At a glance...

Previewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Release Date Screenshots
Joss Manger Xbox Microsoft Bungie 1-4 (Split screen), 2-16 (System Link, Live) 11th November 2004 Here

GSL: Halo 2 preview

Being one of the lucky few thousand that have actually played Halo 2, I can happily report that no fan of the original will be disappointed.

Even the little I played showed a diverse, exciting experience where players are allowed to do anything they want provided they are within a clearly defined set of rules, much like halo, except faster, and with a much longer list of possibilities.

However, for consistency purposes, some aspects have changed. The Needler for example - a cult weapon in the original, due to its ineffectiveness - has been given a well earned upgrade. The Marine Pistol hasn't been on show, but has apparently been downgraded in favour of its wonderful 'replacement' the rifle which features delicious three round burst with every pull of the trigger (non automatic), or single shots when zoomed. The Assault Rifle has been replaced by the almost identical, if smaller, SMG which along with some other weapons can be dual-wielded allowing you to exchange accuracy for firepower. The Covenant Energy Sword (the one that annoyingly self destructed in Halo) is now available to useÖ. Itís gonna rock.

Vehicles have also changed slightly, both in handling and under the hood. The Ghost has a new feature, the boost, allowing you to travel at high speed in a straight line. Sound like cheating? Maybe. However, this makes it a great deal more likely that you are going to crash, being briefly unable to steer is going to add another dimension to the tactics of using the ghost. The Warthog, like all vehicles, can be destroyed, seriously busted up, thus affecting handling. But it also sports a new weapon and a new horn!

The final version will see the ability to play as either Human Spartan cybernetic soldiers or Covenant ElitesÖ Both are evenly matched.

Whilst savouring this wonderful gift, a measly 5 minute play on what is possibly going to be the game of 2004 (albeit late) I began to understand exactly how the new game would operate. All of the new features, whilst amazing everyone, might have frightened some people into thinking that nowhere would be safe from new fangled elements that are going to ensure that the time between respawning and another death is ever shorter. This, thankfully isnít the case; Bungie has resized elements in the game to make the new features fit more fairly with the original features that made Halo so good.

I can't vouch for the coveted single player campaign, but the multiplayer of Halo 2 is bigger and better, and you should pre-order now to avoid disappointment, because everyone will be wanting copies come November 11, and no one need miss out; everyone needs to play this game.

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