Monday, November 1, 2010

The Best Halo Game

I called Halo 2, the best of all the Halo games. I took a quick look at other reviewers rating the Halo games and discovered the usual complaints. So let me address them and then go over why Halo 2 is the best of the series.

1. The Complaints.

a. Complaint One: The game ends with a cliffhanger. Well, this is act two of a three act play. There's nothing wrong with having an ending that's going to lead you to act three. There are many who believe that Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is the best of all the Star Wars movies. And that film ended with a major plot point unresolved, the fate of Han Solo.

b. Complaint Two: You finish the game not playing the Master Chief. Yes, you don't play the Master Chief in the last level. But come on, you do play the last level. You still get to wield awesome guns. And as the Covenant Arbiter, you get a short burst of invisibility. It's still fun. A player should not be so human centric.

2. Why Halo 2 is the best of all the Halo games.

First, like all Halo games there's wonderful multiplayer. Halo 2 is the first of the series to introduce online multiplayer. And it was done with a console, introducing console players to online multiplayer.

Second, the gameplay retained the superb gun mechanics of the first game while improving other facets of gameplay. While driving the Warthog could still be difficult, driving other vehicles was made easier. The Banshee allowed altitude control via jet boosts thereby increasing flight accuracy. You could now double wield certain guns. Improvements in gameplay demonstrates that Bungie who made the game was listening to the complaints with the first Halo game.

Level design in the campaign mode has improved. Unlike the first Halo game, levels are different. I won't say the game is easy but of all the Halo games, the player always has a chance of surviving a level. There are less opportunities for cheap deaths. Combat is a blast. And Bungie improved the tank mechanics so it's now fun to blow things up.

The story is more complex. That's a good thing. Instead of just shooting a generic bad guy, the aliens in the Covenant, you get detail of your adversary. This is where I argue that Halo 2 like other good science fiction makes points through metaphor. When you play as the Arbiter, the Elite warrior, you gain insight into opponent's society. You may feel tolerance. Obviously the writers were delivering a message about religious fundamentalism and the blindness that can lead to disastrous results. Halo 2, Mass Effect and Half Life are pushing the envelope of storytelling in video games. It's no longer rescue the princess.

I've had the most fun playing Halo 2 than all the other Halo games. The story is compelling. The gameplay is sublime. That's why I rate it an A+.

Here's the short trailer for the game, where the sultry A.I. Cortana says "I bet you can't stick it." Cool. Oh, I forgot one more thing. Cortana looks the best in Halo 2. She's absolutely beautiful.

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