A solid shooter with a campaign that hasn't aged well
Played the Remastered Edition on Heroic Difficulty
Halo: Combat Evolved proved that it is possible to create a competent shooter on consoles. Halo 2 is known as THE seminal console shooter, a system seller and the only reason the original XBox had a longer shelf life than it should have.
I was not one of these players. I was a PC player that loved playing Counter Strike and going from Counter Strike to Halo 2, is no fair comparison. I want to be clear the shooting is solid. The Battle Rifle, Covenant Carbine and the UNSC Sniper Rifle have good recoil and impact to them. The introduction of the Energy Sword makes melee fun and it feels sweet when you land a slash on a foe. Unfortunately most of the other weapons feel like Fisher Price toys. Lots of weak projectile sounds (pew pew pew), no recoil with bullets that have no good impact to them.
The campaign is an absolute letdown. I'm not talking about the sudden cliffhanger at the end. I mean the sloppily put together story where our heroes magically whisk from one scenario to another. The assumption that you have just played Halo: Combat Evolved and know who all these characters are and what is going on. The same thrown together copy and pasted levels and corridors found in the original game. Maybe I'm being too harsh on a 16 year old game, but then when I look at the 2004 release calendar, Half Life 2 was released a week after Halo 2.
Half Life 2 was a genre-defining game that told an amazing story not through cutscenes but by gameplay and made physics a big deal for the years to follow. Halo 2 on the other hand is a mix of battle arenas and beautifully rendered cutscenes. The only physics in Halo 2 are ragdolls and the occasional Covenant barriers that can be tossed around by Brutes. I honestly think Halo 2 was built from the ground up to be a multiplayer game and the campaign was a complete afterthought.
Having never owned an XBox and never having Windows Vista, I was pleased to finally play Halo 2 as part of the Master Chief Collection. Unfortunately, it was a let down. The shooting is fun, but then you realize it's better to just avoid combat since most of the enemies are bullet sponges and there are an annoying amount of monster closets to pad out the campaign. Also on Heroic difficulty, the time to death is too short, I often got one-shotted out of nowhere. Halo 2 is a dumb fun good time, but the campaign has not aged well compared to its' peers.