"Halo 2" continues the story of the Master Chief, a genetically enhanced super-soldier who is the only human ever to successfully defy the Covenant—a coalition of alien races on a murderous march toward Earth. To the mysterious leaders of the Covenant, the human victory at the ancient ring structure known as Halo was an unacceptable failure. They will not fail again.
"Halo 2" surpasses its predecessor in graphical beauty and combat intensity. "'Halo 2' is a lot like 'Halo', only it's 'Halo' on fire, going 130 miles per hour through a hospital zone, being chased by helicopters and ninjas," explained Jason Jones, the head of Bungie Studios, "and the ninjas are all on fire, too." The Master Chief and his marine allies return to battle the full complement of Covenant forces, as well as as-of-yet-unrevealed foes.
"Halo 2" expands the Master Chief's already substantial arsenal with powerful new weapons, many pried from the twitching claws of his defeated enemies. This sequel also increases Halo's number of drivable vehicles giving players many more ways to speed into battle or explore the game's vast landscapes.
"Halo 2" is powered by a completely new graphics engine designed specifically for the Xbox hardware. "Our code squeezes every drop of power out of the Xbox," said Chris Butcher, one of "Halo 2's" engineering leads. "We're doing dynamic lighting and shadows, per-pixel everything, rendering gigantic, lush environments. The graphical features we're using are so advanced we don't even have buzzwords for them yet."
In addition to an epic single-player campaign, "Halo 2" has support for multiplayer action via split-screen, Xbox "System-Link" and online through Microsoft's "Xbox Live™" service. "We still have the multiplayer game-types that people loved in 'Halo', but we're planning something special for multiplayer in 'Halo 2,'" hinted Jaime Griesemer, "Halo 2's" lead designer. "I don't want to ruin the surprise, but imagine the essential 'Halo' single-player experience: pitched battles between the humans and the Covenant, massive vehicle and infantry engagements. Now imagine that every combatant is an actual person playing over Xbox Live!" "Halo 2's" online multiplayer will feature squad-oriented team-play, real-time voice chat and extensive community support when it ships at the end of next year.