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Overview

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Halo 2 is a sci-fi first-person shooter developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft for the Xbox on November 9, 2004.

The second game in the original Halo trilogy and the sequel to Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 continues the story of the SPARTAN-II super-soldier Master Chief as Earth is invaded by the alien Covenant forces. During the campaign, players switch between Master Chief and the Arbiter: a disgraced Covenant Sangheili commander given a chance to redeem himself by the High Prophets (the game’s main antagonists). Both stories intertwine as they fight to prevent the activation of another Halo ring: Installation 05.

The game adds a variety of new gameplay mechanics, such as the ability to dual wield small weapons (allowing players to wield any combination of pistols and light rifles, both Human and Covenant, and to fire them separately at the cost of not being able to throw grenades), destructible vehicles, the ability to “board” enemy vehicles (stealing some vehicles and destroying others), a new health/shield system (in which players have stronger energy shields that is faster to replenish, at the cost of a smaller hidden regenerating health buffer), and playable Elites (each with their own appearance and HUD). The game also introduces new enemies (the Brutes, large ape-like beasts) and a variety of weaponry (such as the BR55 Battle Rifle, the Particle Beam Rifle, the M7 Submachine Gun, the Covenant Carbine, and a wieldable Energy Sword).

Crazy Spartan multiplayer fun, now on Xbox Live!
Crazy Spartan multiplayer fun, now on Xbox Live!

Halo 2 is also the first in the franchise to support Xbox Live online multiplayer for up to 16 players. It is also the first game to implement the concept of matchmaking sessions (known as “optimatch”), in which player “parties” (groups of players) consolidate into individual self-hosted games based on the chosen “playlist” (predefined groups of maps and game types, such as four-on-four Slayer games and free-for-all objective games). The game also includes player ranking (which can be influenced by special ranked playlists), in-game clan support, and downloadable map packs. All Xbox Live support for this game was discontinued on April 15, 2010.

The game was ported to the PC by an internal Microsoft team (dubbed “Hired Gun”) and published on May 31, 2007. It was one of the first games to support the Games For Windows – Live service (adding Xbox Live features such as Xbox gamertag support, voice chat, messaging, achievements, and an overlay interface), the only game to support their “Tray and Play” feature (which allows players to start playing the campaign while the game is installing), and featured some exclusive content (including two new multiplayer maps and the official map editor). All Games For Windows – Live support for this game was discontinued on September 2015.

This game was backwards compatible with the Xbox 360 and later received an enhanced remake (as “Halo 2: Anniversary”) on November 11, 2014 as part of the Xbox One compilation Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Along with enhanced graphics and audio, this version includes the ability to “quick switch” between the classic and remastered graphics, online co-operative multiplayer, and new CGI cutscenes. Multiplayer is played in either the original gameplay engine (with all maps included, including all map packs and the PC-exclusive maps) or a new enhanced engine (with remakes of six of the original game’s maps).

Gameplay

Multiplayer and dual-wielding in action.
Multiplayer and dual-wielding in action.

Halo 2 has a lot of updates over Halo: Combat Evolved. Under the new system, once shields have been depleted, the player can only take a few hits until death, but once shields recharge, health resets. This is explained through the new Mark VI suit, which injects bio-foam directly into the wearer’s wounds. Active Camo has been removed as an item. Instead, the Arbiter has a rechargeable version of Camo, instead of a flashlight like the Chief. Another new addition is dual wielding certain weapons, including the pistol, the new SMG, the needler, the plasma pistol, and the plasma rifle. When dual wielding, weapons take longer to reload and the ability to throw grenades is taken out. Another newly added mechanic is the ability to board enemy vehicles when they are near the player and travelling at low speeds.

The most noticeable change in the weapons is the absence of the iconic assault rifle. It is replaced by the new battle rifle; a three shot burst weapon with a 2x scope. The Covenant equivalent of the battle rifle is the carbine; a semi-automatic weapon that also has a 2x scope (the carbine uses ammo instead of battery power). In addition to the battle rifle and carbine, there is now the SMG (a small compact fully automatic weapon), a new pistol with no scope, the brute shot (Covenant grenade launcher), a brute plasma rifle (which fires faster than the regular plasma rifle), an improved rocket launcher (which locks onto enemy vehicles), and the energy sword (which can now be used by the player).

Weapons

Compared to Halo: Combat Evolved, there have been some noticeable changes in the arsenals of both Human and Covenant forces. The MA5-series Assault Rifle has been absent, replaced by both the M7 Submachine Gun and BR55 Battle Rifle. The M6D Magnum has also been replaced by the weaker M6C Magnum. The Covenant now have new tools in their disposal: the semi-automatic Covenant Carbine, the long-ranged Particle Beam Rifle, the Brute Plasma Rifle, and the explosive Brute Shot. Players can now carry the Fuel Rod Gun and Energy Sword into combat, as well as equip the mysterious Sentinel Beam.

Human Weapons

  • Magnum – A semi-automatic handgun useful for short-to-medium ranged combat. Unlike the sidearm used in the game’s predecessor, however, this handgun is highly inaccurate at long ranges and does not deal much damage (but can be dual-wielded and has a higher rate-of-fire). Each clip contains 12 rounds and players can carry up to 48 rounds per Magnum. Formally known as the “M6C Personal Defense Weapon System”.
  • Submachine Gun – A fully-automatic submachine gun useful for suppression and close-ranged combat. The replacement for the previous game’s Assault Rifle, it can be dual-wielded, has a high rate-of-fire, and features a high magazine size, but deals low damage per shot, is very inaccurate, and has uncontrollable recoil. Each clip contains 60 rounds and players can carry up to 180 rounds per Submachine Gun. Formally known as the “M7/Caseless Submachine Gun”.
  • Battle Rifle – A battle rifle with a powerful three-round burst and a scope attachment (supporting 2x magnification). Very accurate and has barely any recoil. Each clip contains 36 rounds (12 bursts) and players can carry up to 108 rounds (36 bursts). Useful for medium-to-long ranged combat. Formally known as the “BR55 Battle Rifle”.
  • Shotgun – A pump-actionshotgun that is deadly in close-ranged combat. Unlike the previous game’s version, this version is weaker at anything but close-ranged enemies, and is significantly weaker against vehicles. Each shell must be fed to the Shotgun (which can hold 12 shells at a time) and players can carry up to 36 shells. Formally known as the “M90 Close Assault Weapon System”.
  • Sniper Rifle – A semi-automatic sniper rifle (with an electronic scope that supports both 5x and 10x magnification) that is deadly in long-ranged combat. Each clip contains 4 rounds and players can carry up to 20 rounds. Formally known as the “SRS99C-S2 AMB Sniper Rifle”.
  • Rocket Launcher – A powerful rocket launcher with a scope attachment (supporting 2x magnification). Although it has less firepower than the previous game’s version, it has faster reload, faster melee, and can lock onto enemy vehicles (by zooming in and holding the crosshair over the vehicle). Each clip contains 2 rockets and players can carry up to 6 rockets. Formally known as the “M19 SSM Rocket Launcher”.
  • Frag Grenade – A standard timed fragmentation grenade with a three-second fuse. Can bounce off of surfaces. Formally known as the “M9 High-Explosive Dual-Purpose Grenade”.

Covenant Weapons

  • Plasma Pistol – A semi-automatic energy-blasting firearm that, while generally weak in short blasts, can be overcharged (by holding down the Fire button over time) into a larger superheated bolt that automatically locks onto enemy infantry (draining their shields) or enemy vehicles (causing the vehicle to become inactive for a short time). It can be dual-wielded, does not require reloading, and cannot be replenished by picking up ammo. Each Plasma Pistol’s battery can carry up to 250 shots, and overcharging shots take up more of the battery over time (roughly 25 shots per fully overcharged bolt). Formally known as the “Type-25 Directed Energy Pistol”.
  • Plasma Rifle – A fully-automatic energy-blasting weapon useful for close-to-medium ranged combat. Continuously firing causes the weapon to overheat, in which the weapon must enter a cooldown phase. It can be dual-wielded, does not require reloading, and cannot be replenished by picking up ammo. Each Plasma Rifle’s battery can carry up to 400 shots. Formally known as the “Type-25 Directed Energy Rifle”.
  • Brute Plasma Rifle – A special red variant of the Plasma Rifle that is usually carried by Brutes. Although each shot deals less damage than the standard Plasma Rifle, it has a higher rate-of-fire. It also overheats quicker and can also be dual-wielded. Very rarely found in Multiplayer. Formally known as the “Type-25 Directed Energy Rifle/Jiralhanae Variant”.
  • Needler – A fully-automatic projectile weapon that rapidly fires sharp purple crystalline shards. These shards lock on to enemies, impales them (dealing some damage), and detonate harmlessly after some time. However, seven or more impalements at one time causes all of them to detonate powerfully (known as a super-charge), killing that enemy. Each clip contains 30 shards, and players can carry up to 90 shards per Needler. Can be dual-wielded. Formally known as the “Type-33 Guided Munitions Launcher”.
  • Covenant Carbine – A semi-automatic marksman rifle with a scope attachment (supporting 2x magnification). Firing a powerful green blast useful for medium-to-long ranges, it becomes more inaccurate in quick blasts. Each clip contains 18 rounds, and players can carry up to 72 rounds. Formally known as the “Type-51 Carbine”.
  • Particle Beam Rifle – A semi-automatic energy-blasting equivelant of a sniper rifle with a scope attachment (supporting both 5x and 10x magnification). It does not require reloading, but can overheat if continuously fired (in which it must enter a cooldown phase). It also cannot be replenished by picking up ammo. Each Particle Beam Rifle’s battery can carry up to 18 shots. Formally known as the “Type-50 Sniper Rifle System”.
  • Brute Shot – A belt-fed grenade launcher with a large blade attached to it (for more damaging melee attacks). Grenades can bounce over surfaces (like Frag Grenades), but does not deal as much damage as standard grenades. Each clip can carry up to 4 grenades, and players can carry up to 12 grenades. Formally known as the “Type-25 Grenade Launcher”.
  • Fuel Rod Gun – An energy-blasting equivelant of a rocket launcher. It does not deal as much damage as the Rocket Launcher, but each clip contains more explosive blasts. Each clip can carry up to 5 rods, and players can carry up to 25 rods. Very rarely found in Multiplayer. Formally known as the “Type-33 Light Anti-Armor Weapon”.
  • Energy Sword – A sword composed of glowing energy that is devastating for close-ranged combat. The Melee button performs a normal slash while the Fire button either performs another normal slash or, if the player’s crosshair is over a close enemy, performs a lunging slash. The sword loses its energy after every successful strike for up to ten strikes (for the Campaign only, as it has infinite energy in Multiplayer). Formally known as the “Type-1 Energy Weapon/Sword”.
  • Plasma Grenade – A timed energy grenade that sticks to surfaces (including enemies and vehicles). Unlike the Frag Grenade, the three-second fuse occurs after the grenade sticks to a surface. Formally known as the “Type-1 Antipersonnel Grenade”.

Other Weapons

  • Sentinel Beam – A forerunner weapon that continuously fires a long-ranged energy beam. Each weapon has a limited ammo count that cannot be replenished and is prone to overheating by continuous fire (in which it must enter a cooldown phase). Two versions of the Sentinel Beam exist: one that fires a standard orange beam, and one that fires a more powerful (but more likely to overheat) blue beam.
  • Scarab Gun – An easter egg weapon found in secret areas of the single-player campaign. Has the appearance of a Plasma Rifle but continuously fires blasts similar to the Scarab Tank’s main cannon. It never overheats and has unlimited ammo, but is easily prone to self-inflicted deaths.
  • Skulls/Flags/Bombs – Skulls (both as single-player easter eggs and in the Oddball gametype), Flags (in the Capture the Flag gametype), and Bombs (in the Assault gametype) can be used to pummel people with melee attacks. Pressing the fire button drops the object.

Multiplayer

Halo 2 was the first Halo game on Xbox to feature online play through Xbox Live. The game had many advanced features including matchmaking, voice chat, and rankings. There was also some customization implemented into the game as well, which created a lot of user created content. Many games came out of these customization options, such as Tremors, Troy, Vehicle Wars and the most popular being Zombies which grew so popular Bungie saw fit to put it into Halo 3. Players really enjoyed the customization options and kept many players sticking around even after getting their fill of matchmaking. The match making games were very competitive in Halo 2 due to the intensive ranking system. The way the ranking system in Halo 2 works is when the player first starts playing the game they start at level 1 and as they win matches their level increases. If they lose enough matches they can drop levels. These ranking were taken very seriously by the Halo 2 community. The color of the level a player had was very important to most Halo 2 fanatics. They can see what the levels look like in the picture below.

Levels 44-50 were “secret” levels — they were picture of various things, such as the moon or the halo ring.

Halo 2 had 24 maps the people could play online and was the most played game ever on Xbox Live. Even after the Xbox 360 was released Halo 2 still remained the most popular. The first game to top the amount of online players Halo 2 had each month, was the original Gears of War.

Clans

Halo 2 is one of the few Xbox games (and is the only game in the series) to support a dedicated in-game “clan” system, where players can form named groups outside of the “friends list” system both to find games easier and to combat other Clans. Clans have a 100-member limit and must be invited by qualified Clan members.

There are four types of clanmates, each with their own hierarchy and privileges: Overlords, Staff, Members, and Peons. All clanmates can participate in Clan matches and can invite other players to join the Clan (with the exception of Peons). Overlords and Staff can promote/demote Members and Peons, as well as boot them from the clan. Overlords can do the same thing with Staff.

Matchmaking Playlists

  • Rumble Pit
  • Double Team
  • Team Slayer
  • Team Skirmish
  • Team Training
  • Team Snipers
  • Team Hardcore
  • Big Team Battle
  • Team SWAT
  • H2 Challenge

Maps

Some maps are remakes of those from Halo: Combat Evolved, such as this remake of fan-favorite Blood Gulch.
Some maps are remakes of those from Halo: Combat Evolved, such as this remake of fan-favorite Blood Gulch.

The Xbox version of Halo 2 included 12 multiplayer maps, two of which are remakes from Halo: Combat Evolved. One of the maps (Foundation) had to be unlocked by triggering a hidden “training event” on the last level of the campaign, but was made available to all in a patch. 11 additional maps were released as downloadable content (with 9 also included in a bonus retail disc), bringing the total to 23.

The PC version of the game included all base maps and 9 of the 11 downloadable maps (the only exception being the Blastacular Map Pack), along with 2 exclusive maps.

The multiplayer Halo 2 portion of Halo: The Master Chief Collection includes all maps from both the Xbox and PC versions, bringing the grand total to 25.

Standard Maps

  • Ascension (2-12 players)
Lockout, one of the smaller arena-focused maps in Halo 2.
Lockout, one of the smaller arena-focused maps in Halo 2.
  • Beaver Creek (2-8 players, symmetrical bases) – Remake of “Battle Creek” from Halo: Combat Evolved.
  • Burial Mounds (4-16 players, supports vehicles)
  • Coagulation (4-16 players, symmetrical bases, supports vehicles) – Remake of “Blood Gulch” from Halo: Combat Evolved.
  • Colossus (4-14 players, symmetrical bases)
  • Foundation (2-8 players, symmetrical bases) – Remake of “Thunderdome” from Marathon 2: Durandal.
Some maps, such as Headlong, are very large and supports numerous vehicles.
Some maps, such as Headlong, are very large and supports numerous vehicles.
  • Headlong (6-16 players, supports vehicles)
  • Ivory Tower (2-12 players)
  • Lockout (2-8 players)
  • Midship (2-8 players, symmetrical bases)
  • Waterworks (6-16 players, symmetrical bases, supports vehicles)
  • Zanzibar (2-16 players, supports vehicles)

PC-Exclusive Maps

  • District (8-16 players, supports vehicles)
  • Uplift (6-16 players, supports vehicles)

Downloadable Maps

Bonus Map Pack (Released on April 25, 2005 for free)

  • Containment (6-16 players, symmetrical bases, supports vehicles)
  • Warlock (2-8 players, symmetrical bases) – Remake of “Wizard” from Halo: Combat Evolved.

Killtacular Map Pack (Released on April 25, 2005 for $4.99, made free on June 28, 2005)

  • Sanctuary (2-10 players, symmetrical bases)
  • Turf (2-10 players, supports vehicles)

Maptacular Map Pack (Released on July 5, 2005 for $11.99, made free on August 30, 2005)

  • Backwash (2-10 players, symmetrical bases, supports vehicles)
  • Elongation (2-6 players, symmetrical bases) – Remake of “Longest” from Halo: Combat Evolved.
  • Gemini (2-6 players) – Remake of “Duality” from Marathon Infinity.
  • Relic (6-16 players, supports vehicles)
  • Terminal (6-16 players, supports vehicles)

Blastacular Map Pack (Released on April 17, 2007 for $4.00, made free on July 7, 2007)

These maps were not included in neither the PC port of the game, but were later included in Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

  • Desolation (2-8 players, symmetrical bases) – Remake of “Derelict” from Halo: Combat Evolved.
  • Tombstone (4-16 players) – Remake of “Hang ‘Em High” from Halo: Combat Evolved.

Map Pack Disc

The retail box art for the Multiplayer Map Pack.
The retail box art for the Multiplayer Map Pack.

On July 5, 2005, Microsoft Game Studios published a retail disc for $19.99 containing the Bonus, Killtacular, and Maptacular map packs, as well as game updates (up to July 5, 2005) and bonus content.

Titled Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack, it was released primarily for Xbox owners that are not subscribed to Xbox Live. With the closing of Xbox Live, it now serves as the only way to download these packs for the original Xbox version (and the Xbox 360 version, as this disc is backwards compatible).

The disc also includes a bonus three-minute Halo 2 cutscene (showing what happens to the marines in the Pelican that is shot down in the intro sequence to the level Outskirts), a video documentary on the development of the maps included in the disc, the original trailer for Halo: Combat Evolved, the Halo 2 announcement trailer, and a humorous audio clip used to test the surround sound set-up.

Multiplayer Gametypes

Slayer

Originated in Halo: Combat Evolved.

Standard deathmatch in free-for-all or team scenarios. Earn points by killing enemies and lose points for killing themselves and teammates.

Gametype-specific options that can be changed include:

  • Whether or not the player receives a score penalty for suicides (on by default) and for dying (off by default).
  • Adding bonus points that can be earned by receiving in-game medals, such as killstreaks and multi-kills. Disabled by default.

Included Variants

  • Slayer – 25 kills to win.
  • Team Slayer – Teams enabled. 50 kills to win.
  • Rockets – Rocket Launchers only. Motion trackers disabled. No suicide penalty on score. 25 kills to win.
  • Swords – Energy Swords only. Vehicles disabled. 25 kills to win.
  • Snipers – Players spawn with a Sniper Rifle and a Magnum. Weapon pickups limited to Sniper Rifles and Beam Rifles. Motion trackers and vehicles disabled. 15 kills to win.
  • Phantoms – Players have Active Camouflage active at all times. Motion trackers disabled. 15 kills to win.
  • Team Phantoms – Teams enabled. Players have Active Camouflage active at all times. Motion trackers disabled. 25 kills to win.
  • Elimination – Games are played in two-minute rounds and players cannot respawn. Last players surviving win the round. Power-ups disabled. First player to win 3 rounds wins the match.
  • Phantom Elim – Games are played in rounds and players cannot respawn. Last players surviving win the round. Players have Active Camouflage active at all times. Motion trackers and power-ups disabled. First player to win 3 rounds wins the match.

Oddball

Originated in Halo: Combat Evolved.

A “kill the man with the ball” objective mode (in free-for-all or team scenarios) where players must find and maintain possession of the titular Oddball to score points. They earn points over time by holding onto the ball. Ball carriers can not use weapons, but can still melee enemies.

Options that can be changed include:

  • Changing certain traits of ball carriers. This includes damage resistance, Active Camouflage, movement speed, melee bonus damage, and vehicle operation. By default, they have slower movement speed, cannot drive vehicles or use turrets, have slower movement speed, and have increased melee damage.
  • Changing whether a waypoint appears for the ball or its carrier. By default, the waypoint is always on for the ball and/or its carrier.
  • Adding up to two additional Oddballs in play. Disabled by default.

Included Variants

  • Oddball – 2 minutes held to win.
  • Rocketball – Rocket Launchers only. Motion trackers disabled. No suicide penalty on score. 1 minute held to win.
  • Swordball – Energy Swords only. Ball carriers gain additional damage resistance. Motion trackers disabled. Games are played in rounds. First player to hold the ball for 30 seconds wins the round. First player to win 3 rounds wins the match.
  • Team Ball – Teams enabled. Respawn time increased to 10 seconds, with teammates inheriting dead teammate respawn times. 2 minutes held to win.
  • Low Ball – Teams enabled. All teammates need to hold the Oddball for 30 seconds to win.
  • Fiesta – Players spawn with one random weapon. Weapon pickups are randomized. 2 minutes held to win.

King of the Hill

Originated in Halo: Combat Evolved.

A “king of the hill” objective mode (in free-for-all or team scenarios) where players/teams must maintain possession of a marked area (known as the “Hill”) to score points. They earn points over time by keeping their position inside the Hill’s specially-marked boundary.

Options that can be changed include:

  • Changing certain traits of players inside the Hill. This includes extra damage, damage resistance, and Active Camouflage. Disabled by default.
  • Whether or not the Hill moves to a new location after a predetermined amount of time. By default, the Hill remains at the same location throughout the match. Disabled by default.
  • Whether or not the Hill needs to be uncontested (with no enemies inside it) in order for the holder to score. Disabled by default.

Included Variants

  • King – 2 minutes held to win.
  • Team King – Teams enabled. Hill must remain uncontested to score. Respawn time increased to 10 seconds, with teammates inheriting dead teammate respawn times. 1 minute held to win.
  • Phantom King – Players have Active Camouflage active when outside of the Hill. Motion trackers disabled. Hill must remain uncontested to score. 1 minute held to win.
  • Crazy King – Hill is moved to a random location every minute.
  • Team Crazy King – Teams enabled. Hill is moved to a random location every minute and must remain uncontested to score. 1 minute held to win.

Capture the Flag

Originated in Halo: Combat Evolved.

A team-based “capture the flag” objective mode (with up to four teams) where players must take possession of enemy and neutral flags and bring it back to their team’s flag zone to score points for their team. Similar to Oddball, players who hold an enemy flag cannot use weapons, but they can melee enemies with the flag.

Options that can be changed include:

  • Changing certain traits of flag carriers. This includes damage resistance, Active Camouflage, movement speed, melee bonus damage, and vehicle operation. By default, they have slower movement speed, cannot drive vehicles or use turrets, have slower movement speed, and have increased melee damage.
  • Changing whether a waypoint appears for the flag or its carrier. By default, the waypoint is on for flags only if they are secure or dropped.
  • Whether or not each team has a flag to defend. This can be one of three options: Flag Per Team (where all teams have a flag to defend), Single Flag (where only one team has a flag to defend, with the other team focusing to capture it), or Neutral Flag (where no team has a flag to defend and all players focus on a single flag located in the center of the battlefield). By default, the game uses Flag Per Team.
  • Whether or not Sudden Death is on, in which the game keeps going after the timer expires as long as a flag is being held. Enabled by default.
  • Whether or not dropped flags can be returned by teammates by standing on it (off by default) and whether or not dropped flags can be reset automatically (30 seconds by default).
  • Whether or not teams must have their own flag secure (not dropped) to score. Disabled by default.

Included Variants

  • Multi Flag CTF – Respawn timer and suicide penalty increased to 10 seconds each. 3 points to win.
  • CTF Classic – Teams can return their flag manually and must have their own flag secure in order to score an enemy’s flag. Respawn timer and suicide penalty increased to 10 seconds each. 3 points to win.
  • 1 Flag CTF – Two-team round-based variant, with each team take turns as Attackers and Defenders. Attackers have no flag to guard, and have three minutes to capture the Defenders’ flag once to win the round. Respawn timer and suicide penalty increased to 10 seconds each. First team to win 3 rounds wins the match.
  • 1 Flag CTF Fast – Two-team round-based variant, with each team take turns as Attackers and Defenders. Attackers have no flag to guard, and have two minutes to capture the Defenders’ flag once to win the round. Betrayal penalty decreased to 5 seconds. Flag reset timer decreased to 15 seconds. First team to win 3 rounds wins the match.

Assault

New for Halo 2.

A two-team “assault” objective mode where teams must take possession of their Bomb, bring it to the enemy’s base (shown as a waypoint), and protect it until it detonates. Similar to Oddball, players who hold a Bomb cannot use weapons, but they can melee enemies.

Options that can be changed include:

  • Changing certain traits of Bomb carriers. This includes damage resistance, Active Camouflage, movement speed, melee bonus damage, and vehicle operation. By default, they have slower movement speed, cannot drive vehicles or use turrets, have slower movement speed, and have increased melee damage.
  • Changing whether a waypoint appears for the Bomb or its carrier. By default, the waypoint is only on when the Bomb is dropped.
  • Whether or not each team has access to a Bomb. This can be one of three options: Bomb Per Team (where all teams have access to their own), Single Bomb (where only one team has access to one, with the other team focusing on defense), or Neutral Bomb (where no team has to their own, instead focusing on a single neutral Bomb). By default, the game uses Bomb Per Team.
  • Whether or not Sudden Death is on, in which the game keeps going after the timer expires as long as a Bomb is being held. Enabled by default.
  • Whether or not dropped Bombs can be returned by enemies by standing on it (off by default) and whether or not dropped Bombs can be reset automatically (30 seconds by default).
  • Changing how long it takes to arm the Bomb (5 seconds by default) and whether or not teammates can resume a partially-armed bomb from its current time (on by default).

Included Variants

  • Multi Bomb – Respawn timer and suicide penalty increased to 10 seconds. 3 points to win.
  • Single Bomb – Round-based variant, with each team take turns as Attackers and Defenders. Attackers have access to the Bomb and have three minutes to plant it at the Defenders’ base once to win the round. Respawn timer and suicide penalty increased to 10 seconds. First team to win 3 rounds wins the match.
  • Single Bomb Fast – Round-based variant, with each team take turns as Attackers and Defenders. Attackers have access to the Bomb and have two minutes to plant it at the Defenders’ base once to win the round. Betrayal penalty reduced to 5 seconds. Bomb reset timer reduced to 20 seconds. First team to win 3 rounds wins the match.
  • Neutral Bomb – Games are played in two-minute rounds. Only one single neutral Bomb is present, and the first team to plant it at the enemy’s base wins the round. Bomb arming timer increased to 10 seconds. First team to win 3 rounds wins the match.
  • Blast Resort – Round-based variant, with each team take turns as Attackers and Defenders. Attackers have access to the Bomb and have two minutes to plant it at the Defenders’ base once to win the round. Players cannot respawn. Motion trackers disabled. Dropped Bombs no longer display a waypoint. Defenders can no longer return the Bomb. Bomb carriers move at normal speed. Bomb arming timer increased to 10 seconds. First team to win 3 rounds wins the match.

Territories

New for Halo 2.

An objective mode where up to four teams fight to capture marked areas scattered throughout the map (known as “Territories”). Point are earned over time for each Territory in control. Territories are captured if only one team stands on them uncontested. In order to capture enemy-controlled Territories, teams must “contest” them (changing them back to their neutral state) prior to capturing by standing on them uncontested.

Options that can be changed include:

  • Changing the amount of Territories.
  • Changing the time required to contest Territories (3 seconds by default) and capture Territories (5 seconds by default).

Included Variants

  • 3 Plots – Three territories. Respawn timer increased to 10 seconds, with teammates inheriting dead teammate respawn times.. 5 minutes held to win.
  • Land Grab – Five territories. Respawn timer and suicide penalty increased to 10 seconds, with teammates inheriting dead teammate respawn times.. Time required to contest territories increased to 5 seconds. 5 minutes held to win.
  • Gold Rush – Four territories. Players spawn with a Magnum. Weapon pickups are restricted to Shotguns. Heavy vehicles disabled. Games are played in three-minute rounds (with the map remaining unchanged between rounds). First team to hold 2 minutes wins the round. First player to win 3 rounds wins the match.
  • Control Issues – Two territories. All players spawn with Overshields. Weapon pickups use the Heavy Weapons set. Suicide penalty increased to 10 seconds. Time required to contest territories increased to 5 seconds. 5 minutes held to win.
  • Contention – One territory. Respawn timer increased to 10 seconds, with teammates inheriting dead teammate respawn times.. Time required to contest territories increased to 5 seconds. 2 minutes held to win.

Juggernaut

New for Halo 2.

A deathmatch mode with a twist: one player is randomly selected to be the unique “Juggernaut”, and all other players must team up to hunt the Juggernaut. Players can only gain points by killing others as the Juggernaut. The player who lands the final blow against the Juggernaut becomes the new one.

Options that can be changed include:

  • Changing certain traits of Juggernauts. This includes extra damage, damage resistance, movement speed, Active Camouflage, access to motion trackers, infinite ammo, and immediate access to Overshields. By default, they have extra damage and infinite ammo.
  • Whether or not non-Juggernaut players receives a score penalty for killing non-Juggernaut players. Enabled by default.

Included Variants

  • 2 on 1 – Restricted to 3 players. 15 points to win.
  • 3 on 1 – Restricted to 4 players. Juggernauts gain Overshields. Power-ups disabled. 15 points to win.
  • Ninjanaut – Juggernauts have Active Camouflage active. Motion trackers and power-ups disabled. 15 points to win.
  • Phantom Fodder – All non-Juggernaut players have Active Camouflage active, but their motion trackers are disabled. Juggernauts gain Overshields. Power-ups disabled. Games are played in three-minute rounds (with the map remaining unchanged between rounds). First player to score 5 points wins the round. First player to win 3 rounds wins the match.
  • Dreadnaut – Juggernauts gain Overshields, damage resistance, and fast movement speed. Power-ups disabled. Betrayal penalty reduced to 5 seconds. 20 points to win.

Multiplayer Glitches

Several weeks and months after Halo 2’s release, players began to discover and take advantage of several relatively major glitches in the game. As players began to practice these glitches and become well-versed in executing them they gained a much more significant place in the meta-game, with some of the weapon-based glitches becoming essential for success against the higher ranking players. While game creator Bungie officially decreed on several occasions that a player’s use of glitches for personal gain, in a Matchmaking setting, was a form of cheating, the developer had no way of tracking the use of such glitches by players. Ultimately, there were no widespread punishments or repercussions handed-down to players who utilized these glitches.

Some of the most noteworthy glitches:

BXR

Commonly used in conjunction with the Battle Rifle (though possible to execute with any reloadable weapon) the BXR was a weapon animation glitch that allowed for a nearly instantaneous close-ranged kill. The glitch became very widespread among the highest ranks of players as the meta-game progressed.

Quick Reload (YY)

Another glitch commonly used among higher-caliber players, the Quick Reload glitch was a weapon animation glitch that shaved precious seconds off of a player’s reload time, allowing them to fire their weapon again sooner than they normally would with the default reload. The glitch was only possible when a player was carrying a secondary weapon. The move was executed by the player pressing the Y button twice in quick succession as soon as the reload animation reached the point where the in-game character began to insert a new clip into the weapon. If done properly the player will quickly switch to their secondary weapon and then back to their primary, eliminating the rest of the reload animation while still giving the player a full clip.

Double Melee (BXB)

A third weapon animation glitch, the BXB was used to give players a significant advantage in close-range combat. Executed by pressing B, X, B in quick succession (under the default controller settings), the glitch allowed players to melee twice in a much shorter time span than if they were simply to press the melee button two times. Contrary to the BXR, which required a full clip of ammo to execute properly, the BXB required the player to have a partially depleted or empty ammo clip in their primary weapon. As with the other weapon glitches, the BXB saw very widespread use among the top-tier players.

Double Shot (RRX)

One of the most popular glitches among MLG fans and players, the Double Shot was a glitch that was used primarily with the Battle Rifle that allowed players to fire two of the weapon’s 3-shot bursts in one shot, resulting in 6 bullets being fired at once. The downside to this glitch was that after successfully firing a Double Shot, there was a significant span of time (roughly two to three seconds) where the player could not fire their weapon, and could only attack if they threw a grenade, used a melee attack, or switched to a secondary weapon. For this reason players would often hold off on using a Double Shot unless they were one or several “shots down” in a BR fight, or had a secondary weapon that they could “YY” with to cancel the long delay after a successful double shot.

Quad Shot (RRXYYRRX)

Similar to the double shot the quad shot, if done right, can shoot 4 shots out of the BR in half the time it normally would take. To do this the player need two weapons, first they start out with their double shot then they press “YY” really fast in order to cancel the reload; if they double shot correctly they will notice the reload animation isn’t playing but it is still reloading in the background (this is normal so don’t worry), now after pressing “YY” do another double shot, and with much practice the player can do this.

Super Bouncing (also known as Super Jumping)

A first-person view from a player who
A first-person view from a player who “super-bounced” to the top of the map Ascension.

A glitch in the game’s Havok physics engine that makes it possible for players to “bounce” to extreme heights, enabling them to reach previously inaccessible and out-of-bounds regions on a multiplayer map. The glitch was used quite frequently in a Matchmaking setting to give a player or team a significant advantage through an unreachable hiding spot or unfair vantage point.

Sword Canceling (Butterflying)

Sword canceling is a glitch that takes advantage of the “lunge” effect that the Energy Sword provides for the player. By aiming at an opponent with the Energy Sword at a close enough proximity for the reticule to light up red, then pressing the Right Trigger and X in quick succession, a player can achieve the normal Sword lunge without in any way damaging their opponent. The glitch is most commonly used to give players a means of reaching previously inaccessible ledges or areas of a map. The glitch earned the nickname “Butterflying” due to the strange, butterfly-like motion of the character model’s arms when performing the sword cancel.

Rocket Sword Glitch

A glitch that would require a sword and a rocket launcher as a secondary. The player would look at an enemy from a distance and rapidly alternate pressing “Y” and “B” and they would launch towards the person they were aiming at from afar.

Cheating

As with most online games, Halo 2’s online environment featured some players who manipulated and modified certain aspects of the game to provide themselves with an unfair advantage over their opponents. Players cheated most commonly in matchmaking playlists, so that they could more easily obtain a matchmaking rank that players would see associated with their gamertag. The highest-level matchmaking ranks, that featured symbols in place of numbers (ranks 44-50), were the most desirable and most sought after ranks to cheaters; therefore, non-cheaters often found it very difficult to play a legitimate, cheat-free match at the highest ranks. There were several different methods of cheating, each with different effects on gameplay.

Modding

Achieved through the use of cheat-devices such as Action Replay, Modding was the most common, game-changing form of cheating. “Modders” manipulated map files and gametypes to create gameplay that was well-outside the normal limits placed by the game engine. Common modded elements were changes in player speed and gravity, changed weapon properties (such as Plasma Rifles that fired Wraith projectiles), and changed vehicle properties (flying Warthogs, flying turrets, faster Scorpions, etc.). Due to the dramatic, game-changing effects of modding, it was fairly easy for Bungie’s automated banning tool — notoriously dubbed the “Banhammer” by players and Bungie staff — to detect and ban players who used modded files in matchmade games. Most “modders” had only a few hours, at most, to rise through the matchmaking ranks before being faced with a permanent ban, and a vast majority of modders were inevitably banned. The problem was that there were so many free two-month Xbox Live trials available, it was easy for a modder to quickly make another account.

Standbying

The second most game-changing form of cheating, behind Modding, was known as Standbying. Making use of the game’s host-based server system, standbying was achieved by having the “host” player manipulate their internet connection to cause problems for the other players in the match. When the host managed to successfully tamper with their connection, it would cause all of the other players in the game to experience enormous amounts of lag. The host’s Xbox was immune to the lag issues, and could travel around the map killing enemy players or completing game objectives without much, if any, opposition. Though the Standby glitch was originally achieved by players manually pressing the “Standby” button on their router, modem, or switch, eventually players used various computer software so that they could throttle the connections of only the opposing team, giving all of their teammates a reprieve from the negative effects of the glitch. Eventually, Bungie improved the banhammer to better detect and control “standbyers” in matchmaking.

Bridging

Bridging was a method of controlling “host” in a matchmaking game, and, more specifically, a way of ensuring that a certain player in the game always received host. Unlike modding and standbying, though, bridging was not a very detrimental form of cheating on its own. Bridging was accomplished through the use of specific Firewall software that controlled the ports and incoming IP Addresses for a player’s router or switch. By using the program with the correct settings, a player could be ensured of being host for every game they played. Also, due to the nature of the glitch, bridgers could not be matched with or against other bridgers, so the bridging player always decided who received host. While Bridging was used in conjunction with Standbying or Modding to ensure that those forms of cheating worked as efficiently as possible by giving a certain player host, it was also used as a preventative measure against cheaters. Some players used bridging to make sure that no nefarious players could obtain host, therefore ensuring a quality match experience. As of the 1.6 update for Halo 2, the most common methods of Bridging were no longer effective or possible in matchmaking.

Soundtrack

The Halo 2 Original Soundtrack was released in two volumes, composed by Martin O’Donnel and Michael Salvatori. Volume One was released on November 9th, 2004 and Volume Two was released on April 25th, 2006.

Halo 2 Original Soundtrack: Volume One (69:20)

Volume One
Volume One
  1. Halo Theme (4:11)
  2. Blow Me Away – Breaking Benjamin (3:25)
  3. Peril (2:46)
  4. Ghosts of Reach (2:22)
  5. Follow (1st Movement of the Odyssey) – Incubus (4:15)
  6. Heretic, Hero (2:34)
  7. Flawed Legacy (1:58)
  8. Impend (2:21)
  9. Never Surrender – Nile Rodgers (3:35)
  10. Ancient Machine (1:38)
  11. 2nd Movement of the Odyssey – Incubus (7:40)
  12. In Amber Clad (1:39)
  13. The Last Spartan (2:18)
  14. Orbit of Glass (1:18)
  15. 3rd Movement of the Odyssey – Incubus (6:40)
  16. Heavy Price Paid (2:31)
  17. Earth City (3:06)
  18. High Charity (1:59)
  19. 4th Movement of the Odyssey – Incubus (9:07)
  20. Remembrance (1:17)
  21. Connected – Hoobastank (2:39)

Halo 2 Original Soundtrack: Volume Two (68:48)

Volume Two
Volume Two

1. Prologue (2:35)

  1. Rising (0:20)
  2. Cloistered Expectancy (0:25)
  3. Weight of Failure (1:50)

2. Cairo Suite (9:42)

  1. Cold Blue Light (1:54)
  2. Waking Spartan (3:36)
  3. Jeweled Hull (2:03)
  4. Chill Exposure (2:09)

3. Mombasa Suite (6:41)

  1. Metropole (1:29)
  2. Broken Gates (2:47)
  3. Encounter (2:25)

4. Unyielding (3:04)

5. Mausoleum Suite (8:10)

  1. Destroyer’s Invocation (4:36)
  2. Falling Up (1:49)
  3. Infected (1:16)
  4. Shudder (0:29)

6. Unforgotten (2:09)

7. Delta Halo Suite (11:29)

  1. Penance (2:32)
  2. Wage (2:42)
  3. Leonidas (2:28)
  4. Dust and Bones (3:44)

8. Sacred Icon Suite (7:26)

  1. Cortege (3:38)
  2. Opening Volley (0:28)
  3. Veins of Stone (3:20)

9. Reclaimer (3:03)

10. High Charity Suite (8:29)

  1. Rue and Woe (1:30)
  2. Respite (2:17)
  3. Antedilluvial (2:22)
  4. Pursuit of Truth (2:18)

11. Finale (3:10)

  1. Great Journey (1:15)
  2. Thermopylae Soon (1:55)

12. Epilogue (3:49)

  1. Beholden (1:03)
  2. Road to Voi (2:19)
  3. Subsume (0:27)

System Requirements

  • Windows Vista/7 Operating System
  • 2.0 GHz computer processor
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • 7 GB of Hard Disk space
  • ATI X700 or Nvidia 6100 display adapter with 128 MB of RAM with Pixel and Vertex Shader 2 or higher.

Vista Experience Index

  • Game Recommended Rating – 5.0
  • Game Required Rating – 3.0

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