down a real job. I think I worked on it for about two weeks.

I am happy with the length because my attention span is short, having been permanently scarred by the Xen levels of Half-Life 1. After the first or second week, I start to glaze over and I just want the game to be over.

Also, I work in software, and I can imagine various ways in which the three years of development could have been filled with things tangential to the actual development of the game itself.

Posted by psu at December 3, 2004 07:49 AM

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