December 08, 2004

halo 2: disappointment sets in

One month since launch, we're feeling pretty let down by Halo 2.

The release of Halo 2 was hugely anticipated around fredshouse, and like every other gamer on the planet we were chomping at the bit for months. We scanned the web for news and screenshots, did the I love bees thing, downloaded the mocked up levels for Halo PC, the whole deal. We were an enthusiastic part of that $100 million first day.

Now that we've been playing it for a month I have to say that it's a very good game in most respects, but with a couple of stark flaws that really hurt.

One: Lots of folks have said it, but the cliff-hanger ending of Campaign mode is a big rip-off. The Halo 2 storyline is okay, but it's not good enough to support such an abrupt, faux-dramatic ending. We just don't care enough about these characters and their situation. So when we hit that ending, we went through the stages in standard order. Shock: "What??? Where's the rest of the game?" Denial: "Ah, the game must continue in heroic or legendary mode." Anger: "What #&*$@?! product manager at Microsoft thought it would be a good idea to torque us up for the next sequel? What a freaking brilliant crock of shit." Bargaining: "Maybe if we sent them a petition...they might release Halo 2.5 in the spring!" Finally acceptance: "Fine, sequels always suck. Let's watch TV."

Two: The online game isn't as good as Halo PC on the Net. This is my kid's specialty, not mine. He says the levels are boring, and the social interaction
isn't good. But most importantly, it's a closed world. No modding tools, no running your own game server, no hilarious texture maps, no movie capture. The cool thing about Halo PC was that it stretched you, forced you to build skills and understand the underlying game structure, made you want to learn 3D modelling, texture creation, movie editing, team development. Halo 2 on Xbox live does a pretty good job of facilitating gameplay, but as far as we're concerned they are missing a huge part of what made the Halo experience compelling. So maybe Bungie will get around to a moddable PC version next year, but by then it could well be too late. (Or maybe we'll modchip our xbox, wonder if that voids the warranty ;-)

Anyway, we're feeling kind of sad about Halo 2.

Posted by Gene at December 8, 2004 10:22 PM | TrackBack

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