Lord Krunk Reviews #10: Halo 2


This review is more or less a continuation of my previous review, so you might want to consider reading it first. Mind you, that's just an excuse to get you to read it.
Oh, and please, keep the criticism coming. It's much appreciated.

Lord Krunk's 10th Review: Halo 2

Some time after the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, SPARTAN-117 (better known as the Master Chief) arrives back on Earth for a much deserved rest. However, the world is still at war with the alien Covenant (a religious army of intergalactic conquerors) and the Chief finds himself thrust once more into battle alongside new and familiar allies. However, saving the world changes once more into saving the universe as he makes a shocking discovery, one that will change everything as it did before.
Meanwhile, the Covenant assigns a disgraced admiral with the task of being the Arbiter; a holy warrior assigned to perform deeds of great importance and difficulty. However, when the Master Chief (the man responsible for his disgrace) comes into the equation, can he complete his tasks without getting his hands dirty once more?

Halo 2 is spawn of the popularity of Halo: Combat Evolved, and as a result has received a far larger budget than its predecessor, which shows. The graphics have been toned up severely; the terrible lip-synching of the original is no longer an issue, everything is a lot less blocky and enemies look a lot more awesome, thanks to improved detail. New weapons/vehicles are welcome, along with the usability of previously unusable weapons/vehicles in the original; the Energy Sword (The FPS Lightsaber) and Fuel Rod Cannon are real joys to use, and I'm sure that I'm not the only one that's had fun dropping blue orbs of destruction upon bystanders in a Wraith. Combat has been improved by replacing the rather annoying health bar in the original with a faster-recharging shield, and the new 'Dual Wielding' mechanism for small arms is not unwelcome either; especially in tough and tricky firefights. Showing the events of the game through the eyes of the Covenant was an excellent idea on the part of Bungie; the concept fleshes out the villains quite extensively and shows that they are not so much 'Bad Guys' as they are misinformed Knights Templar; this is mostly evident in the actions and mannerisms of the ape-like Brutes and the 'Prophets'. Alongside this; showing the state of Earth at war was a nice touch, regretfully missing in the original.
Even with all of these major changes to how the game looks and feels; it is also great to know that they have not changed some things, such as the controls. The artistic design of the buildings, vehicles and weaponry continue to impress and strike me with awe at their creativity, especially with regards to future human architecture and the Covenant's spacefaring mushroom cloud of a home.
Halo 2's multiplayer component, however, retains my greatest praise of all for the game. While I have never played the game over Xbox Live, I do know for a fact the fast-paced action and tension of the campaign is abundant; I have spent many an afternoon holding deathmatches with my friends, and Halo 2 has been our 'multiplayer game of choice' for the past 4 years. Of course playing the same damn game for 4 years makes it rather tiresome from time to time, but customizing tools and 'create a game' mechanics allow you to build your own level of fast-paced awesome (my personal favourite is a 'hardcore' mode my friend invented where shields are switched off, making almost everything a 'one hit kill' weapon. This gets the blood boiling furiously, because one false move and you're doomed).

image
Bungie will have to resurrect Dr. Roget if they are ever going to invent a new Covenant vehicle though.

While I retain my praise for the game and its significant improvements, there are still a plenty of disappointments that leave much to be desired. The plot sticks to the same one that the original had, with a few twists and turns. While not so bad in itself, it also disappoints series veterans who had already encountered the twists of the first by not actually giving an air of mystery to Halo any more. Continuity flaws are rife, not only with the sudden, ignored and unexplained change in the Covenant 'Phantom' Dropships (while they look a lot more awesome and are far more more useful on the part of your enemies, they really shouldn't change things so dramatically) but even with the unexplained return of Sergeant Johnson (who got blown up in a hidden cutscene in the original). Vehicles have now lost their health bars, which make for unrealistic gameplay (ignoring the lack of gravity in this game) and the Assault Rifle (probably the trademark weapon of the original) is sadly absent. While the graphics have been significantly upgraded, the only real noticeable differences in your enemies are that they are a lot brighter, The Flood are still just brown blobs, and even Cortana has shed her vibrant multicolours for a dull purple. The music, while at times is still as good as the first in adding atmosphere to the game, has been ruined in several parts; no doubt caused by the inclusion of guitars to a purely orchestral soundtrack (Anyone else remembers the epic battle in the Mausoleum with guitars screeching in the background? Ugh). The voice acting, while improved, still had some strange and unfunny dialogue if you listen carefully; 'Are you made of Leprechauns, because that was awesome' and 'You're a few sandwiches short of a picnic' are both quotes that confused me severely, and The Master Chief's character has changed from a calm badass mediator into a one-liner factory. Finally, the finale was a lot less exciting than the first; while the final battle was epic, the blood-pumping 'Race Against Time' aspect was sadly missing (and would have worked).

image
I don't know how Johnson survived me exploding him colossally, but I'm sure he deserves that medal for it.

Despite all its flaws, Halo 2 is mainly a better-than-decent game, and an even better stand-alone game for people not familiar with the original. Considering that it too is now a bargain bin special at your local shopping centre, I would have to say that you should buy it, especially if you have more than one controller and some willing friends. It's nowhere near the best game in the world, but is still an entertaining and fun game that's well worth the less than $15 you're paying for it.

Lord Krunk:
Continuity flaws are rife, not only with the sudden, ignored and unexplained change in the Covenant 'Phantom' Dropships (while they look a lot more awesome and are far more more useful on the part of your enemies, they really shouldn't change things so dramatically) but even with the unexplained return of Sergeant Johnson (who got blown up in a hidden cutscene in the original).

Have to say that was a decent review, but these points can I just verify something. I know most people only play the games and leave it at that, but the point of the prequel and sequel novels and comics, plus new games such as Halo Wars is to answer questions like these and provide a large backstory (not least explain that the Master Chief, real name John, isn't the only Spartan-II left and that others have survived elsewhere). As for the above questions, the dropships from the first game (known as 'Spirit' dropships) are still used but much less so, notably not in the second and third games. They were replaced by the Phantom class dropship which have better defence capabilities after the loss of a Covenant Ship between Halo 1 and 2 (as noted in the book Halo: First Strike). In addition, the same book explains that Sergeant Johnson along with a small group made up of a Marine, a UNSC Pilot and a spy from the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) managed to escape Halo seperately in a Pelican, meeting up with the Master Chief and Cortana before they were able to leave the Basis system and the debris of the first Halo. Incidentally, they were the ones who stole the Covenant flagship which acts as a catalyst for the replacement of Spirit-class dropships with the Phantoms.

And yes, I am a Halo fanboy, and proud of it :D.

Trivun:
Have to say that was a decent review, but these points can I just verify something. I know most people only play the games and leave it at that, but the point of the prequel and sequel novels and comics, plus new games such as Halo Wars is to answer questions like these and provide a large backstory (not least explain that the Master Chief, real name John, isn't the only Spartan-II left and that others have survived elsewhere). As for the above questions, the dropships from the first game (known as 'Spirit' dropships) are still used but much less so, notably not in the second and third games. They were replaced by the Phantom class dropship which have better defence capabilities after the loss of a Covenant Ship between Halo 1 and 2 (as noted in the book Halo: First Strike). In addition, the same book explains that Sergeant Johnson along with a small group made up of a Marine, a UNSC Pilot and a spy from the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) managed to escape Halo seperately in a Pelican, meeting up with the Master Chief and Cortana before they were able to leave the Basis system and the debris of the first Halo. Incidentally, they were the ones who stole the Covenant flagship which acts as a catalyst for the replacement of Spirit-class dropships with the Phantoms.

And yes, I am a Halo fanboy, and proud of it :D.

Okay, while the books may have explained the 'Phantom' part of the equation (but seriously, I'm not reading the book of the game to get that information), it still doesn't explain Sgt. Johnson's reappearance, when I literally saw him hugging an Elite as the ship right behind him exploded.

Lord Krunk:

Trivun:
Have to say that was a decent review, but these points can I just verify something. I know most people only play the games and leave it at that, but the point of the prequel and sequel novels and comics, plus new games such as Halo Wars is to answer questions like these and provide a large backstory (not least explain that the Master Chief, real name John, isn't the only Spartan-II left and that others have survived elsewhere). As for the above questions, the dropships from the first game (known as 'Spirit' dropships) are still used but much less so, notably not in the second and third games. They were replaced by the Phantom class dropship which have better defence capabilities after the loss of a Covenant Ship between Halo 1 and 2 (as noted in the book Halo: First Strike). In addition, the same book explains that Sergeant Johnson along with a small group made up of a Marine, a UNSC Pilot and a spy from the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) managed to escape Halo seperately in a Pelican, meeting up with the Master Chief and Cortana before they were able to leave the Basis system and the debris of the first Halo. Incidentally, they were the ones who stole the Covenant flagship which acts as a catalyst for the replacement of Spirit-class dropships with the Phantoms.

And yes, I am a Halo fanboy, and proud of it :D.

Okay, while the books may have explained the 'Phantom' part of the equation (but seriously, I'm not reading the book of the game to get that information), it still doesn't explain Sgt. Johnson's reappearance, when I literally saw him hugging an Elite as the ship right behind him exploded.

Simple. It was a spoof cutscene that isn't actually canon, Bungie added it as an Easter Egg for those who completed the game on Legendary difficulty and were patient enough to wait after the credits. It isn't to be taken seriously, and no offence, but I think you are the only person I have ever seen who actually thought that scene was a real part of the ending. However, if you didn't cheat or see it on Youtube, then kudos for completing the game on Legendary (even I haven't managed to do that yet, and I am renowned for FPS skill...)

Trivun:
Simple. It was a spoof cutscene that isn't actually canon, Bungie added it as an Easter Egg for those who completed the game on Legendary difficulty and were patient enough to wait after the credits. It isn't to be taken seriously, and no offence, but I think you are the only person I have ever seen who actually thought that scene was a real part of the ending. However, if you didn't cheat or see it on Youtube, then kudos for completing the game on Legendary (even I haven't managed to do that yet, and I am renowned for FPS skill...)

Thanks. And yes, I finished the game on every difficulty to make the last review.

I don't get why they would make a scene like that and then claim it's non-canon though.

Lord Krunk:

Lord Krunk's 10th Review: Halo 2

Some time after the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, SPARTAN-117 (better known as the Master Chief) arrives back on Earth for a much deserved rest. However, the world is still at war with the alien Covenant (a religious army of intergalactic conquerors), and the Chief finds himself thrust once more into battle alongside new and familiar allies. However, (Second time "However," precedes a sentence.) saving the world changes once more into saving the universe as he makes a shocking discovery, one that will change everything as it did before. (You don't need to preamble your review with Halo's narrative hook.)
Meanwhile, the Covenant assigns a disgraced admiral with the task of being the Arbiter; a holy warrior assigned to perform deeds of great importance and difficulty. However, when the Master Chief (the man responsible for his disgrace) comes into the equation, can he complete his tasks without getting his hands dirty once more? (See above.)

Halo 2 is spawn of the popularity of Halo: Combat Evolved, and as a result has received a far larger budget than its predecessor, which shows. The graphics have been toned up severely; the terrible lip-synching of the original is no longer an issue, everything is a lot less blocky and enemies look a lot more awesome, thanks to improved detail. New weapons/vehicles are welcome, along with the usability of previously unusable weapons/vehicles in the original; the Energy Sword (The FPS Lightsaber) and Fuel Rod Cannon are real joys to use, and I'm sure that I'm not the only one that's had fun dropping blue orbs of destruction upon bystanders in a Wraith. (It's all so wordy. Concision is a staple of reviews.) Combat has been improved by replacing the rather annoying health bar in the original with a faster-recharging shield, and the new 'Dual Wielding' mechanism for small arms is not unwelcome either; (Using passive voice also increases wordiness. Cut out unnecessary language.) especially in tough and tricky firefights. Showing the events of the game through the eyes of the Covenant was an excellent idea on the part of Bungie; the concept fleshes out the villains quite extensively and shows that they are not so much 'Bad Guys' as they are misinformed Knights Templar; this is mostly evident in the actions and mannerisms of the ape-like Brutes and the 'Prophets'. Alongside this; showing the state of Earth at war was a nice touch, regretfully missing in the original. (Use the semi-colon like you would a compound sentence. Several thoughts can be segmented into new sentences.)

Even with all of these major changes to how the game looks and feels; it is also great to know that they have not changed some things, such as the controls. (From this sentence, this paragraph is about controls.) The artistic design of the buildings, vehicles and weaponry continue to impress and strike me with awe at their creativity, especially with regards to future human architecture and the Covenant's spacefaring mushroom cloud of a home. (Then it was about aesthetic and art design.)

Halo 2's multiplayer component, however, retains my greatest praise of all for the game. While I have never played the game over Xbox Live, I do know for a fact the fast-paced action and tension of the campaign is abundant; I have spent many an afternoon holding deathmatches with my friends. and Halo 2 has been our 'multiplayer game of choice' for the past 4 years. Of course Playing the same damn game for 4 years makes it rather tiresome from time to time, but customizing tools and 'create a game' mechanics allow you to build your own level of fast-paced awesome (my personal favourite is a 'hardcore' mode my friend invented where shields are switched off, making almost everything a 'one hit kill' weapon. This gets the blood boiling furiously, because one false move and you're doomed).

http://cache.kotaku.com/assets/resources/2007/01/ghostbusters.jpg
Bungie will have to resurrect Dr. Roget if they are ever going to invent a new Covenant vehicle though.

While I retain my praise for the game and its significant improvements, there are still a plenty of disappointments that leave much to be desired. (Wordy.) The plot sticks to the same one that the original had, with a few twists and turns. While not so bad in itself, it also disappoints series veterans who had already encountered the twists of the first by not actually giving an air of mystery to Halo any more. Continuity flaws are rife, not only with the sudden, ignored and unexplained change in the Covenant 'Phantom' Dropships (while they look a lot more awesome and are far more more useful on the part of your enemies, they really shouldn't change things so dramatically) but even with the unexplained return of Sergeant Johnson (who got blown up in a hidden cutscene in the original). (They actually allude to that in the opening cutscene.) Vehicles have now lost their health bars, which make for unrealistic gameplay (ignoring the lack of gravity in this game) (Actually, vehicles are now destructible. They were not in Halo.) and the Assault Rifle (probably the trademark weapon of the original) is sadly absent. (Forced line break for topic shift.)

While the graphics have been significantly upgraded, the only real noticeable differences in your enemies are that they are a lot brighter, The Flood are still just brown blobs, and even Cortana has shed her vibrant multicolours for a dull purple.

The music, while at times is still as good as the first in adding atmosphere to the game, has been ruined in several parts; no doubt caused by the inclusion of guitars to a purely orchestral soundtrack (Anyone else remembers the epic battle in the Mausoleum with guitars screeching in the background? Ugh). The voice acting, while improved, still had some strange and unfunny dialogue if you listen carefully; 'Are you made of Leprechauns, because that was awesome' and 'You're a few sandwiches short of a picnic' are both quotes that confused me severely, and The Master Chief's character has changed from a calm badass mediator into a one-liner factory. Finally, the finale was a lot less exciting than the first; while the final battle was epic, the blood-pumping 'Race Against Time' aspect was sadly missing (and would have worked). (Didn't you just complain that they recycled plot devices from the first, now you want them?)

http://www.gearlive.com/blogimages/gallery/halo2vista/halo2chief.jpg
I don't know how Johnson survived me exploding him colossally, but I'm sure he deserves that medal for it.

Despite all its flaws, Halo 2 is mainly a better-than-decent game, and an even better stand-alone game for people not familiar with the original. (Never gauge a game on it's prequel.) Considering that it too is now a bargain bin special at your local shopping centre, I would have to say that you should buy it, especially if you have more than one controller and some willing friends. It's nowhere near the best game in the world, but is still an entertaining and fun game that's well worth the less than $15 you're paying for it. (I've found it's still expensive here in America, despite its age.)

Trim the fat in your language. Phrases like "It would be something through which I think the general populous could benefit." is a worse sentence than "The populous could benefit from this." Don't fluff the language, be direct.

A lot of the complaints about the game were personal taste, which was out of place considering the factual praises for the game.

Revise use of the semi-colon. It was far too rampant here.

Consider language flow. The paragraphs were infrequently spaced, many of the sentences were incorrectly merged using the semi-colon, and the thoughts did not transition smoothly. Unnecessary language and passive voice were major contributors to that.

Despite those critiques, it is a good review that needs careful language consideration. The points were primarily well-stated and backed with examples, but often felt needlessly wordy. Good work regardless, Krunk.

NewClassic:

Lord Krunk:
snip
Vehicles have now lost their health bars, which make for unrealistic gameplay (ignoring the lack of gravity in this game) (Actually, vehicles are now destructible. They were not in Halo.)
snip

Trim the fat in your language. Phrases like "It would be something through which I think the general populous could benefit." is a worse sentence than "The populous could benefit from this." Don't fluff the language, be direct.

A lot of the complaints about the game were personal taste, which was out of place considering the factual praises for the game.

Revise use of the semi-colon. It was far too rampant here.

Consider language flow. The paragraphs were infrequently spaced, many of the sentences were incorrectly merged using the semi-colon, and the thoughts did not transition smoothly. Unnecessary language and passive voice were major contributors to that.

Despite those critiques, it is a good review that needs careful language consideration. The points were primarily well-stated and backed with examples, but often felt needlessly wordy. Good work regardless, Krunk.

Once again; thank you for your help. The needless wordiness and semicolons were actually a mechanism I was using to get rid of the disjointedness of the last few reviews and increase flow. Obviously, I need another method.

As for the 'vehicle health bar' bit, I was referring to the fact that Covenant vehicles had them, but the Human vehicles were strangely invincible in the original. In the sequel, they removed health bars completely and replaced them with your shield (however high your shield is is whatever health your vehicle has, which I dislike wholeheartedly).

Anyway, thanks again for your critique, I'll take all of this to account in my next review.

Pretty good review, and I'd agree with most of your points.

As for the Assualt Rifle being missing/replaced my the Battle Rifle, it was my understanding that it was a move by devs to make you use a rifle instead of a pistol. In Halo 1, most players used the pistol more because

a) It had a scope.
b) It was awesome to take down an armour plated, fuel rod carrying, massive fuck off hunter with a handgun.

I remember seeing an interview where the devs explained that it was their initial intention to have the Assualt Rifle as the staple weapon, so in the sequel they modified it to become the Battle Rifle, a hyrbrid of the pistol and the Assault Rifle in the sense that it had a scope, but also came with burst fire capacity.
The SMG was added to fill in for the spots where the Assualt Rifle was previously needed, ie. when you needed a portable bullet hose, the only problem being they fiddled with the accuracy somewhat, to the point where you could empty a clip and hit everything except for what you were aiming at.

You're probably thinking I've thought about this too much, which is true ;), but thats because nerfing the pistol was my main problem (aside from the ending) with Halo 2. The devs entirely misunderstood why players didn't use the Assualt Rifle, the scope was only part of the reason. The bulk of it being that taking on an evil empire of aliens equipped with Energy Swords, Plasma Rifles, Mortar Tanks and automated machines of killing is so much cooler when you're using a single pistol.

Armitage Shanks:
Pretty good review, and I'd agree with most of your points.

As for the Assualt Rifle being missing/replaced my the Battle Rifle, it was my understanding that it was a move by devs to make you use a rifle instead of a pistol. In Halo 1, most players used the pistol more because

a) It had a scope.
b) It was awesome to take down an armour plated, fuel rod carrying, massive fuck off hunter with a handgun.

I remember seeing an interview where the devs explained that it was their initial intention to have the Assualt Rifle as the staple weapon, so in the sequel they modified it to become the Battle Rifle, a hyrbrid of the pistol and the Assault Rifle in the sense that it had a scope, but also came with burst fire capacity.
The SMG was added to fill in for the spots where the Assualt Rifle was previously needed, ie. when you needed a portable bullet hose, the only problem being they fiddled with the accuracy somewhat, to the point where you could empty a clip and hit everything except for what you were aiming at.

You're probably thinking I've thought about this too much, which is true ;), but thats because nerfing the pistol was my main problem (aside from the ending) with Halo 2. The devs entirely misunderstood why players didn't use the Assualt Rifle, the scope was only part of the reason. The bulk of it being that taking on an evil empire of aliens equipped with Energy Swords, Plasma Rifles, Mortar Tanks and automated machines of killing is so much cooler when you're using a single pistol.

I understand, but why would they remove something so damn awesome about the first game (I had the same problem as you), and removed/changed it? I just think that was a pretty unwise move on the part of the devs.

Again, well said. Halo 2 was my least favourite the the series; as you say, it was basically Halo again with some more tacked onto the front and back. Nevertheless, I prefer it to half the other games out there xD And I agree with you about the music; the guitars, while amazing, don't really fit with the monk hymns that Halo is known for. And with Johnson ;P again, backstory. How he survives is explained in First Strike. Apparently Dustin Echoes wasn't the only survivor xD

I loved that Halo 2 tossed the worthless Assault Rifle in favor of a weapon that functions as a sniper rifle, assault rifle and all around awesome weapon. For one thing, you can actually kill Covenant Elites in Halo 2 with the Battle Rifle, which is near impossible in the original Halo. And as mentioned, the Submachine Gun is superior to the Assault Rifle in every way, as it can be dual-wielded with a variety of other weapons. In addition to greater versatility, it is also (I think) more powerful. Really, I only liked the Assault Rifle because of the way it looked. It's just too weak, even against the enemies it's supposed to be good against (like the Flood).

I also really liked hearing the classic Halo chanting/orchestral music fade into a rockin' guitar riff. Maybe it's just personal taste, but the moment early in the game when two Hunters bust through a wall to the wail of electric guitars? That was sweet.

Trivun hit most of the points I was thinking about-- seriously, you thought Sgt. Johnson getting his butt grabbed by an Elite was canon? It's a spot of fun, but you weren't meant to take it seriously, and you're probably the first I've ever seen do so. (No offense meant!)

Don't agree about the Breaking Benjamin music. Go read the lyrics, then play through that scene again. I don't know if they *meant* it to have such a strong and emotional connection to the Arbiter/Sangheili canon, but it definitely had that effect on me. Especially if you contrast "the one to save us all" with what you hear Tartarus say in the background earlier in the level that "fools, their Arbiter can't save them now" and realize that you (as Master Chief) have been fairly expertly manipulated through the whole level into being the means to finish the "Elite problem" on High Charity for the Brutes and Truth. Granted, it's missing a whole lot without the words in there, but they do add something.

No, you don't *have* to read the books, but they make the experience richer. I appreciate Bungie for that, actually. You can play through the games, Halo 3 especially, without needing that extra context, but there's a reward for the fans who have it. (The dialogue Cortana says in the scenes that interrupt the game-- like "it's the coin's fault!"-- doesn't make much sense without the books, but is heartbreakingly sad if you've read them. The info from the terminals is also deeper the more canon you know. Bungie skated a fine line there because they wanted to put it all in, but didn't want to bog the gameplay down too much.)

I can see why they nerfed the pistol and traded out the AR, though. The bloody pistol was so horrendously overpowered that people wouldn't use anything else, leaving the rest of the fairly interesting weapon selection behind (a shame, since there are strong pluses to all of them, but they're just dwarfed by the pistol).

 

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