Last time, you may remember, I lamented the ineffectiveness of Spartan weapons and armour in Halo 5 multiplayer. The promises of invulnerability and lethality crumbled in the face of superior enemy firepower. My state-of-the-art armour turned out to be made out of paper and my shiny new assault rifle turned out to just make “pew-pew” noises and not much more. In an effort to redeem my image of Master Chief, and as a way to blow off some steam, I decided to return to Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and play Halo 2. On easy mode. Problem?
I’ve not played Halo 2 before. At least not to any great degree. I did have it on PC but I wasn’t able to get into it. This time, however, it’s not just Halo 2, it’s Halo 2: Anniversary Edition! Originally released in 2004, with an updated version released ten years later, Halo 2 continues the story of Humanity’s war against the Covenant, with the ancient Halos in between. My favourite mission so far has to be the Metropolis mission, where you start with a tank and end fighting on a giant walker.
Not only did I decide to play on easy mode, I thought I’d ramp things up a bit and see what other options were available. This took the form of skulls which can be turned on. There are some that make the game harder but I’m looking to have a bit of fun. I turn to the skulls that will prevent my score from being recorded… fine by me. The infinite ammo skull looks like a must, along with the grunt headshot party, grunts exploding when killed, something about rare combat dialogues, and every player weapon shooting Scarab beams. That should do.
The mission starts and straight away I’m in a tank. I’M IN A TANK! BLOWING UP COVENANT GHOSTS! AND GIANT ARTILLERY THINGS! AND FLYING SHIPS! HAHA THIS IS MORE LIKE IT! Ahem. One feature of the Anniversary Edition is switching between the original graphics and the updated graphics. I decide to give it a go. Wow. The years haven’t been kind. Surfaces look flatter, there’s not nearly as much shadow and particle effects, and everything looks kind of brown. Let’s stick with the prettier updated graphics, shall we?
Meanwhile, the extra options I switched on are really making things light up. Grunt heads are exploding with streamers and the happy cries of children, then the bodies blow up like plasma grenades, killing other enemies near them and sending their remains flying through the air. Best of all though is the Scarab gun. Now, instead of bullets, my battle rifle, sub machine gun, everything shoots brightly coloured laser beams that absolutely tear through the armies against me. Pew-pew-pew Covenant scum!
The mission crescendos towards a fight between a warthog – with you behind the gun – and a few wraiths and ghosts. My AI driver seems to have lost all sense of direction, first driving towards, away, around and in every direction except the most sensible. Eventually, I manage to destroy the final vehicle and into the last section of the mission, the running gun battle against the Scarab walker. And, joy of joys, there’s a sniper rifle, that shoots brightly coloured beams of laser death.
However, as with all power, it finally gets too much for me. Drunk with shooting rocket-propelled grenades at the aliens on the Scarab’s back and sniping the ones that came out to see what was going on, I jumped down onto the machine itself. This is of course what you are supposed to do, all action and awesome set piece-like, only normally you’re shooting normal bullets, not insanely powerful lasers. I shoot an enemy who wanders way too close and the resulting explosion blew me straight off the Scarab, with my armour clad body rag-dolling into the river. Whoops.
After getting my backside handed to me, this is a welcome change. As I said I haven’t properly played this one before, although I know the broad strokes of the story. It’s spectacular and the updated anniversary edition really brings it into the modern age. And I have to say something about the dual-wielding. It’s great. Having two weapons really makes you feel like a super soldier and being able to pour twice the fire into enemies makes them just fall over. I’m really enjoying this. Here’s looking forward to Halo 3!