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First Person Shooters (Games) XBox (Games) Technology

Review: Halo 2 And The MagicBox XFPS 283

Posted by Zonk
from the i-am-indeed-a-fan-of-bees dept.
The original Halo was a seminal moment in console gaming. The intuitive controls and memorable gameplay of Halo's multiplayer component still makes it a gaming favorite when it comes to LAN gaming. The sequel builds on the successes of the original game with new features (such as dual weapons) and Xbox Live integration. Some minor graphical glitches and a somewhat weak plot keep this from being the best game evar, but Halo 2 is an extremely enjoyable console shooting experience. Read on for my impressions of Master Chief's return, and a look at an Xbox Peripheral that allows you to use your keyboard and mouse with Xbox shooters.
  • Title: Halo 2
  • Developer: Bungie Studios
  • Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
  • System: Xbox
  • Reviewer: Zonk
  • Score: 8/10

I have a confession to make. Two months ago, I was one of *those* guys. You know them. The hoity-toity PC people who swill champagne with one hand while manipulating their mouse with the other, saying "A First-Person Shooter without ze mouselook and WASD? I think not, my dear fellow. Fetch me zome more escargot." I'm a big man, though. I can admit when I'm wrong. And Halo 2 has not only proven to me that First-Person Shooters on a console can be fun, they can be handled by those of us who are used to mousing for teh win.

* While I had no expectations when I first loaded Halo 2, that wasn't the case for a lot of people. The hype factor was enormous. The success of the first game and its role as a base of support for Xbox sales meant that there were a lot of frothing fans waiting for the second game's release day. A viral marketing campaign spearheaded by the Alternate Reality Game ILoveBees primed gamers for the release with tantalizing portions of the storyline. TechTV showed images of hundreds of screaming fans at the Halo 2 launch party held inside the Time Square Toys R' Us, and ran an entire day of programming based on the game. Was it all worth it? Kinda. If your expectations were centered around the multiplayer portion of the game you have a lot to celebrate, but some of the weaknesses of the first Halo's campaign are back again like a monkey on Bungie's back.

Campaign good news first, though. Bungie has taken everything enjoyable about Halo 2 and polished it until it shone. The speed and pace of the game is very enjoyable, with new game elements and locations being thrown at you as quickly as you can handle them. The AI in the game is a cut above, with enemy troops making intelligent decisions that keep you from getting lulled into a rut. Your companions, just meat filled shields in so many games, are just as on the ball as the enemy. They use tactics and firepower to overcome enemy positions, the distractions and destruction you cause allowing them to get in some good shots of their own. The storytelling is improved over the first game as well, with the campaign splitting off to allow you the opportunity to play as a disgraced Covenant warrior. The new gameplay elements and control scheme are explained in enough detail so that someone who went through the first game, as well as a new player, will have little problem getting into the action. Voice acting during the cinematics is very good, with the characters throughout the game being brought to life by a cast that obviously cared. The cinematics in general did a good job of moving the story of the game forward.

* That said, there are some frustrating moments in the campaign as well. Much like Halo 2's contemporary Half-Life 2, the story of this second game feels very much like a waypoint in a larger journey. Unlike Half-Life 2, which gives you at least a modicum of closure, the story of Halo 2 ends very abruptly. Additionally while I applaud the move beyond the human frame of reference in the overall plot, the change in venue muddies the waters somewhat as regards overall cohesive storytelling. On a technical level I witnessed a lot of textures popping into view during cinematics, jarring me from enjoying them as much as I might have otherwise. The AI, which could almost convince you of a human-like mind in a ground battle, has a lot of problems when piloting a vehicle. I found myself crushed to death more than once when trusting the driver's seat to a team-mate. The most frustrating single-player experience for me, however, happened when I accidentally wandered outside of the gamespace as envisioned by the Bungie developers. Some missions were obviously meant to be traversed by a vehicle and were tedious to walk through. Annoyance with NPC drivers led me to ditch a Warthog during one of these levels, only to turn back when I realized I could be walking for quite a while. Unlike the Half-Life 2 vehicle sequences, these mid-mission vehicle changes could have been better tuned.

* These frustrations didn't stop me from enjoying the relatively quick single player campaign, though. They also whet my appetite for Halo's true calling: multiplayer. The Xbox Live enabled multiplayer experience in Halo 2 is nothing short of brilliant. After logging in via your Live ID, all you need to do is pick a game type. The game's matching software hooks you into a game with other appropriately skilled players based on your previous multiplayer accomplishments. The actual gameplay has a very different tenor than traditional PC FPS gaming. Where PC gaming can allow for dead-eye marksmanship and long-range dogfighting, console FPS games are down and dirty affairs. The levels are more closed in by necessity and design. Bungie's care to the placement and composition of weapons and level components leads to a frenetic pace. The game kindly provides you with several metrics and your average lifespan is one of them. It's usually very low.

Beyond straight up deathmatch there are a multitude of gameplay options available. Capture the Flag and Team Deathmatch allow for collaborative battles, while a type of "football" (using a skull) allows for more traditional team play. You can also create your own games, for local play or online action. There are several specific settings that can be tweaked, allowing for specific weapon choices and available maps. On top of the quality of the gameplay experience, thanks to Bungie's extra consideration your exploits are not transitory. By signing up for a Passport ID and linking it with your Xbox Live ID, you can view your statistics from your multiplayer battles. These stats are made available via a personalized RSS feed, as well, allowing you bragging rights via your web site or aggregator of choice.

* Halo 2 may not be the best game made in 2004, but there is no question that Bungie's skill and attention to detail has crafted a worthy successor to the original game, and via the Live service introduced a fantastic substitute for more traditional LAN gaming. If you enjoy action gaming and you own an Xbox, there is simply no excuse for you not to own Halo 2.

  • Product Name: MagicBox XFPS
  • Developer: Farmer Entertainment
  • Score: 6/10

A peripheral for the Xbox console, the XFPS fulfills the "why didn't I think of that" niche for console-based shooters. The small box allows you to plug a PS2 mouse and keyboard in, and then use them in place of a controller.

The device is simple to use, and setup involves taking off the packaging and plugging the peripheral into the controller port. The mouse and keyboard slot into standard PS2 ports on the front of the box. All other controls for the device are via the keyboard. The device directly maps the buttons on the Xbox controller to keyboard buttons and mouse movements. Which buttons on the keyboard the controller buttons map to are chosen by selecting F9, F10, or F11 on the keyboard. Which interface is currently in use is indicated by a light on the Magicbox itself. The "Blue Light" (F9) interface, for example, matches the controller. The X controller button maps to the X keyboard button. The "Red Light" (F11) interface seems more designed to take advantage of the keyboard layout, with the buttons grouped around the WASD keys.

* The mapped keys work quite well. The mouse (at least for me) improved my control and accuracy while shooting. I made several shots in multiplayer games that I know I couldn't normally make with the controller. The autoaim that Halo 2 allows combines with the precise cone of movement that a mouse has to give you enhanced accuracy. The "cone of movement" part of that is the most important consideration to make when using the XFPS.

Unfortunately, while the mouse allows for increased accuracy it only allows you that accuracy as long as you don't have to turn. The problem is that mouse sensitivity is quite low, likely because of how the XFPS is mapping the thumbstick movements. In order to turn I found myself whipping the mouse across the mousepad repeatedly. The other players, able to turn with the simple angling of a thumbstick, schooled me. Halo 2 and other console based FPS titles are simply too spastic for the XFPS to be all that useful. PC titles may allow for distant fights, but the up close and personal fighting style required in console FPS games don't allow an XFPS user to move with enough agility to be a skilled player.

In addition to agility issues, actually using the XFPS can be something of a chore. The keyboard/mouse setup essentially demands a wide and flat surface along with an upright seat, not a setup you normally have in front of a television. One of the joys of console FPS gaming is the spontaneity with which you can indulge in quick fragging, and having to drag out a chair and rig specifically for the XFPS seems frustrating. There's also the issue that the XFPS is simply not a peripheral you can use for any other type of game, meaning if you want to switch games relatively often you'll be plugging and unplugging the thing just as frequently.

While the XFPS is a good idea, the lack of mouse sensitivity and necessity of setting up a rig specifically to use the peripheral makes it a device whose potential outstrips its usefulness.

Halo 2 screenshots are from Halo2.com and Bungie.net ©2004 Microsoft Games Studio and Bungie. Magicbox XFPS image is from Magicxfps.com, ©2005 Farmer Entertainment.

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Review: Halo 2 And The MagicBox XFPS

Comments Filter:
  • Old? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tulmad (25666) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:17PM (#11737445)
    Why are we reviewing a game that's been out since before Thanksgiving?
    • Re:Old? (Score:3, Funny)

      by gowen (141411)
      Well, because the reviewer is also the person who posted the story. And he filled it with his oh-so-hilarious French Person impersonation.

      Fetch an ambulance, my sides have split.
      • Re:Old? (Score:4, Informative)

        by PhotoBoy (684898) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:55PM (#11737805)
        That and the reviewer uses nearly 50% of the review to pimp the XFPS, which is clearly a rip-off of the SmartJoy FRAG. Paid advertising masquerading as a game review perhaps?
        • Re:Old? (Score:3, Funny)

          by barc0001 (173002)
          Paid advertising masquerading as a game review perhaps?

          So saying it's not so great, and has at least one dealbreaker flaw (for me) is pimping? By that standard, pretty much any review must be whoring for products, so we should stop reading reviews completely and just go back to buying shit based on the packaging and hoping it works out for the best.
        • Re:Old? (Score:3, Informative)

          by Chiron Taltos (694030)
          I rather doubt it's paid advertising. I base that on the review summation ...

          While the XFPS is a good idea, the lack of mouse sensitivity and necessity of setting up a rig specifically to use the peripheral makes it a device whose potential outstrips its usefulness.

          Looks to be just an honest review. I don't think there should be an onus on reviews that don't occur at the time of release. Sometimes I find later reviews to be less biased, both for and against, and more informative because they are removed

    • Re:Old? (Score:3, Funny)

      by Rei (128717)
      Because people wanted to know if it was the best game evar, of course. Apparently you don't reed slashdot oftne.
      • Re:Old? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mboverload (657893)
        Best game ever? I still cant get over the 70 degree Field of view. I grew up in Tribes with a hacked 120 degree view, all these new games (Halo, Halflife 2, Halo 2) just don't do it for me. You have to continually look around to figure out the surroundings. Considering that humans have a field of view of around 170 degrees, many games seems terribly "looking through a small box".
        • Re:Old? (Score:4, Funny)

          by zeath (624023) on Monday February 21, 2005 @03:11PM (#11737955) Homepage
          many games seems terribly "looking through a small box"

          That's because you are. Add a second and third monitor and then you'll be able to start pretending otherwise.
        • Half-Life 2's Widescreen solves this quite nicely, at least on my triple 19" TFTs :D

          Seriously though, I agree with you. 70 is too small, but unless you have monitors you can curve around you (i.e. 2, ideally 3 or more) then it just causes weird vision when it moves too quickly round the edges as you spin.

          Not to say it doesn't have advantages in being able to paste hackers in CS when they think you can't see them.
        • by Rei (128717)
          Could be worse. Have you ever played Magic Carpet? They had many display modes, one of which was a stereogram mode. That is, to say, you have to play the game with your eyes crossed.

          After that, having to deal with only a 70 degree FOV doesn't seem that bad. :)
        • I'm fairly certain that they designed it for 16x9. I don't know if they cut the top, or expand the edge, to make it 16x9, but either way it looks "better" that way.
        • Re:Old? (Score:2, Insightful)

          As much as it bugs me too, look at the freaking character. Huge helmet with big-ass visor. Field of vision should be less than optimal (though I would argue that -100 degrees is WAY too small).
        • Hmmm...

          UT2004 defaults to 90 FOV. You can easily change that in the game options without needing to hack anything. And if you grew up on Tribes, I'd suggest giving U2XMP or its WIP port UTXMP (http://www.free-monkey.com) if you're interested.
    • Re:Old? (Score:5, Funny)

      by PopeAlien (164869) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:23PM (#11737510) Homepage Journal
      You young people move too fast, its always rush rush rush. Why when I was a kid we didn't have these fancy-pants first person games.
      We had huge blocky pixels and we liked it.
      And a game stayed new for years and it only cost a quarter.

      now where did I put my teeth? has anyone seen my wooden teeth?
      • Re:Old? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mboverload (657893)
        Maybe this is a joke, but I get your gist.

        Graphics be damned, I want a good game. I like the old-skool games better because you are not bothered by visuals or low FPS.

        • Re:Old? (Score:3, Informative)

          by i.r.id10t (595143)
          Even better is old school on fast new hardware. I broke out my original Quake cd last week, and with fuhquake I'm now playing in conditions I wish I had when Quake/QW was the Thing To Play. 1280x1024 in GL at over 100fps on dsl with sub-100 pings.
    • Re:Old? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Auckerman (223266)
      This isn't a review of Halo, it's a advertisement for the XFPS. Bait and switch.
      • by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@corne[ ]edu ['ll.' in gap]> on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:55PM (#11737808) Homepage
        The general conclusion of the reviewer was, "nice concept, doesn't work that well in Halo because mouse sensitivity is way too low."

        In short, hardcore keyboard-and-mousers like myself will still hate it. I crank my mouse sensitivity WAY up in FPS games.
      • Re:Old? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by swv3752 (187722)
        Pretty poor ad then. When the review boils down to: Good Idea, Poor implementation
      • Too bad the review says it sucks compared to a PC.

        I was actualy considering buying a console until I found out that games don't support plugging the mouse and keyboard.

        Considering that, it's useless for real FPSs
      • Re:Old? (Score:5, Funny)

        by ChaosDiscord (4913) on Monday February 21, 2005 @03:48PM (#11738263) Homepage Journal
        ...it's a advertisement for the XFPS. If this is an advertisement, Slashdot needs further work. When most gaming sites suck up to an advertiser, they say things like "10/10!!!!1!!1one! Perfect in every possible way!" They don't tend to say things like "6/10" (pretty mediocre by most standards) and "...the up close and personal fighting style required in console FPS games don't allow an XFPS user to move with enough agility to be a skilled player."
    • ' Why are we reviewing a game that's been out since before Thanksgiving?"

      Because SOME company (not naming any names) has a good PR department.

  • dotdotdot (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rylin (688457) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:17PM (#11737448)
    Karma-be-damned, why the FUCK is this on slashdot?

    Next up, slashvertisement for the Phantom? For bellybutton-fluff?
  • ads.slashdot.org (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:18PM (#11737462)
    Hello! I'm a non-paid ad for a product that shiped last year, and a keyboard adapter hiding as news!
    • With all the misspellings, grammar mistakes, and general idiotic tone of this review, this looked more like a posting on a kiddie xbox fanboy forum than a slashvertisement. I can accept the occasional "evar". I can even tolerate the fact that it comes from the department of using the word extremely in an extremely redundant fashion department. But a review that contains the ever-so-insightful rhetorical answer "kinda"? That's just absurd. This thing sounds like it was written by a fourteen year old, mo
  • In the realm of console FPSes, Goldeneye(N64) > Everything else. and Halo = Suckage
  • by Xaviar21 (790883) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:19PM (#11737467)
    I mean jeeze.. These reviews come out so fast, now a days.. How are the reviewers supposed to get a good feel for the game in so short a time?
  • review? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Fr05t (69968) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:19PM (#11737468)
    Doesn't a review of Halo 2 seem a bit, er no make that very redundant? Seriously who hasn't at the very least seen this game being played? This is like doing a review of packing tape, a new device called a 'mouse', or a chair.

    • Re:review? (Score:3, Informative)

      by temojen (678985)
      I haven't seen it played. Of course I don't care either. I just came t this thread to read the complaints about it being a blatant advertizement.
    • by tepples (727027)

      Doesn't a review of Halo 2 seem a bit, er no make that very redundant?

      Damn right. I had Halo 2 [wikipedia.org] back in 1989.

  • Sensitivity (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tom7 (102298) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:19PM (#11737469) Homepage Journal
    Halo 2 has sensitivity settings. Did you try that? (!)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:33PM (#11737611)
      Halo 2 has sensitivity settings. Did you try that? (!)

      Yes, you can jack the sensitivity up, in which case all your weapons fire bunny slippers and you apologize profusely for disturbing your enemies. After a point you start feeling so guilty that instead of killing them, you try to get them all over to your place to watch "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" while sharing some Doritos and salsa and sing "Ebony and Ivory".
      • I turned that on by accident once. I had to sit through Arbiter singing kumbaya for five minutes before I figured out what happened. But at least Bungie motion-captured all the hand movements that go with the song...
  • by grimsweep (578372) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:20PM (#11737478)
    No offense to the author, but given how much of the level architecture is repeated in the single player, I think I'd mention it has memorizable gameplay, too...
    • Obligatory:

      this [penny-arcade.com] and this [img43.exs.cx]

      (Note: the second is from a gamespy.com grudge (poll) but apparently gamespy's scrapped the archive; at least there were only links for the last few grudges and I didn't see a way to access older ones

  • by CleverNickedName (644160) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:20PM (#11737482) Journal
    For a full review of "Pong" and an exclusive preview of "Pac-Man".
  • What happened to that annoying spherical talking robot? Can't remember what he was called. At the end of the Halo credits you see him spinning around, so I guess he survived.

    Is he back in Halo 2?
  • Review (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SafteyMan (860733) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:21PM (#11737492)
    Well, the Halo2 Review adds nothing we haven't known for months (It came out in the begining of November for crying out loud) but the review of the MagicBox XFPS was good. I was considering purchasing one. I heard it beats a controller for sniping.
  • Seminal uh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:22PM (#11737502)
    The original Halo was a seminal moment in console gaming.

    Given that "seminal" has another meaning [freesearch.co.uk], I wonder if Zonk means Halo 2 is a game to drop your pants and jerk off about...
  • by kerrle (810808) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:23PM (#11737504) Journal
    I'll flat out admit that the game has quite an interesting story - I beat Halo 1 and I've put a few hours into Halo 2.

    But revolutionary? Not at all. The controls are pretty much identical to any number of other console FPS's, and the graphics, while certainly decent, aren't as good as any modern PC shooter - or even quite a few other XBox and Gamecube games - even if we're talking about Halo 2.

    I'm not saying it's not a good game series, but I do fail to see what it brought to market that hadn't been done before.

    All I can figure is that enough people hadn't seen multiplayer in that style on a console, so it felt new.

    It is a decent game series - one with a great story - but it doesn't come anywhere near deserving of the acclaim it seems to get. Obviously just my opinion, of course...

    • Don't forget that Halo 1 was an Xbox launch title. Most of the console FPSes with identical controls and better graphics came out after it did.
      • Plenty came out first - dual analog for FPS has been around since just a little after the PS1 got Dual Shock.

        Even before that, you had games like Turok on the N64, which used the analog stick for look, and the four arrow buttons for movement - a very similar result, really. Heck, even the N64 version of Quake was pretty playable - the joystick substituted for mouselook, and the arrow buttons became WASD. Circle-strafing and all worked fine - or at least as well as Halo.

        As far as graphics go - well, I ju

      • ah bullcrap. theyre all just little attempts to try and replicate 'the goldeneye effect' (note: they cant)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I've played Socom II online for some time now, it's a PS2 game for those that don't know. I didn't have an XBox so I had never played Halo. But, last year the hype machine kicked into high gear about Halo 2 and I fell for it.

      This past Christmas I bought an XBox and got Halo 2. The graphics of the XBox/Halo2were nicer than the PS2/Socom II, smoother and more detailed. I really expected this as Halo 2 was brand new and the PS2/Socom II combination are now several years old. But the game play of Halo 2 was wa
      • by Laur (673497) on Monday February 21, 2005 @04:03PM (#11738414)
        Then there was the whole vulnerability factor. Halo 2 allowed you to charge into enemy fire taking masive hits one after the other with little or no effect on your life. This doesn't offer much appeal or challenge for me. It's almost like playing with a God cheat. I know some lamers get off on that type of play but, that really doesn't thrill me.

        Play on Legendary. You have less life than your marine buddies and the enemies fire much more rapidly and more accurately. I guarantee the "charge into enemy fire" technique will get you killed very fast on this difficulty.

      • I don't have much love for Halo 2, but Socom 2 is awful. Buying a nic and headset for the ps2 is about the same price as buying a live starter kit anyway.

        Since you have an xbox now, get Stranger's Wrath. No multiplayer, but loads of fun and a great story.
    • Halo2 is popular for several reasons, and I say this as an XBox gamer who has been on XBox Live since the beginning. This is important to know because I've been in hundreds of chats online with gamers who are veterans of Counterstrike and plenty of gamers who play multiple platforms.

      1. Halo2 has got some of the largest environments of any FPS, and they are very intricate and well balanced for online play.

      2. Spawn killing is practically impossible.

      3. There are huge numbers of modes of play, all of which a
  • The day Halo 2 lauched (in Quebec) there was a news article on it. They even had interviews with some Quebec developers working in the states on Halo 2. This was the first time I ever heard a video game make the news on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation).

    Why did Microsoft's game make the news? Usually a game doesn't.

    Could the new marketing be information dressed up as important news? The only oustanding thing about Halo 2 is the amount of cash they spent on marketing the game. Otherwise it's a

  • Best Game (Score:2, Funny)

    by say__10 (768448)
    "....from being the best game evar" I agree it is not the best game EVAR also. Not sure what "evar" is but who am I to complain.
  • Excuses (Score:5, Funny)

    by Omniscientist (806841) <matt AT badecho DOT com> on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:34PM (#11737617) Homepage
    If you enjoy action gaming and you own an Xbox, there is simply no excuse for you not to own Halo 2.

    Yes there is. It's called debt.

    • If you enjoy action gaming and you own an Xbox, there is simply no excuse for you not to own Halo 2.

      Yes there is. It's called debt.

      Maybe some of us don't like killing and shooting and being killed and shooting and getting shot at ad nauseum. Some of us are so much spending time driving cars around in circles [xbox.com] and smashing into things, that we have no game time left for Halo....and the expense of HALO is too much for me credit card to bear.

  • by dioscaido (541037) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:38PM (#11737654)
    Did that end up being any good?
  • Was not revolutionary, In terms of looks it was somewhere between Quake1 and 2, In terms of multiplayer it was somewhere around Quake1 with badly balanced weapons.

    I haven't played Halo2 yet, but I got bored of Halo1 very quickly, I don't think I will find anything in it that compares even remotely with Doom3, Half Life 2.
  • I don't get it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by idlake (850372) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:54PM (#11737801)
    I just don't get the fascination with Halo/Halo 2. Compared to games like HalfLife, Unreal, Quake 1-3, or Doom 1-3, Halo to me seemed like a rather "corporate" effort: the Halos were competently implemented and offered pretty good game play, but ultimately, I didn't find them as entertaining.

    I found the single player campaigns in the Halos particularly dull (I didn't even bother finishing the one in Halo 2). Halo and Halo 2 seems at its best in multiplayer mode, where I think it offers a fairly user-friendly multiplayer FPS.

    Of course, maybe I could just relate better to Gordon Freeman, nerd that he is, than to whatever the guy in Halo was called. Still, Half Life didn't take itself too seriously and was funny at times, yet also creepy and entertaining, and I didn't find much of that in Halo.
    • I just don't get the fascination with Halo/Halo 2. Compared to games like HalfLife, Unreal, Quake 1-3, or Doom 1-3, Halo to me seemed like a rather "corporate" effort: the Halos were competently implemented and offered pretty good game play, but ultimately, I didn't find them as entertaining.

      I agree completely. But the convenience and universality of Halo makes up for this. I love Q1, Q3A and Doom2 to death, but how many of my friends can I convince to play them? Not that many. There's a learning curv

    • The reason I like the Halos is testosterone. Master Chief is just so much bigger of a charachter than some scientist who doesn't talk and has a crowbar. Want to teach a n00b some manners? Three ways: crowbar to the head (not in hl2dm, so can't even do it), knife in the belly (counter-strike), or bash to the back of the head from an eight-foot-tall guy with a 1000 pound suit of armor.

      There is a reason that CS players say w00t and Halo players say BOOYAH
  • by sbma44 (694130) on Monday February 21, 2005 @03:04PM (#11737891)
    Okay, it's got attractive graphics and great networking capabilities. But in many ways, Halo 2 is far behind the times.

    The level design varies wildly -- Zanzibar's a work of art, but too many levels feature a single all-important weapon or kill zone, control of which determines the entire game. Architectural features are frequently annoying: it's very easy to get stuck on tiny decorative filligrees while strafing backward in a furious firefight. Spawn points frequently throw the player into useless back corners of the level, and spawns and teleports can result in unpredictable viewing angles so that it becomes difficult to quickly orient one's self. The "destructible environments" are a joke: shoving around barrels does not equal a lifelike simulation. They just get underfoot.

    The control configuration is lousy -- why can I not bind my own custom setup in this day and age? Some of us continue to hate Microsoft/Sony's awkward thumbstick button setup, and all too often in an intense firefight I end up zooming in or crouching because I'm holding the controller too tightly. There's also no good reason why varying horizontal and vertical sensitivity isn't offered.

    The weapons are frequently small and hard to identify, and the radius in which they can be picked up means you can't see a weapon as you try to pick it up. Find a rocket launcher in a pile of SMGs? Good luck not getting punched to death as you try to sort through the mess. Similarly, allowing unloaded weapons to be dropped and picked up creates a hazard to anyone who's trying to grab a last-second advantage in a firefight.

    The multiplayer on XBox Live is great, but I'm pretty sick of the stupid game variants. I appreciate that Bungie is proud of a flexible multiplayer system, and that some people like playing King of the Hill or Oddball or whatever other variants they might like. Not me, though. I like playing Deathmatch, and I enjoy competing seriously for my ranking. So why am I forced to play "Phantom Crazy King" and other ridiculous nonsense? These gametypes have nothing to do with deathmatch. It's like signing up for a bridge tournament and being told the semifinal round will consist of a game of Parcheesi.

    Weapon balance in much improved over the first game, but as I mentioned, it's too frequently the case that the first person to get a lucky run with the sword ends up pulling ahead by ten and closing out the game. Finally, the air-vent system on levels like Foundation is abysmal. I realize they're trying not to rip off Q3A/ROTT (although they do anyway -- there are jump pads elsewhere), but the air current effect prevents players from jumping down from some areas.

    It's this weird insistence on realism that's the game's biggest problem. Is a one-punch shot in the back realistic? Is the ability to fall infinite distances? To jump over your opponents' head? To teleport? No. Halo is an arcade-style shooter, and that's the way I like it. So why insist on making the dreary, tiny gun models lie on the ground? Why the drab, boring textures (Colossus, anyone?)? Why is there a two-weapon limit?

    Everyone plays it, so I will, too -- it's the only real option for an arcade FPS experience on the consoles. I like being able to sit down at a friend-of-a-friend's house and play. I don't want to have to drop hundreds of dollars on new videocards all the damn time, and I don't want to have to convince my friends to learn the mouse and keyboard, then stick with it until they're competitive. Halo is the standard.

    But it could easily be better.
    • there's the matter of the variable respawn times. For those of you unaware: every item can respawn in a different amount of time on every map. Bungie did this to let them fine-tune the map's balance, but it removes (or makes less accessible, at least) the very highest level of FPS play: when you get good enough, every sound on a map tells you where the other guy is and what he's doing, and you know where the action is about to be based on when each item is going to respawn. Changing those times from map
  • Halo 2 = teh suck
    Ghost Recon 2 = teh hotness
  • That's like cheating, no? You practically guaranteed to win with a mouse compared to a joystick. Seriously. If I knew anyone who used one of these, I would seriously kick their ass. It's just not right.

    If you really wanna play an FPS on your TV with a keyboard and mouse, check out Quake 3 for the Dreamcast, or hook your computer up to your TV via S-Video.
  • SmartJoy FRAG (Score:3, Interesting)

    by realmolo (574068) on Monday February 21, 2005 @03:33PM (#11738139)
    I just got a keyboard/mouse adapter for my Xbox this past weekend, and I'm pretty disappointed in how well it works with Halo2. And Halo, for that matter.

    It's just not smooth enough or fast enough. The mouse movement is jerky. Not jerky enough to be unplayable, but enough to make it a pain in the ass. And, yes, you can't turn fast enough. If you try to "whip" the mouse, like you do in a PC game, you just end up turning *really* slowly.

    From what I've read, some games work better with the adapter than others. Supposedly, Unreal Championship works perfectly. But nobody plays that game on the Xbox. Ah well.

    I was hoping to show my Halo-loving friends how and FPS is *really* played, but they still kicked my ass. I need to get them playing Unreal Tournament or something on the PC, so I can redeem myself. Besides, Halo and Halo2 are pretty lame FPS games. Good for a console, pretty mediocre in general.

  • by ChaosDiscord (4913) on Monday February 21, 2005 @03:52PM (#11738292) Homepage Journal
    I see a lot of people whining that the review took too long. Really, what's the freakin' rush? Slashdot could join the "Must Publish First" race other sites do, but frankly, the other sites have years of experience at it. The game is still on store shelves, lots of people haven't purchased it. Games aren't like movies, if you wait a year it will still be available and just as good (or bad). The bargin hunters are still waiting for used copies to show up in resale shops or discounts in a year or two. I'm a reasonably serious gamer (buying a dozen or so games a year, beating most of them), and I don't find a few month lag to be a problem.

    If you want your reviews moments after official release, try other review sites, you already know where they are. For those of us who often wait to purchase games we're happy to get good reviews whenever we can.

  • The original Halo was a seminal moment in console gaming. The intuitive controls ...

    Bullshit. Obviously someone never played Turok. In 1997.
  • by Troll'N (809458)
    I would have rather had a review on the Online screwups that are going on right now on halo2 xbox live. aside from playing the same busted ass maps over and over again... the game is rampent with glitches and cheats that are being exploited day in and day out. while it is not bungie's fault that the world is full of cheating 10 year olds, it is there fault for not taking steps to ensure that obvious cheats like pressing the standbye button on a cable modem and lagging everybody out are not being programati
  • A difference between Halo 1 and 2 that frustrates me is the interaction with tanks in a map like Blood Gulch/Coagulation.

    In Halo 1, we had a custom multiplayer mode called Slaughter that gave everyone infinite grenades and found that it really balanced out the tanks in a free-for-all. Also, it was possible to snipe tank-users.

    In Halo 2, it's just too easy to get on a killing spree with a tank. The projectiles of so many weapons just bounce off a tank or wraith. It might be more realistic, but it's not ver
  • ... to type in text? For instance, can I use it to type in a Gamer Tag, or to enter my information when I want to create a new account? This review (or any other review I've found) doesn't appear to address that issue. My guess is that the answer is no.
  • by TheGax (572856) <jeff@meyer.gmail@com> on Monday February 21, 2005 @04:29PM (#11738688) Homepage
    You mean that it is actually possible to connect a computer keyboard and mouse to this specialized x86 computer via it's oddly shaped USB ports? No way!
  • I love the people on here complaining how this is unpaid advertisement...where are you guys when they have Slashdot does a book review? How is this any different? Because it has to do with gaming it is a shameless plug...but hey, review books all you want..that is TOTALLY different.
  • by StikyPad (445176) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:54PM (#11739824) Homepage
    A First-Person Shooter without ze mouselook and WASD? I think not, my dear fellow. Fetch me zome more escargot.

    Congratulations on mixing accents and phrases while at the same time retaining absolutely zero consistancy with your phonetic letter replacement scheme.
  • Zork III (Score:3, Funny)

    by popo (107611) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:55PM (#11739831) Homepage
    If anyone enjoyed the first two Zorks, I'd like to recommend the third installment in the trilogy. It doesn't have the extensive maps of the first two games, but the text descriptions are far more lush and many key questions about the history of the Great Underground Empire are finally answered.

    Also, if you're sporting the Color Graphics Adapter (CGA) on your PC, descriptive text, dialogue text and user entered text are all color coded for ease of use!

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