Reviewed: May 22, 2007
Released: May 22, 2007
Bungie Studios and Microsoft Games Studios has finally released the much anticipated Halo 2 for the PC. Halo 2 for Xbox came out in November of 2004 and a PC version was not in the works much to the disappointment of many. After several years the Windows Vista version is out but not much has changed with the core game.
Halo 2 has a very good story line but the game replays much of the same shoot it if it moves style that becomes a bit of a disappointment. Halo was a great game when it came out and the Windows Vista version of Halo 2 had the makings of a great game but they really could have improved the single player campaign.
Halo 2 for the PC seems very much like a port from the Xbox version from the levels and even the graphics being very similar. The story and levels are identical even through things like graphical glitches with problems in the Xbox version and the same ones here as well. One that was noted in several areas when standing close to boxes or large placed objects you can sometimes see through them due to this glitching.
Halo 2 follows right on the heels of the Halo story line playing the Master Chief after the first Halo was destroyed. Halo 2 actually starts out in the same exact room and firefight as the original, not a very good way to start a new game. You start off just like the first Halo by testing out your suit a bit and then Covenant riff raff are attacking the station. You need to defend the station from the variety of characters attacking in the rather odd looking ships that stick their ends right through the glass walls.
Further on in the game you not only go to new locations but some old ones like a familiar but new Halo ring. They have added a new gameplay twist by having you play as one of the Covenant Elite named The Arbiter. You have basically the same characteristics and abilities as Master Chief during gameplay and it makes very little difference as far as how you play. One thing that does make a bit of a difference is your environment and how they have included factions of good and bad characters.
During the story line there will be betrayal and clans choosing sides so there is a mix later in the campaign of the same species being on the good and bad side. So you will have to check your fire on several occasions as in one scene youíll be fighting against one species and then the next will have you fighting right along side them. It makes the little red and green sight display a real saver for your team mates.
Using the added companions in many of the sections is a very big plus and blowing them away by accident does not gain you any advantages. There are also several places that letting them do most of the main fighting at least for some time makes perfect sense, even your AI helper Cortana will hint that you should do this.
The gameplay is pretty good but nothing fantastic or even much better than the original. Halo was a great game in its time and still does create a great single and multiplayer experience but the newest addition to the franchise does not really add that much. You have a good solid 12 to 15 hours of play in the campaign but you wonít find any surprises or radical gameplay twists.
The weapons from the first Halo are here with the addition of a few others as well as being able to dual wield many of the single hand held ones. This is not exactly a great advantage many times as when you are holding two guns you cannot quickly toss a grenade to even up the sides. You also get to wield the Covenant sword and a few new weapons.
Damage and being able to recover from your hits is quickly healed using a new and improved suit as well as the better abilities of the Arbiter when your that character. This only means you can take more damage before dying but if you do get the chance you should do a quick attack and fade back for a quick breather in the larger fights. This is a very good way to get through many of the tougher areas by taking out a few opponents and then rearming and recharging.
Overall the gameplay in Halo 2 for the PC is not anything that would make you rush out and purchase a fifty dollar game. The multiplayer would be more of a reason but unfortunately I did not have the chance to play any of the multiplayer areas on my review copy. There is also a level editor that is included in the retail version along with a bunch of new multiplayer levels.
The graphics, scenery and textures are pretty good for this new version of Halo 2 thanks to Hired Gun Studios who touched up the aging textures and graphics from the XBox version. There was some problems I found from glitching like seeing through some objects but these were not something that detracted from the game a lot but it was something that I noticed.
The textures and scenes looked pretty good but I have seen much better in the newest games and I guess for a game that is basically three years old it was pretty good. Graphics like explosions and the great laser and high tech weapon effects looked very good.
Halo 2 has some good voice acting along with a solid sound score. I did recognize several of the voices even though some were not main characters but secondary like Laura Prepon of That 70ís Show fame. Other actors that added their voice talents include Keith David, Robert Davi and Miguel Ferrer.
The sound track and theme music was pretty familiar and the score during the game played well without any problems. Halo 2 follows a standard ritual for games as well as movies in that it does give away many upcoming fights by increasing the tempo or starting to change the type of music playing. This is something that I have been getting more and more annoyed with in games and would like to see some companies change more than the very few that are getting rid of giveaway sound effects.
Playing through the Halo 2 for Windows Vista version of the campaign lasted me about twelve hours on normal difficulty. I could not see much sense in going through it on a tougher one as you will spend much time getting to the good parts but some will see the value in replaying the campaign. With the included editor I can see all kinds of new levels, campaigns and mods so there will soon be a very good fan inspired modding community to choose new levels to play with.
I really cannot comment on the multiplayer portion of the game as I did not play any and do look forward to receiving a retail version to check this out. This would be the area that would make the game worth buying, or not. There is also new toolset for the PC version that allows you to create and customize levels, but this also, was not available in the review copy we received. The ability to create infinte level designs and share them online would greatly extend the value of Halo 2.
Halo 2 for the PC is a pretty good game and does live up to its predecessors. The gameplay and action do get intense but it does not break any new grounds for video game enthusiasts. There is a very good group of talented voice actors behind those characters and the score and music was pretty good.
Overall if the multiplayer is anything like Microsoft has hyped it to be Halo 2 for Windows should be a very good video game, till Halo 3 comes out.