Thursday, January 31, 2013

Halo 2 Review & Storyline

Halo 2 Box Art
     Today I decided I wanted to start doing sequels to games I've already reviewed.  So today I decided to review on one of the father's online multiplier experience and a universe so epic it hurts. This ladies and gentlemen is Halo 2.  The second installment in the Halo franchise, unlike it's processor Halo 2 supported Xbox Live. This feature allowed gamers to hook up with other players via the Internet and were no longer restricted to LAN parties as seen in Halo: Combat Evolved.  On release, Halo 2 was the most popular video game on Xbox Live,  holding that rank until the release of Gears of War for the Xbox 360 nearly two years later. By June 20, 2006, more than 500 million games of Halo 2 had been played and more than 710 million hours have been spent playing it on Xbox Live; by May 9, 2007, this number had risen to more than five million unique players.  
     Halo 2 is a first person shooter and is the best-selling first-generation Xbox game with at least 6.3 million copies sold in the United States alone. Critical reception of the game was generally positive, with most publications complimenting the strong multiplayer component of the game. The campaign was the focus of criticism for its cliffhanger ending in which I will explain later.  The game was released November 9, 2004 on Xbox and later for Windows Vista on  May 31, 2007. Players use a combination of human and alien weaponry and vehicles to progress through the game's levels. The player's health bar is not visible, but are instead equipped with a damage-absorbing shield that regenerates when not taking fire, it is seen above the player's mini map. 
     Certain weapons can be dual-wielded, allowing the player to trade accuracy, the use of grenades and melee attacks for raw firepower.  The player can carry two weapons at a time (or three if dual-wielding; one weapon remains holstered), with each weapon having advantages and disadvantages in different combat situations. For example, most Covenant weapons eschew disposable ammo clips for a contained battery, which cannot be replaced if depleted. However, these weapons can overheat if fired continuously for prolonged periods.  Human weapons are less effective at penetrating shields and require reloading, but cannot overheat due to prolonged fire. The player can carry a total of eight grenades (four human grenades, four Covenant) to dislodge and disrupt enemies. New in Halo 2 is the ability to board enemy vehicles that are near you and traveling at low speeds. The player or jumps onto the vehicle and forcibly ejects the other driver from the vehicle.
    The campaign takes place shortly after the events of the novel Halo: First Strike, Halo 2 opens with the trial of a Covenant Elite commander aboard the Covenant's mobile capital city of High Charity. The Elite is stripped of his rank, branded a heretic for failing to stop the humans from destroying Halo which happened near the end of the first game. Thel 'Vadamee (the Elite) is tortured by Tartarus, the Chieftain of the Covenant Brutes. On Earth, the Master Chief and Sergeant Avery Johnson are commended for their actions on Halo. Lord Terrence Hood awards the soldiers alongside Commander Miranda Keyes, who accepts a medal on behalf of her deceased father, Captain Jacob Keyes. Jacob Keyes was killed in the first game upon being taken over by the Flood Gravemind, in which he resisted it's control and denied it the location of Earth.  A Covenant fleet appears outside Earth's defensive perimeter of satellites and ships The fleet then begins an invasion of the planet.
     While the UNSC repels most of the fleet, a single Covenant cruiser carrying an important member of the Covenant hierarchy, the High Prophet of Regret, assaults the city of New Mombasa, Kenya. The events of Halo 3: ODST revolves around this certain event. The Master Chief assists in clearing the city of Covenant; with his fleet destroyed, Regret makes a hasty slipspace jump, and Keyes, Johnson, Cortana and Chief follow aboard the UNSC ship "In Amber Clad". The crew discovers another Halo installation; realizing the danger the ring presents, Keyes sends the Master Chief to kill Regret while she and Johnson find Halo's key to activation, the Index.  Meanwhile, the disgraced Covenant commander is presented before the Prophet Hierarchs, who acknowledge that though the destruction of Halo was his fault, he is no heretic. They offer him the honored position of Arbiter so that he can continue to fight for the Covenant. The Arbiter is a fictional ceremonial, religious, and political rank bestowed upon alien Covenant Elites, in which they go on suicide missions to fulfill the will of the Prophets, their spiritual leaders. On his first mission to kill a elite heretic commander, the Arbiter discovers 343 Guilty Spark, the moniter of Installation 04, or the first Halo ring discovered. Who the Covenant calls an "oracle," and brings him back to High Charity. Responding to Regret's distress call, High Charity and the Covenant fleet arrive at the new Halo, Installation 05, just before the Master Chief kills Regret. Bombarded from space, the Chief falls into a lake upon escaping the orbital explosions and is rescued by a mysterious tentacled creature. 
     The death of Regret sows seeds of discord among the races of the Covenant, as the Hierarchs have given the Brutes the Elites' traditional job of protecting them in the wake of the death. The Arbiter is sent to find Halo's Index and captures it, Johnson, and Keyes before being confronted by Tartarus. He reveals to the Arbiter that the Prophets have ordered the annihilation of the Elites, and sends the Arbiter falling down a deep chasm with his magical hammer of death. The Arbiter is saved by the tentacled creature and meets the Master Chief in the bowels of the installation. The creature, Gravemind, is the leader of the Flood on Installation 05. Gravemind reveals to the Arbiter that the Great Journey would destroy Flood, humans, and Covenant altogether. Gravemind sends the Arbiter and Master Chief to different places using the rings teleportation system to stop Halo's activation. The Master Chief is teleported into High Charity, where a civil war has broken out among the Covenant between the Elites and Brutes; the "In Amber Clad" crashes into the city, and Cortana realizes that Gravemind used them as a distraction to infest the "In Amber Clad" and spread the Flood throughout High Charity. As the parasite overruns the city, infecting the Prophet of Mercy in the process, the Prophet of Truth orders Tartarus to take Keyes, Johnson, and Guilty Spark to Halo's control room and activate the ring. 
    The Master Chief follows Truth aboard a Forerunner ship leaving the city; Cortana remains behind to destroy High Charity, The Flood, and Halo if Tartarus succeeds in activating the ring.  Meanwhile, the Arbiter is sent to the surface of Halo, where he rallies his allies to assault the Brute's position at the control room. With the help of Johnson, he confronts Tartarus in Halo's control room. When the Arbiter tries to convince Tartarus that the Prophets have betrayed them both, yet Tartarus angrily activates the ring in proclamation that the Brutes, not the Elites, will begin The Great Journey, and a battle ensues. The Arbiter and Johnson manage to kill Tartarus after a long annoying battle involving energy swords and lots of sticky grenades. Keyes removes the Index after Tartarus has been put down  Instead of shutting down the ring entirely, a system wide fail-safe protocol is triggered, putting Installation 05 and all the other Halo rings on standby for activation from a remote location, which Guilty Spark refers to as "the Ark". Aside from not being energy efficient for all the rings to be on standby, this is also very dangerous.  As Truth's ship arrives amidst a raging battle on Earth, Hood asks Chief what he is doing aboard the ship. Chief replies, "Sir, finishing this fight." 
     This probably was his best one-liner in the Halo franchise. In a post-credits scene, Gravemind is seen arriving on High Charity, where Cortana agrees to answer the Flood intelligence's questions. Then everything fades to black and there in-lies the biggest  cliffhanger in the history of man that left the world, myself included, dumbfounded and wanting more. Probably why Halo 3 was in the top five most sold games of all time, but that's for another day. Overall I'd say Halo 2 was one of the awesomest games of all time and got four-and-a-half stars, almost five if IGN wasn't such a hard ass about reviewing awesome games. The game is no longer sold at stores but is available if you check eBay or Amazon, I'd recommend Amazon.  Sadly the game's Xbox Live support was terminated April 15, 2010 along with all other remaining Xbox games.  It was awesome while it lasted, I still talk to my old clan and we reformed on to Halo 3, then Halo: Reach, and were talking about transitioning over to Halo 4, but we'll probably stick to Reach cause we like it more than Halo 4.  The game is good none the less and I know you'll love it.  I hope you enjoyed and I'll see you next week.  This has been Jacob Arnold, signing off.
Official Halo 2 Trailer

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