Random Rambling: Halo 2

I’ve been meaning to write up my thoughts on Halo 2 for a
while now, but it’s been hard since I’m not completely sure what they
are. So, here are a bunch of random, sparsely-connected paragraphs of
rambling and ranting.

I got Halo 2 the day after it came out (so I got it
11/10/2004, I think.) I’ve been playing it off and on since then. I
figured I was near the end, and I hadn’t played the campaign in a few
weeks, so I figured I’d try to beat it today.

Last week at ’s party, gave us our Christmas present: The Halo
Trilogy
. I finished reading The Fall of Reach (the
prequel to Halo), and I’m working on The Flood (the
story of Halo) before getting to First Strike (the
story between Halo and Halo 2).

I liked Halo much better than Halo 2.

In Halo 2, you spend half the time as a Covenant. You keep
on switching back and forth between being the Master Chief we all know
and love and being this strange Covenant alien. It was… really
weird. I didn’t like playing the bad guy. I mean, if we had made peace
with the Covenant and we were now friends, then it might have been
okay to keep on switching perspectives. But the Humans and the
Covenant really never became friends; they just realized that they had
to work together and did so begrudgingly. I’m not completely sure why,
but I really didn’t like that I had to play as a Covenant for part of
the game. (Jessi suggested that maybe if you could play from each
side’s perspective all the way through the plot line, so you didn’t
keep on switching back and forth, it might work better. Maybe, but I’m
not all that pleased that RTS games nowadays let you pick which side
to be on for the campaign either. Maybe I like there being
well-defined protagonist sides per story. I’m really not sure.)

The plot was rather confusing. Maybe part of that was attributed to
me playing through it over a long stretch of time, but I was quite
confused about what plot events were happening during the climatic
final battles and cut-scenes. The fact that the voice-overs explaining
the plot occur during the heat of battle doesn’t really help either,
although the original Halo had that issue as well. I don’t
remember much of what happened in the Halo 2 story before
that, but I remember it being confusing, too. I think I might have to
play through the whole game another time or two in order to get it,
and yet I’m not sure that the plot is compelling enough that I’d want
to.

I played the game today for about 20 or 30 minutes, went through a
few interesting battles, got a cut scene, and then to my complete
surprise the credits started scrolling. There wasn’t much closure, and
due to the confusing plot, I’m not completely certain what
exactly happened at the end there.

Microsoft continues to want you to get Xbox Live in order to play
over the Internet. While I could understand them wanting a fee in
order to host a matchmaking server, I ought to be able to type in an
IP address and connect directly when I already know who I want to
play. Luckily, programs like XBConnect exist to trick the Xbox
into thinking that a far-away computer is on the local LAN, but such
tricks shouldn’t be needed.

The multiplayer levels are in general much bigger, I think.
Microsoft expects the common multiplayer use case to be 16 players
over Xbox live. While that does allow for more levels with vehicles
(and vehicles are cool), it’s tough to find good levels for 2–4 people
(although I haven’t explored the levels systematically yet).

In The Fall of Reach, we learn just how morally bankrupt
the UNSC is. They abducted 6-year-old children, cloned them, returned
the clones to the parents, and conscripted the originals into the
military to super-train them, put them through risky enhancement
surgery (which many of them don’t survive), and then go have
them kill civilians on “rebel” outposts before having them go save
Earth from the invading Covenant. (And I wonder if those “rebels” were
like the rebels from Star Wars, where they were really the good guys.)
It’s not really the Earth that I want to fight to save.

There’s a lot more ranting and complaining there than I thought
would be there when I started. Halo 2 has the mechanics of a
good game (and multiplayer is I think better in general), but the plot
and details to me just aren’t as nice as the original Halo
where Bungie just got all the details right.

I think I may go play some original Halo now.

1 thought on “Random Rambling: Halo 2

  1. Maybe I like there being well-defined protagonist sides per story. I’m really not sure.

    The days of clear-cut good and evil are over. Long live moral relativism and its variants. ;-)

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