If we really want to dive into the best game, we would probably all come to an agreement that Halo 2 was the best. It introduces things at the right time and had what many consider the best online experience. This assumption is proven even more when Microsoft announced that the upcoming Xbox One collection will utilize Halo 2 settings for all the games.
While our last Xbox Exclusive highlight covered story mode, Halo was all about the multiplayer. Halo 2 became an icon in the industry and a leader in innovation by bringing together so many great ideas, and doing it so well. For consoles it was the first game to truly utilize a lobby system, something that was even clunky on PC at the time. It kept you and all your friends together at all times. You now had “quick match” to join games and no more server lists to shuffle through, hoping to catch a decent game. Lobby screens also showed all your friends and settings for each match, so no more jumping into noob servers on accident. Heck we even had rankings on our names to show others how good (or bad!) we were!
Then the game itself added features that were so cool for games at the time. Remember riding around in a Warthog with your best pal shooting people on the back? With today’s games it may not seem that thrilling that vehicles were included, but Halo 2 did it so well that it’s hard to forget how awesome this was. Or even times where you stole an enemy flag and jumped in, praying a sniper wasn’t already watching you? This was awesome, and a good lot of games today use similar mechanics for vehicles in their games. You could say “Battlefield was first!” but the debate arises when we ask, who did it better?
Then Bungie had the entire game all tied together with a little bow. We had fantastic maps that included what would become icons in the franchise paired up with classics from the first title. We had the perfect weapon balancing where everybody complained the other person was OP, no matter what weapon they used. A lot of these finite details can be seen today as Bungie is attempting to change the industry again with Destiny, and boy are we excited!
Yet while all this is fantastic news, what happened outside of Halo 2 itself is what really pounds it into our hearts. Remember when Halo 2 was announced at E3? It actually went down in our best E3 moments of all time because the crowd goes insane in excitement!
Then you have a community that constantly found new secrets in the game and stayed strong for years into the games life. It is rare to see a game dominate the online servers for this long. At one point Halo in general was beating out the likes of Call of Duty with an old game, and when it finally slipped to second it actually made news headlines.
Personally, Halo 2 is my favorite Xbox memory because of memories with the game. I remember heading to friends houses to play rounds online. I remember when it released for PC we had a LAN party with it all the time, even during school when the teacher looked the other way. I remember friends getting mad at pure skill, and then having them return the favor! It’s the community and memories of the game that make this franchise so memorable and Halo 2 started it all.
It’s safe to say the gaming market as a whole would be different today if it wasn’t for the success of Halo 2.