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Halo 2 Anniversary review from the Halo Master Chief collection: Halo 2 never looked so good.

Updated on May 26, 2016

my youtube review

thumbnail for the youtube video.

Note all the video used here was captured of my gameplay using a capture device. The pictures used in the hub were freeze framed and then photoshop. This hub is not affiliated with Microsoft.

And well today were going to take a look at the 2nd game in the Halo collection. Now I didn’t really see Halo has any fun until the 2nd game came out. The first one has some good ideas, but it had terrible stage design, the original graphics have not aged well, and its story was well average at best. Halo 2 came out to improve upon the original and it did a good job it improved the graphics, storytelling, and the stage design got a huge boost. Of course today were not really going to be taking a look at the original Xbox version but that found in the Master Chief collection, is it an improvement upon the original game. Yeah but like a lot of things in the master chief collection the bugs do get in the way.


Story


The story starts out short time after the original game. Halo has been destroyed, the flood our finished, and the Covenant are routed for the time being. Master Chief is back on earth getting some medals and enjoying a little R&R. But before he’s able to fully relax the covenant have found earth and start attacking, humanity’s worst fears have come true and it’s up to the chief to protect has much has the planet has he can.


Meanwhile the alien commander that was leading the forces that the chief beat up on Halo is being condemned for not stopping the chief. Branded quite literally a heretic he has a chance for redemption by taking role of the arbiter, basically meaning that he has to keep peace within the covenant and be a pawn of the leadership.


The story is actually interesting and has a few surprises has we learn more about the covenant and there politics and hierarchy especially has things go to hell in a hand basket when their inner politics lead to civil war within that group. Throw in a giant really ugly worm thing that leads the flood called the grave mind and you got yourself an actually interesting yarn.


One of the things they did with this remake is that while the original games cut scene were in game, this one decides to go with FMV scenes if you set it to play the remake. This does lead to some of the problems with FMV brief load times, graphics that don’t quite match the character design, and video quality not matching the original game. That said damn to these things look gorgeous and it really does help the narrative and explain some of the situations better. The best example is that of Gravemind. In the original he looks like he escaped from the little house of horrors, he’s more comical then threating. After all he is supposed to be this ancient evil that has all of this knowledge and is bent on assimilating everything. This definitely doesn’t look like that. (stop)This however does you see he’s made out of a lot of flesh of assimilated flood victims, he’s got 2 or 3 mouths all loaded with teeth, and the way he moves about you know he’s always up to something. Yeah this is the only time you really see him in the entire trilogy but that’s all you really need to know that he’s scary and a real threat.



Speaking of new content there is a new cut scene at the beginning that takes place sometime during Halo 5 with Spartan Lock asking the arbiter for help finding the master chief and the arbiter recounting what unfolded in Halo 2.


Finally I do have one compliant about the ending it does end on the cliff hanger. With the master chief basically saying he’s going to finish the fight; because the developer ran out of time and money to actually put in a real final stage.

Gameplay

The gameplay in Halo 2 takes what was established in the original Halo only 2 weapons are allowed to be held, and most of your health revolves around recharging shields. But they manage to improve on these things even more. First change no more health, you get hit without out shields your dead. That said shields regenerate a lot quicker now and you have more of them, no more trying to find first aid kits, and no more worrying about going across the wrong check point low on health. But they added in a lot more, some weapons are allowed to be duel wielded. While duel wielding you can’t switch weapons without dropping one, and you have no way to throw your grenades. The game does force you to think which is the best option more fire power, or the ability to throw more explosive grenades at your opponent


Also some new bad guys show up to make things interesting has the covenant thrown in two more races to their lineup. First is the bug looking aliens that can fly. They go down easier then grunts once hit but they can fly, always come in hordes, and are fast. If you’re not carrying a light machine gun they can be a problem. The next race is the brutes, and they are the hardest, most frustrating race to deal with. And they will be replacing the elites half way through this game. They take a lot of damage to bring down, and they can charge at you and knock you out pretty easily. When they pop up your life is a lot more difficult.


The good news is the brutes bring their own weapon to the fray that makes it easier to kill them. The brute shot my favorite weapon to use in Halo. With the brute show you can bring brutes down in a couple of hits and its grenades can wipe out other enemies.


Has for the stage design which was my major gripe in the original Halo a lot has been improved. It’s not perfect I still get lost in some places but it’s not has frustrating has last time. No repeating areas, and a lot of them are memorable. No more generic and bland looking areas, even in the original color pallete each area you travel to is new and different. Also the game is a lot better at making sure you don’t get stuck in areas for what seems like forever has the game moves along a lot smoother pace. That said the game can be frustrating towards the end when it ramps up the difficultly and you end up dying a lot. Figuring out what you have to do to trigger check points can be one of the trickiest things about Halo.


Also some areas with the arbiter to expect you to use some stealth has the arbiter has cloaking shields. If you don’t know when to use the cloak you will also die quite a bit on his stages.


Has far has the ending go the final stage that is in the game isn’t a real disappointment by any means. It’s a bit on the short side but it does give us a real final boss battle against one of the brutes and he’s fairly challenging.

Graphics

Like the original Halo you can press the select button to go back to the original Xbox mode. While Halo 2 didn’t need has much has the original Halo has it was already wide screen and didn’t suffer some of the stage design problems, the new look is great for the most part. The areas are a lot more details, the brutes look a little less freaky and a little more apey which is what they should look like. And the lighting is a lot better. My only complaint is while the original Halo the remake lighted things up, here they make some areas to dark. I had to switch in a few places because I couldn’t see what the hell was going on in the remake.


Again frame rate is increased and the game does run smooth and looks great for the most part. Again those FMV scenes are incredibly well done.

Sound.

The same awesome Halo Music is done throughout the game and we get the same voice cast has last time which does a really good job. The big one is the addition of Keith David has the arbiter though. If you don’t know who he is he played Goliath in the Disney cartoon series Gargoyles. And for those who aren’t old enough to remember that let’s just say he has a voice every straight man wishes he had. (put on the that goes for both of us.)

Online

The online maps that I could play thanks to the online multiplayer being crappy, yeah it took way too long to connect to the few I did play are at least bigger then the original and feel like maps should. There’s no nostalgia attach to these maps they are actually good and worth playing, has big and elaborate has some of today’s modern maps no. But these are worth playing so if you want to go online and can handle the frustrating match making sessions then this game is for you.

By the way the Halo channel for the extra content.

Is also buggy has hell.
Is also buggy has hell.

Final Recommendation

I give Halo 2 a 4.5 out of 5. A few frustrating moments here and there but the game is almost perfect in its campaign. The enemy AI is still flawless and the addition of the extra enemy types keeps the game fresh. A few new weapons and duel wielding and the games combat is great. Add in a lot better design and looking stages regardless if it’s new or old and the game is perfect. The master chief collection mixes it up with some really great looking pre-render FMV scene. It is a bit of a surprise listening to the developer’s talk about the missing content that this game turn so good but it did, definitely worth picking up. Don’t have an Xbox one you can still play it on an original Xbox or Xbox 360 just with the original graphics which still do a good job.


So far the Master Chief collection has been pretty good on giving me a better single player campaign. Too bad so far I haven’t been able to get online to play any multiplayer to much do the frustrating match making system. When I pulling out my Ipad to look stuff up on a Halo game you got problems. Oh well let’s see how Halo 3 fares.

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