Mission: Halo 2. Status: Complete
Holy christmas, this game is explosive. Microsoft and Bungie have done it again. Combat evolved, too right.
My kickass sidekick and I started at midnight and were up till 3am the other night and we finally finished the bastard. It was by far one of the most draining experiences of my life. I dont think it has officially been released in the U.S. or Canada (release date Nov 9th I believe, although in Europe it is on already on sale) yet but I got my grubby little hands on an advanced copy ;).
For those of you who are familiar with the original Halo for the Xbox know that it is a one of a kind first person shooter with a plethora of weapons, baddies and vehicles to use and abuse. It is similar to games like Counterstrike and the Quake/Doom series in many ways except it is alot more interactive and there is a gargantuan plot that involves humans, many forms of aliens and a potential for a galactic holocaust.
Even the basic premise of this game seems far too complex to grasp, what seems obvious is that there are three campaigns; humans, aliens and baddie aliens. To make it clearer, the game is best played in co-operative mode i.e. you and a friend play split screen and; co-operate. Throughout the game, you randomly (it seems) switch between a human and an alien campaign. Now all in all there is no difference between them while playing, they do not move any faster or slower or jump any higher or lower that each other. The only difference is that you have a couple of different weapons with each and can use camouflage with the aliens and a cheapshit flashlight for humans and both features keep klonking out every 15 seconds. Of what can we could gather, the plotline involves a giant planet sized Halo floating around in space that the humans, aliens and baddie aliens are trying to monopolize on so as to control the fate of their particular galaxy (it could be the Milky Way, I'm not sure.) Anyway, the story is somewhat epic, biblical even with high councils, convenants, prophets and huge armies, all to acquire the key to the Halo. Again, the story is so grandiose it is hard to really step back and look at the whole picture, only through cut scenes (which were quite long) can you piece together whats what. And plus the game I have is in French (due to release only in Europe) so we had to read subtitles and translate the non-subtitle bits throughout the game such as; 'vite vite, tout suite!'
The gameplay though I can tell you about. The graphics are as usual, disgusting. Crisp, smooth, use of lights and shadows, the works, and the fluidity of the various enviroments (water, trees, grass) is exceptional. As I said it is a one of a kind fps, lots of guns and vehicles, lots of baddies, low gravity (high jumping), destructible enviroments and amazing, absolutely amazing artificial intelligence.
The programmers must have had countless sleepless nights over the AI because the basic engine for the game is the same, as are the characters, the weapons and the maps are somewhat similar too but the AI is mind boggling. The insane amount of variables you'd have to declare and the ginormous probability trees all lead to a smarter, more annoying alien that can read your patterns and counteract them. For example, you throw a grenade at the smarter ones (the apes in this game are the hardest) and they will throw it back at you. They will also hide when you shoot, attack in random group formations and use cover when sniping your ass. That was one of the most challenging (and rewarding) aspects of this game.
Anyways, my friend and I put in some long long nights and I think we clocked in around 16-18 hours to complete the bitch, mainly because you cannot save a game in the middle of a level, you have to finish it to save, and each level takes roughly between 2 to 4 hours to complete. It was a very draining game and honestly I don't think I've worked that hard at anything, including school, work or relationships. You need to keep your wits about you and not itch the trigger finger cause this shit is hardcore and non-stop. I highly reccomend it for Xbox owners who have atleast one friend that is sharp and ready to grenade, shoot and blow through this game like a raging flaming bulldozer. It requires alot of patience, a lot more skill and tons more teamwork than any other game before it.