Halo 2: It’s the Small Things

I know this isn’t a developer blog post, but I just can’t have this conversation with my wife. She wants to hear about Halo 2 about as much as I want to hear about the latest “Real World” marathon on MTV.

What I love about the Bungie team is the attention to detail. I don’t want to provide a review of Halo 2 other than to say it’s the best game I’ve played since Halo 1and I’ll be playing it online for a LONG time. Here are just a few of the reasons why.

Checkpoint System: I really hate games that make you worry about saving your progress or don’t do saves for you at the right moments. Halo 2 is nearly perfect. I don’t worry about saving and never have to replay 10 minutes of a game 100 times just to get past the one difficult section. It’s enough of a challenge, but doesn’t frustrate you… even at the higher difficulties.

Addition of Stealth Action: I don’t want to spoil anything, but there are some great (some don’t feel this way) segments that expand on the core run and gun ethos of the FPS genre opening up a lot of new ways to go about your combat.

Thinking FPS: You are never presented with a situation where there is only one correct/hidden way to accomplish something. I thought I ran into one of those in the game, but then I saw all the responses to this thread that proved me totally wrong. The game forces you to adapt to limited ammo and thinking about what two weapons you want to take along for the ride. You do have to choose wisely or it makes your task a little harder. The trade-offs are great. Want to dual wield… can’t have grenades. Enemy has a sword… you have shot-gun. Foe driving a tank… just board and melee him out of it.

Non-Repetitive Interesting Dialog: I played the game once in co-op mode with a friend and once by myself. I never found myself saying “If I hear my marines say X one more time I’m going to shoot the speakers”. They have a line for everything. One time I was running out of ammo and need to take the gun from one of the AI marines. I handed him a gun with one shot left in it (hey, I’m not insensitive to his needs) and he said something like “what is this, a suicide mission?”. LOL. Here are some other “one liners”.

Useful AI: They aren’t just walking ammo/grenade dispensers anymore. I actually found it useful to try and keep them alive. The human marines are especially good with beam/sniper rifles because they essentially call out enemies with the bullet trail.

Smart Host Picking: Why did no one think of this sooner? I was going to upgrade my broadband for Halo 2, and then I realized it didn’t matter. With 16 people playing it was going to pick the guy with the best connection to everyone else to host. I played several 16 player games last night and didn’t really see much of any lag that is common in other large XBL games.

2+ Live Accounts: Halo 2 is smart enough to know if a memory card with a second, third, or fourth xbox live account is plugged into the controller. No need to copy them to the Xbox. Each person can access their own friends list and invite them into your own party. This was very slick.

Game Viewer and RSS Feeds:   Talk about the kitchen sink. The Game Viewer rocks.


What do you love about Halo 2?