Continuing now the proud tradition of examining the Halo games with:
What’s the Story?
Having destroyed the first Halo (a ring-shaped superweapon designed to kill everything that can think in the universe in order to stop the spread of space-zombies. No, seriously), the Master Chief and the AI that lives in his head Cortana return home to a hero’s welcome.
Then earth is attacked by the Covenant, a group of religious aliens hell-bent on destroying humanity. After defending earth for a few levels, the Chief and Cortana jump away to another Halo ring. Meanwhile, the Covenant begin a civil war as the long-standing Elites lose their favoured position to the new Brutes. The Prophet of Truth is kind of a dick and plays the religion of both sides against each other.
What’s the Problem?
Of the Halo games, I like the story in Halo 2 best. Halo 1 established the rules – these are the Halo rings, this is where humanity is at, this is the Covenant, the Flood, etc – and Halo 2 gets to play around with them. For instance, instead of the Covenant being mindless religious aliens in this, we see a little more into their culture: the different levels of belief that the different alien species have and how the Prophets manipulate events so everything turns out as they want. It has less of a “religion makes you a mindless killer” undertone as it does “power makes you a dick”.
Also, we start to learn more about the Flood as well – like the fact that if they get enough space-zombies, they create a Gravemind to guide their overall strategy.
Halo 2 is pretty much copying the major events of Halo 1. After all, Halo 1 was a stand-alone: at the end of it you’d defeated the Covenant force and destroyed the ring. That means that in Halo 2, you need to start from scratch again – find a new ring, ring a new key to fire it, get the key, make sure the aliens don’t get the key. Speaking of which…
Each Halo requires an Activation Index to fire. The only ones who can retrieve this Index are humans. Not Covenant. Not Flood. Just humans. So, to stop the rings from firing, the humans… retrieve the Index. And are subsequently captured by the Covenant about ten seconds later.
Just putting this out there, guys, but the universe was safer before you took the only key to the weapon of mass destruction out of its secure holding area and gave it to a ten-year-old girl.
And speaking of Miranda, where the hell did she come from? Not in a “where do babies come from” way, but in a story way. In Halo 1, Captain Keyes never so much as mentioned or alluded to a daughter. In Halo 2, up she pops. Presumably they were worried we wouldn’t care about anyone if they weren’t directly related to the first game.
This one is sort of expected. Halo 2 ends on a cliffhanger. As in, Chief says “I’ma finish this shit” and then it cuts to black. See you in three years for the conclusion.
Which is shit. Gear up for the big battle and then nothing. I know why they did it – they ran out of money and had to cut the game in half – but that’s just an excuse: poor planning. It still leaves the game teetering on the brink.
What’s the Solution?
Give us a captain who isn’t conveniently related to the guy in the first one. It’s a big galaxy; I’m sure there’s a few people around the place.
Stop having the humans arm the giant weapon and then complain about having to save the galaxy.
As for the ending, they could have finished the game at the same point, just left out some of the final shots and it wouldn’t have been such a jarring cliffhanger. You defeat the big bad guy, there’s a little cutscene, then credits. No need to show the Chief arriving at a huge battle around earth you won’t be playing for three years. No need to mention the Ark or the other Halo rings. End the story you were telling; don’t introduce the next one then stop.
I’m actually undecided.
At the time it was a must-play. The graphics were astounding for an original Xbox game, and a huge step forward from Halo 1, but it plays the worst of the Halo games. The Flood are tedious and feel endless; the Brutes are poorly animated (“bullet-sponge” is the term Bungie uses because they ran out of time to animate them when they get shot) and not that fun to play against; and additions like being able to use the energy sword don’t make up for that.
Play it on Easy for the cutscenes.