The year is 2552, though the events of Halo 1 have impeded the Covenants progress and their society on the brink of Civil War, they have now gained a foothold on our most precious prize of all...Earth!
Okay, heres when things get complicated.
Halo 1 was a great game, but it had it's flaws, for instance the second half of the campaign got repetitive quickly, and the weapon balance was terrible at times in multiplayer (the pistol was a rifle in disquise), what Bungie hoped to accomplish in Halo 2 did not happen either.
The Controls in the game are pretty much the same but a bit diffirent due to the inclusion of Duel Weidling and vehicle boarding, of course, both have become Halo staples. Another edition was that all vehicles are now destructable, and the enviroments are more interactive this time, I wouldn't say destructable though.
The Campaign mode returns, but sadly it did not live up to all of it's hype, the environments are smaller and more cramped than Halo 1, the AI is very clumsy at times, good, but clumsy, and the ending was anti-climatic, but worst is that the environments get repitive in this game aswell and the graphics pop-ins and other notible bugs can take you out of the immersion.
Biggest problem with Halo 2's campaign mode though is that you do not spend much time on Earth at all!
The games Multiplayer though more than makes up for it, it supports 16 player fragfests over Xbox Live, a first for the Halo franchise, the games Matchmaking is not only revelutionary for console online games, the party system in Halo 2 just rules, allowing you to stick with your friends in custom games, and online ranked/unranked matches. Two player Co-op returns, but sadly no online co-op.
Sadly the weapons in Multiplayer are not that balanced, the SMG is not a very good starting weapon, it is weak and barely gives you a chance to fight back, and at times the Sniper Rifle and the Energy Sword are overpowered, rocket lock-on makes Warthogs obsolete and the Shotgun is crap off-host.
All in all, while the Multiplayer lived up to all the hype, the game suffered because of poor management of their own employees and the game was rushed out the door. The storyline was great don't get me wrong, but the levels are just to cramped at times for my taste.
Halo 2 was a huge success, over 1 billion games played online and it broke sales records by generating $125 million in it's opening day. I do reccomend the game, but keep your expectations for the campaign mode low.