Halo 2 is the sequel to Halo: Combat Evolved and is the second entry in the Halo franchise. It was released in 2004 as the last game for the franchise on the original Xbox before the Xbox 360 debuted. Unlike the first game, multiplayer/matchmaking had an online option that allowed players to play with other players around the world via the Xbox Live services, a subscription based model that players could pay for. The game was the first title in the series to include downloadable content too. In 2007, the game was released on the PC platform with the Games For Windows Live API frontend for online multiplayer and achievements.
After the destruction of the first Halo ring, the Master Chief and Cortana find their way to Cairo Station where they are to be awarded for the events of Halo. At the same time, Thel Vadam, an elite commander that was the strongest and smartest commander the Covenant ever had, was tasked with protecting the same Halo ring that was destroyed. However, because of his failure he was reprimanded shamelessly by Tartarus.
After the award ceremony, the Covenant had found a way past Earth's forces and started to attack the city of New Mombasa. A covenant fleet also docked and boarded the space station, attacking the humans on board.
The Master Chief makes his way to Earth after causing the attacking Covenant fleet to retreat to deal with the Covenant on New Mombasa, and learned that the Prophet of Regret who came to Earth on a Covenant ship made a slipspace jump to another ring. At this point, the UNSC realizes that there are more than just one Halo ring, which prompts Captain Keyes to send the Master Chief to the same ring the Prophet of Regret went to and destroy the ring.
Thel Vadam was spared execution and offered up a chance to receive the rank of the Arbiter, a rank of lesser praise than his original rank but still a rank of honor. In doing so, he would have to accomplish tasks that if they end with failure he would die.
The campaign features 15 playable campaign maps, alternating between the Master Chief's story and the Arbiter's story. The campaign introduces a game mechanic that is exclusive for the Heretic missions, which allows the Arbiter to become invisible. This invisibility feature is limited to only working for a few seconds as it is revealed that his armor he is currently wearing is older, unlike the other heretics.
Other features such as dual wielding and swapping weapons with friendly NPCs has been added as well. Vehicles no longer use the one hit kill physics that the previous game used, but rather require momentum to splatter the enemy. Vehicles can now be controlled by NPCs as opposed to the previous game requiring the player to control the vehicle, although progression can be limited sometimes.
New enemies have been added to the game, such as drones (often referred to as "buggers" by humans) and brutes. New weapons have been added into the game, such as the battle rifle and submachine gun for the UNSC forces, the carbine and fuel rod cannon for the covenant, and the brute plasma rifle and brute shot for the brutes.
Halo 2 for Xbox utilized a number of DLC and addons that expanded matchmaking, mainly adding maps (with the exception of Zombie game type). Most of the maps were obtainable via the Xbox live service, with everything (except Blastacular Pack with it releasing afterwards, and Zombies game mode since it was released in the Official Xbox Magazine) being added to the Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack disc.
People who owned or played the PC port of Halo 2 (commonly reffered to as Halo 2 Vista) have all the maps built in, with a few PC exclusive maps added as well. The Zombies game type was not available for this port officially, but can be played via its Halo: Master Chief Collection release or via the unofficial multiplayer mod patch Halo 2 Project Cartographer.
Halo 2 currently has 3 builds for Xbox (with 2 DLC files) and one build for PC.
- Halo 2 (Alpha)
- Halo 2 (Beta)
- Halo 2 (August 14 2004 Title Update)
- Halo 2 (DLC Test)
- Halo 2 (DLC Box Test)
- Halo 2 (Review Build)