Halo 2 means a great many things to many different people, and given the impending release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Halo 2: Anniversary, we had to take a look at it for this week's Blast From The Past. For some, Halo 2 was the ultimate home console multiplayer shooter experience, the Xbox Live poster boy that still kicks a sizeable amount of posterior today due to its peerless balance and superb maps. For Bungie it was a chance to flesh out their universe, turning a premise into a fully-fledged canon. For Microsoft it was a triumphant last hurrah that proved their first foray into home consoles was a success.
For me, though, it's something more special. Halo 2 released shortly after the biggest breakup of my life and my parents' divorce, providing the perfect co-op distraction for my sister and I to bond once I'd returned from university. It kept us sane, and it will always have a special place in my heart.
Unfortunately, I also can't deny that Halo 2 has the dubious distinction of being the only mediocre -- perhaps even genuinely bad -- Halo campaign. Having dipped back into the Xbox original to prepare for the Master Chief Collection, I'd like to dissect the inconsistent singleplayer experience to work out exactly why it didn't pass muster... and why that didn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.
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Halo: The Master Chief Collection is out next week, containing all four numbered Halo titles in a single enormous remastered collection. Our full review will be going live soon, but it's now the perfect time to look back at the franchise and remember why we still loved it. For us, it comes down to the levels, thirteen years of unforgettable set pieces, pulse-pounding moments, vehicular shenanigans and the freedom to experiment and improvise with our own strategies. So without further ado: the top ten most legendary Halo levels.
DIShonourable Mentions (nobody's perfect):
Sergeant Johnson knows what the ladies like: grinding treads and awesome tanks. What's not to love? This level starts with a bang as you smash across a Covenant-occupied bridge in a Scorpion, snipe jackals, go on a shotgun rampage ("It's tight quarters on the other side, sir. Use this!"), blow up an entire Covenant task force in a gauss hog and finally leap onto the back of a Scarab to murder its crew.
Halo 2 may be the most inconsistent and unsatisfying campaign in the series, but damn, it has its moments.Click here to read more...
Can we expect to see Halo 2 given the anniversary treatment in the same fashion as it's predecessor? Well, a new report would suggest that's very much on the cards.
It makes sense. If you only have about three franchise cash cows that you own, you've got to milk them for all that they're worth.Click here to read more...
Bungie have called time on their support for Halo stats, releasing a new infographic that shows just how much love and devotion has been pumped into the multiplayer aspects of the games over the years.
"We have followed your careers with great interest here on Bungie.net, and you have gifted us a mountain of heroic moments to memorialize," wrote community manager DeeJ.
"It is with a sense of awe that we step back and admire the impact that you have had on our games, and upon our studio. Thanks for sharing your stories with us."Click here to read more...
With the aftermath to the Lost finale still brewing, we at Dealspwn thought it was a perfect time to remember our favourite, and not so favourite, videogame endings, from the emotional and the exhilarating, to the downright bad and ugly. So put on your nostalgia goggles, and if you spot a game you've been holding off on, I advise you avert your gaze to our lovely list of writers and current competitions!
With the last colossi vanquished, you return to Dormin's lair to claim your reward and resurrect Mono. Only Lord Emon's men stick a sword in your chest, and you're then possessed by Dormin himself, who reveals the sixteen colossi contained all his power, and with each of their deaths, Wander's been storing Dormin's fractured essence, making him the perfect vessel. The Dormin-possessed Wander is ultimately slain by Emon, who casts Wander's sword into a magical pool.
It seems like all is lost, but then Mono awakens from her deathly slumber, and with a somehow still-alive Aggro, she finds a baby infant with horns sprouting from its brow, in the same pool which destroyed Wander and Dormin. Ico anyone?
So not only do you not play the Master Chief in the final level, putting a stop to a rampaging King Kong wannabe wielding Thor's hammer, then, just to tease you, the game switches perspectives to Master Chief, aboard the Prophet of Truth's Forerunner dreadnought, on-route to Earth.
Epic finale? The last clash of swords to decide the victor? Nope. Just a succinct marketing quote and a credits roll. It soon became clear Bungie stumbled a few times during Halo 2's development, and half the game was sheared off, resulting in this jarring ending. But come on? Not even a climactic race to escape the dreadnought and return to Earth? Or a Grunt-suit to sneak around in?
Recent leaked pics indicate that classic Dreamcast hits Crazy Taxi and Sonic Adventure may well be headed to XBLA in the near future- but the latest update is that Jet Set Radio may also be hitting the online marketplace in the near future. A french gamer has taken a screengrab of a JSR demo appearing in his 'Recent Games' tab, though SEGA have yet to confirm or deny this as yet.
SEGA had an extremely strong working relationship with Microsoft back in the last generation, and many displaced SEGA franchises found a new home on the original Xbox (including Panzer Dragoon and the splendid Jet Set Radio Future). As a rabid SEGA fanboy, I'm having trouble containing my excitement- with any luck a new generation of gamers will be able to enjoy the cell-shaded rollerblading masterpiece.
Having said that, this is still just a rumour. Watch this space! [Spirit Pixel FR]
What classic franchises would you like to see on XBLA (and PSN)? Drop us a line in the comments!
Microsoft removed Live support for original Xbox games 10 days ago- but a small group of diehard fans have refused to quit and and are still playing online! According to a post on the Bungie forums, twenty players simply didn't log out on the 15th and have been playing ever since.
Unfortunately, overheating issues are slowly whittling down their numbers. We wish these brave Spartans the best of luck in their final stand. [Bungie]
We recently reported that the PS3 version of Final Fight: Double Impact contained hidden Ubisoft-style DRM, requiring players to maintain a constant internet connection in order to play. Capcom have now apologised for withholding the information on release.
"Typically, the notification for a required PlayStation Network connection appears in the full game description when a game is downloaded from the PlayStation Store. Unfortunately when populating this content this detail was overlooked."
Apparently the inclusion of this DRM was to curtail "PSN Sharing," whereby multiple accounts could share the same game.
Mad Catz have produced a number of third-party Guitar Hero and Rock Band peripherals, but they're now going to be producing the official Rock Band peripherals after signing a multi-year deal with Harmonix. With any luck, they'll be able to improve on the fairly flimsy Rock Band guitars... and include their epic Fender replica peripherals with Rock Band 3.
The agreement grants Mad Catz the rights to create Rock Band controllers "for all future iterations of the franchise - including the forthcoming Rock Band 3." [Gamesindustry.biz]
According to a report by PSU, Sony will be rolling out a new improved graphics chip in future PS3s. This new RSX chip will be smaller, more efficient and cheaper to produce than the current model- meaning that it's better for the environment, lessens the possibility of the dreaded YLOD and will reduce Sony's loss from each PS3 sale. [PSU via VG247]