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SummaryThe "Halo" part is extremely good; the "2" part is badly designed
The Good(Review for the single player campaign, normal difficulty.)
The best Gamepad support ever in a computer game. It feels just like a console game. If you just wanna play Halo, there's no need to buy an Xbox anymore. (But you will wanna get an Xbox 360 after this, because Halo 2 is so good, you will wanna play Halo 3 and Halo Wars.) The length is just right, not too long. The final level is challenging, with a memorable final boss fight. Overall, the normal difficulty is entirely reasonable, and never frustrates you, and you never get stuck at one point for very long. You NEVER need to read/watch any walkthroughs. The paths and what you should do next are entirely clear to you.
Dual weapon wielding creates some frantic battles. The firepower is doubled, and enemies die so much faster. As a result, they throw more enemies at you, expecting you to use the dual wielding ability to fight them off. The dual-Needler is the most useful combination. The action is so intense and fun. When you are wielding two weapons, you can still reload your guns with just one button, and it's a lot of fun watching your character do that, even though it makes no sense at all. (You only have two hands, so how are you able to reload without dropping a weapon first?)
Halo 2 is actually shown on the HBO series The Wire (I think it was season 4). There's some poor black kid playing the game at the end of an episode. It's not such a bad neighborhood after all huh?
Two best moments: - Driving a tank across a bridge, with your team launching an epic attack on this giant, futuristic-looking building. After playing this, I won't need to travel anymore. I got the best view in the world right here on my computer screen. It felt like the end of the world.
- Walking through a long tunnel. I walked for about two minutes with no enemies at all. It was a quiet, minimal, and mesmerizing experience. It's two minutes of peace during times of war. It changes you. I think everyone should experience two minutes of spiritual serenity everyday, as demonstrated in this particular level of Halo 2.
The BadHalo 1 didn't have any faults, and Halo 2 managed to introduce quite a few.
When you play as the Arbiter, some of the enemies (Covenant) in Halo 1 will become your allies. But it's not really easy/possible to tell which monsters are your allies. You'll end up shooting your own teammates a lot. This is the biggest problem in Halo 2. It feels horrible. I already killed a lot of those monsters in Halo 1, and now that they've become the good guys, I still keep shooting them. I can't forgive myself for this.
Too many weapons. The new weapons are mostly awkward to use. The balance is gone. In Halo 1 every weapon was necessary and useful. In Halo 2, some weapons are never useful. The best weapon from Halo 1 (Pistol) is gone, and replaced with a much inferior model. It's like your girlfriend who is a 9 is gone, and your current girlfriend is a 5. I want my 9 back. The fuel rod gun is the only new weapon that's good. It's a huge gun with a lot of destructive power.
The "health" bar is gone. You only have a shield bar. No more exciting moments when you discover "oh my god there's a med kit here! I can replenish my health!" Now, you can replenish your health at any time, as long as you're not being attacked. This really takes the thrill and anticipation away.
The "stealth" element is a bit lame and unbalanced. The Arbiter has the ability to cloak. Very cool and useful. During some levels, you can choose to kill all enemies, or you can just walk right past them and still able to get to the next checkpoint. Why put those enemies there at all then? Since first-person shooters are all about shooting, killing, explosions, I wanna kill my enemies. I don't wanna skip them and still be allowed to proceed. Halo 2 sometimes encourages you to skip the enemies, which is against the nature of FPS lovers.