Inside Pulse 12

THE TRIBUNAL: Halo 2 (XB)

The official review of Halo 2 scored an impressive 8.0. But how will this overhyped game fair in…THE TRIBUNAL?!?!?

THE SESSION HAS NOW BEEN CONVENED

*The crowd gathers into the fabled Inside Pulse Tribunal Stadium*

Attention! Attention! All will come to order!

*The crowd refuses to quiet down.*

Not even on Christmas Day, huh? You can’t stop fragging people over Live for THREE SECONDS?!? Look, either you SHUT UP, or all the copies of the game in question in this room will change into Lowrider games. Do we REALLY want that?

*The room immediately gets quiet. Almost instantaneously*

Wow…if that’s all it takes, 2005 will be VERY orderly for these events. Now, today we look at a game that was deemed the greatest of all time from nearly ALL of the XBox fan base…over a year before it was actually released. Then it WAS released, and it was treated as if the Messiah had parted the heavens, and handed us the perfect game. Halo 2 you may step forward.

*The game does so.*

Halo 2, you’ve been brought forward to prove yourself to us, and to the world. Now before we begin, I’d like to make a few personal comments on your specific situation. You have been hyped to the moon and back for months on end. You have been labeled as the best game in existence even when nobody had played you. The gaming media have covered you extensively since you were a gleam in Bungie’s eye. You have been given more attention to your development process than most games have been given attention COMBINED. You were a success the moment you were announced, and from the looks of things, you’ve proven that success in monetary gain for Microsoft.

This will not help you today.

Today, you will be looked at as if you were just another game on the shelf. The excessive hype you have received will NOT be taken into account. The three judges today have actually PLAYED you. Not only that, but they have played you for HOURS in order to develop knowledgeable opinions on you. You will NOT be treated with kid gloves. You will be put through the ringer, and you will EARN your scores today. Good, or bad.

No one receives special treatment in my arena. Not even you, the supposed “golden child” of video games.

Your judges today are Geli Warner, Fredrick Badlissi, and a special guest judge from the Inside Pulse Movies section, Michaelangelo McCullar. Now, how will you stand within the confines of…THE TRIBUNAL?!?!?

LET THE JUDGEMENT COMMENCE

JUDGE #1: Geli Warner

Halo 2 has already sold 3 million copies in less than two months. That should seriously speak for itself. *crickets chirping* Okay, so since the crickets aren’t speaking for me, I should add a few words in the mix. I was pleased with the way the campaign mode was able to split you into two different perspectives. It made the game seem interesting and worked with the story line pretty well. Are you the Master Chief or the Arbiter? In a way, I felt it broke things up a little too much. Because of that I was glued more to the original Halo’s story than the second one. Don’t get me wrong though, I do like sequels.

The best thing by far was the multiplayer, online or offline. The way the party systems are set up and you’re ranked and randomly matched with people is a newer feature when it comes to online console gaming. It seems like Bungie really wanted to mix things up and keep things fair at the same time. I love how you can look up stats on your home computer from the Bungie website. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone put together a Halo 2 tournament. I know Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢d enter.

In any case, I feel like Halo 2 may have been over hyped but it can at least live up to some of the hype. It’s a great game that I would recommend to anyone but my grandma (or my dog). Seriously, Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m telling you to go play it right now.

THE SCORE: 8.5/10

JUDGE #2: Fredrick Badlissi

Halo 2 is a magnificent ‘beast’ of a game. When you think about it’s configuration, it’s a lot like an elephant: huge and regal, and beloved by just as many people as it is hated. But when all the shine of 5 million copies sold in a month or so wears off, what are you left with? A costly famliy pet you’ll want to keep forever, or a 15,000 dollar-on-the-black-market investment you’ll wanna scrap when PETA isn’t looking?

You’ve got an FPS game with a relatively gripping story, an awesome contemporary soundtrack, and gameplay that strikes a very tight, near-perfect balance between academic and drop-out gamers alike. While one could simply boil the presentation down to ‘the first Halo on steroids,’ they would be robbing themselves of the experience of an atmosphere that only Bungie could formulate. And against daunting odds and expectations, they have also redefined the zenith of online gaming, as Halo 2 plays without any hitch of any sort, visually or vocally.

The entire package that is Halo 2 is masterful from top to bottom, and once again rewrites the manual of what a good console shooter should be. There are a small number of imperfections to contend with, yes. However, these imperfections are minor in the scope of a nearly 3-year development cycle that hammered out a rock-solid game. Like it or hate it, this elephant walks tall.

THE SCORE: 9.0/10

JUDGE #3: Michaelangelo McCullar

Sequels usually have a pretty high standard to live up to. And the better the original game was, the higher the standard. So when Halo 2 was announced, the bar from the first Halo was so high it seemed that the new game almost had no choice but to be a letdown.

Uh-huh. Not in the slightest. Not only is Halo 2, in my opinion, the best game to hit the XBox this year, you could easily make the arguement that it surpasses the original.

Halo 2 picks up shortly after the events of the first game, and instantly kicks up the wow factor with the opening cutscene. The Covenant fleet’s Supreme Commander has been judged a heretic for allowing the destruction of Halo, and is sent off for execution. At the last minute, his life is spared and he is made The Arbiter and sent to hunt down another heretic.

Meanwhile, Master Chief has made it back to Earth, and is being honored for valor at one of the orbiting space stations. Before the ceremony can begin, however, the station finds itself under attack from Covenant forces invading Earth. Master Chief makes his way back to Earth to help repel the invasion, and then hops aboard a ship that follows the invasion force, only to find out that maybe they were a bit premature in thinking they had disposed of Halo after all.

These two story lines intertwine with each other, giving you the opportunity to play not only as Master Chief, but as The Arbiter. The gameplay is similar. The only real difference between the two is the color of the HUD and The Arbiter’s cloaking ability. But it does provide a refreshing change of pace to switch between the characters. It helps to really get you involved in the parallel storylines.

Everything in this game seems the same as the first Halo, but just a bit better. The graphics and audio are cleaner and crisper than the first game. This is easily one of the most gorgrous video games your eyes will see. The controls are the same as the first game, with the addition of dual weapons. Believe me, nothing puts a smile on your face more than being able to go all Chow Yun-Fat on a pack of Elites. The soundtrack has more of a rock/techno feel to it than the first game, which featured lots of Gregorian chanting. The original soundtrack was one of the things that made the first game so unique, but the new soundtrack works amazingly well.

My only gripe about the game is the emergency brake-style abrupt ending of the game. You know how people bitched about the ending of Matrix Reloaded? That’s the way people are bitching about Halo 2’s ending. Maybe they wanted to get people salivating for Halo 3. It just puts a crimp in an otherwise enjoyable gaming experience.

But I just can’t stay mad at this game, which delivered to me hours upon hours of pure gaming bliss. It’s hard to justify getting a game system based off of one game, but Halo 2 more than justifies getting an Xbox. Get this game now!

THE SCORE: 8.5/10

The Tribunal has spoken! And now, to the final judgment…

SCORE #1: 8.5
SCORE #2: 9.0
SCORE #3: 8.5

FINAL JUDGEMENT: 8.67

It is the decision of this Tribunal that Halo 2 is a more than worthy addition to the XBox line-up, and actually worthy of some of the accolades received in days gone by. I must say that you have actually surprised me today for garnering such a high score, Halo 2. Again, you are not without flaw, as nearly no game can be without flaw. But as a console FPS game, you stand alone at the top with your head held high. So go forth, Halo 2, and bring joy to those who have not bought into the hype, but looking for a great sequel to an already impressive game.

THIS SESSION HAS NOW BEEN ADJOURNED

We now dismiss all the attendees to this gathering. But we shall require your presence again, once The Tribunal deems another to prove itself…