If you’re reading this article you’ve probably re-read the title a couple of times carefully to make sure you read it correctly. You’re also probably lighting your torches and looking for your pitchfork. That wasn’t a mistake. Halo 2 wasn’t as good as you remember.
Here I am, about to criticise what is probably most peoples favourite Halo game. From YouTube videos I’ve watched, Twitter, Facebook and discussion forums I’m constantly hearing how people can’t wait for Halo Master Chief Collection and most of that excitement is in regards to being able to play Halo 2 again. Here’s the truth though: Halo 2 isn’t as amazing as it’s constantly made out to be and I’m going to explain why.
Before I get started I want to make something clear. I love Halo 2. I competed at every tournament possible. I was in a top Australian team for Halo 2 and I was flown to Singapore to compete in the 2005 World Cyber Games 2 vs 2 grand final for Halo 2 with my brother Satiex. With that said though, the Halo 2 everyone seems to remember was definitely different to the Halo I played.
Please keep in mind I’m not saying Halo 2 is a bad game and if you take of the nostalgia goggles for a few minutes I think you’ll agree with most of what I have to say. Here goes…
Most Halo Pros at the time preferred Halo 1
When Halo 2 was first released you’d think the MLG forums went crazy with how people were so excited to play Halo online finally. Well, it wasn’t like that. Pro players were incredibly disappointed by the game. There was even a petition to keep Halo 1 on the circuit.
Now I’m sure after the Halo 2 1.1 patch attitudes towards the game changed but still, it’s important people don’t forget just how much of a backlash there was towards Halo 2 after its release. Many top players will still refer to Halo 1 as the most skilful game of the series.
The amounts of auto aim in Halo 2 was unforgivable. “Sweep sniping” took the skill out of lining up a headshot with the Sniper Rifle. The auto aim on the BR was so large you could shoot a player below the chest and be rewarded with a headshot. Halo 2 has the most auto aim out of the entire Halo series and yet people are constantly talking about Halo 2 as if it was the epitome of competitive Halo.
The PP/BR combo became a power weapon thanks to ridiculous homing abilities of the Plasma Pistol which was capable of making a 90 degree turn!
One of the biggest issues with Halo 2 is just how inconsistent the game can be. While the game is mostly consistent, it wasn’t always consistent which is something you never want to see in a game. In a nail biting grand final with scores tied at 49-49, you don’t want the game to roll a 6 and give a team a win due to luck. While I can’t recall an extreme scenario like that taking place, small inconsistencies definitely occurred during the course of most games – Yes, that includes LAN as well.
Sometimes bullets wouldn’t register (An issue that continued into Halo 3) and no, this wasn’t caused by bad network conditions, this was caused by bad programming. Hell, even on LAN BR shots would appear to hit their target and do no damage.
The shotgun was known as “the slotgun” because of how wildly inconsistent it was. Sometimes the shotgun would kill a player in a single shot while other times players would just shake off a point blank shotgun shell to the face.
On top of this the melee system was a mess. It wasn’t too rare for a player to be running directly behind a player and go for an assassination only to somehow miss the target, even if they were well within range aiming directly at the player.
The physics system in Halo 2 was also a mess. MLG had to ban grenade jumping in tournaments because only the host physics would be effected by explosions while players off host wouldn’t be knocked back at all. This meant interesting routes couldn’t be taken advantage of; for example, using a grenade to escape from the bases in Beaver Creek, or grenade jumping up into the beach wall on Zanzibar.
The Battle Rifle
This is probably my biggest issue with Halo 2 and the feedback 343 is receiving. People need to stop referring to the Battle Rifle as if it’s the best weapon in the Halo series. The Battle Rifle has only been in 3 out of the 5 main multiplayer Halo games yet I see people acting as if the Battle Rifle is the most important staple of the Halo series. It’s not. If you were going to make that argument the Needler has appeared in every Halo game.
The Battle Rifle in Halo 2 and Halo 3 has a very limited range that is unable to keep the Sniper Rifle in check. Even after the Halo 2 1.1 patch the BR was still horrible at long distances and almost useless on Big Team Battle maps.
The DMR (minus the bloom) is arguably a better gun that requires more skill and if people want Halo to be the best competitive game it can be people should be supporting a single shot semi-automatic weapon over a burst weapon for Halo 5.
The important aspect here is the mechanics of burst versus semi-automatic. Shots to kill doesn’t matter, that can be changed easily. Rate of fire and kill times and ammo in each magazine can also be adjusted. The BR is a burst weapon which means you’re able to swipe over your target and at least one bullet will hit, unlike the DMR or Pistol which must be aimed correctly for each shot to hit.
On top of this, burst weapons aren’t as good at long range unlike semi-auto weapons. Without the ability to shoot long range the Sniper Rifle becomes over powered. In Halo 3 snipers were incredibly powerful on maps like Narrows because the BR didn’t have the range to pose a real threat to them. Snipers had all the time in the world to line up a headshot even if they were getting shot at.
Halo 5: Guardians Beta
So what’s the point of this article? Am I just bashing Halo 2 to be controversial? Well, no, there is a point. I think it’s important people take a step back and think of Halo 2 in a critical way. 343 is hopefully going to be taking a lot of feedback from the Halo 5 beta and this feedback needs to come from the right place if Halo 5 is going to be the amazing game it has the potential to be.
There are many awesome things Halo 2 did right, particularly the awesome map design. Those are the great things Halo 2 should be remembered for.
So take off those colourful nostalgia goggles and remember Halo 2 for what it really was and take that into account when submitting feedback to 343.
Special thanks to ChaosTheory for feedback and for recording the sniper clip above.