Faze heads west to take an early look at one of the biggest video game releases ever
Within the confines of Bungie Studios in Redmond, Washington (near Seattle), Faze writer Ted Kritsonis got an early look at Halo 2 this summer so he could give you the scoop from first-hand experience.
While the original Halo was instrumental in marketing the Xbox console, there’s no question the sequel will have a similar impact, especially when you consider that no other game has been more hyped for the Xbox than Halo 2. First, the game itself has more weapons, more enemies, more vehicles — just more of everything. Many of the environments and maps are based on Earth, so the overall look and feel of this game will differ quite a bit from the original, where most maps were on alien worlds of the Elites. The Elites will be joined this time by the Prophets, spiritual leaders to the Covenant troops, and a third alien race, the Brutes, have been thrown into the mix, though they are hostile to both sides.
Ted Kritsonis testing out Halo, looks like fun.
I managed to get a good look at how the multiplayer runs online via Xbox Live. For starters, new Xbox Live features have been introduced to make things interesting for hardcore Halo fans, and much easier for newcomers to the franchise. One worth mentioning is the Party Mode, which allows you and your group of friends to challenge other teams. Instead of having everyone join in individually, in a matter of seconds you and your crew can move from one match to another. You can send voice and text messages, especially if you want to invite someone for a match, and you can leave and join a match your team is playing at any time, without disrupting anyone’s connectivity.
Xbox Live’s Optimatch, which is already prevalent in some Xbox games, is enhanced here to ensure that gamers are connected to their skill levels. “Being able to jump in and play with people who are of a similar rank and skill and not worry about whether or not they’re going to get killed all the time was important to us,” says Pete Parsons, executive producer for Halo 2, about the Optimatch feature.
In reference to the Party Mode, an energetic Pete speaks at length about what he sees as a system that came from the fans. “No matter what happens, no matter what you do, no matter who joins, we can always play together,” he says. “It’s also cool for meeting people because you have this choice of not interacting with anyone, or just talking to those on your friends list. But I think that once you factor in all the things you can do online with Halo 2, you get a situation which is very much like having a few buddies in your living room.”