Halo 2

Halo 2

Even the content of Halo 2's campaign isn't significantly different from that of the first game. As you start Halo 2, prepare to take on many of the same foes in many of the same types of situations and locales. Of course, Halo 2 does take you into some new territory and pits you against some new threats (such as some hard-to-hit flying enemies and an enormous spiderlike Covenant battle tank), and sure enough, these sequences turn out to be some of the best bits of the campaign.

Early on, for instance, you'll be defending Earth itself from a Covenant assault, rampaging through the war-torn streets on foot, at the wheel (or the mounted turret) of a Warthog 4x4, or in the belly of a devastating Scorpion battle tank. All this is thrilling. Yet while it's hard to imagine a better setup for Halo 2's action than putting the fate of Earth's defense in your hands, the game turns out to have other intentions, and rather suddenly changes gears after just a few hours.

Halo 2 gives up some of its focus from a storytelling standpoint, which becomes especially apparent once you finish the campaign. A great deal of attention is paid this time around not to the humans struggling for survival, but to the Covenant and what turns out to be a major political upheaval within their ranks. You spent the first game indiscriminately killing these fiends--yet now you're expected to be sympathetic to them and their hatred for humankind.

To the game's credit, all this adds some newfound complexity to the story (even the collector's edition version of the game's manual is written from the Covenant perspective), and the plot itself is executed quite well. Still, chances are you'll wish that the game spent less time telling you about the Covenant and more time telling you about the Master Chief, his trusty AI companion Cortana, and, well, the fate of Earth.
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