Overall, despite some of it's flaws, Halo 2 is one of the most important games available for the XBOX.

User Rating: 9 | Halo 2 XBOX
Halo 2 is one of those games that needs to be seen in its entirety to be appreciated. it may have a decent, if disappointing, single-player campaign, but it's really at its best in its online multiplayer mode. However, this is only open to people with a broadband Internet connection, and even then you must have an XBL subscription to play the game online, although it does come with a two-month trial version of the service. It's possible to enjoy the game even without the online mode though, but there's just not as much to be appreciated in the offline content as there is in the online stuff. The game's Campaign mode revolves around the further adventures of the Master Chief and his fellow soldiers. The Covenant comes to invade Earth, and it's obviously up to him to stop them. Each stage in the campaign revolves around winning a series of battles in one area after another and then moving on to the next one. Each stage usually takes nearly an hour to complete, which can seem daunting in a first-person shooter. There are checkpoints in every stage that you can restart at so that you don't need to repeat an entire stage, but it can still feel like everything's just dragging along as you go. Also, towards the second half of the game, everything starts to seem a lot more repetitive, as most of the levels involve situations where you have to fight of the same groups of enemies over and over again in rooms that all seem the same. While the campaign isn't necessarily bad, it can get tedious quite often, and feels a lot like a disappointment. Multiplayer is, obviously, where it's at. With an XBOX Live subscription, you can have access to one of the best multiplayer games available on the XBOX. Regrettably, if you don't have an XBL subscription, you're going to miss out on one of the game's most attractive features. There is an option to play the same multiplayer matches in split-screen mode, but this isn't nearly as convenient as playing people over the Internet with XBL. Doing so literally adds months if not years to the game's replay value, and gives you a toy to play around with for as long as you want, provided you stay signed up for the service of course. One flaw is present in the system's design though. While you can play through the different competitive multiplayer modes on XBL, you are not able to play through the campaign’s cooperative mode online, which is a very big setback for the game. It would've helped the campaign a lot to be able to go through it with a friend online, especially given it's length. But all of the other features available online nearly make up for that. There are seven main types of multiplayer games: Slayer, Capture the Flag, Assault, Oddball, Juggernaut, Territories, and King of the Hill. Slayer is a standard deathmatch game. Capture the Flag speaks for itself. Assault is a team-only game in which you must bring a bomb to a team's base and then arm and plant it. In Oddball, you must hold on to the ball, actually a skull, for a set amount of time. In Juggernaut, one player is the "Juggernaut" and is given special abilities and the ability to score, while the other players must team up to bring him or her down and become the Juggernaut themselves. In Territories, teams must claim pieces of land for themselves while keeping opponents off of them. Finally, King of the Hill is essentially the same as Territories, except that there is only one area to command, and it can be played as a free-for-all game. There are also dozens of options to mess with that can be used to create hundreds of different game types to give the online mode a seemingly endless amount of replay value. The maps on which you play these game types are all almost impeccably designed, which goes a long way to make up for the fact that there really aren't that many of them. Each of them is clearly designed with a certain game-type in mind, although they all can accommodate any game-type reasonably well. As stated though, it seems as though there really aren't enough of them to prevent them from getting old fast. Each map is incredibly detailed both graphically and from a gameplay standpoint, but once you've seen everything there is to see, it all wears thin rather quickly. There are several maps available for download on XBL, but the last of these appear to have been produced by Bungie, meaning that what's there isn't going to change anymore. It would have been nice if they had imported more (or all) of the maps from the original Halo, but the maps that are here are still fun in their own right. There's a lot of strategy in the game's multiplayer mode. The new addition of dual-wielding to the Halo series adds a lot more depth, as you now need to give careful consideration to what you arm yourself with. Not all weapons can be dual-wielded of course. There's a pretty even balance between the different weapons, although most of them are better suited for some situations more than others. Vehicles are an important factor in multiplayer games, giving you both a faster way of getting around the larger maps and a weapon to use against larger groups of opponents. Proper planning often leads to victory, meaning that communication is incredibly important in team games. Playing alone, it's a lot easier to change plans on the fly, but it's still important to think in this game before you act. Graphically, Halo 2 is a sight to see. Almost everything is designed perfectly, although all of the colors and objects have an odd, slightly blurry look to them that becomes aggravating after a while. Everything animates perfectly, although you may occasionally see something weird, like a weapon going through a wall. Slowdown can also often be a problem during online modes, as lag may make people appear and disappear at random. These sorts of problems can be incredibly aggravating, and often ruin what would be an otherwise fine match. Still, this doesn't surface at all during the offline modes, and the game's design and presentation still manages to hold itself to a relatively high standard. The game's sound is also done very well. Most of the tunes are written and produced very well, like the choir music that plays on the game's title screen. There's an incredible amount of voice acting as well. Most of it is performed very well, though the dialogue can seem a bit corny at times, with lines like Master Chief’s infamous "I need a weapon" catchphrase. It's still fun to hear the characters talk though, even if what they're saying isn't always particularly interesting or doesn't seem that important. It's obvious that there's talent behind the voice acting, and they do the best with what they're given, which can still occasionally reach a high point. Overall, despite some of it's flaws, Halo 2 is one of the most important games available for the XBOX. It's got a serviceable single-player mode, and one of the most expansive and enjoyable multiplayer/online experiences available for any console today. Everything that it has needs to be experienced to be appreciated, and once you do so you may never be able to forget about this game. It has enough material in it to last almost anyone until Halo 3 comes out, whenever that will be. It's not guaranteed of course, but Halo 2 is still likely to always be remembered as one of the best games of this generation.

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