Video Game / Halo 2

Master Chief: "Sir, permission to leave the station."
Admiral Hood: "For what purpose, Master Chief?"
Master Chief: "To give the Covenant back their bomb."

The second game in the Halo series, released by Bungie in 2004; it is the highest-selling game for the original Xbox.

Following the events of the first game, the Master Chief arrives back at Earth, praised as a hero. In the midst of celebration, a Covenant attack begins on Earth, and Master Chief races to stop them. He learns that the Covenant are looking for something on Earth, and his quest takes him to a new Halo ring, where he uncovers more of the mystery behind the Flood.

Plotwise, the major change from the original Halo: Combat Evolved is that the campaign is told from two different angles: not only that of the Master Chief, but that of a Covenant Elite. The latter is known only as the Arbiter, and he was originally the leader of the Covenant forces that fought the Master Chief on the first Halo ring. Branded as a heretic by the Covenant leaders due to his failure to stop the ring's destruction, the Arbiter is given a suicide mission that may potentially help him reclaim some of his lost honor. As the Arbiter learns more about the origin of the Halo rings and the fate of the Forerunners, he eventually comes to doubt the Covenant cause...

On the gameplay side, Halo 2 introduced Dual Wielding; any gun that can be fired with one hand can be paired off with another one-handed gun of any type (besides the Master Chief, Covenant Elites can pull this off too). It also introduced vehicle hijacking - assuming you could get close enough to the vehicle without being gunned down or run over. Halo 2 solidified the presence of online console gaming thanks to the original XBox Live service; thanks to Halo 2's success, practically any game of nearly any genre will have at least some debate from the developers on whether or not it should feature an online component.

After several rumors concerning an Updated Re-release to mark its ten year anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary was released by 343 Industries on November 11, 2014, as part of the compilation Halo: The Master Chief Collection. It comes with updated graphics, six remastered multiplayer maps with their own unique engine, and other bonus content, but unlike the original release of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, it also comes with the original multiplayernote .

Halo 2 contains examples of:

  • Alien Sky:
    • Once Master Chief gets to Delta Halo, If you have a good view of the sky, things often look... alien.
    • Your first mission as the Arbiter puts you on a station at the edge of a gas giant's atmosphere. It's all angry swirling clouds.
  • Another Side, Another Story: The levels "Uprising" and "Gravemind" occur at the same time.
  • Attack of the Town Festival: The Covenant's attack on Earth begins while the UNSC is holding a big award ceremony for Master Chief, Sergeant Johnson, and Captain Keyes.
  • Art Evolution: The graphics are significantly improved from the original, despite being released for the same system.
  • The Atoner / Redemption Equals Death: The Arbiter's job description.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: If you want to complete the level Metropolis as fast as possible, you'll have a much easier time if you take the Warthog instead of the tank the devs thought you would.
  • Badass Boast:
    Lord Hood: Master Chief, you mind explaining what you're doing on that ship?
    Master Chief: Sir, finishing this fight.
  • Big Bulky Bomb: The Covenant boarding parties use these to take down Earth's MAC guns, blowing up at least Malta and Athens and nearly doing the same to Cairo, which was only saved by the Chief managing to defeat the suicide-squad of Elites guarding it. Said bombs are easily bigger than any of their guards, and are covered in spikes.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Prophet of Truth and Gravemind.
  • Boring but Practical: The Battle Rifle, a normal, burst fire human rifle with a 2x scope. It kills Grunts and Jackals with one headshot burst, even on Legendary, and when used in combination with the plasma pistol is also capable of absolutely destroying Elites. It can also allow you to out snipe Jackals and the ammo for it is usually plentiful.
  • Cliffhanger: The story ends with one of the most infamous cliffhangers in all of videogaming, being a very obvious Sequel Hook rather than actual completion of the main threats a'la the first game.
  • Cosmic Horror Reveal: The game revealed that the answer to many of the driving questions of the setting - why the Halos were made and where the Neglectful Precursors went - was the Gravemind, aka when a Body Horror Zombie Apocalypse acquires sentience, becomes a Hive Mind, and overruns its local galaxy and begins spreading to others nearby.
    • It was known that the Halo rings were built to kill the Flood (or more precisely, their food—which is essentially all life in the galaxy— and starve them out) since the first Halo. The Eldritch Abomination Gravemind however didn't show up until Halo 2, so they were more or less space zombies until the giant iambic-pentameter speaking venus flytrap came onto the scene. And it should be noted that the Flood shifted the focus from a war with Scary Dogmatic Aliens to themselves.
    • The Gravemind turns out to be behind prehistoric galactic mysteries like the disappearance of the Neglectful Precursors, similarly to Mass Effect, though. The Gravemind is able to corrupt Cortana...the AI. That's a pretty scary thing for an organic being to do without using a computer. But the fact that it is basically, recognisably, definitely a biological organism as we know them rather keeps it out of the Eldritch Abomination category.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Cortana, so, so much.
    Cortana: Ask yourself this question: "Is what I'm doing right now helping Cortana keep this station from exploding into tiny, tiny bits?"
  • Death Seeker: The Arbiter. Pretty much comes with the job description.
  • Determinator: Meta example. The only thing that ended Halo 2's online gaming scene was the original Xbox Live servers getting shut down. The game was launched on Nov 9th, 2004, and the servers officially shut down on Apr 15, 2010. Officially, that is; several players hung on until getting booted on May 11th.
  • Dual Wielding: The first game to have a set of weapons that you can randomly pair with other designated one-handed weapons.
    Dunkey It's called "Halo 2" because you can hold two guns instead of one.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: An example map in the PC port includes a version of the SMG with a slightly-smaller magazine and a suppressor. This silenced SMG returned in Halo 3: ODST as the primary weapon of the titular ODST squad.
  • Enemy Civil War: Following the assassination of the Prophet of Regret, the Elites are stripped of their traditional role as honor guards to the Prophets, which is given to the Brutes. The Elites do not take kindly to this, and end up seceding from the Covenant, along with several individuals of other species.
  • Enemy Mine: The Gravemind recruits Master Chief and the Arbiter, making it a three way enemy mine.
    • Also, Sergeant Johnson, Miranda Keyes allying with the Elites (especially the Arbiter) and two Hunters.
  • Fire Keeps It Dead: When the Flood turn up one of the Arbiter's fellow Sangheili laments that they didn't bring anything to burn the bodies with.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: After the Chief deactivates the antimatter bomb on board Cairo Station, he proceeds to take it down to a hangar, open the doors, and use the decompression to hurl the bomb toward a Covenant carrier. But wait, that's not all! He grabs hold of the bomb so that he can activate it right inside the carrier's reactor, before jumping off again and landing on a passing frigate.
    Master Chief: Sir, permission to leave the station?
    Lord Hood: For what purpose, Master Chief?
    Lord Hood: ... permission granted.
  • Justified Tutorial: Master Chief gets an upgraded armor system (Mjolnir Mark VI) that gives an In-Universe explanation for some of the gameplay changes (no more need for health packs, supposedly there is an internal "bio foam" system). As well, the technicians have him look around to get adjusted to the new armor.
  • Made of Explodium: Covenant vehicles in this game, more so than the other games. Do enough damage and they violently explode. Twice.
  • Neo-Africa: New Mombasa, Kenya is a high tech city and spaceport. At least, when the game begins.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers, promotional materials and even the blurb on the game's box all gave the impression that the Chief would spend all or most of the game helping humanity repel the Covenant invasion on Earth.
  • No Ending: Noted under the Cliffhanger, the game itself doesn't really end so much as just stopping after the Master Chief's line, "Sir, finishing this fight."
  • Optional Stealth: The Arbiter's Invisibility Cloak lasts for only about five seconds anyway, so ignoring it is perfectly viable option if you don't like having to wear down all your enemies versus getting one free assassination. A bonus item lets Master Chief have invisibility too, but it lasts for the same amount of time and the second disadvantage of no visible timer.
  • Retcon: Master Chief (with Cortana) was the only human to survive the destruction of the first Halo. The Legendary ending of the first game even gave a (humorous non-canon) scene depicting Johnson's last moments before the Autumn exploded. This game just has him show up in the medal ceremony with no explanation given. Halo: First Strike had to explain how he survived.
    • Lampshaded shortly after Johnson first reappears:
    Mst. Sgt. Gunns: So, Johnson, when you gonna tell me how you made it back home in one piece?
    Sgt. Johnson: Sorry Gunns, it's classified.
    Mst. Sgt. Gunns: My ass! Well you can forget about those adjustments to your A2 scope, and...(continues shouting as Johnson and Chief move out of earshot)
  • Right Hand Versus Left Hand: The Covenant infighting between the Brutes and the Elites leads to a schism in the Covenant and basically the only hope for Humanity's survival.
  • Sequel Escalation: It tries to amp the ante on the original, to the point Bungie struggled to finish development.
  • Sequel Hook: Also one of the most infamous ones in video game history.
  • Shameful Strip: The Arbiter's introduction scene.
  • Shooting Superman: When Johnson steals a Scarab in the final mission, the Covenant enemies will shoot at it, despite the fact that it can't be destroyed in-game.
  • The Missingno.: The Gravemind mission has the "Honor Guard Councillor", a Zealot (gold) elite that was accidentally programmed to have a "dogmatic" voice/personality; since the level has no permutation data for dogmatic Elites, it defaults to Honor Guard armor and Ultra palette, with randomly chosen head types(most frequently the Councillor, hence the nickname).
  • This Cannot Be!: In the final mission, when the presumed dead Arbiter returns to confront Tartarus.
    Tartarus: (gasps and jerks his neck up in surprise) Impossible!
  • Took a Level in Badass: The generic UNSC Marines got way more competent since Halo 2. They're more accurate, they have twice as much health, and they can drive vehicles. They're actually pretty helpful when they appear as long as you throw any submachine guns and shotguns you find in the trash and replace them with Battle Rifles and Sniper Rifles. Give one a rocket launcher and the marine's good aim and unlimited ammo will usually let him rack up almost as many kills as you.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The E3 demo (and the advertising, and the boxart) gave the impression that the game would be set on Earth's surface. The final game had a grand total of two levels set there.
    • In a more straight version of the trope, the "Give them back their bomb" sequence in the trailer has Earth in much more trouble than in the actual game, in which the Covenant barely stick around for. Earth's on fire? Not really. Save that for the next game and ODST.
  • Translator Microbes: Cortana, being an advanced A.I., can understand the Prophets language. And she can translate it for others to hear.
    Prophet of Regret message: *speaking alien language*
    Cortana: The Prophet of Regret is planning to activate Halo!
    Master Chief: Are you sure?
    Cortana: *snaps fingers*
    Prophet of Regret: *English* I shall light this holy ring, release its cleansing flame, and burn a path into the divine beyond!
    Cortana: *snaps fingers* Pretty much.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The game is divided between master Chief and the Arbiter. Gameplay wise they play almost the same, except one has Active Camouflage and the other has a flashlight.
  • Two-Part Trilogy
  • Tyrannicide: Master Chief assassinates the Prophet of Regret as part of a UNSC mission.
  • Villain Shoes: When you use the Arbiter for the first time, you're still in the bad side.
  • Wham Episode: The cutscenes between "Quarantine Zone" and "Gravemind"; the Flood have a leader and the Enemy Civil War begins.
    • Wham Line: From the same cutscene.
      Tartarus: A bloody fate awaits you and the rest of your incompetent race. And I Tartarus, chieftain of the Brutes, will send you to it.
      Arbiter: When the Prophets learn of this, they will take your head.
      Tartarus: When they learn? Fool, they ordered me to do it.
    • "The Arbiter" was one originally, before everyone knew that half the game was spent playing as the Arbiter.
    • The Stinger as well.
      Gravemind: Silence fills the empty that I have gone. But my mind is not at rest...for questions linger on. I will ask... and you will answer.
      Cortana: ...Alright. Shoot.
  • What the Hell, Player?: The reaction of your allies when you kill one of them.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer: Sort of; Tartarus only ever uses his ceremonial gravity hammer throughout the game. However, said hammer is outfitted with a powerful gravity generator that allows it to one-shot even light vehicles (and, as shown in cutscenes, allows it to be used as a ranged weapon), which, combined with his near-impenetrable energy shield and insane natural durability, make him incredibly dangerous.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Tartarus is ordered by the Prophets to kill the Arbiter after Delta Halo's Index is secured.
  • You Have Failed Me : The Elites as a whole suffer this after Chief kills the Prophet of Regret, as the surviving Hierarchs attempt to replace them with the Brutes. The Elites don't take it very well.

Tropes Specific to the Anniversary Version

  • Art Evolution: Graphical power has grown significantly since the original. For example, Forerunner architecture originally tended to look more like geometric stone, while the updated version has it more of a sleek chrome. In some ways it is welding the cosmetic changes made in Halo 4 to the designs of the original trilogy. Then there's Gravemind...
  • Canon Welding: Like the Terminals in Combat Evolved Anniversary, the ones here explain some previously unanswered lore questions and provide hints about future installments (in this case, Halo 5: Guardians).
  • Continuity Nod: The terminals have quite a few to the expanded universe:
    • The fight between Thel and Jai-006 is taken straight from The Cole Protocol, complete with a cameo from Zhar.
    • Fal 'Chavamee makes a couple of appearances and is even referenced by name.
    • The final terminal marks the first in-game appearance of Fred-104 (and the first voiced appearance of Linda-058), and directly references the mission to destroy the Unyielding Hierophant from First Strike.
    • The details of both the Taming of the Lekgolo and the Unggoy Rebellion come from Contact Harvest.
  • The Dreaded: Thel 'Vadamee, the future Arbiter, was apparently this before the Fall of Reach, as he was much more strategically flexible than other Elite Fleet Masters. Agent Locke believed that if the Fleet of Particular Justice attacked Earth, the UNSC would lose outright.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The new multiplayer mode includes the scoped SMG (marking its first appearance since Halo 3: ODST), which would go on to be present in Halo 5, which Halo 2 Anniversary specifically and the Master Chief Collection in general were released in part to hype.
  • Flash Forward: The events of Halo 2 are interspersed with scenes of Agent Locke and the Arbiter talking about Master Chief.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: The campaign itself is preserved to a religious degree (besides the updated graphics), but the cutscenes are fully overhauled. Mostly those are the same but with cinema-quality CG (rather than in-game renderings), but there are minor changes scattered throughout. The Hornet from Halo 3 and a new Mongoose variant called the Gungoose show up in the multiplayer, as well as remastered versions of classic maps. The classic game with the original graphics and gameplay are still available if you so choose.
  • Oh Crap!: In an updated cutscene during the Arbiter's chase of the Heretic Leader, this is very visibly his reaction to the Heretic turning his fleeing Banshee around and taking aim with the plasma cannons.
  • Retcon/Revision: The changes to the status and history of the position of Arbiter in Covenant society straddles the line between these two. The issue is that 343 Industries treats Thel 'Vadamee's appointment to Arbiter as the normal procedure when the original game portrayed it as an unconventional move on the part of Truth and Mercy. While this never explicitly contradicts anything in the original Halo 2, it does go against a lot of implied elements of the Arbiter. Since the campaign is identical to the first release, this results in contradictory scenes such as Sesa 'Refumee claiming the position is used as a death sentence to convicted heretics while at another point in the game Truth reassures Thel 'Vadamee, a convicted heretic on death row, that he knows Thel is not really a heretic before offering to make him an Arbiter, with the Arbiter's inevitable demise being portrayed as a Loophole Abuse to still meet his death sentence.
  • Shot-for-Shot Remake: Much like Halo: Combat Evolved, gameplay is preserved identically. The only changes include in-game discovery of terminals and additional multiplayer features.
  • Updated Re-release: Like the Combat Evolved remake, this one has a complete graphic and sound overhaul.
  • Uriah Gambit: 343 Guilty Spark points out that the Prophets seem to have largely used the appointment of Arbiter as cover for eliminating politically powerful and outspoken Elites.