Halo 2 Review
Halo 2 on the PC has been a long time in coming. Itís come to the PC three years after it was released for the Xbox, and the game was significantly delayed before it debuted on that console. Yes Halo 2 has finally arrived, but oddly enough it is a game for Vista only and has fairly steep system requirements at that (good luck getting it play nice without a Core Duo processor). I say ďoddlyĒ because the original Xbox was not as powerful as gaming PCs of the day when it debuted six years ago, and compared to Pentium 4 gaming rigs of a year ago it is downright a dinosaur. So how come you canít play the game in all its glory if you didnít buy your PC this year? You must be getting a lot more out of the game with all of that processing power, right? Well, unfortunately thatís not the case at all.
Let me take a step back for minute first and talk a little about the game itself. Youíre a PC gamer after all, and it is entirely possible that youíre never played Halo 2 on the Xbox or even played an Xbox game before for that matter. Halo 2 continues the adventures of the Master Chief, a space marine extraordinaire. The war with the alien races of The Covenant and The Flood that began on the alien station known as Halo continues, but this time the fight comes to Earth. Halo 2 crafts an excellent story and the campaign does serve up some memorable missions.
A couple of things that set Halo 2 apart from most other console games at the time were the quality of its AI and the availability of vehicles for your use. The AI is still pretty good in the Vista version, but cutting-edge AI on consoles a few years back canít really compete with the AI in the top-tier PC shooters of the past couple of years. You donít notice is as much in your allies who put up a good fight along your side, but more so in your enemies. Theyíll react competently enough but after having to face enemies smart enough to flank you in games like F.E.A.R., their attacks seem a little too straightforward. As for the vehicles, yes, it is fun to use them in Halo 2, but they canít compete with number and variety of vehicles in games like Battlefield 2. Donít get me wrong; Halo 2 can be enjoyable to play, but if youíre considering buying it based entirely on the reputation it earned on the Xbox then you need to understand that much of the hype is a matter of perspective.
Youíd think that one of the reasons for the gap between releases of Halo 2 was due to time spent upgrading the gameís graphics for the PC. Apparently that wasnít the case. The graphics are a minor improvement over those in the Xbox version, except in this case you need a top of the line gaming rig to generate those last-gen graphics. In fact, Halo 2 looks better on an Xbox or played on an Xbox 360 than it does on a PC that meets the gameís minimum requirements. This does not bode well for Vista gaming since PC gamers will be forced to upgrade to a Core Duo processor and a high-end graphics card simply to run Halo 2 and Shadowrun only to find that the results are underwhelming. Games like Half-Life 2 and Rainbow Six Vegas look gorgeous and run smoothly on gaming rigs that are a couple of years old, after all. Itís far cheaper for you to simply keep your current PC around longer and buy an Xbox 360 to play Shadowrun and Halo 2, and it saves you a lot of headaches as well.