Halo 2: The Disappointment

December 10, 2004

[author]Snowcone[/author][i]The piece you are about to read was originally posted as a [url=http://www.snackbar-games.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7796]rant in our forums[/url]. I had our editor, Lactose, clean it up and get it ready for us to post with the author’s permission. While many of us see Halo 2 as a great game, far too many people are disappointed with it and I felt FabledGerm’s thoughts expressed this sentiment pretty well. I am personally happy with Halo 2, but it sure hasn’t gripped me like the original and while I don’t expressly agree with all of FabledGerm’s points I believe that many of you will relate to at least some of the issues he brings to light.[/i]

Here is [i]Halo 2[/i]. Of course, we thought it would be [i]Halo[/i] to the extreme-new maps, online play, tournaments, and so forth-but that it certainly wouldn’t lose the great, unique feel of the best game ever made. So like many of you, I watched every [i]Halo 2[/i] video that I could get my hands on; I followed the game daily and waited impatiently. [i]Halo[/i] was such a big part of my life that it almost cost me my girlfriend numerous times. When [i]Halo 2[/i] was leaked a few weeks before release, I didn’t pirate a copy. Now the 9th finally arrived, and after four hours in line I got my copy and drove home. My first reaction to [i]Halo 2[/i] was one of hope that it would be a fun game. I loved the additions, but I couldn’t help but notice the very different feel. At first, I thought it would simply take some getting used to, but eventually I faced the facts: it wasn’t [i]Halo[/i].

[i]Halo: CE[/] was skill-based, accuracy-based, teamwork- and strategy-based-everything that made the game so great seemed to be lacking in the anticipated sequel. No longer did it matter who was the better shot, but rather who could dual wield the quickest and who could crouch while moving. I felt myself having to noob myself down to using vehicles and cheap tactics in order to keep up with online play, basically taking what made [i]Halo[/i] a skillful game out of the picture. I realized Bungie had listened to many people and decided to make the game different to appeal to new players and players of other FPS games rather than appealing to the diehard gamers who worked so hard to promote the game we loved. In other words, I wasn’t just disappointed and let down, I was hurt by what they had done. From the cliffhanger ending down to the new engine the game ran on, everything seemed like it was exactly what Microsoft wanted in order to get more people on XBox Live.

I began to see great players (who once swore off vehicle use and noob tactics) begin to pick these things up in order to keep up with the vehicle/dual wielding-dominated world of XBox Live. With each passing day, I became more and more upset with the game, until finally I took it out of my XBox. For the first time since I had owned my Box, a version of [i]Halo[/i] was not in the disk drive. Despite the fact that I win most of the games on [i]Halo 2[/i], it just doesn’t feel like [i]Halo[/i]. The fact that making sure you can dual wield is more important than accuracy and strafing isn’t just wrong-it’s a blow to every great [i]Halo[/i] player who dedicated their time to the game.

[i]Halo[/i] was a game I could play for 10 straight hours and not get the least bit tired; me, along with other original [i]Halo[/i] elites, can barely stand 10 straight minutes of [i]Halo 2[/i]. The games were noobed down, the engine, everything. Bungie put in things to counter this but watered them down in order to please Microsoft and make the game have more of an appeal to less dedicated players. With the removal of the pistol, it was supposed to open the game up to more of a wide range of weapons. Now all I see is close-range battles or sniper battles, with sniping being so easy that it’s comparable to the beginning levels of Splinter Cell. No longer is accuracy or skill of the essence, but rather who can go grab a weapon of mass noobtasity. The sword, which is easily 10 times more overpowered than the pistol, is the weapon everyone rushes to get. Bungie, in their attempt to balance the game and give it more of an overall appeal, removed everything that I feel made [i]Halo[/i] great. Strategy, timing, and skill with weapons take a backseat to spawning near a better weapon. Tell me, gamers, how is this skill?

On XBC, beating some trash-talking players on their host was a sign of dominance, something to be proud of, but with [i]Halo 2[/i] there is nothing to look forward to. There is an elaborate ranking system with some of the best [i]Halo[/i] players near the top. Why are they there? They are there because they know what it takes to win, so they do it just to prove they are better. They refuse to let some noobs take their spot, while deep down most of them literally hate everything about the game. The Ogres are at the top, and they have said a million times they’d give anything to have [i]Halo[/i] back and would love it if [i]Halo 2[/i] would have never been made. A key example can be seen atop the team skirmish rankings-a guy who came to MLG in Atlanta and got four kills in a FFA in the first round is at the top now. This guy was terrible, but since the game fits his [i]Unreal Tournament[/i] style more than [i]Halo[/i] style, he’s a top player.

Not all is lost. Maybe deep down there is hope, and maybe deep down Bungie cares as much about the truly dedicated players who poured their life into [i]Halo[/i] than they let on. I know this world is about money, and Bungie obviously knew that as well. They made a game for noobs so more copies would be bought; they listened to Microsoft to get their cut of the XBox Live bills; they did it to get richer; and as a result, they lost what they did to make [i]Halo[/i] great.

Bungie, I know you’re out there, and you know thousands of hardcore [i]Halo[/i] players are nothing but disappointed and disgusted. So why not listen to us since we gave so much to a game you made? Why not listen to us when we put faith in your company, only to be slaughtered by the outcome? Why not a [i]Halo 1.5[/i]? Why not bring back the original? XBox Live, a few maps, and a few weapons? Why not give us back the system and tournament style we all loved? We don’t care if the thousands of noobs on XBox Live don’t buy it. We will play it, and it will regain our faith in your company. So many players are canceling their XBL subscriptions on the 9th, the day the two months are up-I know that I am if nothing is resolved. If it’s about money, this is a surefire way you can make more without dedicating months to a new game. It’s called expansion on what was already a great game. It’s called giving thousands of players at least a little bit of what they waited two years on and didn’t get from [i]Halo 2[/i].

I’m sorry if this offended any of you, but you probably don’t see it like I do, and like many others do. You played [i]Halo[/i] on LANs and waited on [i]Halo 2[/i], and we dedicated a big part of our lives to the game on XBC and tournaments, only to have that time ripped away by [i]Halo 2[/i]. [i]Halo 2[/i] is a mix of [i]Unreal Tournament[/i] and [i]Halo[/i], with 75 percent going to the UT side. If you don’t believe me, then go play the games-you’ll see quickly. Accuracy is lost, spraying is now the way. If you don’t believe that [i]Halo[/i] requires more skill and strategy than [i]Halo 2[/i], then that is your opinion, but the obvious is just that: obvious. Many people love the game because it fits them; it allows new players to be good while giving very little experience to the great [i]Halo[/i] players. It makes the vehicle and AR noobs in [i]Halo[/i] much better, while taking away from the elite snipers and dead-eye pistol shooters. Surely many of you love that about the game, but what about the rest of us, Bungie? You know, the ones who promoted your game, the ones who dedicated more time and money to [i]Halo[/i] than anyone else. The true fans. Bungie, what about us?