Review by: Jonathan Hynes
Published: November 18, 2004
If there’s one thing that can hurt a game more than bugs, it’s hype. Take Halo 2, Bungie’s follow up to their mildly successful 2001 shooter. With mind numbing visuals, relentless action and a new Xbox Live component, who wouldn’t be excited? The problem is that in this particular instance, the hype machine continued to push forward at full speed until it was revealed that the game could, in fact, cure illness and mend broken bones. Alas, my eyesight is still poor and my knee still aches in the morning, but looking back at it all, was our enthusiasm justified?
He destroyed Halo, but as he not so subtly alluded to at the end of the first release, the Master Chief’s work is far from finished. The Covenant is none too happy about the loss of their sacred ring, and waste no time retaliating, launching a large-scale assault on Earth. Donning the shiny green armor for a second time, players must take control of the Master Chief and deal out a little punishment to the Covenant like no one else can. Unfortunately for the humans, this limited attack is only the tip of a much larger Covenant iceberg that must be diverted before it can sink Earth’s defenses, leaving the planet open to invasion.
Though the beloved assault rifle is missing from Halo 2, the battle rifle and submachine gun are worthy successors, while the shotgun and sniper rifle are back in all their glory. A handful of these weapons have even been modified, and one in particular has benefited greatly from a much-needed upgrade. Though tremendously powerful, the original rocket launcher couldn’t score a direct hit unless the enemy was foolish enough to remain near motionless. The beast has finally been de-neutered, and thanks to the new lock-on ability, long range and fast moving targets such as Covenant Banshees are no longer safe. Taking the place of the old rocket launcher is the fuel rod gun, which makes up for its lack of a targeting system with unbelievable destructive power, greater even than our recently improved friend. It’s also possible to attain the brute shot grenade launcher, the shotgun-like carbine, and the Covenant’s version of the sniper rifle, the beam shot.
There’s one additional weapon that found its way into Halo 2, and oddly enough, it isn’t even a gun. The Covenant energy sword may seem out of place in a game where the enemy carries grenade launchers and one-shot-kill beam rifles, but rest assured that this bad boy packs a wallop. In fact, the blade is more of a lethal shock stick than a sword, killing foes by transferring the energy from it to them. The range and strength of the strike ultimately determines how much energy is consumed, and unfortunately, once a sword’s reserve has been depleted, it’s next to useless. The upside, of course, its that it’s entirely possible to take down mighty Hunters with just two thrusts of this incredible blade.