Halo 2 First Look - E3 2004

The good news about Halo 2 at E3 (besides the fact that a release date was finally announced) was that a playable multiplayer map of the game was shown at the conference instead of just gameplay videos as in years past. The bad news though was that this was all that was on display and a playable version of the game was not available on the show floor. Since many games due out during the Holidays were on the show floor in a playable state, it is a little disconcerting that Halo 2 was not and makes you wonder if it will indeed make its November 9th street date. However, thatís when Bungie says the game will be done so weíll just have to have a little faith. Anyway, enough depressing talk about missed release dates; letís look at what was being shown at E3.

Causing some trouble with the plasma sword.

The first thing I was able to get a look at were some of the weapons available in the game. There are plenty of old favorites (and not so favorites) returning in Halo 2, including the sniper rifle, assault rifle, needler, and plasma rifle. Some weapons are back and enhanced as well, such as the rocket launcher which can now lock onto vehicles to fire guided rockets. The Covenantís plasma sword is now a player-wieldable weapon Ė a very strong one although you need to get up close and personal to use it. Finally, there will be some new weapons too, including a combat rifle which works as a cross between the sniper and assault rifles, and fixed guns used for base defense.

Like in Halo you wonít be able to carry an inventory of weapons, but a new feature in Halo 2 is the ability to dual-wield weapons. You can hold a weapon in each hand and use the left and right triggers to fire the corresponding weapon. This extra firepower comes at a cost, though. While dual-wielding weapons you can not throw grenades, and it takes you a longer time to reload than it does when you are holding a single weapon. Also some weapons will require two hands and so can not be dual-wielded, such as the rocket launcher and sniper rifle.

Vehicles will be back in Halo 2 and usable in multiplayer battles. The Warthog will now come in a version with a rocket launcher and the Covenantís Ghost will have a turbo speed boost button. In Halo 2 the vehicles will not only be destructible, they will feature location based damage. You can shoot the tires out from under a Warthog and make it very difficult to drive or clip the wings off of a Ghost. The physics model used to affect the vehicle damage and handling also makes for some cool explosion effects when a vehicle is totally destroyed, such as tires that go bouncing away from a destroyed Warthog. A new feature in Halo 2 will be the ability to hijack vehicles. If you can get in close enough, you can knock another player right off of a Ghost and go speeding away with their ride.