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Are you going to buy an Xbox One X This Holiday Season?

Hope to Receive it as a Gift

Game Profile
GENRE: First Person Shooter
PLAYERS:   1-16
November 09, 2004

Halo Wars 2

Halo 5 Guardians

Halo: New 343 Industries Game

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary

Halo: Reach

More in this Series
 Written by Nick Doukas  on May 13, 2004

Multiplayer Preview: The best game of 2004 ? even though it's not out yet?

Halo 2 has achieved legendary status already (no, that's not supposed to be a pun, but it works, doesn't it?). The single player campaign ? as seen in the 8-minute demo from E3 2003 ? looks to take the story and characters of Halo to the next level, as everything from enemy AI to the graphics engine has obviously been lovingly overhauled during the past 2 years or so. However, the most anticipated aspect of Halo 2 is the Xbox Live support, and now that some details have finally been revealed, I'm here to tell you ? Halo 2 will kick your ass all the way up around your ears, and then pour some mud down your shirt just for good measure. Read on to see why Halo 2 Live means no sleep for at least six months?.

Bungie recently did their first real world test of Halo 2's net code. Utilizing Microsoft employees as guinea pigs (hey, where do I sign up for that? It's a lot better than getting your privates hooked up to a car battery in the name of science), they sent out demo discs (which had to be returned after the experiment was over) and allowed some very lucky folks to taste the sweetness that is Halo 2 online play.

The total number of maps is still unknown, however, the ones we know about at this point are:

Lockout ? A small map that features a multi-tiered concrete structure set against a rocky cliff. It's interesting to note that the structure was built by the Forerunners, the enigmatic beings who constructed Halo itself. The building is a central tower with levels connected by bridges, as well as ladders and ramps. This map also features energy beams that can be stepped into by the player, who'll then be carried up the stream. You can even fire your weapon while in transit!

Burial Mounds ? A moderately sized map that features a military base in the middle of a desert, surrounded by huge pieces of metal imbedded into the landscape. Teams assault the base, or defend it, and the rocky, barren areas bring to mind Planet P from Starship Troopers. Fitting, since Halo is obviously influenced by that film.

WaterWorks ? A huge, hemmed in area with each team's base at opposite ends of the map. The entire thing is set within a huge cavern, and features a tremendous alien machine in the center. Capture the flag should be the preferred gametype on this board.

And finally ?

Zanzibar ? Bungie demonstrated this level on Tuesday at E3. A huge power substation set back from the shoreline of a wide beachhead, it features an assault team spawning on the sand, with a Warthog and two Ghosts at their disposal. This is described as a "hard insertion tactical drop" by the developers. The Elites must guard the base, which features several access points, the most obvious being a massive door that can be breached if the Spartans can get inside and release the lock. Once that's done, vehicles can be driven straight into the main courtyard for an easy flag snatch. The teams have 3 minutes to either get the flag, or hold off the assault. The substation features mounted miniguns, as well as strategically placed weapons. A good midfield defense ? best mounted by a sniper ? is key to holding the station. The base features some cool secrets, but I'll let you figure those out for yourself.

Now, as far as the actual gameplay goes, it looks nothing short of astounding. Graphically, the Zanzibar level looks amazing, with clean, sharp textures and stunning detail. The character models, weapons, vehicles, and environmental effects all look beautiful, and Halo 2 looks to stand tall as the best the Xbox has to offer.

You'll be able to knock an opponent from a Ghost and steal his ride (the animation looks perfect), but be careful, because your enemy can do the same to you. All the vehicles are destructible, and you can blow the fins off a Ghost, or blast the tires out from under a Hog. Eventually, the ride will finally blow, and the secondary explosion can easily kill an unwary adversary. The new Warthog comes with a mounted rocket launcher (with unlimited ammo) while the Ghosts and Banshees feature the speed boost. You can use this to rocket away from ? or to - an area with lightning speed. The handheld rocket launcher has a new "lock on" that allows you to sight a target, wait until the reticule turns red, and fire the now "seeking" missile, which will track the unlucky object of your affection and demolish them. The physics are spot-on, and you can even bank a rocket off of a cliff face. The resulting shock wave can toast anything in the immediate vicinity. Sweet.

You'll also be able to wield dual weapons in Halo2 multiplayer (just walk over to the secondary weapon you want, and press Y), and the Bungie demonstration featured a Spartan with an SMG in one hand and a Needler in the other. Firing both at the same time utterly destroyed an Elite, toasting his shields and then finishing him off with the ballistic weapon. Very cool stuff indeed.

Final Thoughts
I don't need to tell you that Halo 2 is one of the most anticipated titles in gaming history. A huge part of that anticipation is the online play, and from what we've seen this week, it looks likely that it will surpass all expectations. Expect to be up all night for months when Halo 2 finally releases on November 9th. Look for more details here at Gaming Target as they become available, and polish up that armor. It looks like you're really going to need it this time out.

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