“Sir, finishing this fight”. The ship hurtled towards Earth as the Chief held on, bracing for impact. The Prophet of Truth and his men were on humanity’s doorstep. The fight had finally come to this point.
These final words, this final scene, rang through my fourteen year-old brain after countless hours of mashing the B button to melee, shooting up every Covenant convoy unfortunate enough to cross my path and following a story so riveting I couldn’t take my eyes off of the screen. Halo 2 was the game that revolutionized gaming in the online sphere and in my life for a number of well thought out reasons.
First and foremost, Halo 2 was the first M-rated game I was allowed to play. The day my mother allowed me to wrap my hands around that lime green box, my views on gaming changed forever. This was a game I’d heard about for ages and had only played sparingly at friends’ houses. In the boots of Master Chief Spartan 117, though, I had the power to save worlds and it was in the Xbox, my system. The entire narrative of the game, the arc of the Chief along with the Arbiter and the USNC sending out dozens of ships on a galactic war front, tantalized me in a way no other game had. Co-oping for hours with friends added to the experience. Ridiculous scenarios, hilarious moments and witnessing the story together was something, as friends, equatable to a trip to Disney World. We loved every second of it. Better yet was the competitive mode, and this is where the real meat of the story is located.
Playing versus mode against friends for hours every day for two years straight makes you good at what you’re playing, right? My friend invited me to my first Xbox Live match ever. We played juggernaut and I was the juggernaut for all of three seconds when two rockets and a battle rifle shot tore me apart. Two games were all I could last before I pushed the controller away and called it a night. As bad as my first experience was, Halo 2 revolutionized FPS online shooters, especially for the console.
There had been plenty of online shooters before then, but the PC is where they resided. With the new Xbox system and the flagship title Halo: Combat Evolved, the fast-paced epic narrative and all co-op play of the modern FPS was streamlined. Halo 2 took it to the next level with matches you could play against people around the world. It wasn’t just neighborhood boy Steve playing with you anymore, it could be people from Russia, Canada, South Africa, or anywhere else you could think of. This opened up a community of gamers that could make guilds, have championships, and play intense Spartan-crunching matches that no other game could touch. The level that Halo 2 took its online seemed untouchable. Even offline versus-mode was widely played, with the internet putting out more and more video content. At the time there were dozens of Halo 2 mods or insane stunt videos. Others had tried before but with the combination of a sci-fi shooter, online voice chat, parties and huge big team battle capabilities, but Halo 2 made Xbox Live the premier service. Let’s be honest, as well: hearing the announcer yell: SLAYER before every match got us going.
Halo 2 was a fantastic game in and of itself. It improved the first title, Halo: Combat Evolved, which made the shooter what it is now. Halo 2 was a sequel that upgraded so much that it’s only fault was it was too ambitious. The game was supposed to have so much more, but it didn’t have to space to do it. Halo 2 was the only Halo game with boss fights, though, and it pulled it off; That’s quite an impressive feat.
Halo 2 was a game that changed online play with better multiplayer, and it gave you the ability to play with friends like never before. My own experience was always one of awe and wonder, no matter how many times I played through the game. Even though the servers have been shut down, if you never experienced Halo 2 yet, you need to play it. Soon.