Archive for the 'Article' Category

29
Sep
09

Metroid: The Past

Most people have more than likely heard the name Metroid at some point – being one of Nintendo’s longer running series’, although perhaps not as successful as their other major titles, such as Mario and The Legend of Zelda. However, Metroid was possibly one of the most influential titles of it’s time, introducing a more free roaming, more mature style of platformer. It also introduced one of the world’s first gaming heroines – Samus Aran, a well respected bounty hunter that stormed the gaming world a full decade before Lara Croft appeared on the Playstation in 1996. As the first of a three part look at the series, today I will tell you a little about the roots of Metroid.

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The original Metroid was released on the NES in 1986, the same year as the first Zelda title. As well as the platforming and open world style common to Metroid, many other aspects of the title were introduced in the very first title, and carried on to the later games – concepts such as upgrades that improved Samus’ power as she progressed, but also allowed access to new areas in order to give the open world some restrictions and would guide the player around in a certain way without feeling linear or restrictive.

The original title also introduced enemies and bosses that remain consistent throughout the series, namely the Space Pirates, an alien band of miscreants, and their Commander, the dragon-like Ridley. Last but not least, the original of course introduced the series’ first Metroids – the most dangerous beings of them all. Somewhere between a jellyfish, a brain and a leech, the Metroid is a rather disturbing creature – hovering emotionlessly, the Metroid wants nothing more than to drain the life of it’s victim, has a nasty habit of multiplying, and is incredibly hard to kill.

a metroid

Metroid’s story, and its quality, has improved in stages over the years. Five years after Metroid came Metroid II: Return of Samus. Released on the Nintendo Game Boy, Metroid II was the first handheld title of the series, and was one of the most impressive handheld titles of it’s time – sporting graphics superior to the original home console version, and fluid controls, Metroid II found Samus hunting Metroids on a lonely planet called SR388.

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 This title was the first Metroid I ever played, and was what got me into Metroid in the first place. Metroid II kept most of the major functions from the original, and also introduced some new weapons, however it is one of the few games to focus solely on Metroids as bosses, in various evolutionary phases, as no Space Pirates or other aliens are involved. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, though, as it only helped enhance the cavernous feel to the empty depths of SR388.

In 1994, Metroid reached a new level with the coming of Super Metroid on the Super Nintendo. This title was the first to feature full colour graphics and improved on every aspect of the game – particularly the plot. Although the game continued to feel vast and open, Super Metroid saw the return of Ridley, and introduced perhaps one of the most useful features of all, a map. Whereas the older titles could feel confusing and hard to navigate, Super Metroid included a map that could be viewed on the fly, detailing not only the layout of the area, but save rooms and other places of interest. This feature would be implemented into all future titles, and was even mirrored in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night three years later, which was the first to implement a more Metroid style of gameplay and progression that would create the term “Metroidvania” which can be heard nowadays.

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Sadly, Super Metroid wasn’t really appreciated fully at the time of it’s initial release. Although considered one of Nintendo’s biggest classic titles, the initial trilogy sold fairly poorly and production was cancelled.

However, all that changed in 2002. Alongside the new GameCube title, Metroid Prime (more about this in my next post), the team that developed Super Metroid released an all new 2D Metroid for the Gameboy Advance. Entitled Metroid Fusion, the fourth Metroid title pitted Samus against a new threat, a parasitic lifeform known as X. After coming into contact with the viral lifeform, Samus becomes surgically bound to some of the core components of her Power Suit, creating the Fusion Suit.

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Fighting against both Metroids and this new threat, hunted by a powerful doppelganger known as SA-X, Metroid Fusion yet again improved upon the game’s design in almost every way. Fusion did incredibly well, being named Handheld Game of the Year at the 2002 Interactive Achievement Awards, and recieving high praise from many gaming sites, and sold over 1 million copies worldwide. This success saw the rebirth of the series and Metroid continued to develop.

In 2004, Nintendo released Metroid: Zero Mission, a remake of the original Metroid on the GBA with graphics that perhaps surpassed even that of Metroid Fusion, and incorporating features and abilities from the more recent titles, such as saving capability and a selection of different abilities such as crouching, hanging, speed-boost running and much more.

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They also expanded upon the game’s original plot, and even added an entirely new area to the game, including a section which, for the first time ever, allows you to play as Samus without her Power Suit for a more stealth-based chapter, dubbed “Zero Suit Samus” by Super Smash Bros Brawl, which incorporated this ‘naked’ version of the heroine as an alternate mode for her in the fighter series, which also turned a few heads in the process.  

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And thats as far as the 2D saga of Metroid has come to this date – I personally hope to see at least one more 2D Metroid in the future. But that’s not to say that Metroid ends there, oh no – the present has seen a change in Metroid’s style…

Stay tuned for Metroid: The Present, in the second of this three-part look at the series!

-Leon

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26
Sep
09

What have Nintendo set in motion?

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I remember first hearing about the Wii and its new gameplay ideas, unveiling the Wiimote and its unusual point and click style of control. To be honest I wasn’t all that keen but I was willing to see how things went, and even got ahold of one on release day; although more for the upcoming Zelda and Metroid titles than for the new control style. Regardless, I played the console for a while; Metroid Prime 3 using the controls fantastically. However, mostly I found that few other titles actually benefited from the new system – sure, my grandparents played a few party games at Christmas, but there wasnt much else. Zelda: Twilight Princess was great for reasons other than the controls, and I’m sure I would have enjoyed the GameCube version equally.

Now, I applaud Nintendo for their clever marketing and acknowledge that they sold their console well, but in the end it just doesnt have the game lifespan of it’s competitors, often with months at a time before any solid releases – leaving it a lacking console for anyone with serious gaming needs.

So here I am now, with a Wii that’s used mainly to play GameCube titles, Zelda and Metroid Prime 3. When I’m not playing those (which is most of the time), the console just sits under my TV and gathers dust. And I’m quite happy with it that way – it’s there when I need it, but it leaves me alone most of the time and needs no attention from me whilst I play my PS3 and Xbox 360.

However, inside that little white console is a foreboding evil that waits to strike… After the Wii sold so well, other companies ran to look at the best-seller, wondering what it had that they didn’t. Before long, the Xbox 360 found itself covered with little Avatars of it’s players, for no apparent reason other than keeping up with what the Wii was doing with it’s Miis. Personally, I thought the NXE update was a big disappointment, and much preferred the old style of dashboard. However, it didn’t really influence me in a large way, so I quickly accepted the change, and continued my happy gaming life as usual.

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However, more recently I sense a disturbance in the gaming world… The Wii strikes once again! This time it looks like bad news… Although Nintendo were quite content in creating an unusual console that filled many of GAME’s shelves with throw-away titles, its begun to spread. More recently, Sony announced their own version of the Wiimote, a currently nameless ‘wand’ which uses the Playstation EyeToy camera to track a glowing ball which can be used to control an on-screen cursor.

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When I first heard this, I was a bit dismayed, but unsurprised that other consoles would attempt to take some of the Wii’s glory by creating their own motion controllers – what with the Wii’s sale figures, they obviously want their own share of the market. Expecting to see some gimmicky titles in 2010, much like the PS2’s EyeToy gaames, I was willing to ignore this new hardware and continue using my hardware in the same way I currently am. That’s OK, right?

Wrong.. It seems that the PS3 will be implementing this new hardware into some of its bigger titles – LittleBigPlanet and Resident Evil 5. LittleBigPlanet will incorporate a new tool that will allow players to manipulate certain objects in levels in order to progress – such as pulling down plaforms to walk across, or holding things back that would otherwise crush sackboy. What does this mean? Well – if I want to have full access to all of LittleBigPlanet’s features in the future, I’ll require a motion controller that I’ve already acknowleged I don’t want. However, if I choose not to purchase it, I’ll more than likely be swarmed with in-game options I can’t use, and levels that are inacessible to me.

As for Resident Evil 5, they are going to release a new version entitled Resident Evil 5: Alternative Edition. At first glance, one might think that this is much like Resident Evil 4, with its Wii counterpart which was released later on with a few enhancements. However, it seems that this new version of RE5 will feature a brand new campaign mode starring Chris and Jill, utilising the new motion controls.

Now, perhaps these games will allow for alternate control methods that make them playable without the motion controls, but I’m doubting it – why allow people to choose how to play, when they can be forced to buy new hardware in order to play games that they already love?

The Wii had some interesting concepts, but I’m really feeling that the success of it’s initial sales have had a negative impact on all of Nintendo’s stakeholders – other consoles want to emulate that success, and are willing to appeal to the more casual markets in order to do so. However, I do wonder whether these companies might want to compare the costs of their consoles before pinning the success solely on the motion capability of the Wii. I’m very worried that the gaming market will be killed by torrents of cheap party games and ports with tacked-on motion controls – and is that really the future we want to see?

I have played some fantastic games recently, and I’m also looking forward to plenty more – such as God of War III, Final Fantasy XIII, Brutal Legend, Bayonetta, Halo 3: ODST among others, and none of them require gimmicky controls to interest me. They prove that games can still be played with regular controllers whilst still being interesting, exciting and involving. The day I have to imitate swinging Kratos’ Blades of Chaos by waving a pair of Wiimotes around my head is the day I quit gaming.

So I ask, for myself and for all gamers out there: Please Nintendo, keep your damn Wiimote in your pocket and don’t show it to the other kids!

25
Sep
09

The Journey Through The Nine Circles Of Hell!

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A while back I did a taster post on my first impressions of EA’s Dante’s Inferno. The 3rd person hack and slash game, based on the first part of the classic poem which is known as Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Back then I  had mixed feelings. I mean there is a good collection of Hack and Slash franchises that are out there already. With God Of War, Devil May Cry and even Ninja Gaiden holding their top spots on their proverbial leader board. That said the footage I have seen more of Dante’s Inferno and it looks pretty good, a lot lf thought has gone into it. So here is my little in site into the game, highlighting what you may expect from the  quite an adventurous outing for EA’s attempt at the Hack and Slash genre.

Lets start from the beginning. The original poem of Dante’s Divine Comedy was written back in around the 1300’s by an Italian known as Dante Alighieri. The poem outlined what he thought the christian afterlife was like, it consisted of three parts, Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Heaven). The first part of the poem, Inferno, outlines a character called Dante making his way through the nine circles of hell, being guided by Virgil, who is Dante’s guide throughout Inferno and Purgatorio.

Now I know what you’re thinking, and no, Capcom did not create the original Dante and Vergil. History aside, the makers of Dante’s Inferno have tried to stay loyal to the original poem by using lines from the text itself, so as you may gather the game is narrated by the main character.

The game will have you controlling Dante as he makes his way through the nine circles of hell; Limbo (not Purgatory), Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Wrath, Heresy, Violence, Fraud and Treachery. Each circle will be themed accordingly and will have end of circle boss battles. So far only a handful of bosses have been confirmed, with Limbo having King Minos, Lust having the ever so wonderful Cleopatra, Gluttony housing Cerberus, Greed the home of Plutus and in the wrath circle you will be pitted against Phlegyas. All these bosses are beings from the original text.

As it is the Tokyo Game show this week. Dante’s Inferno has ben showing off its Lust circle. Of corse I had to do some reading up about it, and I can safely tell you now that this game is by no means for the faint of heart. Now when we think of Lust its all about erotic nudity which makes all the blokes happy. The kind of Lust in Dante’s inferno however, is grotesque, hellish and somewhat sickening. Cleopatra herself (the Lust Boss) is indeed topless, but having demon tongues protrude from her nipples followed by demon babies – yeah, not the kind of thing to help you sleep at night.

Now there has been some controversy over he gameplay of this game. People who have played it says it plays like God of War, but with a new skin over it. In some ways, this can be good – because you know your probably gonna get some great game play. But in other ways, it’s not gonna be that original and will probably tick off those hardcore God of War fans out there. But that aside, the game play will feature you weilding a huge scythe made out of bones. You will get a healthy dose of Quick Time Events and just plain hack and slash fun. Your buddy Virgil will be setting you puzzles within the circles too, so it’s not just kill kill kill.

To me this game is definitely one I am going to keep my eye on, and when Plus XP hits Eurogamer next month be sure to check out my Hands-On preview of the game.

Garv!

22
Sep
09

Brutal Legend Demo Verdict (X360)

When I first booted up the demo I could not help but smile, from the get go you are introduced by metal awesomeness, you are taken to the start screen which is a cover of a Vinyl EP, you know the retro records you used to play on record players, the menu itself is totally made up of this retro metal EP which I thought was a nice touch. Kind of like the menu layout in Guitar Hero 3 but more metal and using proper filmed footage as apposed to cartoon based graphics. So after gawking at the menu for a minuet or so I got stuck into a new game, the only option that is available as it is the demo.

Brutal legend logo

I just have to say this now before it explodes out of my like some sort of hell demon. Brutal Legend captivates, and utilizes Metal Folk lore, brilliantly everything that has been done in this demo, and indeed the game has been superbly thought out with original metal music in mind, we are not talking Limp Bizkit or Linkin Park here, we are talking Slayer, Motor Head and Judas Priest. Now that I have got that out of my system, the start of the game shows the roadie Eddie Riggs, he is the best roadie alive. He can fix guitars no matter how broken they are, he can build colossal metal themed stage sets single handedly and of corse shred some awesome guitar licks which will most likely melt anyones face around. But he is an old school metal fan who has been lumped with a band that is renowned for 21st century rap metal, and he is sick of it.

To cut a long story short, during a gig he saves one of the stupid band members, who thinks its an awesome idea to climb all over the stage set…fail. Riggs saves him but gets crushed to death by the set in the process. But in true metal fashion, his blood awakens the set he has built in the shape of a huge metal beast, which rips apart the band and transports Eddie to another realm, alive and well. Hell of a way to go I must say.

As a side note. Double Fine, the makers of Brutal Legend, put a neat little feature into the cutscenes. Before Eddie swears his socks off you are given the choice to ‘Hear every single nasty syllable’ or ‘No swearing please’. This also goes for gore, you can either have ‘No Gore please’ or ‘Show Me every Gory Detail’. I think this is a great add on meaning anyone can really play it, even though the game will have an 18 certificate.

Anyway so you awaken in this different dimension, realm, whatever it is. You awaken in a temple and for some reason in doing so you have really hacked off some priest demon guys. So naturally you would find a weapon and start defending yourself. Or in this case pick up the ceremonial axe the priest demons were praying around and hack them all up to bits.

Using the A button to use some pretty heft and pretty darn awesome axe attacks you make mince meat out of these guys no trouble, well I did anyway. The melee system in this game is simple but effective, I found myself quite happy hacking these guys to bits with a mixture of holding and pressing the A button for different attacks. Mind you, the battle system got even better when I picked up Eddie’s guitar.

The guitar is the source to Eddie’s magic power, by pressing the X button you can unleash magic attacks, this mixed with the axe attacks gave me a great opportunity to mix, match and experiment with the magic and melee attacks. Later in the game though I was teamed up with an accomplice to do some demon slaying with. If you press Y nest to your accomplice in battle you both then have the opportunity to do a joint attack for greater damage. Yet another great way of attacking for some mind blowing melee combo attacks.

The game then went on, killing demons and just being the most awesome metal music themed game of this generation. I took a minuet out from slaying demons just to look at my surroundings. As I said before, a lot of though and detail has been put into this game, and the landscapes are just brilliant. The whole look of the game could not be better in my opinion.

Brutal legend screen 1

When I got to about the half way point of the demo I was told to use do a guitar solo. Holding LT down I was taken to a mini menu, Highlighting the solo I was supposed to do and selecting it I was then taken to a fret board with a button sequence going across it. After executing the sequence, Eddie did a massive solo which then summoned up some parts so he could build his huge metal 4 wheeled vehicle, which he then proceeded to construct. It appears throughout the game you can unlock more of these solos, which will do different things, maybe summon attacks will be available? Who knows, can’t wait!

After constructing his new car dubbed ‘The Druid Plough’ I was then driving through hordes of demons, running them down. When I heard about the driving elements in this game I was a little skeptical, seeing as the driving elements in tomb raider for example weren’t the best elements to the game. The driving was surprisingly good and didn’t feel too out of place, even though it’s very simple the level design and the environment just captivated me.

Then it was boss time, not going to spoil it to much here but lets just say it was a great use of the driving element and even though relatively simple pretty inventive.

Brutal Legend is a must play for any hack and slash or indeed metal fan. Jack black does an amazing job as Eddie Riggs, the humor is brilliant and the overall setting is awesome. Even if the driving elements are a little weaker than the fighting elements. Cannot wait for the full game this Rock-tober

-Garv

20
Sep
09

Another Look At Beatles Rockband And The Big Questions In Life…

Well after a long postal delay (thanks a bunch royal mail!) I am now the proud owner of my very own copy of the Beatles Rockband. Some of you may remember my previous taster review about the game, and I am pleased to say that so far it has lived up to my high expectations. Overall it is an extremely uplifting and very well put together game. The game tells the history of the Beatles through a mixture of chronologically ordered music choices, photography, and animations which resemble a kind of living scrap book. The game characters also age throughout the games progression making you feel like you are really taking a journey through time with the band. I found the gameplay enjoyable, much the same as Rockband 2, however unlike Rockband 2 you do not have as much control over the drum solo’s and the whammy bar seems to have little or no effect on the note you are playing. I feel this is a shame as this freedom to experiment was a nice touch in the previous games, and without these features I find myself distanced from the gameplay. There are however a few nice features to the game which go some way to making up for this. One of these is the opportunity to unlock bonus photographs and create an album of the beetles history for exceptional performances during the career mode. Though these are probably only of interest to true beetles enthusiasts, it does give you a reason to challenge yourself which I feel gives the game a greater replay value.

One thing about the game however, is really bothering me. Unlike previous Rockband games, in this game to play the singing career you need a proper microphone, the normal x-box live headsets don’t work. Now usually this would not be a problem (seeing as most people with the band kits have a mic) but with the addition of 2 and 3 player harmonies this becomes very frustrating. I can’t even try out this new feature without buying a second mic (which I probably won’t use outside this game anyway) and seeing as i usually play alone or with a full band and not 2 singers I cannot justify buying a second mic. This has made me wonder why Harmonix has decided to stop the use of the live headsets. Is it because they are not as effective, or simply a scheme to make people shed out for the extra microphones? With this thought, my mind begins to ask the higher question, are official Rockband Mic’s really necessary to complete the game? Or is it possible to equal or beat your score using an X-box live headset instead. Also, and perhaps more importantly, are singers without the proper microphones truly at a disadvantage, or are they just using this as an excuse for their poor singing? I decided to conduct a short experiment to find out once and for all.

The experiment went as thus. Using Rockband 2 on expert mode I sang a 3 song setlist with the official Rockband Mic and noted down the scores. I then sang exactly the same songs with the X-box live headset and compared these scores with the original set. The results were quite conclusive-

Blondie-One way or another
Rockband Mic- 128,332 (I put this down to having no warm up!) 5*
X-box live headset- 130,863 5*

Kansas- Carry on my wayward son
Rockband Mic- 106,613 4*
X-box live headset- 91,056 4*

Tenacious D- Master exploder
Rockband Mic- 38,230 4*
X-box live headset- 34,486 4*

It looks to me that though the scores are consistently higher with the Rockband mic, it is possible to get the same *rating with a score almost as high with a live headset. Overall this experiment has taught me three things.

That it is more fun to sing with the Rockband mic
The Rockband Mic gives slightly better results than the Live mic
The same star level can be achieved with the Rockband mic and the Live headset.

To conclude, though the Rockband mic gives slightly better scores, in my opinion the scores are not different enough to warrant scrapping the Live headset altogether. This tells me that Harmonix have scrapped the live headsets in the Beatles game either to try to improve the gaming experience, or simply to sell more microphones and make more prophet. I am sad to say that I believe it is the latter, sorry Harmonix, your busted!

– GuitarGirl24

17
Sep
09

Is Cobains Appearance Really That Bad?

Last week finally saw the release of Guitar Hero 5 for us plastic fret face melters in the UK. The game has been out in the US for a good week or so more, so people have now had their chance to play it and get a good feel for the game. But oh no, the game has enraged people! So here it is, my view of the whole idea of Kurt Cobain being in Guitar Hero 5.

GH5cobainLet me shed some background light on this matter. A few posts back I highlighted which rockstar guest acts will be in GH5. This is when I first heard that Mr Cobain will be making an appearance. Brilliant I thought, reliving yet another supposed rock god. This information had been going round for a while, up till release. Kurt will be playing on Lithium and Smells Like Teen Spirit.

When the game was released in America, the fuss started to kick up. Yep, that’s right, Courtney Love of corse had to have her say on the matter. On the day of release in America her twitter said: “I have nothing to do with Guitar Hero. I loath it and find it odious. Kurt would have, too“….. Right, so if you loath it that much why the hell did you sign the agreement with Activision? Activision officially stated that “Guitar Hero secured the nessisary licencing rights from the Cobain estate in a written agreement signed by Courtney Love.” Facepalm!

So with Love’s, trying to be all sentimental but failing attitude, out-of-the-way  GH5 and Activision could probably now breath a little easier right? Wrong! Looking into this weeks issue of Kerrang Magazine today, I read that now Krist Novoselic, Nirvana’s former bassist, and the rock legend that is Dave Grohl are now complaining about it. But unlike Courtney Love, their reasons are justified. This all began when the former Nirvana band members saw leaked footage on You Tube  of GH5 with Kurts Character, lip sinking with a Bon Jovi song and leading a band which consisted of Xbox Avatars. After seeing this footage the two came out with this statement:

We want people to know that we are dismayed and very disappointed in the way facsimile of Kurt is used in the Guitar Hero game.” the statement then went on to say “The name and likeness of Kurt Cobain are the sole property of his estate – we have no control whatsoever in that area. While we were aware of Kurt’s image being used with two Nirvana songs, we didn’t know players have the ability to unlock the character. This feature allows the character to be used with any kind of song the player wants. We urge Activision to do the right thing in ‘re-locking’ Kurt’s character so this won’t continues further in the future

I can see where the guys are coming from, but to be honest they should have really done their reasearch before GH5’s release. Every single character in the past Guitar Hero games has been unlockable, so why would Activision go out their way to make Cobain not? GH fans would have been pretty miffed if he wasn’t unlockable in some way. So whatever Activition did to Cobain’s charcter, someone whould have been complaining somewhere.

What really annoys me though is no one is taking the same attitude to the appearance of the Late Great Johnny Cash, in GH5, and also not forgetting Jimi Hendrix in World Tour. Granted he’s not dancing around with avatars like Cash and Cobain, but I’m surprised no one piped up and said “Oi!”.

What do I really think about this? Well, Having Kurt on th game is a great tribute to the singer, songwriter,guitarist. But having his character dancing around with avatars maybe a bit tasteless, but then again, if he died in a different way, would everyones view on this be different?

– Garv!

16
Sep
09

Halo 2 (XBox)

A week or so back I did a review of Halo: Combat Evolved, as Halo 3: ODST is approaching release in a couple of weeks I am going to review, the other games in the Halo franchise. Why? Well if your eagerly awaiting the game, then this is a great trip down memory lane, or if you are totally new to the Halo series then reading this mini series of reviews will give you a better Idea of the awesome franchise.

Halo 2

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All good games end up with sequels, Devil May Cry did back on the PS2 and Final Fantasy has had so many sequels that it’s pretty much its own genre now. So it comes to no surprise that the Halo series should get a second outing after being so successful.

The story pretty much picks up where it left off. The Halo from the first game is a smouldering wreck in space, and the covenant aren’t best pleased. In Halo 2 the politics of the mixed race of aliens comes to light, and lets the player into a pretty neat story of how the Elites were replaced a gorilla esque alien race known as the Brutes.

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Of corse there is still the war raging on between the human race and the covenant, and you do get to lean a load more  about the Halo, its background, the flood and all sorts. Some questions from the first Halo have been answered but some new ones will arise from Halo 2.

The engine for the game has been upgraded massively. There is so much more you can do in Halo 2. The first thing I noticed was the beauty of duel welding. This, quite brilliant, addition to the game lets you use two single handed weapons at the same time. Say you have  plasma rifle, you can find another plasma rifle to wield with it, but the other great thing here is you can wield combinations, like you can have a needler and a plasma rifle, or an SMG and a plasma pistol, and so on. Making the combinations for duel welding endless.

There are some new weapons for Halo 2 as well. You have the covenant sniper rifle, the carbine, which is the covenants answer to a kind of scoped shot gun, the brute shot, which is a grenade launcher and the brute plasma rifle which is a slightly more powerful than the standard covenant plasma rifle, and is also red, but the biggest new covenant addition that will no doubt please fans of Halo 1 is the Elite Energy sword. But that’s not all, the human side has a couple of new additions too, such as the SMG that can be dual welded. And the battle rifle which is scoped and fires short bursts of bullets. Sadly though the assault rifle from the first game has been removed, and been replaced by the battle rifle.

Other upgrades to the game include, mounting enemy vehicles, by quickly pressing X in a vehicle driven by the enemy, you can rip them out of the vehicle and use it yourself, there is also the opportunity to plant grenades in bigger vehicles such as wraiths. Ghosts have been modified now with a boost system, and the Ghost’s weapons have been upgraded so you have a constant stream of fire, there is also a new type of warthog known as the Gauss Warthog which has a mortar type weapon mounted onto it. Even the covenant drop ships have been given a complete overhaul. There are also new vehicles such as the Specter, which is the covenant equivalent of a warthog.

One of the biggest additions to Halo 2’s campaign is the levels where you pay as an Elite. Yes thats right, you heard me correctly, some of the Halo 2 missions you jump into the shoes of an Elite, there isn’t much difference playability wise from Master chief, but you do have the handy ability to turn on active camouflage as you please. This is instead of the flash lite that Master Chief gets. But other than that there isn’t much difference at all, except for your HUD being and interesting pinky colour.

So with the Elites eventually getting booted from the covenant, what new enemies does the Master Chief get to face now? Well I briefly mentioned the Brutes. These are huge alien gorilla power houses. Get them really riled up and they will charge at you for a one hit kill. You also have the Drones, these are buggy type flying creatures which appear in swarms. They are more of an annoyance than anything as they only wield plasma pistols. Jackles still have their shields but now there is a different type of Jackle as well which wields a sniper rifle. Other than that all the other enemies you know and some how love are back from Halo 1, and yes, Grunts do still shout ‘RUN AWAY!’ in comically high voices.

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The graphics have been overhauled big time, and I must say the game is looking beautiful for an original XBox title, the detail in Master Chiefs suit is something to admire, as well as some of the sky lines in earlier levels.

Halo 2 is defiantly a huge upgrade from the first Halo, and picks up the story nicely where it left off, a must for fans of the first game and FPS fans out there.

Shame there is no battle rifle though.

– Garv!