Halo 2 is a first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie Studios. Released for the Xbox video game console on November 9, 2004, the game is the second video game title in the Halo franchise and the sequel to 2001's critically-acclaimed Halo: Combat Evolved. A Windows Vista version of the game was released on May 17, 2007, developed by an internal team at Microsoft Game Studios referred to as "Hired Gun". The game features a new game engine, as well as using the Havok physics engine; added weapons and vehicles, and new multiplayer maps. The player alternatively assumes the roles of the human Master Chief and alien the Arbiter in a 26th century conflict between the human UNSC and genocidal Covenant. Players fight enemies on foot, or with a collection of alien and human vehicles.
After its initial 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 on Xbox Live As of November 2008, Halo 2 is the best-selling first-generation Xbox game with 8.46 million copies sold worldwide, with at least 6.3 million copies sold in the US alone. Critical reception of the game was generally positive, with most publications lauding the strong multiplayer component; at the same time, the campaign was the focus of criticism for its cliffhanger ending.
Halo 2 is a story-driven action-shooter game with a first-person perspective. The game features an expanded range of vehicles, as well as other gameplay changes compared to its predecessor. The original Halo featured separate health and shield bars. In Halo 2, the health bar is no longer visible; instead, the player's shield regenerates quickly when the player is not taking damage.
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 to dislodge and disrupt enemies. A new ability found in Halo 2 is the ability to board enemy vehicles that are near the player and traveling at low speeds. The player or AI latches onto the vehicle and forcibly ejects the other driver from the vehicle.
The game's "Campaign" mode offers options for both single-player and cooperative multiplayer participation. In campaign mode, the player must complete a series of levels that encompass Halo 2's storyline. These levels alternate between the Master Chief and a Covenant Elite called the Arbiter, who occupy diametrically opposed roles in the story's conflict. Aside from variations in storyline, the Arbiter differs from Master Chief only in that his armor lacks a flashlight; instead, it is equipped with a short duration rechargeable form of active camouflage that disappears when the player attacks or takes damage.
There are four levels of difficulty in campaign mode: Easy, Normal, Heroic, and Legendary. An increase in difficulty will result in an increase in the number, rank, health, damage, and accuracy of enemies; a reduction of duration and an increase in recharge time for the Arbiter's active camouflage; a decrease in the player's health and shields; and occasional changes in dialogue.
There is hidden content within the game, including easter eggs, messages, hidden objects, and weapons. The most well-known of the hidden content are the skulls hidden on every level. The skulls, which can be picked up like a weapon, are located in hard-to-reach places. Many are exclusive to the Legendary mode of difficulty. Once activated, each skull has a specific effect on gameplay. For example, the "Sputnik" skull found on the Quarantine Zone level alters the mass of objects in the game; thus resulting in explosions being able to launch these objects across larger distances. Skull effects can be combined to provide various new levels of difficulty and/or novelty.
Unlike its predecessor, Halo 2 allows players to compete with each other via Xbox Live, in addition to support for split-screen and system link multiplayer. Halo 2's multiplayer mode offers changes from earlier online first-person shooters. Traditionally, one player sets his or her computer or console up as a game server or host, specifying the game type, map, and configuring other settings. The game software then uses a service such as GameSpy to advertise the game to the world at large; other players choose which game to join based upon criteria such as the map and game options each host is offering, as well as the ping times they are able to receive. In Halo 2, however, Xbox Live players do not choose to host public games, and they do not specify individual maps and options to search for. Instead, players select playlists that are geared to different styles of play. For fairness and balance reasons, certain gameplay aspects from the campaign mode are disabled or missing in multiplayer; for example, the Fuel Rod weapon is missing from vehicles and maps.
Technical lead designer, Chris Butcher, commented on the development of Halo 2's multiplayer in Edge, a British gaming magazine, in January 2007. Responding to a rash of subsequent news articles, Butcher clarified his position on Halo 2 multiplayer. He noted his original intent with the game, but he also reiterated disappointment. "For Halo 2 we had our sights set very high on networking," Butcher said. "We thought about the great LAN parties you can have with Halo 1 and decided to try [to] recreate that awesome experience of having all your buddies over to play, but using Xbox Live instead of having to lug consoles and televisions around. Going from having no Internet multiplayer to developing a completely new online model was a big challenge to tackle all at once, and as a result we had to leave a lot of things undone in order to meet the ship date commitment that we made to our fans."
|Halo series chronology|
Halo 2 takes place in a futuristic science fiction setting, where humans, under the auspices of the United Nations Space Command or UNSC, have developed faster-than-light slipspace travel and colonized numerous worlds. According to the game's backstory, the outer colony world of Harvest was decimated by a collective of alien races known as the Covenant in 2525. Declaring humanity an affront to their gods, the Forerunners, the Covenant begin to systemically obliterate the humans with their superior technology. After the human bastion at the planet Reach is destroyed, a single ship, The Pillar of Autumn, follows protocol and initiates a random slipspace jump to lead the Covenant away from Earth. The crew discovers a Forerunner ringworld called Halo. Leading a guerilla insurgency on the ring's surface, the humans discover that the rings are weapons of last resort built to contain a terrifying parasite called the Flood. The human super-soldier Master Chief and his AI companion Cortana learn from Halo's AI, 343 Guilty Spark, that activation of the Halos will prevent the spread of the Flood by destroying all sentient life the parasite subsists on in the galaxy. Instead, the Master Chief evades Spark and his robots and detonates the Pillar of Autumns engines, destroying the ring and preventing the escape of the Flood. The Master Chief, Cortana, and a handful of survivors race back to Earth to warn of an impending invasion by Covenant forces.
Taking place shortly after the events of the novel Halo: First Strike, Halo 2 opens with the trial of an Elite commander aboard the Covenant's mobile city of High Charity. The Elite is stripped of his rank and branded a heretic for failing to stop the humans from destroying Halo. It is revealed that the Covenant's interest in Halo lies in the religious belief that the activation of the rings would bring about a "Great Journey", sweeping loyal Covenant to salvation. At the same time as the Elite Commander is tortured by Tartarus, the Chieftain of the Brutes, the Master Chief and Sergeant Avery Johnson are commended for their actions at Halo during a recognition ceremony aboard a coilgun platform orbiting Earth. Lord Hood awards the soldiers alongside Commander Miranda Keyes, who accepts a medal on behalf of her deceased father, Captain Jacob Keyes.
Shortly after the commencement of the ceremony, a Covenant fleet appears outside Earth's defensive perimeter. While the UNSC manages to repel most of the surprisingly small fleet, a single Covenant cruiser carrying an important member of the Covenant hierarchy, the High Prophet of Regret, flies through the orbital platforms to the city of New Mombasa, Kenya. The Master Chief clears the city of Covenant; with his fleet destroyed, Regret makes a hasty slipspace jump, and Keyes, Johnson, Cortana and the Master Chief follow aboard the ship In Amber Clad just as the slipspace rupture destroys much of the city. The crew exits slipspace to discover another Halo installation; realizing the danger the ring presents, the Master Chief is sent to kill Regret while Keyes 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. The Prophets offer him the honored position of Arbiter so that he can continue to fight. On his first mission to kill a heretic, the Arbiter discovers 343 Guilty Spark, who the Covenant view as "oracles". Responding to Regret's distress call, High Charity and the Covenant fleet arrive at the new Halo, Installation 05, but not before Master Chief kills the Prophet. Bombarded from space, the Chief falls into a lake and is rescued by a mysterious tentacled creature.
The death of Regret sows seeds of discord among the races of the Covenant, as the Brutes are given the Elite's traditional job of protecting the Hierarchs. The Arbiter is sent to find Halo's Index and captures Johnson and Keyes before being confronted by Tartarus. The Brute reveals that the Prophets have ordered the annihilation of the Elites, and sends the Arbiter falling down a deep chasm. 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 together. Gravemind sends the Arbiter and Master Chief to different places to stop Halo's activation. The Master Chief is teleported to High Charity, where a civil war has broken out among the Covenant; In Amber Clad crashes into the city, and Cortana realizes that Gravemind used them as a distraction to infest In Amber Clad and spread the Flood. As the parasite overruns the city, the Master Chief follows the Prophet of Truth aboard a Forerunner ship leaving the city; Cortana remains behind to destroy High Charity and Halo if Tartarus succeeds in activating the ring.
The Arbiter is sent to the surface of Halo, where he rallies his allies to assault the Brute's position. 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, Tartarus angrily activates the ring, and a battle ensues. The Arbiter and Johnson manage to kill Tartarus while Keyes removes the Index. Instead of shutting down the ring entirely, the unexpected shutdown of the ring triggers a system-wide failsafe, putting Installation 05 and all the other rings on standby for activation from a remote location, which Guilty Spark refers to as "the Ark". As Truth's ship arrives amidst a raging battle on Earth, Hood asks the Master Chief what he is doing aboard the ship. The Chief replies he is "finishing this fight". In a post-credits scene, Gravemind is seen arriving on High Charity, where Cortana agrees to answer the Flood intelligence's questions.
The story for Halo 2 grew out of all the elements that were not seen in Halo: Combat Evolved. Jason Jones organized his core ideas for the sequel's story and then approached Bungie's director of cinematics, Joseph Staten for input. According to Staten, one scene that did not make it to the finished game was a horrible scene of betrayal where Miranda Keyes straps a bomb to the Master Chief's back and throws him into a hole; "Jason was going through a rather difficult breakup at the time and I think that had something to do with it," he said.
Halo 2 was officially announced in September 2002 with a cinematic trailer. The trailer was subsequently packaged with later Halo: Combat Evolved DVDs. A real-time gameplay video was shown at E3 2003, which was the first actual gameplay seen by the public; it showcased new features such as dual-wielding and improved graphics. Bungie informed the public on development with weekly Halo 2 development updates which started on January 16, 2004 and ended June 25, 2004; the weekly updates became standard on the Bungie website even after the release of Halo 2. With only a year to go until release, Bungie went into the "mother of all crunches" in order to finish the game. The cliffhanger ending of the game was not originally intended, and resulted from the frenzy to ship on time.
Halo 2s soundtrack was composed primarily by Martin O'Donnell and his musical partner Michael Salvatori, the team that had previously composed the critically-acclaimed music of Halo. O'Donnell noted in composing the music for Halo 2 that "Making a sequel is never a simple proposition. You want to make everything that was cool even better, and leave out all the stuff that was weak." O'Donnell made sure that no part of the game would be completely silent, noting "Ambient sound is one of the main ways to immerse people psychologically. A dark room is spooky, but add a creaking floorboard and rats skittering in the walls and it becomes really creepy. " Halo 2, unlike its predecessor, was mixed to take full advantage of Dolby 5.1 Digital surround sound.
In the summer of 2004, Producer Nile Rodgers and O’Donnell decided to release the music from Halo 2 on two separate CDs; the first (Volume One) would contain all the themes present in the game as well as music “inspired" by the game; the second would contain the rest of the music from the game, much of which was incomplete, as the first CD was shipped before the game was released. The first CD was released on November 9, 2004, and featured guitar backing by Steve Vai. Additional tracks included various outside musicians, including Joe Satriani, Incubus, Breaking Benjamin, and Hoobastank. The Halo 2 Original Soundtrack: Volume Two CD, containing the game music organized in suite form, was released on April 25, 2006.
The release of Halo 2 was preceded with numerous promotions, product tie-ins, and movie trailer-like commercials. There was a Halo 2 Celebrity Pre-Release Party at E3 2004, in which a private home was transformed to replicate the world of Halo, complete with camouflaged marines and roaming Cortanas.
In addition to more traditional forms of promotion, Halo 2 was also part of an elaborate Alternate Reality Game project titled "I Love Bees" which cost an estimated one million dollars. This 'game' centered around a hacked website, supposedly a site about beekeeping, where an AI from the future was residing. The project garnered significant attention from sites including Slashdot and Wired News; Wired noted that the game was drawing attention away from the 2004 Presidential Election. The game won an award for creativity at the 5th annual Game Developers Choice Awards and was nominated for a Webby award. On the morning of October 14, 2004, a leak of the French version of the game was posted on the Internet, and circulated widely.
Halo 2 was sold in both a standard and "Limited Collector's Edition". The Collector's Edition features the regular edition and includes several promotional offers, a special cover and a special DVD of the making of Halo 2. The instructional booklet is also written from the Covenant point of view rather than from the UNSC point of view used in the regular edition. Also enclosed is the "Conversations from the Universe" booklet that contains additional information from both the human and the Covenant side of the Halo storyline; transcripts are available online. The game is enclosed in an aluminum case with the Halo 2 logo.
The first official release of Halo 2 was in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States on November 9, 2004. Anticipation for the game was high; three weeks before this release, a record 1.5 million copies had already been pre-ordered. Massive lines formed at midnight releases of the game; the event garnered significant media attention. This was followed by releases on November 10, 2004 in France and other European countries, and November 11 in the UK. The game sold 2.4 million copies and earned up to US$125 million in its first 24 hours on store shelves, thus out-grossing the film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest as the highest grossing release in entertainment history. The game sold 260,000 units in the United Kingdom in its first week, making it the third fastest-selling title of all time in the UK. On June 20, 2006, Xbox.com reported that more than a half-billion games of Halo 2 have been played on Xbox Live since its debut. Halo 2 is the best-selling first-generation Xbox game with 8.46 million copies sold by November 2008. As of September 25, 2007, Halo 2 was the fifth best-selling video game in the United States with 6.3 million copies sold, according to the NPD Group. From the day of its initial release and up until mid-November 2006, Halo 2 was the most popular video game on Xbox Live, even after the release of the Xbox 360; its position was eventually surpassed in 2006 by the 360-exclusive Gears of War. Halo and Halo 2 are still some of the most played games for the Xbox console.
On February 9 2006, Nick Baron announced that a version of Halo 2 would be released on PC, but exclusively for the Windows Vista operating system (though this limitation can be removed from offline play by an unauthorized third party patch). The game was ported by a small team at Microsoft Game Studios (codenamed Hired Gun) who worked closely with Bungie. In addition to current generation Live features not available in the Xbox version, such as guide support and achievements, the windows version adds two exclusive new multiplayer maps, a map editor, improved graphics, and more.
Halo 2 for Windows was originally scheduled for release on May 8, 2007, but the release was pushed back to May 29. This delay was due to the appearance of nudity in the game. Microsoft will be offering patches to remove the nude content and is revising the boxes to reflect this. The nudity was a photograph of a man mooning the camera (presumably a Microsoft or Bungie employee) which appeared as a ".ass" error when using the map editor in Halo 2 for Windows Vista.
Cheating and updates
A common complaint regarding Halo 2's online play was widespread cheating, which began occurring almost immediately after the game's release. Users exploited bugs in the game and vulnerabilities of the network to win ranked games and thus increase their matchmaking rank.
Some players used "standbying" to cheat, in which the player hosting the game intentionally presses the standby button on his or her modem; this results in all players except the cheaters freezing in place. This way, the cheater would be given time to accomplish an objective in the game. "Dummying" involves using an Elite character and a vehicle, exploiting a glitch which would cause a doppelganger of the player to appear. Cheating also includes softmodding, in which a player uses devices such as Action Replay and computer programs to gain unfair advantages, and bridging, which uses computer programs to give a player 'host' status, and therefore the ability to disconnect other players from the game session. A game exploitation called "superbouncing" or "superjumping" is labeled cheating by many in the Xbox Live community, and Bungie employees have described it as cheating when used in Matchmaking. Another exploit called "BXR" allowed players to melee, cancel the animation, and quickly attack for an instant kill; this exploit and many others were removed from the game's sequel.
Bungie released several map packs for Halo 2, both over Xbox Live and on game discs. The Multiplayer Map Pack is an expansion pack intended to make Xbox Live content and updates available to offline players, and was released on July 5, 2005. The disk contains the game's automatic update, all nine new multiplayer maps, a documentary about the making of the maps, and a bonus cinematic called "Another Day on the Beach", amongst other features.
On March 30, 2007, Bungie announced that two new maps would be available on April 17, 2007 for US$4. Bungie's own Frank O'Connor confirmed that both Xbox and Xbox 360 users would have access to the content. The two new maps were remakes of maps from the original Halo: Combat Evolved, "Hang em' High" and "Derelict". Due to issues with distribution of the maps, the updates which made the maps mandatory was released on May 9, 2007, later than planned. Bungie also reset all ranks for Halo 2 at the same time. On July 7, also known as "Bungie Day", Bungie released the map pack called the "Blastacular Map Pack" for free.
Many reviewers praised the audio for being especially vivid. Multiplayer especially was noted in being the best on Xbox Live at the time. Game Informer, along with numerous other publications, rated it higher than Halo: Combat Evolved, citing enhanced multiplayer and less repetitive gameplay, however on one occasion Halo 2 was beaten by its predecessor in IGN's Top 25 Xbox Games of All Time where Halo: Combat Evolved secured #1 with Halo 2 following in #2. Halo 2 received multiple awards, including Best Console game and Best Sound Design from the Interactive Achievement Awards. Most critics noted that Halo 2 stuck with the formula that made its predecessor successful, and was alternatively praised and faulted for this decision. Edge noted in its review, “It's fitting that we're able to steal a line from the script to sum everything up. No spoilers here, just an epitaph, from the moment Cortana turns to Master Chief and says this: ‘It’s not a new plan. But we know it’ll work.' " According to Xbox.com, the game has received more than 38 individual awards. The game's campaign mode has received some criticism for being too short, in addition to some dissatisfaction with the abrupt, cliffhanger ending that sets up the sequel, Halo 3. GameSpot noted that the story switching between the Covenant and Human factions made the plot more intricate, but distracted the player from Earth's survival and the main point of the game. There is also some criticism of the game's on-the-fly streaming and level of detail adjustment, which can sometimes result in textures loading erroneously and "popping in" when the camera changes in cutscenes. Bungie has stated that this issue has been fixed for Halo 3 and the Windows Vista port.
In an interview with Edge magazine in January 2007, Jamie Griesemer, one of Halos design leads, said that the main reason for Halo 2s shortcomings was a lack of "polish" period near the end of the development cycle. Staff member Frank O’Connor admitted the cliffhanger ending was abrupt, noting “we drove off 'Thelma & Louise' style". Nonetheless, in the interview Griesemer promised that they would make Halo 3 a more than worthy successor.
Halo 2 isn't the newest game, but a large number of people still play it. Since so many people play it there is a large glitching community to provide glitches, and also a large group of people to provide glitches for. These two reason are what led me into creating a glitch / exploit sction for Halo 2.
Here is the compilation of Halo 2 Glitches I have added thus far, enjoy...