Halo Week 2014 – Halo 2

Halo 2No post yesterday – I was running around and waiting for the Master Chief Collection to install, which took forever. But what it did allow me was the ability to look back at Halo 2 a bit more. I’ll admit, Halo 2 is probably the one game in the series that my memory is most fuzzy with. I played a ton online, but because I was freshman in high school the year it came out, there was a lot more LAN parties going on, and my group preferred Halo: Combat Evolved way more. So leading up to the Master Chief Collection I was happy to look back at some of the Halo 2 maps and mechanics. Like I did with Halo, let’s look at some of the better maps in the game, along with a couple tactics you should be aware of for Halo 2 matchmaking.

Tactics between Halo and Halo 2 didn’t change a whole lot, but there are a couple things to keep in mind. First off, the Magnum has been rendered almost useless – it was the best weapon in the original, in Halo 2 it’s got a very limited use. That use however, ties into perhaps the biggest change in the sequel – dual wielding weapons. Smaller weapons can now be dual wielded, allowing for some pretty funky combos. In doing so though, Bungie back in the day had nerfed a few weapons – in particular the Magnum and Needler. Both are really only effective now while dual wielding. Beyond dual wielding, you also need to really familiarize yourself with the (at the time) new Battle Rifle. Just like in Halo you need to get good at hitting you head shots with the precision weapons – the BR is just the Halo 2 version. Finally, one of the biggest things that I really remembered from Halo 2 is the sweep sniping. Essentially, it amounts to utilizing the auto-aim with the Sniper Rifle to get easy headshots. It’s hard to explain, but mess around in some custom matches with a friend and you’ll quickly get the hang of it – where to pull the trigger in your sweep is the hardest part.

Halo 2 Lockout

As for some standout Halo 2 maps, the best examples are the smaller, arena style maps I think. There are a couple really huge maps in Halo 2 – Headlong, Waterworks, Backwash, and Terminal all are really great Big Team maps, but for 4V4 or even 6V6 they’re a little too big. When we look at the arena size maps though, that’s where the best ones are. Let’s start with arguably the best map in the series – Lockout. There’s something just so perfect about the map layout and flow that makes this map such a popular one for competitive play. Balanced, but not symmetrical; clear sightlines, but still with close quarters; full of multiple routes to take, including different vertical levels – it’s really just a clinic on how to design a great arena map. It works on pretty much any game mode – but the classic for me has always been SWAT. Playing that game mode on Lockout is a huge part of what made me good with the BR.

Another standout map to play is Midship. It’s another smaller, arena map, that works with just about any mode. It’s more symmetrical than Lockout is, so callouts and map flow are a little different. There are still clear sightlines, so precision weapons skills still play an important role. It’s also one of the maps to feature the Energy Sword, which as a power weapon, can really flip a match around. Keep your eyes on the weapons’ spawns, make a team push for the power weapons, and you’ll have no trouble.

Halo 2 Turf

One of the maps that I think doesn’t get the same press as the others – for example, both Lockout and Midship have both been remade for later games – is Turf. Whether that’s because it was a DLC map, coming with the Killtacular pack, or just because it’s not quite as well suited for pro games I’m not sure; but I still think it’s one of the better Halo 2 maps. It’s fantastic for one-sided objective games – assault and one-flag are both lots of fun; and it’s actually one of the better infections maps too. There are tons of alternate routes to take for flanking, and since it’s an asymmetric map, there really isn’t a “base” to hold down. It’s also one of the few small maps that features a vehicle – and actually works. There’s a Warthog that spawns – while it’s not a foolproof tactic, it is good for a couple kills for sure.

There are plenty of other classic maps – Ascension, Sanctuary, Foundation, Zanzibar – I could go on all day. The best part of the Master Chief Collection is that they’re all right there at your fingertips, unlocked at the start, and you can play them however you want. Hop in custom games, learn or relearn the maps and relive just how awesome Halo 2 was. Then realize there is so much more in the Collection to keep you busy forever.

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