It’s now only a few days till Halo 2 hits the UK (Thursday the 11th or 10th if I’m lucky) so I thought I’d share a few opinions (no spoilers) of the ‘test’ version I’ve been playing. I guess I should be honest and say that although the original Halo was a stand out game for the Xbox on launch, it tired quickly for me. I found the repetitive level design and unoriginal gameplay meant the single player campaign was difficult to stick with. Admittedly I was playing on Heroic to make sure the game was a challenge but the Library level and the flood character designs were in my book a filler in an otherwise stunning game., and playing through filler just turned me off. On the other hand the multi-player while not online was stunning and gave a real taster for what Halo 2 could be.

Halo 2 so far has been great. The single player campaign has been difficult but full of nice ‘set-piece’ moments. I’m now onto level 4 (again at Heroic) and although the graphics are ever changing I’m picking up a feeling of repetition again. Still – early doors with regards the campaign. Multiplayer has so far been limited to Xlink Kai and XBConnect games through the pc. However even with that frustration, the online gaming has been supreme. Amazing maps mixed with balanced weapons leads to some quite stunning gaming. The options for a host are massive, with the old favourite of Slayer with sniper rifles still available. Coupled with that are some ground breaking stats available at Bungie.net. Not only will the usual best player, friends list type stats be available but kill ratio’s, experience stats and current player levels are all there as well as a feature called ‘Game Viewer’ which is pretty neat. Basically each game you play in can be reviewed afterwards and you can see where you were shot from and who by – a picture says a thousand words.

Other new features – duel wielding which is basically firing two guns at once. This adds quite a bit of strategy as certain weapon combinations are more potent than others. The weaponry has also changed with some new additions and some tweaks to old ones (removal of sight from zoomed in pistol being one). Vehicles are also destructible and also there’s more to choose from – the ghost is superb.

Summing up, for me the online play is unrivalled on the Xbox. I can only hope for some lag-free gaming over Live on Thursday (hooray for holidays). Considering how good online this game is, the campaign mode might not be played for quite some time.

Some useful links – gamespot.com review and also the FAQ page at bungie.net.