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Halo 2: Anniversary

"Because the seeds of our future are sown in his past."
&#; ArbiterThel 'Vadam[5]

Halo 2: Anniversary is the remastered edition of Halo 2. The game was released on November 11, as part of Halo: The Master Chief Collection for the Xbox One.[2][6]Halo 2: Anniversary is the first Halo game to support Halo Channel, an Xbox One feature that was released alongside the game.[7] On May 12, , Halo 2: Anniversary launched on the PC platform as part of The Master Chief Collection.[3]



As with Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, the Halo 2: Anniversary campaign has been visually remastered by Saber Interactive along with completely redone audio and the original soundtrack rerecorded by Skywalker Sound.[8][9] Similar to its predecessor, Halo 2: Anniversary uses a combination of 3D models from several of the prior games (such as Halo: Reach's Grunts) as well as modified and all-new assets.[4] Unlike the other games in the Master Chief Collection which run at a xp resolution, the Halo 2: Anniversary campaign has a lower resolution of xp due to stated technical problems that arose from running the twin graphics and audio engines at p. The game nonetheless has a frame rate of 60 frames per second like the other titles in the collection.[10] The remastered cutscenes have been pre-rendered by Blur Studio as opposed to being in-engine like those in most of the Halo games.[2]

Like Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, the game allows users to switch between the remastered version and a "Classic Mode" (also referred to as "Legacy" mode);[8] both visuals and audio are remastered in the Anniversary mode but remain original in the Classic Mode. The switch between the two modes is more seamless than in Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, being instantaneous as opposed to the screen fading to black in the interim.[11]

Halo 2: Anniversary also contains a remastered version of Another Day at the Beach (a bonus video originally shipped with the Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack) animated by Blur Studio.[12] In addition, two cutscenes were added to the campaign's beginning and its ending, linking to the events of Halo 5: Guardians.

The campaign consists of 15 levels, of which 14 are playable.

  1. The Heretic - "For failure such as this, no punishment is too great." (cutscene; unplayable)
  2. The Armory - "Suit up, prepare for battle." (tutorial)
  3. Cairo Station - "Defend the station's MAC gun from Covenant boarders."
  4. Outskirts - "Rally scattered marines, clear hostile contacts from the old-city."
  5. Metropolis - "Take the bridge, break the Covenant's grip on the city-center."
  6. The Arbiter - "Infiltrate a Forerunner facility, quell the heresy within."
  7. The Oracle - "Kill the Heretic Leader. The Prophets' will be done."
  8. Delta Halo - "A Covenant army stands between you and Regret. Get to work."
  9. Regret - "You heard the lady. Locate the Prophet, take him down."
  10. Sacred Icon - "Succeed where others have failed. Lower the shield protecting the Sacred Icon."
  11. Quarantine Zone - "Parasites, humans - no matter. The Icon must be found."
  12. Gravemind - "The Prophets have the Index and plan to use it? Over your dead body."
  13. Uprising - "This is certain: The Brutes shall pay for the blood they have spilled."
  14. High Charity - "Cortana can handle the Index - stopping Truth is up to you."
  15. The Great Journey - "Form an unexpected alliance, keep Tartarus from activating the ring."


Like Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and Halo 4, Halo 2: Anniversary contains hidden terminal videos; these terminals have been stated to be easier to find than before.[13] As in Halo 4 the videos are hosted on Halo Waypoint, not on the disc, and as such require an Internet connection to access.


The game also features its own set of skulls.[2]


Main article: Halo: The Master Chief Collection multiplayer

The Halo 2: Anniversary multiplayer has been stated to be based on a post-patch version of Halo 2 as rather than the shipping version.[14] The game also has an online co-op mode.[4] Split-screen multiplayer is laid out in horizontal view instead of the original vertical orientation.[14]

All original multiplayer maps (including the extra ones in the DLC map packs and Halo 2 for Windows Vista)[15] are featured in the classic multiplayer mode.[2]

Remastered multiplayer[edit]

Various Elite armor permutations available in the Halo 2: Anniversarymultiplayer.

Six of Halo 2's multiplayer maps have been completely re-imagined[2] in a separate multiplayer engine described as a combination of the multiplayer of the classic Halo 2 and that of the more recent Halo titles.[4] A Forge mode is featured in the six re-imagined maps.[13]Certain Affinity president Max Hoberman, one of the multiplayer design leads on the original Halo 2, helped Industries design and create the remastered multiplayer component.[16] Many of the added features in the remastered maps were proposed for the original game but ended up being cut; thus, Industries considers the remastered component a "Director's Cut" of sorts.[1]

The developers' stated goals for the remastered maps were to expand upon the core Halo 2 experience, create the definitive version of each of the remastered maps, and to approach the remastering as more of an upgrade than a remake. Multiple aspects of the sandbox were tweaked to both improve and "modernize" the gameplay, although the goal is to remain faithful to the original experience. Some of these improvements include a boost to player speed, making the magnum more powerful and the addition of the assault rifle as a mid-range weapon option, something the developers found lacking in the original.[1] The silenced SMG has also been added along with the newly introduced MM Gungoose.[1]

As an added feature, players are able to choose their weapon set upon spawning, similar to the loadout system in Halo: Reach. According to Max Hoberman, this feature was originally designed for Halo 2 but was ultimately cut. Hoberman hesitated to call the weapon sets "loadouts" and underscored that the system is designed to be more evenly balanced; e.g. Lockdown's weapon sets include a choice between the SMG, plasma rifle and magnum. The human weapon sets equip the player with two frag grenades, while the Covenant ones have the player spawn with plasma grenades.[17]

Like earlier games' multiplayer customization includes nameplates, service tags, armor permutations for both Spartans and Sangheili, and emblems. New features to customization include clan tags and in-game avatars.[18]

Though most of the map geometry—including "skill jumps"—remain intact, the remastered maps contain a number of gameplay tweaks (such as additional cover) along with new "dynamic features", some of which Max Hoberman proposed to be added in the original Halo 2.[1] These include the addition of a large energy shield in the center of Zenith, the remake of Ascension, which can be triggered by three panels across the map,[19] and three stalactites which can be dropped on players on Lockdown, the remake of Lockout. Most of these new features can be disabled via Forge for an experience closer to the original game.[8]

Other additions to the remastered multiplayer include the name of the segment of the map that the player is currently in being displayed near the motion tracker, as in Halo: Reach. Gametypes such as Infection, Race, Ricochet and Team SWAT have been added to the remastered multiplayer.

Remastered maps

Armor permutations[edit]

Main article: Armor customization (Halo 2: Anniversary)

There are two player models which players can choose from, the standard SPARTAN model or an Elite model. Originally armor could not be customized, however in the ODST PC update, customization for Halo 2: Anniversary multiplayer was updated to allow options similar to that of the other games. All armor permutations do not have any effects on gameplay.


Main article: Halo 2: Anniversary Forge

Forge returns in Halo 2: Anniversary with many more improvements and additional features. New features include simple scripting objects (such as switches which can be used to trigger various actions) and mirrored versions of objects. Additionally, the budget can now either be limited on the amount of objects placed in a map, or how well the map will run with the amount of objects placed. Three Skybox-only maps have been added to allow players to build and create with little restrictions.[20]

Forge maps


The Arbiter and Master Chief, with Installation 05 and Substancein the background.


While Saber Interactive produced the cutscenes in-engine in Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, digital animation company Blur Studio (who previously worked on the Halo Wars cinematics) was contracted to create pre-rendered CGI cinematics for Halo 2: Anniversary. This was a considerable undertaking, as the game's cutscenes contain a total of 58 minutes of footage. However, since the template for the cinematics' structure and composition already existed in the form of the original Halo 2 cutscenes, it was easier for Blur to focus on issues like visual fidelity than in a typical project in which they are forced to work with little to no such source material.[23]

The character animations were created through motion capture technology; the new models for certain characters, such as Miranda Keyes and Avery Johnson, are also modeled after their motion capture actors. The action scenes, which involve a great deal of movement on part of the characters, proved a challenge for the actors, particularly because the facial and bodily performances were captured separately. In one scene (the closing of Quarantine Zone), for example, Damion Poitier, the motion capture actor for Sgt. Johnson and the Arbiter, is fighting "himself".[23]

All cutscenes can be viewed on Halo Channel.


The soundtrack in Halo 2: Anniversary is in surround sound and has been completely re-orchestrated by Skywalker Sound, with several new tracks exclusive to the remake.[8]Steve Vai, who worked on the original Halo 2 original soundtrack, was hired to re-record his original guitar tracks for the remastered soundtrack. Two new tracks by Misha Mansoor replaces the exclusive songs by Breaking Benjamin and Incubus in the Anniversary mode; the original tracks are retained in Classic mode.[8] An official Halo 2: Anniversary Original Soundtrack was released alongside The Master Chief Collection on November 11, [20][24] The soundtrack is available as a double CD, digital download, and a limited edition vinyl record.[8]

Every sound effect from the original Halo 2 has been redone, including weapons, vehicles and ambient sounds. The Anniversary mode also features an overhauled audio engine, with new reflection and level of distance systems to more realistically model the sound effects' interaction with the environment, accounting for level geometry and distance in the propagation of weapon sounds. Each weapon's sound effects have been changed to make every weapon seem more intimidating.[8] The audio team disseminated the original sounds in detail and attempted to find specific identifying characteristics of them to emulate in the new ones. Similar to the weapon sound effects in Halo 4, source material for the new sounds was recorded with actual weapons fire. The developers picked weapons they felt had distinctive firing reports, including the Thompson submachine gun, the Heckler & Koch MP5 and the M1 Garand. New source material for the energy sword's sound effects—which the audio team wanted to sound more powerful than originally—was created by recording the sizzling and crackling sounds created by placing ball bearings on dry ice.[23]

The toggle between the original and the remastered audio are tied to the graphics switch and cannot be changed independently.[8]


Box art[edit]

Concept art[edit]

  • Concept art for the Spartan armour designs in the multiplayer component.



  • Comparison between screenshots taken on classic and remastered Cairo Station

  • Gameplay on Cairo Station

  • H2A-MasterChief-Screenjpg
  • H2A-MasterChief-Screenjpg
  • H2A-MasterChief-Screenjpg
  • H2A-MasterChief-Screenjpg
  • H2A-MasterChief-Screenjpg
  • H2A-MasterChief-Screenjpg
  • John facing down a Grunt on Cairo Station

  • Multiplayer gameplay on Zenith

  • H2A-3rdPerson-MC-DualWield-M7SMG.jpg


Sours: https://www.halopedia.org/Halo_2:_Anniversary

Halo 2

This article is currently under construction and needs to be improved. Please refer to the talk page for more info. You can help by editing the page.
"Earth will never be the same."
&#; Official tagline

Halo 2 is a first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie Studios for the Xbox video game console and is forwards-compatible with the Xbox It is the sequel to Halo: Combat Evolved and features a newly built graphics engine as well as many new gameplay elements. Storywise, Halo 2 develops the struggle between the United Nations Space Command, Covenant, and the Flood during the Human-Covenant War in the fall of A sequel, Halo 3, was released on September 25,

The game is one of the most successful and actively played video games for the original Xbox console, with million copies sold as of November Despite this, the game's online servers, along with all other original Xbox LIVE services, were discontinued on April 15,

A PC version of Halo 2 was released in Halo 2: Anniversary, a remastered edition of the game, was released for the Xbox One as part of Halo: The Master Chief Collection on November 11, , the 10th anniversary of the original game.[2]


Characters and setting[edit]

Halo 2 does not pick up directly after the events of its predecessor, but rather, after the events depicted in the novel Halo: First Strike, taking place in Halo: Combat Evolved with the events explaining Master Chief's return to Earth not featured in any game so far. The story dives deeper into the society of the Covenant, their goals, beliefs, and alliances, as well as continuing Master Chief's story to put an end to the Covenant threat on Earth as well as another Halo. Halo 2 also introduces the Brutes, who were first mentioned in First Strike. They are shown as large, hairy, ape-like beasts; although they do not have energy shields like the Elites, their immense bulk and strength allows them to absorb a large amount of damage before dying.

The game follows a linear series of episodes that differ from Halo: Combat Evolved. The player will play as both the Master Chief and a troubled Covenant Elite known as "the Arbiter".

Plot synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Thel 'Vadamee before receiving the Mark of Shame and becoming the Arbiter.

The game begins on High Charity, the mobile capital city of the Covenant. The former Supreme Commander of the Fleet of Particular Justice, CommanderThel 'Vadamee, is on trial before the High Council for his failure to protect Halo. Despite his insistence that the Flood hampered his abilities, the Hierarchs who lead the council, the High Prophets of Truth, Mercy, and Regret, deem him guilty of failing to protect the Sacred Ring. 'Vadamee is then stripped of his rank and his armor and is branded with the Mark of Shame by Tartarus, the Chieftain of the Brutes.

The story then turns to Earth's Orbital Defense PlatformCairo Station, where Master Chief Petty OfficerJohn receives the new MJOLNIR Mark VI armor from the Master Gunnery Sergeant. Avery Junior Johnson, who recently has been promoted to Sergeant Major, arrives to take the Master Chief to an awards ceremony overseen by Fleet AdmiralTerrence Hood. At the ceremony, John, Johnson, and Miranda Keyes, Captain Keyes' daughter, are awarded medals as those in attendance celebrate. The festivities are soon interrupted by Cortana reporting that "15 Covenant Capital ships holding position just outside the kill zone," signaling the start of the Covenant siege of Earth. UNSC Marine forces, along with John, protect the station from the invading Covenant forces while other stations are overwhelmed and destroyed. A bomb is discovered on Cairo station, and John sends it into space. He detonates it, destroying several Covenant ships, before landing on the hull of Keyes' ship, the UNSC frigate In Amber Clad. The frigate heads to the Earth city of New Mombasa to fight off the Covenant troops, which are led by the High Prophet of Regret. After the Covenant invasion force is halted by the UNSC defenses, the Prophet of Regret flees Earth with Keyes and her detachment in pursuit on the In Amber Clad. The hasty in-atmosphere jump devastates the city of New Mombasa, destroying the Space Elevator and scattering its wreckage for miles around.

The story returns to the disgraced Elite Commander, Thel 'Vadamee, who is given a chance for redemption by the High Prophets of Truth and Mercy by taking up the mantle of Arbiter and the imminent mortality it entails. The new Arbiter becomes the will of the Prophets, seeking redemption by completing seemingly impossible tasks assigned to him. As his first mission as the Arbiter, 'Vadamee is tasked with the assassination of a Heretic Leader, Sesa 'Refumee, who has become disillusioned with the Covenant following the events on Installation 04 and its destruction. 'Vadamee tracks the Heretic Leader through the gas mine where the Heretics sought refuge, battling the Heretics and the Flood along the way. When the Arbiter finally faces the 'Refumee, he asserts his belief that the Prophets have lied about the Great Journey. Guilty Spark appears and corroborates 'Refumee's assertion (both Elites consider Guilty Spark to be an Oracle of the Forerunners, the ancient race the Covenant hold as gods). Before 'Vadamee can learn more of the claims, 'Refumee attacks 'Vadamee, and the Heretic Leader is killed. Tartarus then appears to extract the Arbiter and Guilty Spark, further preventing 'Vadamee from learning any further information from Guilty Spark. 'Vadamee departs, not learning what caused the Heretics to betray their sacred oaths to the Covenant.

Returning to SPARTAN's story, the In Amber Clad exits slipspace with the Prophet of Regret unaware that he had been followed. To the surprise of the pursuers, they discover that Regret has led them to another Halo Ring. Keyes sends John and ODSTs to the surface of Installation 05 to capture Regret while the In Amber Clad is repaired. In the course of pursuing Regret, John discovers, with the aid of Cortana, that the Prophet intends to personally activate Halo, in the belief that it will propel true believers on the Great Journey. To buy time to acquire the Activation Index before the Covenant are able, Keyes orders John to kill the Prophet of Regret, a mission he successfully achieves. Before making his escape, however, High Charity and its escort arrive and attempt to kill John by glassing the area. He survives by jumping into the lake surrounding the structure in which he encountered Regret. Incapacitated from the shock of the Covenant bombardment, John is last seen being dragged into the depths of the lake by tentacles belonging to a sentient creature.

The story now shifts back to the Arbiter on High Charity, in orbit around the ring. The Hierarchs have declared Regret's death to be the Elites' failure, and the Elites have been removed as the protectors of the Prophets. This role has now been given to the Brutes, causing further tension between the Brutes and Elites who were already at odds. Now that the new ring has been discovered, Truth and Mercy query Guilty Spark on how to activate it. They learn of the Sacred Icon that will light the ring and they dispatch Thel 'Vadamee to recover it. He makes his way through the Quarantine Zone of Installation 05, fighting scores of Flood and Sentinels, seeking the Activation Index. 'Vadamee arrives at the Library to find Keyes and Johnson have retrieved the Index from its protective housing. While 'Vadamee fights to take it from them, Tartarus arrives and again intervenes in his task. Upon taking the Index himself, Tartarus reveals the Hierarchs ordered him to kill 'Vadamee and oust the Elites. His treachery revealed, Tartarus knocks the Arbiter down a shaft in the Index chamber to the abyss below.

Beneath the Library, John finds himself in the clutches of the Gravemind, the creature that acts as the controlling intelligence of the Flood. It is revealed that Thel 'Vadamee has been saved from his fall by the Gravemind as well. It is within the Gravemind's chamber where the Arbiter and John meet. The Gravemind announces to John and 'Vadamee that he has much to tell them. The Prophet of Regret and Penitent Tangent, the Monitor of Installation 05, appear, both now infected and assimilated into the Gravemind's mass. They argue back and forth before the Gravemind reveals that Regret's "Great Journey" and Penitent Tangent's "Containment" are one in the same. Then both the Gravemind and John try to convince 'Vadamee that the Covenant's belief about the Halos is a lie. They reveal that the Halo installations were created not to save life, but to destroy it, causing the Arbiter to question his faith. These new revelations, paired with the imminent genocide of the Elites, lead 'Vadamee to reluctantly join John in the mission to stop the ring from being activated. The Gravemind then sends John to High Charity to retrieve the Index while the Arbiter is sent to the Control Room of Installation 05 to stop the Covenant from activating the ring.

John is teleported inside of High Charity in the middle of a broadcast by the Prophet of Truth. Upon John's arrival, Truth and Mercy flee to the Forerunner Dreadnought, and formally transfer command of the Covenant Military to the Brutes. Before the prophets make it to the ship, however, they are attacked by the Flood, and Truth leaves Mercy behind to die. Meanwhile, John pursues the Prophets. Throughout his pursuit, he kills many Covenant troops, witnesses the conflict between the Elites and Brutes and saves a group of Marines. At the same time, the Flood, under the control of the Gravemind crash into High Charity using the In Amber Clad. John finds Mercy being infected by the Flood, and the Prophet tells the Spartan that Truth is going to Earth to "finish what we started." Cortana implores John to pursue Truth, but he is hesitant as his mission to retrieve the Index is not complete. Cortana devises a plan to complete his mission by detonating the crashed In Amber Clad to destroy the ring if it is activated. This plan, however, requires Cortana to stay on board High Charity. John boards the Dreadnought through an energy conduit before promising Cortana that he will come back for her.

Installation 05 sending a pulse to signal the rest of the Halo Array to be put on standby for a remote activation from the Ark.

Meanwhile, Thel 'Vadamee is teleported to near Halo's Control Room. There he finds many dead Elites, which he has no doubt were killed by the Brutes. With the help of a few deployed Elites, and sympathetic Grunts and Hunters, he fights his way to meet the Special Operations CommanderRtas 'Vadumee, who is surprised to hear that the Brutes murdered the Councilors. Seeing Tartarus land on Halo's Control Room, the Elites fight their way to a TypeA Scarab, where Sergeant Johnson is held. Johnson forcefully initiates an uneasy alliance between the humans and the Elites and takes control of the Scarab. With the combined efforts of Johnson and 'Vadamee, the Scarab breaches the Control Room doors by using the Scarab's main energy cannon, and 'Vadamee enters to confront Tartarus. In the Control Room, Tartarus hears the truth of the Halos directly from Guilty Spark. Still blinded by faith, Tartarus forces Keyes to activate Halo. Many Zealots and Councilors aid the Arbiter in his final fight against Tartarus, and eventually after a long and tough fight, manage to kill him. Once Tartarus is defeated, Keyes grabs the Index just in time to stop Halo from firing. However, Guilty Spark says that this has activated a failsafe protocol, causing the Installation to send a signal to the rest of the Halo Array, putting them on standby for remote activation from the Ark.

The Forerunner Dreadnought arrives at Earth with John onboard. He alerts Admiral Hood of his presence, and tells him that he is "finishing this fight."

In a scene after the credits, it appears that High Charity has been completely taken over by the Flood, as thousands of Flood spores are visible floating throughout the air. The Gravemind speaks satisfactorily of being free of his "empty grave," and suddenly Cortana appears as a hologram on a pedestal in his room. The Gravemind tells her that there are questions that linger in his mind which Cortana must answer. Cortana replies, "Alrightshoot," before the screen turns black.

Spoilers end here.


The campaign consists of 15 levels, of which 14 are playable.

  1. The Heretic - "For failure such as this, no punishment is too great." (cutscene; unplayable)
  2. The Armory - "Suit up, prepare for battle." (tutorial)
  3. Cairo Station - "Defend the station's MAC gun from Covenant boarders."
  4. Outskirts - "Rally scattered marines, clear hostile contacts from the old-city."
  5. Metropolis - "Take the bridge, break the Covenant's grip on the city-center."
  6. The Arbiter - "Infiltrate a Forerunner facility, quell the heresy within."
  7. The Oracle - "Kill the Heretic Leader. The Prophets' will be done."
  8. Delta Halo - "A Covenant army stands between you and Regret. Get to work."
  9. Regret - "You heard the lady. Locate the Prophet, take him down."
  10. Sacred Icon - "Succeed where others have failed. Lower the shield protecting the Sacred Icon."
  11. Quarantine Zone - "Parasites, humans - no matter. The Icon must be found."
  12. Gravemind - "The Prophets have the Index and plan to use it? Over your dead body."
  13. Uprising - "This is certain: The Brutes shall pay for the blood they have spilled."
  14. High Charity - "Cortana can handle the Index - stopping Truth is up to you."
  15. The Great Journey - "Form an unexpected alliance, keep Tartarus from activating the ring."




Halo 2 features a modified version of the engine from Halo: Combat Evolved. This new engine featured support for online play via Xbox Live, improved visuals, and the implementation of the Havok physics engine that would replace Bungie's in house physics engine used in Combat Evolved.

Halo 2 was initially meant to implement a new graphics engine called Pstencil that would allow for objects to cast real-time shadows. This lighting technique proved too expensive for the Xbox's hardware to handle, and was only ever seen in the E3 demo of Halo 2. In order to make the demo playable on stage, massive optimization had to be done across the demo map, such as the deletion of objects that were no longer in frame.

Gameplay and design[edit]

In the aftermath of the success of Combat Evolved in the multiplayer and LAN scene, there was a desire to double down on multiplayer development. The team was also involved in the development of Xbox Live at this point.[3]

One of the biggest alterations to gameplay in Halo 2 is perhaps the ability to dual wield weapons; this tactic allows for twice the firepower at the expense of being unable to throw grenades or melee without dropping the left weapon. In terms of vehicles, all vehicles from the first game remain except the M12A1 Warthog LAAV (rocket warthog) from the PC version and the Spirit dropship. Also, a few new vehicles are introduced. In Halo 2, however, the previously indestructible vehicles can now be destroyed and the player is able to "board" an enemy vehicle by climbing on and knocking the driver out, as well as planting grenades to further damage the vehicle. The same can be done by an enemy to the player when driving.

When playing as the Arbiter, the player's flashlight is replaced with a rechargeable active camouflage that lasts for ten seconds, giving the player a preemptive advantage on unsuspecting enemies.

The player can have a variety of allies; if they are playing as the Master Chief, they will be assisted by UNSC Marines, and occasionally ODSTs. However, the Arbiter is joined by Grunts, Jackals, Hunters, and other Elites, allowing for deeper insight into Covenant culture.

On the damage mechanics, fall damage now has been reduced considerably. The threshold minimum damage has been increased, such as from 3 stories building height will not cause player any damage while on the previous game, it gives the player some damage. The most benefits come from splatter damage as a slight touch from the object now is no longer kill anyone instantly including player (Except some who are designed to be invulnerable). The player now needs more effort to score a splatter kill.

Campaign and story[edit]

"I think everybody had their own priorities for the sequel. For me, I felt passionate about exploring this whole other world, that isn’t all about Master Chief. The other side."
&#; Joseph Staten[4]

Halo 2 has been the only game in the series to have the most content either cut from the game entirely or redesigned completely as evidenced in many forms of media. In the Halo 3 Essentials disc featuring the "Director's Commentary" of the cutscenes, three separate levels were discussed as having been proposed but ultimately scrapped due to time constraints: Covenant Ship, Forerunner Tank, and Forerunner Ship. In the "Making of Halo 2" documentary there was concept art seen regarding a level location The Ark, although the design was later placed into Halo 3's The Storm as the Portal. The former could have been a part of pre-production for Halo 3. Marty O'Donnell was also quoted in a Bungie Podcast (Episode 13, at ) saying that all the actors had recorded the lines to the original Halo 2 ending and that it still exists today, but he will never show it. The Flood Juggernaut was a character that was modeled and placed in the coding of the game but never had AI programmed or had been placed on any level, similar to the Engineer in Halo: Combat Evolved.

The head writer for Halo 2 was Joseph Staten. With the Halo 2 campaign, Staten was interested in expanding the game's scope from solely the Master Chief and humanity,[4] fleshing out the Covenant antagonists through the perspective of the Arbiter. The core idea behind the Arbiter was to create a character who suffered the consequences of the Master Chief's victory in the first game.[5] According to Staten, Bungie co-founder and the game's project lead Jason Jones was extremely passionate about including two particular scenes that were ultimately cut. In one of these, the Master Chief would be standing on an orbital above Earth and look down on the carnage inflicted by the Covenant, saying "Only blood will pay for this." A similar scene occurs in the final game, at the conclusion of "Cairo Station", but the quote is absent. Jones also wanted to have Miranda Keyes play the role of an antagonist and have her betray the Master Chief, strapping and bomb to his back and throwing him down a hole. Staten was not fond of the idea and, though great effort, convinced Jones it would not work in the context of the story.[4]

A key theme in the story's development was bringing the war to Earth.[3]

According to Microsoft Halo Franchise Development Group employee Eric Trautmann, who liaised with Bungie on the development of the Halo story, Bungie was initially skeptical that fans would recognize the ODSTs during the Delta Halo level, and questioned the in-universe purpose they served. This was the last work Trautmann worked on before leaving development on the Halo franchise in November 9, [6]

Help.pngThis section needs expansion. You can help Halopedia by expanding it.


A total of 21, lines of dialogue was recorded.[7]

Help.pngThis section needs expansion. You can help Halopedia by expanding it.


Multiplayer action in Halo 2on Tombstone: An ongoing Free-For-All battle.

Unlike its predecessor, Halo 2 allowed players to compete with each other over the Xbox Live online service, in addition to the originals support for split-screen and System Link multiplayer. Halo 2's Xbox Live mode offered a unique approach to online gaming that is intended to alleviate some of the problems that have plagued online first-person shooters in the past. Traditionally, one player sets their computer or console up as a game server (or host), specifying the game type and map and configuring other settings. The game software then used a service like Xbox Live or GameSpy to advertise the game to the world at large; other players choose which game to join based upon criteria such as the map and game options each host is offering as well as the ping times they are able to receive.

In Halo 2, Xbox Live players do not choose to host games, and they do not get to specify individual maps and options to search for. Instead, players sign up for "playlists" that are geared to different styles of play. For example, the "Rumble Pit" playlist offers a variety of "free-for-all" game types, primarily Slayer or variations there of; "Team Skirmish" offers a number of 4-on-4 team games, which are primarily objective-based games like Capture the Flag; "Big Team Battle Skirmish" is similar to Team Skirmish but allows teams of up to 8 players. Other playlists allow various things such as matches between different clans. The Xbox Live servers create games automatically from the pool of players that have signed up for each playlist, choosing a game type and map automatically and selecting one player to serve as the game's host. Players can create small "parties" with their friends and enter games together as teammates or, in Rumble Pit, adversaries. They can also play custom gametypes like regular multiplayer. Unranked gametypes allow people on the same Xbox console without an Xbox Live account to play with them as "guests". If the Xbox console hosting the game drops out, the Xbox Live service automatically selects a new host from among the remaining players so the game can continue.

Since launching in November , the service has been very popular with gamers. While some players resent the loss of individual control inherent in Halo 2's approach to online gaming, others feel it provides a significantly improved gaming experience compared to more traditional online first-person shooters. Bungie's servers match players up by skill level, which tends to eliminate the kind of severely imbalanced games that less-skilled players often consider unfair and not enjoyable. The automatic host selection process also eliminates the ability of the host to exert outsize control over the parameters of the game.

Halo 2 players with Microsoft Passport accounts can log on to bungie.net and obtain highly detailed statistics on their performance, including level maps for several hundred of the player's most recent games that indicate graphically where and when the player scored a kill or was killed him or herself.


Server shutdown[edit]

On April 15, , the Halo 2 multiplayer services, along with all other original Xbox LIVE services, were discontinued. However, some of Halo 2's fans left their Xbox's running after April Xbox LIVE did not boot the approximately people who had signed into Xbox LIVE before the discontinuation of service on April These players continued playing online amongst one another but no new players could sign on. On April 30, only 12 fans who had managed to keep their Xbox and Xbox LIVE connections stable remained logged into Halo 2 on Xbox Live. Nicknamed the "Noble 12", they continued to play games among themselves. In response, Stephen Toulouse, director of policy and enforcement for Xbox Live, tweeted "To those noble folk keeping halo2 alive: we see you, and we salute you,". These hardcore fans were awarded Halo: Reach Beta keys because of their attempts to keep Halo 2 alive. Over the next 9 days, 10 of the 12 gamers would experience either Xbox malfunctions or Internet malfunctions. Some were reported as logging off voluntarily to play the Halo: Reach Beta they received. Only two people remained online in Halo 2. On May 10, , "Agent Windex" was quoted as saying "I just got kicked off guys. Good Job Apache, you're the last one". Later that day, "Apache N4SIR", the very last person on Halo 2, was booted from Xbox LIVE. This marked the end of Halo 2 on Xbox LIVE and the end of the original Xbox LIVE.[8][9]

Marketing promotions and release[edit]

Announcement trailer[edit]

Main article: Halo 2 announcement trailer

In , Bungie released the first glimpse of Halo 2 in a pre-rendered CG trailer. The trailer featured the Master Chief in his new MJOLNIR Mark VI armor preparing for battle in a space station. Cortana is also heard and has dialogue with the Chief. It also featured Earth and CCS-class Battlecruisers in orbit. The UNSC seem to be losing in the battle. The events of this trailer were featured in the final version of Halo 2. Some of the events and dialogue of this trailer was changed to fit the finished storyline of the game. Most of this now appears in the Halo 2 level Cairo Station.

E3 [edit]

Main article: Halo 2 E3 demo

E3 featured the release by Bungie of footage of a playable in-game demo of the Halo 2 campaign. The demo featured the battle on Earth in the city of New Mombasa. Master Chief, Cortana, Sergeant Johnson, Corporal Perez, Major Easley, and Sergeant Banks were all seen/heard in the demo. The demo showed off new features like Dual-Wielding (the Master Chief could actually keep both his dual-wielded weapons when he switched to his secondary sidearm; this was changed for the final product), Vehicle Damage, and Boarding. Three new vehicles shown were the Gauss Warthog, Type Shadow, and the Covenant Phantom, which at the time had only one plasma turret on its underside instead of three.

Returning vehicles featured the Ghost, Pelican, Covenant Cruiser, and Longsword Fighters. New weapons the Battle Rifle, SMG, and Brute Shot were also shown, although the final Brute Shot design for Halo 2 was vastly different from what was shown in this trailer. New enemies such as the Brutes were shown in this demo, but as a secondary warrior race by the side of the Elites. The events of this demo were featured in the final version of Halo 2. Some of the events and dialog of this demo was changed to fit the finished storyline of the game, such as the AA Gun becoming a Scarab. Most of this now appears in the Halo 2 level; Metropolis.

Halo 2 Council[edit]

To help promote Halo 2, Microsoft established the Halo 2 Council, an off-shoot of its celebrity "Xbox Playaz Club". It had seven members, consisting of actors Wilmer Valderrama, Benjamin Mckenzie, and Aisha Tyler; Jeremy Shockey of the New York Giants; and bands Hoobastank, Incubus, and Linkin Park.[10] Members of the Halo 2 Council received advanced copies of the game, as well as an exclusive "Halo 2 Pelican Case", a portable Xbox contained in a personalized suitcase with a inch HDTV, two controllers, Xbox Live headset, and an Ethernet connection.[11] They were also offered "VIP tours of Bungie Studios, voice-over recording sessions for game integration, [and] access to Halo 2 during the development process." Members promoted the game through Halo-related events, such as Aisha Tyler's birthday party, where around guests were invited to play an advance version of Halo 2's multiplayer.[12]

E3 [edit]

Main article: Halo 2 E3 Multiplayer Demo

Halo 2 also had a significant presence at E3 (May 11–13, ). On May 8, Microsoft held a preview event in a private home in Beverley Hills, California, which had been transformed into a replica of "the stunning futuristic world of Halo, complete with camouflaged marines and roaming Cortanas." It was attended by the members of the Halo 2 Council, as well as well-known celebrities of the time such as Joe Reitman, Jolene Blalock, Andrew Keegan, Jordana Brewster, Bai Ling, Ben Foster, Kelly Hu, Kyle Boller, Laura Prepon, Brad Bufanda, Lindsay Lohan, Breckin Meyer, Luke Walton, Michelle Rodriguez, Chris Masterson, Danny Masterson, Rick Yune, Good Charlotte, Ryan Phillipe, Gregory Smith, Shannon Elizabeth, Taryn Manning, and Tara Reid.[12]

During the event itself, Halo 2 held a central position in Microsoft's showcase. At the pre-event Xbox conference on May 10, Bungie released footage of a playable in-game demo of the Halo 2 multiplayer. The demo featured the multiplayer map Zanzibar and displayed playable character models the SPARTAN-II model and the Sangheili model. It also showed off some of the weaponry of the game and some special features. The Battle Rifle, SMG, Needler, Rocket Launcher, and Energy Sword were displayed. The Gauss Warthog and the Ghost also made an appearance. Some features included the lock-on feature of the Rocket Launcher, the Dual-Wielding ability, Explosive Barrels, Ghost's boosting, vehicle boarding, Warthogs horn and Gauss Cannon and Sword Lunging. The demo also featured the official announcement of the release date, November 9, [13] After the demo's public unveiling, fans were allowed to try it out for themselves throughout the Expo on the showfloor.[14]


Main article: Halo2.com

Halo2.com was the promotional website registered by Microsoft for Halo 2. It first went live on May 11,[15] and had national or regional variants, such as the Australian site (www.halo2.com.au/).[16] Initially, it consisted of a straightforward promotional site, featuring screenshots, wallpapers, videos, and news.[17] Later, it was relaunched by AKQA on October 15, expanded and updated with a Covenant theme and tied to the i love bees alternate reality game.[18] After Halo 2's release, it was merged with the official Xbox site.

i love bees[edit]

Main article: i love bees

During the summer of , the website ilovebees.com was used as a publicity site for Halo 2, with the site being pointed to by adverts for the game during movie trailers. Ostensibly a beekeeper's personal site, the server appeared to have been taken over by an unstable A.I. whose thoughts were scattered on the site. These included a number of "Axon" clips, which when put together formed an audio drama. This alternate reality game acted as a prologue to the story of Halo 2.

Cinematic trailer[edit]

Main article: Halo 2 theatrical trailer

In October , a short trailer for Halo 2 was shown in movie theaters and cinemas throughout the United States. It featured short clips of game play, some newly rendered scenes, as well as materials recycled from the E3 demo. The trailer also featured a brief promotion of i love bees.

Television trailer[edit]

Main article: Halo 2 commercial

In October through November , a television advertisement for Halo 2 aired throughout the United States. It consisted of footage from cutscenes and gameplay. There were two versions of the ad, a seconds and a seconds spot.


  • - Rereleased as part of the Halo Triple Pack which included Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, and Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack.
  • - Rereleased as part of the Halo History Pack which included Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, and a sneak peek of Halo 3, and as part of Xbox LIVE's Xbox Originals.
  • - Rereleased as Halo 2: Anniversary, a remake of the game included in Halo: The Master Chief Collection.


Main article: Halo 2: Original Soundtrack

There are two volumes of the Halo 2 soundtrack, one released alongside the game, and the other released in Early You can usually find them at any retail store that sells music or games, or Ebay.


"Halo 2 is the single greatest achievement on the platform."
&#; OXM , December (The OXM verdict: 10/10)[19]

Halo 2 was very successful in sales. In company with PlayStation 2's hit of the year, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, it was the most sought-after video game among critics and gamers in Three weeks prior to launch, stores in the U.S. alone had pre-sold million copies of the game to consumers. When it launched for the Xbox on the 9th of November, over video game, toy and electronics stores in the U.S. opened at midnight to welcome fanatical fans. Halo 2 instantly began to prosper. One national retailer sold 8, copies of the game in just 11 minutes, and another had sold , units by daybreak. One single store sold Halo 2 units in three hours, of them being sold between midnight and 1 a.m.[20] Early on the launch day, Microsoft expected Halo 2 to generate more money in 24 hours on store shelves than any game had done before. Moore said “I'm calling a $ million day on Halo today.” Halo 2 went on to be the success that Microsoft was anticipating, selling approximately million copies in North America in 24 hours, generating $ million. The video game software retailer GameStop sold more than half a million Halo 2 copies in one day. In Australia, where more than 42, gamers had pre-ordered the game prior to its release, Halo 2 shattered retail sales records by selling more than , units in no more than one week after launch, generating nine million dollars and beating the previous record holder by 38, copies.[21] In Canada, Halo 2 succeeded in selling , units in its debut month, making it the biggest premiere month for any game up to Grand Theft Auto IV. Before its release in New Zealand, more than units of Halo 2 had been pre-sold.

Three weeks after its release, Halo 2 had sold over 5 million copies,[22] making it the second-best selling Xbox game, with approximately 19% of all Xbox owners possessing a copy of Halo 2. The game also had the most successful opening night of any game up until Halo 3, and, later, Grand Theft Auto 4. The game had a generally amazing reception, gaining a out of 10 from OXM (10 out of 10 from its Australian counterpart), a out of 10 from IGN, a 10 out of 10 from Game Informer, a 9 out of 10 from Play Magazine, a 5 out of 5 from X-Play, and a for Xbox from GameSpot. It gained more Game of The Year awards in than any other game that year. X-Play, in late , included it as #3 in their top 4 greatest shooters of all time (#4 was Resistance, #2 Half-Life 2, and #1 was Gears of War). In early , it made #8 on their top 10 Games of All Time countdown. The game had an average meta-score of 95 out of , making it the 3rd most critically acclaimed Xbox game, right behind Halo: Combat Evolved and the Grand Theft Auto Triple Pack. The games multiplayer was held to be one of the best of all time, staying consistently number 1 the most played Xbox Live title from November up until November of , when Gears of War released.

Most critics noted that Halo 2 stuck with the formula that made its predecessor successful, and was alternatively praised and faulted for this decision. Edge noted in its review, “It's fitting that we're able to steal a line from the script to sum everything up. No spoilers here, just an epitaph, from the moment Cortana turns to Master Chief and says this: 'It’s not an original plan. But we know it’ll work.'" According to Xbox.com, the game has received more than 38 individual awards. The game's campaign mode has received some criticism for being too short, in addition to some dissatisfaction with the abrupt, cliffhanger ending that sets up the sequel, Halo 3. GameSpot noted that the story switching between the Covenant and Human factions made the plot more intricate, but also distracted the player from Earth's survival and the main point of the game. There is also some criticism of the game's on-the-fly streaming and level of detail adjustment, which can sometimes result in textures loading erroneously and "popping in" when the camera changes in cutscenes. Bungie has stated that this issue had been fixed for Halo 3 and the Windows Vista port.

In an interview with Edge magazine in January , Jamie Greisemer, one of Halo's design leads, said that the main reason for Halo 2's shortcomings was a lack of "polish" period near the end of the development cycle. Staff member Frank O’Connor admitted the cliffhanger ending was abrupt, noting “we drove off Thelma & Louise style." Nonetheless, in the interview Greisemer promised that they would make Halo 3 a more than worthy successor.


  • Originally, there were to be several kinds of Warthogs including an Arctic model (which was included in the Halo 3 DLC multiplayer map Avalanche), a transport vehicle and a small ATV (known as the Mongoose in Halo 3) would make an appearance. These were all cut from the final version of the game. However, in Halo: Custom Edition, fans created the arctic and transport warthogs, as well as the civilian Warthog featured in the multi-player map Headlong. A rocket Warthog was included in Halo PC and the ATV and variations of the Warthog appear in Halo 3.
  • Jason Jones is known for establishing the quote: "Halo 2 is a lot like Halo 1, only it's Halo 1 on fire, going miles per hour through a hospital zone, being chased by helicopters and ninjas. And, the ninjas are all on fire, too." This led to the famous line of inside jokes, patches and t-shirts, user names, and memes of flaming ninjas.[23]
  • In the final days prior to the deactivation of Halo 2's multiplayer, Bungie added new sayings to the Did You Know? section of the lobby including messages of thanks to Halo 2 fans for staying supportive for the half decade that it was active and hints about Halo: Reach's gameplay. Many of these were worded in a humorous manner, though several were outright jokes.
  • Halo 2 has been played for about million hours on Xbox since its release.
  • Players who played this game with their current LIVE account before April 14, will unlock the Halo 2Visual Flair in Halo: Reach.[24]
  • The Hunt the Truth marketing campaign for Halo 5: Guardians reveals that Halo 2's cover art is based on an in-universe photograph taken by Benjamin Giraud during the Battle of Mombasa.


Normal gallery[edit]

  • Full game cover for Halo 2.

  • Full screenshot featured on the back cover.

  • The Halo 2 main menu screen.

Concept art[edit]

  • Concept art of the Master Chief taking cover.

  • Concept art of the Arbiter sneaking up on Master Chief, later included on the Halo 3 Zune.

Promotional material[edit]

  • A wallpaper used to market the game.

  • Another wallpaper used to market the game.

  • Artwork featuring the Master Chief during the Battle of Mombasa.

  • EGM cover by Craig Mullins.

  • OXM cover by Eddie Smith.

  • EDGE cover by Eddie Smith.


Sours: https://www.halopedia.org/Halo_2
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Halo 2

video game

This article is about the video game. For the Nine Inch Nails album that uses this pseudonym, see Pretty Hate Machine.

video game

Halo 2 is a first-person shooter game developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft Game Studios for the Xbox console. Halo 2 is the second installment in the Halo franchise and the sequel to 's critically acclaimed Halo: Combat Evolved. The game features new weapons, enemies, and vehicles, and shipped with online multiplayer via Microsoft's Xbox Live service. In Halo 2's story mode, the player assumes the roles of the human Master Chief and the alien Arbiter in a 26th-century conflict between the United Nations Space Command, the genocidal Covenant, and the parasitic Flood.

After the success of Halo: Combat Evolved, a sequel was expected and highly anticipated. Bungie found inspiration in plot points and gameplay elements that had been left out of their first game, including online multiplayer. A troubled development and time constraints forced cuts to the scope of the game, including the wholesale removal of a more ambitious multiplayer mode, and necessitated a cliffhanger ending to the game's campaign mode. Among Halo 2's marketing was an early alternate reality game called "I Love Bees" that involved players solving real-world puzzles. Bungie supported the game after release with new multiplayer maps and updates to address cheating and glitches. The game was followed by a sequel, Halo 3, in September

Halo 2 was a commercial and critical success and is often listed as one of the greatest video games of all time. The game became the most popular title on Xbox Live, holding that rank until the release of Gears of War for the Xbox nearly two years later. Halo 2 is the best-selling first-generation Xbox game, with more than 8 million copies sold worldwide. The game received critical acclaim, with the multiplayer lauded; in comparison, the campaign and its cliffhanger ending was divisive. The game's online component was highly influential and cemented many features as standard in future games and online services, including matchmaking, lobbies, and clans. Halo 2's marketing heralded the beginnings of video games as blockbuster media. A port of the game for Windows Vista was released in , followed by a high-definition remaster as part of Halo: The Master Chief Collection in


In-game screenshot of Halo 2for Xbox; the player character aims a shotgun at enemy Covenant.

Halo 2 is a shooter game. Players primarily experience gameplay from a first-person perspective, with the viewpoint shifting to third-person for vehicle segments.[4] Players use a combination of human and Covenant weaponry and vehicles to progress through the game's levels. Certain weapons can be dual-wielded, allowing the player to trade accuracy, the use of grenades, and melee attacks for raw firepower.[5] The player can carry two weapons at a time (or three if dual-wielding, with one weapon remaining holstered), with each weapon having strengths in different combat situations. Most Covenant weapons, for example, eschew disposable ammo magazines for a contained battery, which cannot be replaced once depleted. However, these weapons overheat if fired continuously.[5] Human weapons are less effective at penetrating shields and require reloading ammunition, but cannot overheat due to prolonged fire. Players can hijack enemy vehicles and quickly assume control of them. The player is equipped with a damage-absorbing shield that regenerates when not taking fire; their health bar is not visible.[5]

The game's "Campaign" mode offers options for both single-player and cooperative multiplayer participation. In campaign mode, the player must complete a series of levels that encompass Halo 2's storyline. These levels alternate between the Master Chief and a Covenant Elite called the Arbiter, who occupy diametrically opposed roles in the story's conflict. Aside from variations in storyline, the Arbiter differs from Master Chief only in that his armor lacks a flashlight; instead, it is equipped with a short duration rechargeable form of active camouflage that disappears when the player attacks or takes damage.[6] There are four difficulty levels in campaign mode: Easy, Normal, Heroic, and Legendary. An increase in difficulty will result in an increase in the number, rank, health, damage, and accuracy of enemies; a reduction of duration and an increase in recharge time for the Arbiter's active camouflage; a decrease in the player's health and shields; and occasional changes in dialogue. Enemy and friendly artificial intelligence is dynamic, and replaying the same encounters repeatedly will demonstrate different behavior.[4]


Like Halo: Combat Evolved, the Xbox version of Halo 2 features a multiplayer system that allows players to compete with each other in split-screen and system link modes; in addition, it added support for online multiplayer via Xbox Live.[5] The Xbox Live multiplayer and downloadable content features of the Xbox version of Halo 2 were supported until the discontinuation of the service in April ,[7] with the final multiplayer session concluding May 10, almost a month after the service was officially terminated.[8] Multiplayer for the PC version of the game used Games for Windows – Live.[9] PC multiplayer servers were taken offline in June [10][11]

Instead of implementing multiplayer by having players manually join lobbies, as was common in games at the time, Halo 2 used matchmaking. Players chose the general type of match they want to play, and the game selected the map and gametype and automatically found other players.[12] This "playlist" system automated the process of finding matches to keep a steady flow of games available at all times, and combined a skill-ranking system on top.[13]



See also: Halo: Combat Evolved and Factions of Halo

Halo 2 takes place in the 26th century. Humans, under the auspices of the United Nations Space Command or UNSC, have developed faster-than-light slipspace travel and colonized numerous worlds.[5] Human worlds come under attack by a collective of alien races known as the Covenant. Declaring humanity an affront to their gods, the Forerunners, the Covenant begin to obliterate the humans with their superior numbers and technology. After the human planet Reach is destroyed, a single ship, The Pillar of Autumn, follows protocol and initiates a random slipspace jump to lead the Covenant away from Earth. The crew discovers a Forerunner ringworld called Halo. Though the Covenant believe Halo's activation will lead to divine salvation, the humans discover that the rings are actually weapons, built to contain a terrifying parasite called the Flood. The human supersoldier Master Chief Petty Officer John and his AI companion Cortana learn from Halo's AI monitor, Guilty Spark, that activation of the Halos will destroy all sentient life in the galaxy to prevent the Flood's spread. Instead of activating the ring, Master Chief and Cortana detonate the Pillar of Autumn's engines, destroying the installation and preventing the escape of the Flood. Master Chief and Cortana race back to Earth to warn of an impending invasion by Covenant forces.[14]


Halo 2 opens with the trial of a Covenant Elite commander aboard the Covenant's capital city-ship of High Charity. For his failure to stop Halo's destruction, the Elite is stripped of his rank, branded a heretic, and tortured by Tartarus, the Chieftain of the Covenant Brutes. Spared execution, the Covenant leadership—the High Prophets Truth, Regret, and Mercy—give the Elite the chance to become an Arbiter, a rank given to Elites in times of great crisis or turmoil. As the Arbiter, the Elite quells a rebellion and recovers Guilty Spark. Meanwhile, the Prophet of Regret prepares an attack on Earth, having found its location from a Forerunner device.[15]

On Earth, Fleet Admiral Hood commends the Master Chief and Sergeant Avery Johnson for their actions at the first Halo, with Commander Miranda Keyes accepting a medal on behalf of her deceased father. A Covenant fleet appears near Earth. In the ensuing battle, a single ship carrying the Prophet of Regret slips through Earth's defenses and besieges the African city of New Mombasa. Master Chief assists in defending the city. With his fleet destroyed, Regret makes a hasty slipspace jump, and Keyes, Johnson, Cortana, and the Master Chief follow aboard the UNSC ship In Amber Clad. The crew discovers another Halo installation; realizing the danger the ring presents, Keyes sends Master Chief to kill Regret while she and Johnson search for the Index, Halo's activation key.

Responding to Regret's distress call, High Charity and the Covenant fleet arrive at the Halo. After Master Chief kills Regret, the Covenant bombard his location; he falls into a lake, where he is dragged away by tentacles. Regret's death triggers discord among the races of the Covenant, as the Prophets give the Brutes the Elites' traditional role as their honor guard. The Arbiter subdues Johnson and Keyes and retrieves the Index. Tartarus appears and reveals that the Prophets have ordered the annihilation of the Elites, and sends the Arbiter falling down a deep chasm.

The Arbiter meets the Master Chief in the bowels of the Halo, brought together by a Flood creature called the Gravemind. The Gravemind reveals to the Arbiter that the Great Journey is a lie, and sends the two soldiers to different places to stop Halo's activation. The Master Chief is teleported to High Charity as the Covenant falls into civil war. The Flood-infested In Amber Clad crashes into the city, and Cortana realizes that the Gravemind used them as a distraction. As the parasite overruns the city, the Prophet of Mercy is consumed. The Prophet of Truth sends Tartarus to Halo with Keyes, Johnson, and Guilty Spark to activate the ring. Master Chief follows Truth aboard a Forerunner ship leaving the city; Cortana remains behind to destroy High Charity and Halo if Tartarus succeeds in activating the ring.

On the surface of Halo, the Arbiter joins forces with Johnson and confronts Tartarus in Halo's control room. When the Arbiter tries to convince Tartarus that the Prophets have betrayed them, Tartarus instead activates the ring, and a battle ensues. The Arbiter and Johnson kill Tartarus while Keyes removes the Index; the unexpected deactivation sets Halo and all the other rings on standby for remote activation from a place Guilty Spark calls "the Ark." Meanwhile, Truth's ship arrives at Earth, and Master Chief informs Admiral Hood that he is "finishing this fight."

In a post-credits scene, Gravemind assumes control of High Charity. Cortana agrees to answer the Flood intelligence's questions.


Halo had never been planned as a trilogy, but the critical and commercial success of Combat Evolved—selling more than five million copies in three years[16]—made a sequel expected.[17] Xbox general manager J Allard confirmed Halo 2 was in production at Electronic Entertainment Expo , with a planned release in time for Holiday [18]

Many at Bungie wanted to make a sequel, building on cut ideas from Combat Evolved with a more ambitious follow-up.[19] The added publisher support for a sequel allowed greater leeway and the ability to return to more ambitious ideas lost during Combat Evolved's development.[17] Not satisfied with merely adding back cut content to the sequel, designer Jaime Griesemer recalled that the team "tripled everything," rebuilding the game engine, changing the physics engine, and prototyping a system for stencil shadow volumes.[19][20] The game's development would suffer from a lack of clear leadership. Early development discussions happened in small, unconnected teams that did not talk with each other. Jason Jones, who had been exhausted shipping Combat Evolved, similarly burned out during Halo 2's production. Jones left the project to work on another Bungie game, Phoenix, leaving fewer people to work on Halo 2. Bungie cofounder Alex Seropian left Bungie in , causing additional friction and politics in the workplace where Seropian had once mediated tensions. Writer Joseph Staten described the team's ambitions thusly:[19]

Then we just plowed ahead, much like we'd done with Halo, with one notable exception. We ordered ourselves a giant sandwich, took a bite but didn't realize exactly how big it was before we started in. And we did that across the board, technically, artistically, and story wise. But of course, we didn't figure that out until way too late.

Griesemer put it more bluntly: "What's the phrase? Putting ten pounds of crap into a five-pound bag? We really tried to cram it too full, and we paid the price."[19]

An important feature for Halo 2 was multiplayer using Xbox Live. Multiplayer in Combat Evolved was accomplished via System Link and had nearly been scrapped altogether in the rush to complete the game.[19][16] Most players never played large maps, while a subset greatly enjoyed player action, connecting consoles together with network cables for group play. "We looked at the small set of fans who were able to do this," said engineering lead Chris Butcher, "and just how much they were enjoying themselves, and asked ourselves if we could bring that to everybody. That would be something really special, really unique."[17][16] Initially, Combat Evolved's multiplayer was supposed to involve larger maps and player counts than what shipped, and members of the team wanted to resurrect those plans for Halo 2. The smaller multiplayer modes and local split-screen capabilities of the first game would have been removed. Designer Max Hoberman successfully argued against wholesale removal of a successful component from the previous game. He was put in charge of a small team to further develop the small-scale arena multiplayer, while the rest of the team developed a larger "Warfare" mode.[19] Bungie promised in previews that the core of this multiplayer would be squad-based online battles between human Spartans and Covenant Elites, with players able to call in airstrikes.[21]:&#;52&#; Hoberman's pitch for Halo 2's arena multiplayer was to bring the fun of couch multiplayer online. As Hoberman was not an excellent video game player, he wanted to make sure the game remained fun for even lower-skilled players, rather than catering to the very competitive ones. The system of playlist matchmaking and allowing friends to "party up" to play games together were crucial to creating a global community of players.[16]

The story for Halo 2 grew out of all the elements that were not seen in Combat Evolved. Jason Jones organized his core ideas for the sequel's story and approached Staten for input. According to Staten, among the elements that did not make it to the finished game was a "horrible scene of betrayal" where Miranda Keyes straps a bomb to the Master Chief's back and throws him into a hole in revenge for her fathers' death; "Jason was going through a rather difficult breakup at the time and I think that had something to do with it," he said.[19] Staten and Jaime Griesemer discussed seeing the war from the Covenant perspective, forming the idea to have part of the game told from the perspective of a Covenant warrior known as the Dervish. Late in development, the Dervish became the Arbiter, after legal teams at Microsoft were afraid the game was sending a message about Islam.[19][23]

In February , Bungie began developing a gameplay demonstration for E3 The demo, which was the first gameplay seen by the public, showcased new enemies and abilities. Many elements of the trailer, however, were not game-ready; the entire graphics engine used in the footage had to be discarded, and the trailer's environment never appeared in the final game due to limitations on how big the game environments could be.[19] Elements like vehicle hijacking were entirely scripted, and in order to keep performance at an acceptable level, a Bungie staff member deleted objects from the game as the player passed through. The restructuring of the engine meant that there was no playable build of Halo 2 for nearly a year, and assets and environments produced by art and design teams could not be prototyped, bottlenecking development.[17] Griesemer recalled that development was "moving backwards", and after E3 the team realized that much of what the team had worked on for the past two years would have to be scrapped.[19]

In order to ship the game, Bungie began paring back their ambitions for the single- and multiplayer parts of the game.[17] All other Bungie projects, including Phoenix, were cancelled, with their teams folded into Halo 2 to complete the game. The campaign was completely rethought and remained unplayable for more than a year while the multiplayer was being developed. Ultimately, a third act of the game where Master Chief and Arbiter came together on Earth to defeat the Prophets was cut entirely. Staten hoped the resulting cliffhanger would be treated like the end of The Empire Strikes Back.[19][24] Planned vehicles, such as variants of the Warthog and an all terrain vehicle, were scrapped.[21]:&#;49&#;

With the single-player mode in trouble, very little had been done with the large Warfare multiplayer mode. Eventually, the entire warfare mode was cut, and Hoberman's small team project became the shipping multiplayer suite.[19] Engineer Chris Butcher commented, "For Halo 2 we had our sights set very high on networking. Going from having no internet multiplayer to developing a completely new online model was a big challenge to tackle all at once, and as a result we had to leave a lot of things undone in order to meet the ship date commitment that we made to our fans."[25]

As one of Microsoft's tentpole games, the publisher had two full-time user experience researchers managing a team of game testers working on the title. The researchers used playtests, surveys, and usability testing to provide Bungie with input on how the game would be received. Feedback of the game's matchmaking system was very unfavorable, with the testers preferring the control offered by traditional servers. Researcher John Hopson recalled that while they suggested to Bungie they should change the matchmaking system, the developers remained steadfast their new approach would be better in the real world; Hopson later agreed with their choice, saying that his team had only narrowly avoided ruining the game.[26] To test real-world network conditions, Bungie ran a closed alpha of the multiplayer with Microsoft employees for five weeks.[27]:&#;4&#;

Outside of Bungie, Combat Evolved's success had become a problem for Halo 2's development, as the success of the Xbox platform was riding on Halo. Microsoft originally pressured Bungie to have the game ready as a launch title for Xbox Live in November , which Bungie employees told them was impossible. At one point, Microsoft executives had a vote over whether to force Bungie to ship the incomplete game, or give them another year of development time. Microsoft Studios head Ed Fries walked out of the vote and threatened to resign to get Bungie the extra time.[19]

Missing the Xbox's last holiday season before its successor console, the Xbox , shipped was not an option.[17] To hit its new November 9, release date, Bungie went into the "mother of all crunches" in order to finish the game.[24] "A lot of people sacrificed themselves in ways that you should never have to for your job," design lead Paul Bertone recalled; he kenneled his dog for nearly two months and slept in the office for the final days of development.[19] Griesemer said that this lack of a "polish" period near the end of the development cycle was the main reason for Halo 2's shortcomings.[28] Butcher retrospectively described Halo 2's multiplayer mode as "a pale shadow of what it could and should have been" due to the tight schedule.[28]


Main article: Halo 2 Original Soundtrack

Halo 2's soundtrack was composed primarily by Martin O'Donnell and his musical partner Michael Salvatori, the team that had composed the critically acclaimed music of Halo. O'Donnell noted in composing the music for Halo 2 that "making a sequel is never a simple proposition. You want to make everything that was cool even better, and leave out all the stuff that was weak."[29] O'Donnell made sure that no part of the game would be completely silent, noting "Ambient sound is one of the main ways to immerse people psychologically. A dark room is spooky, but add a creaking floorboard and rats skittering in the walls and it becomes really creepy."[29]Halo 2, unlike its predecessor, was mixed to take full advantage of Dolby Digital surround sound.[30]

In the summer of , producer Nile Rodgers and O'Donnell decided to release the music from Halo 2 on two separate CDs; the first (Volume One) would contain all the themes present in the game as well as music "inspired" by the game; the second would contain the rest of the music from the game, much of which was incomplete, as the first CD was shipped before the game was released.[31] The first CD was released on November 9, , and featured guitar backing by Steve Vai. Additional tracks included various outside musicians, including Steve Vai, Incubus, Breaking Benjamin, and Hoobastank. The Halo 2 Original Soundtrack: Volume Two CD, containing the game music organized in suite form, was released on April 25, [32][33]



Contents of the Limited Collector's Edition.

Halo 2 was officially announced in September with a cinematic trailer,[17] scheduled for a Holiday release. The first major look at the game came with the E3 demo in May; Halo 2 was Microsoft's strongest showing at the event, and some journalists believed the game looked too good to be live gameplay and must have been a scripted cutscene.[34] After delays, the game was shifted to a first-quarter release, then to Holiday [35][36] The final November 9 release date was confirmed at E3 , where the game's multiplayer was playable on the show floor.[37] Microsoft executive Peter Moore rolled up his sleeve to reveal the date tattooed on his bicep.[38][39]

Microsoft intended to market Halo 2 not just as a video game, but as a cultural event. Part of its widespread appeal would come from the social nature of the game's multiplayer, but Microsoft also heavily promoted and marketed the game. A trailer for the game was shown in movie theaters, making Halo 2 the first video game so advertised.[16] Hype for the title was fueled by the press, with Microsoft telling one journalist that their Halo 2 review would be the most consequential of their career.[40] The marketing heavily focused on Master Chief and the defense of earth, leaving the reveal of the Arbiter as a playable character a surprise.[41]

Halo 2's release was preceded with promotions and product tie-ins. There was a Halo 2 Celebrity Pre-Release Party at E3 , in which a private home was transformed to replicate the world of Halo, complete with camouflaged Marines and roaming Cortanas.[42] Launch events were held worldwide, with players waiting for hours in a line that stretched two blocks in Times Square, New York City.[43] The French version of the game leaked on the internet in October, and circulated widely.[44]

In addition to more traditional forms of promotion, Halo 2 was also part of an elaborate Alternate Reality Game project titled I Love Bees. Microsoft approached 42 Entertainment's Elan Lee, who had helped launch the Xbox with Microsoft, on producing a tie-in game.[16]I Love Bees cost an estimated one million dollars. The game centered on a hacked website, supposedly a site about beekeeping, where an AI from the future was residing. The project garnered significant attention, drawing attention away from the ongoing Presidential Election.[45][46] The game won an award for creativity at the 5th annual Game Developers Choice Awards[47] and was nominated for a Webby award.[48] Ultimately, nearly 3 million people participated in the game.[16]

Halo 2 was sold in a standard edition and "Limited Collector's Edition". The Collector's Edition includes the game, packaged in a metal case. It also includes bonus content on an extra DVD, such as a making-of documentary, art gallery, and audio tests.[49] The instructional booklet is also written from the Covenant point of view rather than from the UNSC point of view used in the regular edition.[4]


Halo 2 first released on November 9, in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Anticipation for the game was high; a record million copies were pre-ordered three weeks before release.[50][51] Massive lines formed at midnight releases of the game at more than stores across North America and attracted significant media attention.[52][51] This was followed by releases on November 10, in France and parts of Europe, and November 11 in the UK, Japan, and elsewhere; the game released in eight languages and a total of 27 countries.[53]

The game sold million copies and earned up to US$ million in its first 24 hours on store shelves, outgrossing the film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest as the highest-grossing release in entertainment history.[51][54] The game sold , units in the United Kingdom in its first week, making it the third fastest-selling title in that territory.[55] It ultimately received a "Double Platinum" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA),[56] indicating sales of at least , copies in the United Kingdom.[57] It was the second best-selling game of in the United States (after Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas), where it sold million copies that year.[58][59][60]

On release, Halo 2 was the most popular video game on Xbox Live,[61] holding that rank until the release of Gears of War for the Xbox nearly two years later.[62][63] By June , more than million games of Halo 2 had been played and more than million hours spent playing it on Xbox Live;[64] by May , the number of unique players had risen to over five million.[65]Halo 2 is the best-selling first-generation Xbox game[55] with at least million copies sold in the United States and million copies in total.[66]



Halo 2 received critical acclaim upon release. On review aggregate site Metacritic, the Xbox version has an overall score of 95 out of [68] Critics judged it a worthy successor to the acclaimed Combat Evolved.[4][74]GameSpot's Greg Kasavin wrote that the game successfully built on its predecessor's foundation, and despite shortcomings, the game's breadth of content made it one of the best action games available.[4]

The game's audiovisual presentation was praised.[71] Multiplayer especially was noted in being the best on Xbox Live at the time. Game Informer, along with numerous other publications, rated it higher than Halo: Combat Evolved, citing enhanced multiplayer and less repetitive gameplay. Most critics noted that Halo 2 stuck with the formula that made its predecessor successful, and was alternatively praised and faulted for this decision. Edge's review concluded that Halo 2 could be summed up with a line from its script: "It's not a new plan. But we know it'll work."[69]

The game's campaign mode received some criticism for being too short,[77] and for featuring an abrupt cliffhanger ending.[4] GameSpot noted that although the story's switching between the Covenant and human factions made the plot more intricate, it distracted the player from Earth's survival and the main point of the game;[4] while Edge labeled the plot "a confusing mess of fan-fiction sci-fi and bemusing Episode-II-style politics."[69][40]

Halo 2 won multiple awards from the Interactive Achievement Awards, including "Console Game of the Year", "Console First Person Action Game of the Year", "Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay" and "Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design", as well as a nomination for "Game of the Year". The game received more than 38 individual awards.[78] It received runner-up placements in GameSpot's "Best Shooter", "Best Sound Effects" and "Best Original Music" categories across all platforms.[79] The game was listed in Electronic Gaming Monthly’s "The Greatest Video Games of Their Time” in "[80]


Updates and DLC[edit]

Halo 2's multiplayer suffered from widespread cheating on release. Some players used "standbying" or "lag killing" to cheat, where the player hosting the game intentionally pressed the standby button on his or her modem. This resulted in all other players freezing in place and allowed the cheater to kill other players or capture objectives.[81]:&#;&#; Another exploit called "BXR" allowed players to cancel melee animations and quickly attack for an instant kill.[82] Rather than rely solely on user reports of misbehavior, Bungie leveraged its game statistics collection to proactively find cheating players, creating an automated banning system.[83]

Bungie released several map packs for Halo 2, adding new environments for multiplayer matches.[83] The Multiplayer Map Pack, released July 5, , made Xbox Live content and updates available to offline players. The disc contains the game's software update, nine new multiplayer maps, a making-of documentary, and a bonus cinematic called "Another Day on the Beach", among other features.[84] The Blastacular Map Pack contained two additional maps and released April [85][86] On July 7 Bungie made the Blastacular Map Pack free.[87]

Halo 2 was one of the Xbox games that was backwards-compatible on the Xbox On the newer console, the game runs at high-definition p with scene-wide anti-aliasing.[88] The online services of the Halo 2 were discontinued alongside other original Xbox console games in [89]

Ports and rereleases[edit]

In February , Microsoft announced a PC port of Halo 2, exclusively for the Windows Vista operating system. Like the Xbox version, the release of Halo 2 Vista was repeatedly delayed.[90][91] The May 22, release date was pushed to May 31 after the discovery of partial nudity in the game's map editor—a photograph of Charlie Gough, one of the Lead Engineers, mooningSteve Ballmer during his visit to the studio, was presented as part of the ".ass" error message.[92][93] Microsoft offered patches to remove the nude content and revised the box ratings.[94] The game could be enabled to play on Windows XP through an unauthorized third-party patch.[95]Halo 2 Vista was ported by a small team at Microsoft Game Studios (codenamed Hired Gun) who worked closely with Bungie. As one of the launch titles of Games for Windows – Live, the game offered Live features not available in the Xbox version, such as Guide support and Achievements. The Windows port also added two exclusive multiplayer maps and a map editor.[96]

A high-definition remastered version of Halo 2 titled Halo 2 Anniversary was released as part of Halo: The Master Chief Collection in November for the Xbox One[97] and in May for Steam and Windows Store.[98]


Halo 2's release was part of a shift towards blockbuster gaming releases. In , the video game industry was estimated to gross $ billion in the United States, behind the $ billion gross of the domestic box office.[51]Halo 2's success was seen by the press as evidence of a generational shift in entertainment. The CBC's Greg Bolton remarked that prior to Halo 2's splashy release, "the video-game industry hadn’t yet found a recognizable public face, a universally acclaimed megastar."[51]The Ringer called Halo 2 "the birth of the video game as we know it today: a mass shared experience," and credited it with birthing modern multiplayer infrastructure and popularizing American esports.[16]

Halo 2's matchmaking technology was one of the turning points in the gaming industry during the s, setting a new standard for other games.[16][99][][]G4's Sterling McGarvey wrote that "Bungie's sequel was a shot in the arm for Xbox Live subscriptions and previewed many of the features that would set the standard for Microsoft's online service on the next machine".[] Critics credited the game with bringing online multiplayer to the console masses,[] and as serving as Xbox Live's killer app.[]The Province's Paul Chapman wrote that games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 would not be enjoyable if not for the ground Halo 2 broke.[]


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