Ahhh Ah Ahhh Ah Ahhh Ah Ahhh Ah Ah Ahhh…
That was me singing the Halo theme song. You could totally tell right? Well, what I might lack in vocal quality and tone, I make up for in FPS skill. Actually, I’m only a fair hand at shooters. But that never stopped me from having fun damn it! And if you want to talk about pure, unadulterated entertainment, it doesn’t get much better than my days spent with Halo 2. While the first game was legendary (and brought me back into the FPS fold after a long hiatus) there was just something about the sequel that captured lightning in a bottle. I can’t really explain, other than to say only those who experienced it at the time will ever truly understand what I’m talking about.
Of course compared to its counterparts of today, it’s pretty tame. But the folks at 343 look to change all that, by giving the classics a shot of adrenaline right in both arms. The upcoming Master Chief Collection will apply the “anniversary” treatment (which we saw in the first revamp) to the rest of the series. However, Halo 2 is getting the real love, as the legendary multiplayer engine is making a return in full force. All the original maps (plus those purchased in packs later released) will be available in their original forms, including six select levels which are scheduled for an HD overhaul.
So in honor of the upcoming throwback (due to hit stores this November) here is a look at my favorite Halo 2 maps that literally sucked weeks away from my life during those late-night frag fests. (Note: some of these have already been confirmed to appear in the game, as others may just be wishful thinking on my part).
This is probably the most iconic of all the Halo 2 maps (with its classic fortress-raid layout). One team spawns on the beach and is tasked with traversing the exterior wall and making their way toward the center. The other attempts to hold down their stronghold (which is not always an easy job due to multiple entry points from above and below). Naturally, I can’t forget to mention the giant spinning fan that divides things. It not only provides a nice vantage point for snipers, but has caused more deaths via unexpected crushing than one might expect. Beware: this has also been known as a quarantine zone for zombies!
Here we’re taking the fight indoors…err…underground I guess I should say. This cavernous, subterranean battlefield was also one of my favorites. Although it might not be the prettiest of all Halo’s maps (a boulder re-rendered in HD is still just a big brown rock); there is still tons of fun to be found here. The teleporters on either side of the map conveniently drop you near a rocket launcher, which always comes in handy when the enemy begins moving their Wraith tanks toward your team’s base. The central spire is a well traversed area, which can result in multiple kills if you keep a keen eye on enemy traffic. An underrated map that I feel many fans have overlooked.
Ivory Tower / Midship:
I was really torn with this choice. I wasn’t sure which one to devote this spot to, so I just went with both. The reason I feel I can get away with it is because their reputations each stem from the same game type: assault. Midship was possibly one of the most-played maps found on Bungie’s online playlist, and for good reason. It’s tight, one-sided field always forces the action towards the middle and up the gravity lift to the main platform (where the arming spot is located). Ivory Tower was similar in that regard, as the fight typically took place in a centralized location. However, it was also extremely well designed for CTF matches (which is another reason why I call these years of life the “lost summer”).
Blood Gulch / Coagulation:
I’m just going to go ahead and say this: Blood Gulch is the best multiplayer map ever created. Sure you can argue that point, but you’d be wrong. Why does this map keep showing up in different forms? Because it’s freakin’ awesome that’s why! The long strip (featuring two bases at either side of an open-air canyon) is ideal for just about all game types. I’ve played everything here from CTF mods, to Warthog Races to big tank battles. It’s almost a choice that can virtually do no wrong! I promise you that no matter what version of this iconic level you play, you’re almost guaranteed to have fun. And if by some chance you’re not, I’d check your pulse…’cause you might be dead.
If I have one gripe regarding the upcoming Master Chief Collection, it’s that I’m once again forced to try and pick off my headshots via thumb stick. I honestly can’t see any good reason why Microsoft won’t port this thing to the desktop (they do own something called Windows ya’ know). I desperately want to get back to my comfort zone of aiming with a mouse. Otherwise, how about a first party mouse/keyboard combo for Xbox One? I’d buy it, you’d buy it…we all would! They could actually charge pretty much anything they want for it; and FPS fans like me would eat it up. It’s essentially a guaranteed sale.
What’s wrong…you don’t like money anymore there Microsoft?