Though Halo 2 was the second most popular game of 2004, the vast majority of gamers had one major complaint--its ending. Without providing any spoilers, the Xbox shooter's finale feels more than a little truncated, leaving the game's two protagonists--the Master Chief and the Arbiter--in medias res.
In particular, Halo 2's last shot also seemed to set up a sequel with about as much subtlety as the finale of Flash Gordon, prompting speculation that the next-gen Xbox would ship bundled with an expanded Halo 2.5. Another rumor had work on a next-gen Halo 3 well under way, with Microsoft planning to release it the same day the PlayStation 3 goes on sale, presumably in 2006.
Today, another theory emerged, courtesy of a release schedule on the Korean-language version of the official Xbox site (pictured). Under the March and April releases on the page is a more general "coming soon" category, which lists several games with more-fluid release dates, including Forza Motorsport and Red Ninja: End of Honor.
However, of considerably more interest to Halo fans is the entry for one "Halo 2 X-Pack (Expansion Pack)." The one-line listing had no other description or firm date. That said, its presence on an official Microsoft site added credence to the theory that Microsoft cut Halo 2 short so it could roll out a large expansion akin to the Ninja Gaiden Hurricane Pack at a later date via Xbox Live--for a price. Such a Halo 2 expansion could be a twofold boon for Microsoft, adding another incentive for gamers to join its online service and squeezing further dollars from the nearly 7 million gamers who already have Halo 2.
So is the Halo 2 X-Pack listing proof positive of the paid expansion-pack theory? Or could it be possible that the expansion will be free, like the Hurricane Pack was? It's hard to say definitively, since Microsoft had not commented as of press time.
GameSpot will have more on this developing story as further details emerge.