Halo 2: First Look (Personally)

Last night we played a while at the office a good many rounds of Halo 2. We were hoping for more people, but the six we had was a good number to readjust to the new game.

I bought a new, Logitech wireless controller for the festivities. It worked out very well all evening with no complaints from the operator. In fact, many times I forgot that I was wireless and remained relatively motionless as if I were tethered.

None of us had played Halo in many moons, so we were all a little rusty getting started. The controls felt jerky and it was difficult to keep a bead on anybody at first. This eventually diminished and folks were able to snipe would-be assailants in mid-air. Getting acquainted with new weapons is always fun. I think most continued to go for the old favorites (e.g. rocket launcher, sniper rifle, shotgun). The sword did become a new favorite quickly, but I didn’t figure out how to kill people with it quickly enough. For those that don’t know, lock-on the recticle at close range and press your right trigger. There are other moves too with this saber, but they’re less effective (though fun anyway). The new vehicles were a blast too. Having Banshees (or whatever they’re called now) was good fun. It’s got a few tricks up its sleeve, but mowing over people Warthog-style is still awesome. To that, side-swiping people with the vehicles is slightly less effective. You can’t automatically kill people now by touching them with a moving vehicle. You really have to slam into them, which is more realistic anyway. It’s good for the *hit*, not for the *hitter*. I was never able to commandeer anyone’s vehicle, though I tried to my demise on the tanks. The covenant vehicles are pretty neat, though generally not as good as a good Scorpion. Incidentally, the heat-seeking rocket launchers are deadly to vehicles. No longer is a tank (or whatever) a threat to rocket-wielders. Of course, back in my days, we had to aim!

The only real disappointments were in the *life* system. You don’t get health packs any longer because there is no health. You used to be able to whittle someone down a few bars at a time. Now they have a chance of healing. It also seems they’ve monkeyed with the sniper rifle. It may be less effective, or I’m just not as good with it as I once was. You can still get head-shots, however. The new maps and terrain system are a mixed blessing. They’re detailed and big, but the shear size of some of them limits your ability to find the enemy if you have fewer than eight people. The hilly terrain is also more difficult to maneuver vehicles and personnel on. You can’t get nice long, straight-shot angles on people. You’re almost always confronted with some sort of hill that deflects your shot. That’s especially noticeable if you send a rocket up a sharp hill to (hopefully) hit the guy running over it. More often than not, you just blow yourself up.

All in all, the game was very satisfying. They left enough original material in to allow Halo players to get right into this one. They also added a good bit of changes to keep you interested and lend greater diversity to battle tactics. In Halo, the guys I played with all had a favorite weapon and style that got a little boring. I’m hoping that this one will provide a longer life of artistic mutilations.

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