Saturday, November 13, 2004

HALO 2: No, Seriously

Okay, Bungie. I'm on to you.

You may have fooled millions into thinking that you just released the shiniest shit ever to grace the pot, but I know better. You made a pretty good game, but c'mon, admit it: You know this game could have been better.

I'm not going to bash Halo 2, because even though no one will see this, I have to be real and say that I enjoy the game to a certain extent. Some of the scenarios are great, with plenty of wide-open gameplay and action. Just, man, some of the parts of this game are like asking for Transformers for Christmas and getting GoBots instead. It just ain't right.

I know you can do better, because the hype has led me to believe that you're an inhumanly awesome developer, and not just simply brilliant like most others. Because Microsoft's hype engine had everyone thinking this would be the best game ever, you have some responsibility to make sure it rates in the 90th percentile, at least.

It's just not that good, Bungie. It's a 90% at best. Parts of it *cough*Arbiter*cough* drag it down to well below that score.

Your biggest problem is that you truly believe that repetition is good enough. You think that the gamers don't deserve better than the SPOILER. The SPOILER were cool once, Bungie, but now they're annoying little bastards that are ridiculously hard to shoot, not because they're challenging, but because WE'RE USING A GODDAMN ANALOG JOYSTICK.

Your levels are filled with interesting action and things going on, but the levels themselves have roughly the detail of Rise of the Triad. Remember that game? You could dual-wield weapons in that, too. Now I'm supposed to be a member of an advanced race of aliens, and I'm running around in what looks like a shanty-town-gone-metropolis, with cardboard walls and a stupid elevator with holes in the floor so I can fall to my death.

Hey, Bungie. Remember the last time reloading because you fell through a hole in the floor during a firefight was fun? Neither do I.

You shorted the levels, which was cool, because there are usually some good things happening to distract us from how crappy the levels look. You did great things with the vehicles, making them actually fun to use and viable targets of jackitude. Using the human weapons feels great, even if the alien weapons make me feel like I'm shooting toothpaste at the cavity creeps. You present organic areas where gamers can approach problem solving in whatever way they see best. But we were told this game would rock our socks clean off, and all it did in the end was crumple them a bit toward our ankles.

Now, I know there are tons of people who disagree. Some people believe that Halo 2 is the greatest thing since Jesus, because it is the sequel to Halo 1. For the original Halo, you showed us that a mediocre shooter for PC could be the best shooter ever on a console. You innovated, by making the controller work for an FPS. For Halo 2, though, you sat on your arrogant laurels and gave us more of the same, almost literally. You spent years to make an add-on pack.

When Fable didn't live up to its hype, Molyneux came out and apologized, not for failing to deliver, but for making such lofty promises. I don't want such an apology from you (and, indeed, it wasn't needed from Molyneux, either), but Bungie, you're no damn Molyneux. Molyneux has ambition and produced something new and different, if not as new or different as he'd promised. Halo 2 is exactly Halo, and that's good enough for some people, but it's not good enough for us all.

So yeah. You can't fool me, Bungie. I bought your game, but I'm not making love to it.

If you need me, I'll be off playing The Bard's Tale and wondering who in my town will have Vampire: Bloodlines first.