We all probably remember Halo 1 right? It was a great game of epic proportions. So naturally, when they announced a sequel, there were a lot of debates about it: Will it be better than the first game, or should it not have been bothered at all? Well, since Halo: First Strike was to bridge the gap; I was expecting at least a pretty good story. I recall reading about everything Halo when I was younger; I read the books that were out, and then I read almost any magazine articles that I could find. Now, back then, we weren't exactly the richest family out there, and I wanted to keep up with the latest game news, so I had 3 magazines subscriptions: Nintendo Power, Gamepro, and EGM (which was thankfully revived... still not the best magazine, but it's good seeing it again). Once I heard that Halo will be getting a sequel, I was really excited.
And for good reason, the game is as good as the difficulty I can't play on; Legendary. Sure, there's tons of debate, but I wanna go through my personal experiences of Halo 2.
Only for Xbox!?.... Damn Gamecube...
I was hyping myself up for the game so much that it couldn't have POSSIBILY be as great as I was expecting. Now, I have a tendency to do this for a lot of games, but because I have a low threshold for what's decent, and a high mark for what's good, I couldn't believe how much better the graphics of Halo 2 looked; No more bland armor, hello scratches and details! I was disappointed as the grunts doesn't look as cute (yeah, I said that) as they did in the first game, but everything else looked amazing; Seeing Cairo Station the first time was awesome, but if I recall correctly, you couldn't skip the tutorial... dammit...
It wasn't a BAD tutorial per se, but I wanted to get into the thick of things. I wanted to pick up my Assault Rifle and go to town... but then it struck me... there WAS no Assault Rifle. I recalled buying any magazines that had an article about the weapons and vehicles of Halo 2, and I just thought that they just didn't wanna show the Assault Rifle, but no; they took it out and replaced it with the SMG. Now, this was disappointing; In video games, I always liked to carry guns that shoot bullets, and the default weapon. In Halo 1, all I used unless ABSOLUTELY necessary were the human weapons, and if I could specifically, the Assault Rifle and Pistol. That's it; I even just used it as a club if it meant keeping it.
Now, the SMG was alright, the recoil's too bouncy, but the Battle Rifle was a decent weapon; A three round burst with a 2X zoom? That's like a DMR (which Halo: Reach has), which stands for Designated Marksman Rifle, a term to describe medium range guns (M14 EBR is my favorite one). Now, I like having new guns as the next guy, but the Assault Rifle was iconic; why take it away? I mean, every ad the Chief's in is seen with the Assault Rifle; why remove what we remember fondly?
Sure, Halo 3 brought it back, but they gutted it so bad that it's like it's on life support when it came back. Still nice to have at least
Again, I won't talk about the WHOLE game (as we have things like TV Spots and action figures to talk about... by the way, this is a 3 parter, which is fitting since the Mother Halo games were a trilogy... I consider Reach o be a "standing ovation.") So I'll summarize what happened: Master Chief's back kicking ass, but somehow the Covenant has found Earth's location, and is messing things up. They could've destroyed it, but they were looking for something. Anyway, Master Chief goes into a different Halo, and does what he did before: Find the Index, and destroy Halo like in the first game. However, turns out that there's an Elite from the first game behind the scenes (and not that punk Zuka... worst Elite ever) who survived, but now he's disgraced, and now he must find the Index as well. But he's not just a side character; He's a playable one too.
Yes, there was a second playable character in Halo 2, a surprise that Bungie has duped us with. I didn't recall anything about reading about becoming an Elite; when the hell did this happen!? From what I understand, Bungie did the same thing with Halo 1; they specifically told the reviewers to not mention the Flood in the first game to surprise the players. I guess Hideo Kojima must've been in on it as well, as with MGS2, he didn't reveal until the game came out that RAIDEN was the hero, not Snake. And just like both games, they were both nagged on about the sudden switch. Now, again, don't get me wrong (and if you had read my blogs, that's something I say A LOT), I LIKED seeing things from a new perspective, but at least warn us that that's gonna happen. Granted, you did see the first cut-scene in the second game, but I just thought it was a note for anyone who didn't play the first game.
Anyway, the high ranking Elite, whose name is Thel (who's also featured in the book The Cole Protocol) is disgraced for allowing Halo to be destroyed, and he should've been executed for it had it not for his new purpose: To become the Arbiter. For anyone who didn't see the anime, this was actually a GOOD thing until a noble Elite betrayed the Prophet in the short anime episode "The Duel..." since then, Arbiters are now a sign of disrespect. Now, at first, I just thought that he would be a boss character; who knew that you're gonna be him?
Who could also be him in Halo 3, but who the hell wants to?
Now, for his first mission, he has to destroy some rebels within the Covenant, which brings me to my question: If Bungie is gonna let us be an Elite, why are we still killing Aliens? I mean, you fight grunts, jackals, and even Elites (albeit without their signature armor)... you're just teaming up with the Covenant while doing it, which can get mildly confusing (not telling which from which, since they're green, but I'm so used to shooting aliens that teaming up with one to shoot other aliens was weird). Eventually, you tackle the newest enemies of the Halo universe who in my opinion is the worst: Brutes. Yeah, it turns out that after the Chief assassinated the Prophet of Regret (which was a FUN BOSS FIGHT), the Prophets don't think that the Elites don't have what it takes to protect them, and so they hired these monkeys. At first, I thought they were cool, but they were bullet sponges: They take probably 2 clips to take down. Sure, melees are easier, but I didn't want to charge at them all the time.
Anyway, long story short, Master Chief goes to High Charity, a Covenant city, to get the Index, and after seeing the Flood take over, leaves Cortana (who went from looking like an Asian woman into something... admittedly hot, but I'll leave it at that) to stop Truth from using Halo. The Arbiter, along with Shipmaster (who's named Rtas, who's nicknamed Half-Jaw) goes to the control room of Halo to stop Tartarus, the high ranking Brute, from using Miranda, a Reclaimer, from activating Halo. They team up with Sgt. Johnson in the process, who stole a Scarab, and they worked together to kill Tartarus in an epic boss fight. After that, Miranda turns off Halo, but 343 Guilty Sparks reveals that in response, all the Halos were now going to be on standby, and they can ALL be launched in the Ark. When asked where that is, it wasn't revealed, and when Master Chief is asked what he's doing, he replies "Finishing the Fight..." then credits roll... seriously...
Don't worry Cortana, I'll be back... in the sequel.
Now, don't get me wrong, it was a pretty good story, but that was a BS ending if I ever saw one. I mean, this game suffers on what all the trilogy's do: It ends on a cliffhanger. I mean, in Modern Warfare they ended it horribly... in Star Wars, Han Solo is captured... and in Back to the Future, they ended it with Marty reading that Doc's in the Wild West in 1885 (I was born before that movie, but thanks to Nick at Nite, it's one of my all time favorites). Why did it had to end like that when it had one of the only few boss fights in the whole series!? I mean, Regret was admittedly easy, and 343 Guilty Sparks in 3 was seriously lame (I'll get to that later), but Tartarus was awesome; He can one shot you with the Fist of Rukt, he can't be hurt unless Sgt. Johnson (or you if you had the Beam Rifle) took down his shields, and best of all, you had Elites jumping in into the fray as well! I was all amazed that this was all happening; Killing Tartarus with a sword is just epic.
I pretty missed this. All the time we had an Xbox, we never had the internet required to play Xbox Live, so I only played Halo 2 online for just a tiny bit (but it was oh so sweet...). Hell, even when Halo 3 came out, I still didn't have Live until 2 years later (then again, I didn't even have an Xbox 360 when I bought Halo 3). But that doesn't mean I missed out on the multiplayer though; we always threw Halo 2 parties where me and my friends would take turns killing each other and passing the controller around. I myself had my own controller that I didn't let anyone touch (you know how that feels) and after one round of death match (to 50), we cut the last 2 people off and play again. It was all in good fun; we laughed at awesome kills, claimed that the controller was busted or that they were screen watching... It was a good time.
Not shown, but do you remember when you could just swing the sword like a madman? Or the double melee hit BYB? Rocket Jump? Rocket Lunge?
I also loved the levels in Halo 2 and I wanted it to be revived in Halo 3 so bad... Ascension and Burial Mounds were a few of them. I mean, I'm grateful that Zanzibar and Lock Out were remade, but I really loved a lot of the levels in Halo 2 better. And I think everybody else agrees as well; It was until this year that they finally been cut off from playing the original Xbox Live since its release (R.I.P. OG Xbox Live), and many of people took part in its final hurrah (I didn't, but that's cause I didn't own an Xbox, much less the game).
I also recalled that there was the Bonus Map Pack released for the Xbox for non-live owners, and it was pretty cool to be introduced to this; Remember, DLC (downloadable content, but you knew that) was exclusive to PCs until the consoles finally went online, and even then, there wasn't much of it (unlike now where it's all there is to think about). Turf became one of my favorite levels because, oh my God, it was in a city: If you recall from my Looking Back at Halo 3: ODST (I should make a video series outta this), I mentioned that I love city based levels, and seeing as how Turf was essentially alleyways and one long street, it was pretty cool to fight in. I also loved seeing the gate that can be jumped over or opened with a vehicle; I recalled walking towards in and using grenades to open it only for a Warthog to be driving at that same time; It flipped from my grenade and smacked the hell outta me... Good times.
Halo also spawned some really cool fan-made Halo games
I also wanna mention one of the things about Halo 2; If you bought Halo 1 when Halo 2 was coming out, you got a special section of the game where you can access all kinds of goodies, from footage of the original Halo 1 (the third person shooter... yeah.... it existed at one point) to trailers of Halo 2, but the thing that stood out to me the most was the Halo 2 tech demo (unplayable in other words), btu I'll never forget it: It starts off with Master Chief walking out of a hospital seeing his men wounded. After someone gives him a SMG to dual wield, he goes to kick ass. Eventually, a Gauss Warthog pulls up to him and offers him a ride, and we see him drive through the city level, shooting down Banshees and Ghosts until finally reaching his destination. It was really cool, and at the time, I thought "Hey, if the tech demo from Halo 1 became a real level (the Silent Cartographer), then this probably will be too!" Sadly... it didn't... and I'm still disappointed.
Ending notes while I prep for Halo 3
That's all I have to say about Halo 2; It was a hate it or love it game, but make no mistake; It's definitely the most memorable of the bunch. However, we knew that Bungie was committed to finishing the trilogy, and we all knew that it was coming.... It was just a matter of what and when. While Halo 3 will be mentioned in the final wrapping up tomorrow, I just wanna get everything pre-Halo 3 outta the way. I recall that many stores were selling Halo action figures as Halo 2 hit the stores, and I remember them all being sold out within the first few days. I only got one of the figures myself; It was a red Elite with a rubber hand that can be twisted to hold items like the Beam Rifle and the Energy Sword. While the Sword looked cool, the Elite itself wasn't as hot; I don't miss it.
Best... season... EVER
Speaking of missing, I didn't want to miss talking about the line of machinima the Halo series spawned. The Halo series kinda started the mass production of machinima ever seen Red vs. Blue was conceived. Red vs. Blue was essentially about a fight between Red Team and Blue Team, but it wasn't by any means an action romp: It was strictly a humorous story with idiots, stereotypical sergeants, and retarded idiots. I personally liked the second season because it was the funniest one of the bunch, and the least plot involved (which was good in my opinion). Although this was created sometime after Halo 1, but before Halo 2, it is actually still going on today, which is way longer than any of the other machinimas.
There were other series like Fire Team Charlie, The Codex (which was just as popular as Red vs. Blue), and even a talk show called This Spartan Life, which a guy treats the game as a talk show with entertaining dancing Elites. He even got Marty O'Donnell from Bungie and Burnie Burns from Red vs. Blue to appear on his show! However, there were a lot of uninteresting ones, but I do recall my personal favorite: Master Chief Sucks at Halo. It was a short lived series about an action figure of Master Chief who plays Halo when no one's home. It started with him playing Halo 3 beta, then Halo 2 before finally concluding at Halo 3. While there was a series involving him and the Arbiter later, named Arby 'n' the Chief, I only liked the first season; everything after that lost what I liked about the series, but that's just me.
Yes, this was a real series. It's mostly just commentary of game play though.
Speaking about series, after Halo ruled the video game store and libraries, it went on to invade a new type of stores: comic books. Halo went on to make comics, and the first one that came out was The Halo Graphic Novel. It was a pretty interesting read; It explained how Rtas lost half his jaw, who tested the MJOLNIR armor before they gave the upgrade to the Chief, how Sgt. Johnson survived against the Flood, and how the civilians reacted to when the Covenant attacked Earth. There was a couple of other ones such as Uprising, which sucked, Hell jumpers and Blood Lines, which I haven't read, but from the previews, it looks better than Uprising, so I'm just assume it is until I read it. From what I heard, there's going to be a new comic when Halo: Reach hits stores called "Boot Camp," which is essentially the comic book version of Fall of Reach. It it's anything like the book, it's sure to be awesome.
Well, that's all there is to say for now, so tune in next time for the final part: Halo 3, the TV Spots and swag (dog tags and drinks), Halo Waypoint and Halo Legends. Remember Reach... remember it!
You finish the fight, I'll finish my blog.
- "Petals dance for our valediction and synchronize to your frozen pulsation...
Swirling wind sings for our reunion and 9.8 is my acceleration." - Mili