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Halo 2 is a 2004 first-person shooter game developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft Game Studios for the Xbox console. Halo 2 is the second installment in the Halo franchise and the sequel to 2001's critically acclaimed Halo: Combat Evolved. The game features new weapons, enemies, and vehicles, and shipped with online multiplayer via Microsoft's Xbox Live service. In Halo 2's story mode, the player assumes the roles of the human Master Chief and alien Arbiter in a 26th-century conflict between the United Nations Space Command, the genocidal Covenant, and the parasitic Flood.
After the success of Halo: Combat Evolved, a sequel was expected and highly anticipated. Bungie found inspiration in plot points and gameplay elements that had been left out of their first game, including online multiplayer. A troubled development and time constraints forced cuts to the scope of the game, including the wholesale removal of a more ambitious multiplayer mode, and necessitated a cliffhanger ending to the game's campaign mode. Among Halo 2's marketing was an early alternate reality game called "I Love Bees" that involved players solving real-world puzzles. Bungie supported the game after release with new multiplayer maps and updates to address cheating and glitches. The game was followed by a sequel, Halo 3, in September 2007.
Halo 2 was a commercial and critical success and is often listed as one of the greatest video games of all time. The game became the most popular title on Xbox Live, holding that rank until the release of Gears of War for the Xbox 360 nearly two years later. Halo 2 is the best-selling first-generation Xbox game, with more than 8 million copies sold worldwide. The game received critical acclaim, with the multiplayer lauded; in comparison, the campaign and its cliffhanger ending was divisive. The game's online component was highly influential and cemented many features as standard in future games and online services, including matchmaking, lobbies, and clans. Halo 2's marketing heralded the beginnings of video games as blockbuster media. A port of the game for Windows Vista was released in 2007, followed by a high-definition remake as part of Halo: The Master Chief Collection in 2014.
With the single-player mode in trouble, very little had been done with the large Warfare multiplayer mode. Eventually, the entire warfare mode was cut, and Hoberman's small team project became the shipping multiplayer suite. Engineer Chris Butcher commented, "For Halo 2 we had our sights set very high on networking. Going from having no internet multiplayer to developing a completely new online model was a big challenge to tackle all at once, and as a result we had to leave a lot of things undone in order to meet the ship date commitment that we made to our fans."
Bungie released several map packs for Halo 2, adding new environments for multiplayer matches. The Multiplayer Map Pack, released July 5, 2005, made Xbox Live content and updates available to offline players. The disc contains the game's software update, nine new multiplayer maps, a making-of documentary, and a bonus cinematic called "Another Day on the Beach", among other features. The Blastacular Map Pack contained two additional maps and released April 2007. On July 7 Bungie made the Blastacular Map Pack free.
Halo 2 was one of the Xbox games that was backwards-compatible on the Xbox 360. On the newer console, the game runs at high-definition 720p with scene-wide anti-aliasing. The online services of the Halo 2 were discontinued alongside other original Xbox console games in 2010.
Halo 2's matchmaking technology was one of the turning points in the gaming industry during the 2000s, setting a new standard for other games. G4's Sterling McGarvey wrote that "Bungie's sequel was a shot in the arm for Xbox Live subscriptions and previewed many of the features that would set the standard for Microsoft's online service on the next machine". Critics credited the game with bringing online multiplayer to the console masses, and as serving as Xbox Live's killer app. The Province's Paul Chapman wrote that games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 would not be enjoyable if not for the ground Halo 2 broke.
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I wanted to let everyone know in a more formal way that Project Cartographer exists and is free to download in a morally ambiguous way. Project Cartographer is a mod for Halo 2 Vista that gives not only its online functionality back after GameSpy shut down, but also gives the game a host of new quality of life features and extended mod support. First, a bit of history before I explain how this thing works.
Halo 2 released on the OG Xbox in 2004 to much fanfare and praise, despite its hellish development cycle. It heralded a new service in online gaming: Xbox Live. You paid for official servers run by Microsoft and it was easy to connect to them and get things going between you and a friend. So, Microsoft thought they could try the same trick twice, except on PC to compete with the up and coming Steam DRM platform and get PC developers over to Microsoft's side and secure more exclusives. The product was Halo 2 Vista, and what it was trying to sell was Games for Windows Live. The game didn't sell well, since it required both an Xbox Live Gold subscription and Windows Vista. The game had horrible hit detection, lacked two maps that were on Xbox, nasty lag, and ran horribly on most PC's of the time. As a result the game subsequently died, after 343 finally pulled the plug on it.
You can download the game here at Project Cartographer's website. You will have to create an account to play online, but the game will prompt you to do so on start up and it's barely a hassle. Just give a burner email and some password and you're good to go! You can fix the mouse acceleration by using this tool, although I haven't tested to see if raw mouse input in Cartographer fixes it as well. (EDIT: It does. Use whatever you feel is best.)
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With the Halo Infinite campaign release date occurring today, you might be wondering if the latest single-player story starring Steve Downes as Master Chief is free to play. Or at the very least, you would hope it's on Xbox Game Pass.
If you're wondering whether Halo Infinite is free, the answer to that question is slightly convoluted, but we're going to try and explain it as simply as we can. Basically, the answer is different depending on whether you want to play the Halo Infinite multiplayer mode or the story-driven campaign.
The Halo Infinite campaign is not free, on the other hand, but it is available at no extra cost to members of the Xbox Game Pass club. To a lot of players, that will be a more appealing option than paying full-price for the game.
This limited free version of Halo 5 won't include the game's single-player campaign, nor will it include multiplayer matchmaking with random opponents. However, Microsoft representatives have confirmed to Ars that the free Windows 10 game will support unfettered online play with anyone on a player's friends list. That means players can create or download a Forge map and invite anyone else playing the Windows 10 version to join in and play to whatever "kill count," time limit, or other win condition they've set. Even better, Microsoft says that this friends-only multiplayer mode in Windows 10 will fully support mouse-and-keyboard game controls.
In short, free Halo 5 multiplayer is coming to Windows 10. Sure, there's a friends-list restriction, a Forge-only rule, and a lack of convenient, automated matchmaking, but it doesn't sound like a bad freebie for the PC gaming set, and it marks the first Halo online multiplayer game with mouse-and-keyboard support since 2007's Windows port of Halo 2.
Halo 2 allows up to four players to play on the same console or up to sixteen over Xbox Live. The game was influential in changing the way games played over the internet. Before in most online multiplayer games, one player was the host who used their own connection for the game and chose the settings, game type etc. In Halo 2, and most games since, players choose a type of game they want to play and the game matches them with players of their own ability on a randomly chosen map.
In another cutscene a human ship with Master Chief,Johnson and Cortana aboard follows the covenant ship through the portal to the new Halo. The player must now take control of Chief as he battles to stop the Covenant from firing the ring. Eventually the player kills the Prophet of Regret, a Covenant leader, and stops the Halo from being fired. Unfortunately before the player can recover the Index, the control for firing the Halo, they are captured by the leader of the Flood, known as the Gravemind. In a cutscene we see the new Arbiter sent down to the Halo to recover the Index before Chief can destroy it. When he arrives though, he and his followers are betrayed and their former allies begin to attack. Here the player must control Arbiter and his followers as they attempt to escape the betrayal and ambush. The arbiter is eventually also captured by the Gravemind and meets up with Master Chief. The two of them break free of Gravemind, whose Flood followers have now taken over a huge Covenant ship called High Charity. Arbiter and Chief, now controlled by the player again, race to the Halo control to stop the Covenant from firing the ring one last time. They are successful in stopping the Covenant, but the Prophet of Truth, the last of their leaders escapes on a spacecraft unharmed. Chiefs AI companion Cortana stays behind on the Halo, promising to destroy it if any Covenant ever return. Chief and the Arbiter part ways with Chief hiding out on a fleeing Covenant ship and the Arbiter and his followers returning to High Charity in an attempt to save it from the Flood. 2b1af7f3a8