Sunday, January 29, 2006

Halo 2, Doom 3, and Half-Life 2 (Xbox) Comparison Editorial

By the end of 2004, what many consider to be the biggest shooters of the current millenium were all released and the debates were on as to which one was king. These kind of arguements are common amongst gamers and have stretched back since the beginning of the hobby, however as anyone with any objective sense can tell you, these topics are all very subjective.

The style of gameplay or graphics I find impressive may be boring to you and vise versa. What you see as an amazing innovation may be mundane to me, and needless to say all these arguements happened with the release of (in order) Doom 3, Halo 2, and Half-Life 2. However, the one interesting thing to note is that Halo 2 was the only Xbox title while the others were PC. What this means is Halo 2 was duking it out with inferior hardware and control comparisons (and certainly holding its own if not out-right winning) and any true debator would agree that such a comparison of platforms isn't really a fair one outside of gameplay, audio, and storyline.

In 2005, however, Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 were both ported over to the big black box, which for the first time in history has given these 3 great titles a completely even and level playing field; they all have the same graphic, and controller limitations. No system tweaks, driver discrepancies, or anything of the sort, you simply pop the game in and play. In its most common form, Xbox titles tend to be played in 480i with basic stereo speakers and a Controller-S, and that's the set up that this editorial will be based on.

Because these three titles have already been debated to death, I'm not going to focus on the elements that would not change from a port, such as audio, story, etc., and instead I'll be focusing on graphics and gameplay. Please note that I will also focus solely on the out-of-the-box Single Player Campaigns, and not Multiplayer since Half-Life 2 is a Single Player only title on the Xbox. Also, while Half-Life 2 is a direct port of its PC counterpart, Doom 3 is not, and received a good bit of level re-construction to improve the game's pacing. While I personally have not been able to play the PC version of Doom 3, those who have played both versions have told me that gameplay wise, they tend to prefer the Xbox version simply because it progresses faster and is thus more action oriented; somewhat more like the Doom classics of old. I'll also be discussing these titles in Xbox release order, Halo 2, Doom 3, and Half-Life 2, so let's begin!

Halo 2 - The best selling Xbox title of all time, but how well does Bungie's latest adventure really stack up to PC gaming's best? Well, for me the biggest thing Halo 2 has going for it is gameplay. I believe IGN Xbox says it best with this quote from their Halo 2 review (found at the bottom of the second page):

"You'll find that in each level, there are several ways to beat it. Whether you want to charge in all guns blazing, jack vehicles, snipe, what have you, the weapons, vehicles, and the level designs in particular encourage multiple ways to dominate a level. And even though this is a linear game, the levels are big -- and wide -- enough so that you can traverse old terrain multiple times without it feeling stale."

This is such a perfect summary of Halo 2's gameplay, and the shear variety of its open-ended gameplay is unmatched by either of the other titles. Presently, I have played through Halo 2's Campaign five times, and only now am I starting to run out of new ways to approach all the different battles.

Not only are the levels so large and feature so many options, but the enemy AI is top-notch and offer challenges that simply aren't possible in the other titles. Try to run over enemies with vehicles and they'll dive out of the way, start to over power an enemy and they'll fall back under cover and continue to readjust their angle with yours to stay under cover. They'll flush you out, use supresive fire to pin you down, and generally find great ways to stay alive and force you to rethink those "charge-into-a-room" tactics.

Graphically, Halo 2 is a beautiful game, however I'd rank it as the last of the three in this category. While it certainly is a beautiful Xbox game and the character models seem more detailed and of higher quality (save for facial expressions), many of the backgrounds lack the depth and detail found in the other titles. There's also that damn texture pop-in that plagues the in-game cinematics, and sadly even the later levels of actual gameplay. Not that this detracts from the gameplay by any means, but it is a noticable con. One unique thing Halo 2 does accomplish is to remove the feeling that you're a "floating head and gun" that's typical of most FPSes, as you can actually see your own legs and feet when you look down. A nice touch.

Doom 3 - id Software's horror masterpiece. With Doom 3, the most important thing to consider is what id Software set out to accomplish, and that's a remake of the grandfather of the genre built on an ultra-modern graphics engine. Doom 3 does not have the cutting edge, modern gameplay of the other titles, but instead takes us through memory lane and plays like most major FPSes of the late '90's; and it certainly accomplishes this very well. Generally, you move from cramped interior room to the next corridor/room and kill any monster that spawns in or happens to be lying in wait. While this concept is pretty basic, id Software follows the classic formula well, introducing tougher monsters as you progress, as well as some basic puzzles. While the enemy AI in Doom 3 is very standard fair, the monsters themselves can usually dish out the punishment as well as receive it. I found that many people overly criticized Doom 3 on it's classic, monster closet gameplay, and exaggerated the amount of times enemies would spawn in if you grabbed a simple armour shard. While yes, this does happen, it's not to the extent that most people make it out to be, at least in the Xbox version.

Graphically, Doom 3 is beautiful, featuring a very detailed world, character models, and most importantly, lighting. id Software wanted the player to feel all alone, and the extremely dark atmosphere greatly contributes to this. They use very dark lighting along with a strong sound mix to create the horror atmosphere, and I haven't bene this impressed with a spooky FPS atmoshphere since System Shock 2. The PC version got a lot of criticism for this, and also for the design limitation preventing you from using your Flashlight with any of the game's weapons. To address this, not only does the Xbox version feature improved level pacing, it's also been brightened up to help avoid player frustration.

Being a port of a PC title, Doom 3 follows the classic convention of being able to carry several weapons at once, so to accomodate this with a controller, you can map four weapons to the D-Pad for quick selection, and you can change this at any point, even on the fly (though via the game's menu) to better suit a specific combat situation.

Half-Life 2 - Valve Software's technological masterpiece is considered by many to be the best PC game of 2004, and possibly the best game for the platform. Having been a huge fan of the original title, I had very high hopes, however I must express grave dissapointment in Valve's sequel. While it retains the immersive atmosphere of its predecessor, the gameplay lacks any form of challenge thanks to very poor enemy AI/balance. Even on Hard, Half-Life 2 is a breeze, as the game's enemies are too dumb to seek any good cover, work together, or even damage the player; in fact they often rush towards you to their death. You can easily rush into a room full of Combine Soldiers and mow them down with old style guns-blazing tactics, and unless one of them has a shotgun and is right next to you, the amount of damage you'll take is minimal. Even in vehicles, you can run enemies down with ease as they will not move out of the way or seek cover, even if you're moving towards them very slowly! Vehicle combat also has extremely poor controls with a Controller-S, and lacks the responsiveness of Halo 2. While Half-Life 2's gameplay features generic combat, vehicle combat, and puzzles, typically involving the game's ultra-realistic physics, it is simply bland, boring, and dragged out. The puzzles, while cool, generally involve stacking or simply moving something with the Gravity Gun, and the only challenge here is determining what to move.

Graphically, however, Half-Life 2 is beautiful. In fact, I consider it to be the most beautiful game available on the Xbox. While its character models lack the detail quality found in the other titles, the facial expressions are the most realistic ever seen and add a new depth of emotion to video game characters. The levels themselves are so richly detailed and so believably designed, you'll swear that you're actually there. The only downside to the game's graphics is texture pop-in, similar to Halo 2's, save that it's in all the game's levels on a very regular basis. Again, not a major gameplay problem, but it is noticable.

Half-Life 2 also features weapon mapping to the D-Pad, however you can't rearrange it because all the weapons are available there and you can quickly toggle through them. This is a vast improvement to the D-Pad system found in Doom 3 and makes selection of any of the game's weapons a snap without having to re-map them in a menu.

In the end, of course, it all comes down to the style of shooter that you prefer. Halo 2 is an open-ended, action fest, Doom 3 is a classic, corridor crawl/horror masterpiece, and Half-Life 2 is an immerisve, technological marvel.

For me, the most important thing is gameplay, and the quality of it balanced with what the developer's set out to achieve. Thus, I would hold that these three titles are ranked best to worst in their Xbox release order: Halo 2, Doom 3, and Half-Life 2. However, any of these titles are worthy additions to your Xbox library, and it'd be a shame to pass any of them up.


Anonymous said...

If you would of played HL2 on a PC, where it's deserved to be played, you would easily seen how easy it is to make the game harder ( just by adding two simple little lines in the config file) and how much mods they are available for the game, making it one if a hell good-value game. The graphics are also much, MUCH better on pc.

Still this is a pretty good review, so gj.

Anonymous said...

The reason Half-Life 2 isn't #1 is because it is on an Xbox, ffs. This game both deserves, and is more suitible for the Xbox360. Xbox simply isn't powerful enough to deliver the impact you will find on a medium to high-end computer.

Juxtapose said...

Hi guys,

Thanks for the comments. Remember though, for the purpose of _this_ comparison, I was looking at the Single Player Campaigns "out of the box."

That means no mods and no file editing. If I would have included mods and file editing, I would have had to use the PC versions, and then obviously Half-Life 2 would be the victor. However the purpose was for a level playing field on the standardized platform seeing as how Halo 2 is Xbox only.

The gameplay of the out-of-the-box Campaign, however, does not change from PC to Xbox; so Half-Life 2's pacing and really bad AI would still disappoint me.

Also, graphics aren't everything. If so, everyone would heavily praise Doom 3, yet it gets a lot of criticizm instead. Besides, I do think Half-Life 2 is the most beautiful looking Xbox title out there right now.


Anonymous said...

HL2 pwns Halo 2. It's as simple as that.

Juxtapose said...

Yeah 'cause, you know, all those points you listed in Half-Life 2's defence have totally convinced me.

Tech wise, Half-Life 2>Halo 2

Gameplay wise Halo 2>Half-Life 2

kris cook said...

Excuse me? half lifes AI is bad? well blow me away. i think its the best i have ever seen. have you ever tried to seek cover in the houses along the highyway section. they come in from various doors throw frags in and co-ordinate there attack. in comparrison the jackal snipers on halo legendary are soo good it actully defeats the object, and brings the game down to a level where it stops becoming a challenge and becomes an outright bore. I am a fan of all three games and personally own halflife on both the pc and the xbox and halo2 (was just playing)and doom3. Doom doesnt really factor into it for me, it is a horror fps and not an action stratergy whitch HL and H2 are. by all means i love all the games, halo2 campagin was a let down, not bad in a sense but just not as good as halo ce. half life campaign however, it was one of the most literary intellegant adn downright engrossing campigns i have certinaly ever played. Halflife2 is hands down the winner in content. the xbox version is absoultely awful thou, the frame rate is near not playable. i fully concur with the earlier poster who stated this game should have been left and made for the 360, with full HDR anyone? fingers crossed for it still to happen with CS-s and the expansion pack. (why didnt the xbox have blu ray!!!) well to finish this rant of i belive that and only beacsue of the frame rate in HL2 halo2 campaign is the winner, so i essentialy agree with the original writer, however his points about bad AI in HL2 are i belive completly unfounded. Halo2 multiplayer kicks ass thou, much eaiser to get into than CS-s. however i prefer the format of CS-s and would rather play that in its cheat free, minial lag and freindlier enviroment, im just really bad at it :(

DeeJ said...

Great writing. It's refreshing to see a gamer review his favorite titles from a standpoint of subjectivity. Thanks for not mistaking your opinion as THE TRUTH.

That said, there is a lot of truth in your opinion. I enjoy Halo for its ability to bring a variety of gamers together. My clan is populated with GTA drivers and Tom Clancy snipers. And we all get along.

DOOM was a haunted house on Mars. I actually enjoyed piecing the story together by pillaging all of those PDAs. id has no apologies to make. I was glad to see them stick to their format. They could have easily tried to rip of Halo.

I guess I need to borrow Half-Life 2. I never got around to immersing myself in that franchise. When I was a PC gamer, I was piloting anyting that my Saitek could drive [Freespace 2 & Descent 3], which is probably why Halo is a good match for me.

Anonymous said...

Also if he did factor in Doom 3 and half life 2 on computer (giving them an advantage) he would have to include multiplayer and thus halo 2 would still win.

Anonymous said...

If Half Life 2 had been released on Xbox 360, it could have been a very different story...

Dead Rabb1ts said...

He purposely said he was only comparing the X-box titles, so why do people keep bringing up the PC? Halo would be the obvious vote of most of the x-box population. There isn't much contest there, and if it ever got into multiplayer its no comparison. Unfortunetly, I enjoyed Halo: CE's campaign much more, and never ever play halo 2's, while I could be playing multiplayer online. But good review.

Peronthious said...

I will consent that HL2's graphics are amazingly superior to any game to date, especially on PC. However, you need a $3000 PC to even approach the PC version! On XBOX, all you need to do is shell out $150 for the system and another $50 for the game. The price alone immediately knocks the PC version off the map for this little debate.

Anonymous said...

I liked this piece. Makes me want to play HL2 on Xbox. In fact I will.

Anonymous said...

I think the main problem with the piece is that's it's comparing Halo 2, a purely X-Box title with two ports.

Bungie had plenty of time to make, tweak and design Halo 2 specifically for the x-box. So really texture pop-in should be unacceptable as the game had five years to get caching and loading right but ultimately they failed, or saw it as an acceptable quality loss given the potential overall quality gain.

I personally don't agree with the decision to allow it to continue as it breaks the immersive atmosphere of the game and is quite annoying all the way through.

However where Bungie shines is a beautiful control system, unbelievable player/enemy balancing and great gameplay, but it was designed to be on an X-box and Bungie did the gameplay proud.

For both Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 they were designed, from the ground up to run on more powerful systems, to have scalable graphics engines and deliver at the top end of PC technology which is currently quite far above the capabilities of the X-box.

Now I concede that Doom 3 has had quite a lot done to the opening levels to enable the 'jump in and start playing' mentality. But it's weapon system, it's level layout and it's enemy placement is designed around a PC player, which doesn't do it too many favours on the X-box.

As for Half-Life 2 if any game was designed to showcase the PC and it's abilities or the possibilities of net based distribution this was it. It's level design, vehicle control and weapon loadout are again designed for a PC and the AI is actually quite impressive on it's native platform.

I think this comparison is fundamentally flawed from the beginning simply because two of the games out of the three were not co-developed for the X-Box but converted and placed on the X-box, for no reason I can see except profit.

That's the way I see it anyway, Halo 2 was always going to have better gameplay and level design because it's entire development cycle was focused on one platform. As opposed to a relatively small period of time being spent on development for the X-Box.

Anonymous said...

good review man i liked it and i agree wow therese only two here that do, anyways toy ou others,stop saying that HL2 is better on pc and that it would have won, the point was to review them on X-BOX not PC so stop the ignorance just because your favorite game didnt win and deal with it

Anonymous said...

This is a nice review, but personally, I'm sick of people comparing the games. I think we can all agree that each game is the best in some way, so let's just drop it, shall we?

Juxtapose said...

Hi everyone,

I'm happy most of you are enjoying my editorial, whether you agree or disagree with it.

Just a few quick points:

1) Honestly, I found the AI in Half-Life 2 to be 100% aweful. On Hard, I had no challenge with it at all except for two spots; that's it. If I recall correctly as well, Valve has said they didn't change the AI with the Xbox version, and an associate of mine who owns the PC version and has checked out my Xbox version has confirmed that he found the AI the same with both, and that is really bad.

I've seen Half-Life 2's AI do some really bad things, such as my example of hitting Metrocops with the airboat in Water Hazard. Even just hitting one at a time, they still stand completely still and let you do it while veinly shooting at you.

As for Highway 17, I actually regularily took cover in the houses, and only once was a grenade ever tossed in. After that, the Combine filed in and I was able to easily butcher them as they attempted to climb a set of stairs. Not impressive.

The AI of the Soldiers in Half-Life were vastly superior to its sequel, and I find that very sad.

2) As for development time of the ports, I know John Carmack has said that when designing the Doom 3 engine, he built it to take advantage of the Xbox's hardware, which is why it performs so well on such limited hardware. I also know it was in development for roughly 3 years, which, once Bungie scrapped and restarted Halo 2, is about the same development time.

For Half-Life 2 and Valve, as far as I know Source was not built for the Xbox, but handles itself very well on the system. Some people have complained about heavy frame rate issues, however for me it played crystal smooth with very few exceptions. In terms of development time, I believe Half-Life 2 Xbox was ported in roughly 2+ years. I know it was developed long enough that Gabe Newell said that was one of the reasons they didn't scrap it and make an Xbox 360 version.

However, even had they made an Xbox 360 version, the gameplay would still be the same and my opinions would still stand.

Anonymous said...

I think you've vastly overexagerated the bit about AI, especially with the Vehicles bit. Unlike in halo, it seems to me the Vehicles play rather insignificant roles in the game, and what good would it do for the Combine to roll out of the way? But otherwise every creature seems to do what it should. I concede that Halo 2's AI is much more impressive in the way Covenant will attack you, but I fear this apparantly unbiased review might actually be a bit prejudice. If the vehicles made as much impact in Half-Life 2 as they did in Halo, then I could fully understand your complaints, but frankly they barely even register in my memory of playing the game.

Heck, to be honest I thought the whole idea of vehicles in Half Life was a bit farfetched at first. Of course I must admit the Crane handling was awesome, and I only wish there had been more baddies for me to deal sweet justice to with it.

Dracc said...

While I agree that the concept of the review is sound, that being a fair review of gameplay on a standardized system. However, for all of the people who keep bringing up the PC versions of the game, listen to the following:

Halo CE was XBOX exclusive for years before it was ported to PC. Why? Well, it wasn't because Bungie was too busy working on H2, because they didn't even port it themselves.

Now we find ourself in a similar position. Halo 2 is XBOX exclusive, and nobody is making any plans to port it. Well, who knows... perhaps it will be ported.

So, if it is who will be king then? I would put my money on H2. Halo CE on PC wasn't as big as was expected, true. But with a slight graphics boost, removal of the texture pop in(which happens because the XBOX has only 64MB of ram, causing the animators to hunt for a way to render those graphics in realtime)the ability to mod, and a new target audience, H2 for PC might become everything that H2 is on the box.

Yes, the campaign is not as good at HCE, and yes multiplayer is the only real reason the game is popular. But lets face it, thats what gaming is today. Why play with yourself when you can play with others? Personally I think HL2's lack of multiplayer is disgusting, and stupid. Look at Half-life. It, through its multiplayer gameplay and moding community, spawned a huge spin-off franchise.

And finally I would also like to remind everyone that XBOX games CAN be modded, just like pc games. So stop holding that over us console gamer's heads, eh?

jack said...

I totally agree with Juxtapose's assesment. When i played Half Life 2 on the PC, sure the graphics are awesome, but i came away with the distinct impression that the gameplay was very repetitive. stack some crates, shoot some zombies, follow some guy... it just was pretty repetitive. This is why i think halo 2 wins in the gameplay department (which i agree is most important). each level is distinctly different, there's a greater choice of weapons on each level, and its totally true that you can go about the game however you please. this is not the case with HL2 or Doom 3.

On the issue of graphics i disagree with juxtapose. the actual models in half life 2 are more hi-res and detailed than those in halo 2 or doom 3, but i think that halo 2 has the most beautiful environments. thats what i think graphics are about- not how realistic the game looks, but how pretty it is. sure the texture pop happens in some cinematics, but i didnt find that it detracted from the game's general aesthetic appeal.

evolgenius said...

I enjoyed your article, and agreed with you on most of your points. I personally think Doom is the best-looking (graphically, of course) of the three, but that's neither here nor there.

Sadly, I too was disappointed with HL2. After all the hyperbole, I really expected more. Even the apologists (who've played the PC version) only seem to be able to point out how much better it looks on the PC, as opposed to defending it's actual gameplay experience. It does have some really good battles, but they're few and far between. That, and I don't really like platforming puzzles in my FPSs. Still one of the best shooters available, but not nearly as enjoyable as I expected.


Halo 2 is NOT balanced. How can anyone compare Halo 2 to Halo 1 seriously? HALO 1 owns Halo 2.

Juxtapose said...

Very quickly since I have to get to work...

The sad things is, at least with my play experience, I have not over-exagerated Half-Life 2's AI weaknesses. The vehicle sequence is a direct example I experienced, but let's ignore vehicles completely.

As many of you know, the Soliders in Half-Life had great AI for their time. They would work together, flush you out with grenades, flank you, retreat when hurt, all great stuff for '98.

In Half-Life 2, the Combine Soliders are no where near as smart. They rarely used grenades to flush me out, instead of flanking me, groups would near "bee-line" towards me while I easily mowed them down. Heck, they weren't even ducking under cover.

If a Combine Soldier was hurt and fell back to hide under cover, all I had to do was strafe a little until I could see a shoulder or some other body part, and then start shooting. Not with an instant kill weapon, but with somthing like the submachine gun. Instead of re-adjusting his position to screen himself from my fire, the Combine Solider would sit there and simply let me kill him.

Finally, the Combine Elites are supposed to be, well, elite. The fact that not a single one every killed me or even came close to killing me on Hard was most disappointing. The exact same tactics applied to them as Combine Soliders, and aside from a different skin, I wouldn't notice a difference.

Again, my experience.

Joseph said...

As regarding the AI, i would have to agree with you, juxta; it wasn't all that great. I have not finished Halo 2, only having played it at my friends house only, so my opinions cant be perfectly founded. However, I preferred Half Life 2. I found it was the immersion factor, a vital role of the FPS. Granted, being able to see your feet was (while being completely useless) a nice change. I think it was because of the lack of cutscenes, everything was in first person. I never once was not *in* the game. Granted, you can't have as cool cut-scene-like scenes, but hey, how come I can't pick up a body and walk backwards while holding my assault rifle with one hand in the normal game? (example taken from the flood beginning in Halo 1)

That being said, Halo 2 did seem to have more diverse AI types. HL2 could have used a retreating fast enemy, like the female assassins from HL1. The Combine were still fun to play with, and personally I found the ragdoll physics more intresting (this comes from someone who played all of highway 17 with just a shotgun and the scout car. Watching my enemies flop around after a shotgun blast was really quite enjoyable. Also, the ear-ringing and slight distortion from the grenades was something I liked. Still, maybe Halo man has too high-tech a suit for that or something.

Anonymous said...

I've played all three of these games, though not for X-Box, I played each on it's originally intended system. 1. I must agree on the Half Life 2 A.I. issue, the combine are really bad, especially compared to HL 1. 2. Microsoft sucks and forced Bungie to release Halo 2 before it was finished, the popping could possibly have been fixed. 3. Half Life 2 is beautiful, I don't know about the x-box version but the PC looks great, however different games are designed to render different things. It seems to me that HL2 and H2 are attempting approximately the same thing, H2 is a bit more bland and therefor I give that to HL2. But Doom 3 is attempting to create a completely different environment, so even if the detail isn't quit on par with HL2 it does a tremendous job with its own atmosphere.

Anonymous said...

(Sry for my bad english)

I completly agree with your review. It is really funny to shoot the Combine down with the shotgun and dont forget the blue grafity gun at the end; Nothing was funnier than that! What a pity, that I couldnt use it for a longer time.
Lets compare Halo MP and CS:S. I think CS:S is so much more seriously. Theres a different if you shoot into forehead or into neck. If a Halo MP Player would play CS:S, he never would kill somebody for a long time. But If a CS:S Player would play Halo MP Player (and could use a mouse), he would do one headshoot after the other.

CS:S for adults
Halo MP for teenager and adults

dUm said...

I love reviews like this, and I have to agree with the general outcome of it.

I'd like to put my own spin on this, as a parent without a massive amount of time to play games in, and as a visually impaired gamer...

Halo2 was a great single player experience, could be approached in a variety of ways, and was enjoyable... While it lasted...
It also sucks on higer difficulty ratings. I don't want to die everytime I trun a corner and get sniped... The best controls out of them all, and the best vehicle controls out of them all...
The only major areas I experienced pop-in was during the cutscenes, so personally I think the graphics were really really good and suited the style of game.
The ability to drop in and out of the game part way thru due to the checkpoints is ace and my son loves watching me play (and often then goes on to hand me my arse in MP)

Doom 3... Its a very, very nice looking game. Very atmospheric, and very scary. But to me, thats its problem, it didn't click... Its too dark, and its a real struggle to see whats going on, and very, very painful on my eyes to play for anything more than about 15 minutes. Can't be played around my son...

Half-Life 2 - I've only just got this, and having never had a pc capable of running it, and never wanting a pc capable of running it, I can't and won't compare it to the PC...
Single player wise, i've put in 330 minutes or something and i'm just out of raveholm... What a level... tense, what can I grab and hurl moments, back against a wall firing moments... I loved it.
Sure the framerate sucks for about 30 seconds after it loads a section, and it slows down if your going to fast in a vehicle... but if your doing that then your missing out on half of the great graphics...
My biggest complaint with the game is that its effectively railroading you. You have to go here, you have to do this, you have to use this. In water hazard, I wanted to explore... only to repeatedly die due to the copter overhead. I took a wrong turning, and the copter knocks me down to 50% health etc... NOT FUN!
Other complaints would be that I can sit in a tunnel for 5 minutes not moving, yet as soon as I come out, a copter will be on me in 3 seocnds... Crap AI! Or like has been said, I can be in a vehcile and the Combine just won't move out of my way (though, given my eyesight, thats a bonus)
It looks nice, if a bit jaggy in places and can be played for a large amount of time without worry. Shame my son gets bored of the repeativeness of some sections...

What about the other big players:
Far Cry...
Looks great in some places, crap in others, suffers the same problem as Half-life that your pretty much forced into using the vehicles. Constnat sunlight gets quite painful on the eyes. Personally, I didn't get the whole 'rely on stealth' thing, and as for the exploding red bunnies... I gave up and sold the game...

Deus Ex...
Maybe not a big player, but massive single player that can be played how you want, i'm on my 4th run thru and my 4th different style of playing it (have done stealthy guns, stealthy hand-to-hand, grenades/anti robot, and now on run and gun). Out of all of them, i've enjoyed this the most

Having played all 3 of them, the series just gets better and better, 'cartoony' graphics which fit the game, pretty big and progressively harder single player, all in all worth a play.

Anonymous said...

ok halo 2 sucks in the fact that you cant stack bodies you got covenent man 1423 standing in a "pile" of his friends he gets killed and goes missing with one simple letter in HL2 you can kill mr combine 20 and he falls onto a real pile of his friends and when you are driving they fall onto the hood of the buggy.

whoever said that they tried to hit the combine with the water craft they obviously missed, because no more then 20 minutes ago i hit one head on and sideswiped two killing all three of them instantly. and the one i hit head on flopped lifelessly on the "boat".

and the problem about the enemies being dumber then the inbread hicks who play halo2 and not diving out of the way of the vehicles ok if you notice where the attentions where at the time you get to them you can see why they diddnt jump out of the way they were dealing with another problem in water hazard they just get off a bridge and i run them down at god knows what speed if you are going slow enough to point out that then you also should be quick to note that in any part of halo 2 multiplayer or single player you yourself cannot dodge vehicles as the covenent in the single player can and even then why are you going at such speeds where you can just be dodged.

you say they dont take cover in half life then i guess those machine gun nests are just for decoration or how mr combime deployed a manhack out of his own hands so he can ambush you all i seen halo2 do was set up some snipers and there was basically no cover if its earth even if it could be 200 whatever the hell years in the future no structors will remain in almost perfect conditon in a war zone.

final point on this halo 2 may have a modding system but if your caught online with your mods on yourself ie battle rifle firing like a minnigun doing as much as 10 rockets would you only can be called a hacker for it as well as i have never heard of any mods to halo 2 that increased the crappy story line as in half life 2 garrys mod and with steam now amazingly you can create whole new worlds animate peoples faces anywhich way you choose create objects create massive battles and simply watch them play out the possibilities are endless and yes there has been mods that enhance the storyline half life 2 lost cost for those who played it and i do say the graphics on low in there were ten times that of the xbox release because the developer who made it wanted to push the engine to its limits.

thank you and goodnight

Juxtapose said...

I've actually never noticed whether or not bodies will pile up on one another in Halo 2, I'm too busy staying alive, however really, how big an issue is that? Stacking bodies will _not_ add replay value to the game.

The MetroCops I was talking about that I hit with the airboat were not the one's coming down the bridge on a rope, there were ones early on who were already on the ground. And at the speed I was going (slow), they could easily have walked let alone ran out of the way, yet they didn't because they're too dumb. While true, you can't dive out of the way in Halo 2, you can easily move out of the way of a speeding vehicle and if you time things right, you can board it. This is not possible in Half-Life 2. And you asked why I was driving that slow with the airboat in the first place? I was doing it to test the game's AI and see if I'm slowly moving towards them on a colision course, will they move or not. They didn't.

The Combine do take cover in Half-Life 2, but they're rather dumb about it. If a Soldier takes cover and you move a little so you can see his shoulder, for example, you can then continue to shoot the sholder until he's dead. In Halo 2, and Elite will take cover if he's taking a beating but also only if falling back will not get him killed; if the later he'll rush you (which does save them 'cause it can force you to back off). If you move to see an Elite's shoulder while he's under cover and start shooting him, he'll _readjust_ his position so you can't hit him any more. This is something the Half-Life 2 AI is again too stupid to do.

If you noticed, I was comparing the Single Player Campaigns in the Xbox versions; so modding is a non-point. Obviously the PC version of Half-Life 2 has vastly superior modding. Oh, and Half-Life 2's story is the crappy one. Let me ask you this: After Ravenholm, really, what's Gordon Freeman's motivation? That's right, he really doesn't have much of one.

Oh, and please learn to use sentences.

Anonymous said...

what is his motivation well ill tell you his motivation its to meet up with the others and save them which later leads to him leading the rebbellion against the combine.

besides that last guy was right and all you can do is point blame at half life. why cant microsoft stick to what it does best bring out crappy operating systems which they stole from apple. and who will honestly buy h2 on the pc for a new operating system thats like what 600 for the new system and 70 for the new game when you could get the new white paperweight from them. they will appreceate it ^_^
fuckin rednecks

Sugar_tits said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Juxtapose said...

And yet that's not a strong motivation at all, and goes completely against the established Gordon Freeman character. In Half-Life, Gordon Freeman was simply trying to survive and escape Black Mesa; everything and everyone he encountered was towards that end and with such an immersive presentation, it really, really worked.

In Half-Life 2, it carry's its predecesor's motive for about the first third, but then it shifts and essentially has Gordon "meeting up with the others" to lead a rebellion. Basically, Gordon goes from point A to B and sometime C doing a bunch of stuff. If you haven't yet, I encourage you to read Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar, which is a book about the development at Half-Life 2. In it, a Valve rep. (I think he was a level designer) stats that they showed the scripted scene where the rebels are pulling down Breen's screen on that monument outside the City 17 train station to remind the player what they're fighting for. So, the game's main theme is that Gordon is supposed to save humanity by leading these rebels in rebellion, correct? Well, if Valve needs to remind the player of this central theme over 3/4 of the way through the game, that tells you how weak the story actually is. Half-Life 2 has a very weak story that doesn't expand upon or answer anything from the original, what it does have is exceptionally immersive presentation. Overall, Half-Life 2 is a great technological experience, but that's it.

Halo 2, on the other hand, expands upon the original story, brings light to many of the Covenant's (and even the Flood's) motives while still leaving a good bit in mystery. What's more, what the Master Chief does is in line with what was established with the character in the original title; there's consistency. Instead of "meet up with the others," the Master Chief's motive is to protect Earth, which then shifts to discover information about the Profit of Regret and Covenant leadership, which then shifts again to preventing the Covenant from activating the newly discovered Delta Halo and finally to attempt to stop the Prophet of Truth from heading to Earth (which he fails at). Then of course there's the Arbiter's plotline, which I though was the stronger of the two. Regardless, the above has much more depth than "meet up with people, lead rebellion."

Oh, and I agree having Halo 2 (PC) as a Vista exclusive is a cash grab, and I won't be buying it. However once more, this article was all about the Xbox versions and their Single Player Campaigns, so those are mute points to this discussion.


Anonymous said...

HL2 is such an amazing game in my opinoin surpases all the other games if we reviewed HL2 on the pc it would have been the best.

Juxtapose said...

Again, this is all opinion, but right now you can't compare all three of the titles on the PC because Halo 2 (PC) is still in development. Once it's released and out for a bit, we'll be able to see how it's mod community and PC multiplayer community works out.

From a PC standpoint, Half-Life 2 presently has the better modding and multiplayer over Doom 3, so taken as a whole package Half-Life 2 (PC)>Doom 3(PC). In terms of Single Player campaigns, it depends on what you're looking for, though I figure I'd still prefer Doom 3.

Halo 2's Single Player Campaign is the best of them all though, in my opinion. Best gameplay, character development, and story.

Escape said...

Very nice comparison juxtapose; I agree with you 100%. I have Doom 3 for the PC and Half-Life 2 for the PC. I've put many hours into Halo 2, Doom 3, and Half-Life 2. Out of all three of them, I like Halo 2's storyline better. Halo 2 felt like a movie to me because of how presented the cenematics were. I don't think I've ever heard the main characters voice in Half-Life 2 or Doom 3. Sort of a letdown to me. Overall all, all three games are amazing . . . but Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 can't match up to the 'Halo Universe' story.