PC gamers can say what they like about the Halo series. There’s no arguing with the millions of Xbox owners who fire up broadband and joyfully gun their compadres into bloody chunks of flesh.
Master Chief may be a faceless killing machine, but to console owners he’s as recognisable as good old Lara Croft and her over-inflated chest.
So Halo 2 arrives on PC, but there’s a couple of stings in the tale. First, it’s 3 years late – your console cousins have been happily blasting away since late-2004.
Second, it’s only available on Vista. We wonder what brainiac came up with that idea?
Let’s face it. With all the hype surrounding this series there’s going to be a few PC gamers out there who’re intrigued.
We can say right from the off that Halo 2 just can’t compare with the likes of Half Life 2 and Stalker. Microsoft’s blaster may have been the nuts a few years ago, but the first person shooter genre has moved on a fair bit.
The original Halo admittedly was a masterpiece. As Master Chief, your oh so simple task was to stop the Covenant’s merciless slaughter of the human race. Your hero’s massive Halo weapon was certainly up to the job, wiping out the opposition both on and off screen.
Carrying on from where the first game left off, Halo 2 splits your time between the Chief and one of his adversaries. This neat twist lets you loose with some hefty Covenant weaponry and breaks up what could have been a case of same old same old.
So why that lowly score at the top of the page? Well, it’s three years old for godsake and the PC gaming world doesn’t stay still that long.
Graphics first. Three years ago on the Xbox, Halo 2 looked gorgeous. In 2007 on a Vista powered PC and compared with the stunning Stalker, it just can't cut the mustard. It’s all drab greys, browns and flat textures that look even worse at the kind of high resolution your PC’s capable of powering.
First person shooters have changed drastically in the last few years too. Half Life 2 was almost as much about puzzle solving as simple blasting action and was by far a more memorable game for it. Halo has a grand total of, err, zero puzzles. Couple that with some quite stupid opponents and you’ll find that challenges are few and far between.
Don’t go expecting a cracking ending either. We guarantee you’ll be pulling your hair out in clumps when Halo 2 finally grinds to a halt with the most blatantly sequel initiating finale we’ve ever seen. Yes, it may only be a matter of months before Halo 3 hopefully ties it all up in a nice colourful bow, but you’re bound to feel extremely short changed. The words "Is that it?" spring to mind.
One saving grace is the multiplayer. It’s right up there with Counter Strike in terms of sheer thrills so expect to spend many an evening abusing your broadband connection.
What would have got top marks three years ago is a few notches below that high standard in 2007. Give it a go if you missed the Xbox version, but you’ll be back with the true kings of the genre in a matter of days.