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Trivia / Halo 2

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  • All-Star Cast: In direct contrast to the low-budget cast of the first game, Halo 2 is probably host to the most recognisable voice cast in the series. Ron Perlman, Keith David, Julie Benz, Robert Davi, Michael Wincott, Hamilton Camp, Robin Atkin Downes, Kevin Michael Richardson, Dee Bradley Baker, Miguel Ferrer, John Michael Higgins and Orlando Jones all get roles as named characters. Even the incidental cast is noteworthy, with David Cross, Laura Prepon, Michelle Rodriguez, Brian Posehn and John Kassir all getting roles as unnamed Marines or Covenant.
  • Blooper
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    • In the final level, "The Great Journey", allied marines will refer to the player as "The Chief" even though you're playing as the Arbiter.
    • In Halo 2 Anniversary, during the opening cutscene to "Sacred Icon" the Arbiter's phantom is flying backwards. Bear in mind this is a pre-rendered, manually animated cutscene.
  • Christmas Rushed: Bungie had to release Halo 2 by the end of 2004, given the following year Microsoft would release the Xbox's successor. As Troubled Production shows, it wasn't easy on them.
  • Cutting the Knot: Meta example: The map "Backwash" suffered from severe lag on the Xbox 360's backwards compatibility - this was resolved by simply pulling the match from online matchmaking.
  • Dueling Works: With Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, another sci-fi first-person shooter released in November, 2004. Both were sequels to games that had been used by their developers to advertise their respective consoles. Both games ended up Christmas Rushed for the 2004 holiday. While both games got great reviews (barring relatively minor criticism of aspects resulting from the aforementioned Christmas rushing thing), Halo 2 ended up selling much better, becoming the biggest Killer App for the Xbox.
    • To a lesser extent, Half-Life 2 as well, another November 2004 story-heavy sci-fi FPS sequel involving Earth being invaded by alien fascists and containing a race of zombie aliens, a wise race of weird-legged leathery aliens, an extremely troubled production, the late-stage scrapping of most of the game, a cliffhanger ending and acting as the killer app for their platform (Steam and Xbox). However, due to PC and Xbox not competing as much, they managed to both be legendary smash hits that coincided. In Half-Life 2's favor, it introduced a game engine that became incredibly popular; in Halo's favor, Bungie could count to three, and were able to put out a proper conclusion to the story in the same amount of time that it took Valve to start on an episodic continuation that petered out after its second installment.
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  • Dub Name Change: The Arbiter is named 'Inquisidor' in Spanish versions of the game, as the more literal translation ('Árbitro') is more commonly associated with sporting referees rather than legal arbitrators.
  • Franchise Killer: Not for the franchise itself obviously, but the failure of the game's PC port arguably killed the release of Halo games on the PC for nearly a decade and a half. Most frustratingly, this had nothing to do with the game itself, but a combination of it requiring the unpopular Windows Vista operating system for no good reason and using the much-maligned Games for Windows Live DRM system likely doomed any chance of interest in the port despite the enormous popularity of the first game on PC.
  • In Memoriam: "For Dion Arroyo 3-3-83 / 9-11-03", referring to the brother of 3D artist Eric Arroyo. According to him, Dion was the first person outside of Bungie to ever play Halo 2.
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  • Jossed: When Halo 2 was released, the level Quarantine Zone had Miranda Keyes trying to grab Delta Halo's activation index using a cable that fans believed was actually one of the Gravemind's tentacles. This theory was further reinforced by the cable/tentacle giving out exactly after Miranda grabbed the index, which would have sent her and the index down to the Gravemind. In Halo 2 Anniversary's remastered cutscene, it's explicitly shown to be just a cable from a damaged Enforcer Sentinel.
  • Killer App: It brought a huge crowd to Xbox Live. While it was not the first popular console FPS, Halo 2 was the definitive console shooter for developers. Prior to its release, competitive first-person shooters were almost entirely exclusive to the domain of PCs. The popularity and success of the game opened the door to developers releasing competitive FPS games to consoles. Now, it's practically the norm.
  • Old Shame: Some of the devs don't like how the single player campaign turned out, if the term "disastrous flaming turd of failure" is an expression of regret.
  • Orphaned Reference:
    • Early in "The Oracle", one of your Elite allies comments that they should've brought weapons capable of burning the Flood. Both human and Covenant flamethrowers are among the weapons cut from the game; this line was possibly meant to hint to the player that they could prevent dead Combat Forms from being revived by burning them.
    • Early drafts of the game considered including some Ship Tease between the Chief and Miranda Keyes. One possible remnant of this survives in the final game: in "High Charity", the Chief refers to Keyes using her first name when mentioning that she has been captured by Tartarus, something that seems Out of Character for him as his fellow Spartans are generally the only people he refers to on a first name basis.
  • The Other Darrin: Sesa 'Refumee, the Heretic Leader, is voiced by Miguel Ferrer in the campaign, while John DiMaggio voices him in the Anniversary Terminals. DiMaggio is also replacing an uncredited actor who voiced the character in a Terminal in Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, and he re-dubbed their lines for the version of that terminal in ''2''.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Steve Vai provides the soundtrack’s guitar licks. He returns to update his work for Anniversary.
  • Troubled Production: As detailed here, Bungie struggled on their own ambitions plus time constraints. First, there was an impressive demo for E3 2003, whose engine had to be discarded once Bungie discovered the Xbox couldn't actually handle that tech. Then the development had every possible plan discarded, as summed up by engineering lead Chris Butcher:
    "There's a famous drawing that someone did on a whiteboard in the team's space that shows a plane on fire trying to land on a runway, and people are jettisoning cargo crates out the back of the plane in order to try and get it on the runway. Every crate has the name of a feature we had to cut... In the end, we ran out of room on the whiteboard for all the crates."
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The title of 'Arbiter' was originally going to be 'Dervish', an Islamic term for somebody who has willingly accepted material poverty. The reason for the change was the sense that a Western-produced game making such an explicit reference to Islam in a game that uses Hiding Behind Religion as a major plot point, and was also released during a period of heightened Islamophobia in the real world, would be a magnet for controversy that's best left avoided.
    • It is well known that Halo 2 was originally planned to be the series' finale, and that the first half of Halo 3 is heavily based on what would've been the final act of Halo 2. In December 2020, artist Lee Wilson uploaded his storyboard for this version of the game, giving a glimpse of how it would've gone:
      • After killing the Prophet of Regret, instead of being immediately captured by the Gravemind, the Chief would've reunited with Johnson and Commander Keyes, leading to the Arbiter's encountering the trio at the end of "Quarantine Zone". Both the Arbiter and the Chief would've been knocked down the pit together when Tartarus and the Flood intercept them, sending them to the Gravemind.
      • The mission "Gravemind" would've ended with a boss fight against the Prophet of Mercy, after which Truth would board the Forerunner Keyship and escape. Instead of willingly staying behind to detonate High Charity as a contingency in case Installation 05 is fired, Cortana is forcibly separated from the Chief by a collapsing platform. Interestingly, The Stinger that exists in the final game was also present in this draft, creating a Sequel Hook for a Halo 3 with the Flood as the primary antagonist.
      • The Halo 3 portion sees the Chief falling to Earth from the Keyship and leading surviving Marines in an assault against the Covenant's excavation site, which in this draft is the Ark itself rather than a portal to the Ark like in Halo 3. The In Amber Clad and the Arbiter's Separatists return to Earth in a Big Damn Heroes moment, as the Arbiter, the Chief and 343 Guilty Spark enter the Ark to kill the Prophet of Truth in another boss fight. Our heroes use the Ark to destroy the Covenant's fleet and deactivate the Halo array, which causes the Ark to collapse, trapping the Arbiter inside as the Chief escapes. While searching through the ruins, the Arbiter discovers a sarcophagus with a human skeleton inside, revealing that Forerunners and humans are one and the same (later works firmly establish that humans and Forerunners are separate species). The Arbiter escapes the collapsed Ark with the help of 343 Guilty Spark, with the story closing with a big medal ceremony and the survival of the entire heroic main cast.
    • Forerunner Tank was a level that was cut from the game very early in development, featuring the Chief travelling through depths of Delta Halo while avoiding the Gravemind, ultimately being captured by it. All that's really known about what exactly the title refers to is what the developers said about it: "Awesomeness would ensue."
    • Instead of the cutscene where Chief blows up the Covenant carrier with a bomb, the second level would've been you boarding the Covenant ship and blowing it up from the inside. Miranda Keyes and ODSTs would accompany you, but in the early drafts they were more villainous and would betray you because Miranda blamed you for the death of her father.
    • Early versions of New Mombasa depicted it as a Layered Metropolis rather than a Space Elevator, as shown in Halo 2’s gameplay demo.
    • The early version of "The Oracle" would have taken place on the surface of Threshold among the ruins of Installation 04 (possibly including a visit to a destroyed version of its control room), instead of directly continuing on the events of "The Arbiter". The multiplayer map "Burial Grounds" is partially based on this version of the level.
    • An early version of "High Charity" also featured a Warthog run at the end, as the Chief tries to board the Forerunner Dreadnaught before it launches.
    • At one point sprinting was considered, not only six years before Halo: Reach included it as an armor ability, but even three years before it became a popular modern-shooter mechanic with Call of Duty 4.
    • According to the DVD Commentary that came with the Legendary Edition of Halo 3, the Heretic Faction was originally going to be made up of entirely Hunters; no Grunts, no Elites, just Hunters.
    • High Charity was originally supposed to have a massive, tentacled Flood enemy known as the Flood Juggernaut. The files for it are still in the game, though as it has no death animation, it just freezes in place when killed. The Juggernaut would finally show up in Halo: Fireteam Raven.
    • Another cut Flood enemy, the Shielded Carrier Form, exists in the game files and functions just fine. It is simply a Carrier Form with a Jackal's shield covering most of its body, making it harder to kill. It is not known whether this was simply an experimental enemy type, or if the Jackal's shield would've still been used if this enemy made it to final. Interestingly, the Shielded Carrier Form also exists in the files of Halo 3, but in a much more broken state; in Halo 2, the Jackal's shield is a separate prop, making it relatively easy to give it to other NPC's. In Halo 3 however, the shield is an integral part of the Jackal's model, so a lot more work would've had to be done to make the Shielded Carrier Form function.
    • A multiplayer level named "Anchor Point" was made, set on Threshold and intended for small 2v2 Banshee dogfights. It was cut because, in the words of its artist, Vic DeLeon, "it played like crap".
    • Early on, the health pack system from Combat Evolved would have returned, with some modifications. In the alpha, players could have their health regenerate very slowly over time (taking around 40 seconds to go from low health to full), or pick up a health pack to restore it instantly. By the beta and the final game, health packs were dropped in favor of having fast Regenerating Health.
    • The now-iconic Battle Rifle went through a few different iterations throughout development. In the E3 demo and the alpha, the rifle was single-shot and held 12 bullets per magazine, effectively making it almost identical to the Magnum from Combat Evolved. By the beta, the three-shot burst was introduced, but only when hip-firing as using the scope made the weapon single-shot (if that sounds familiar, the Light Rifle introduced in Halo 4 would adapt that concept). In addition, while the appearance of the weapon remained consistent throughout, it lacked its visible ammo counter until shortly before release.
    • The beta also featured both a Flamethrower inspired by the one seen in Halo PC, along with a Covenant equivalent. The beta also features the Mongoose, which was fairly complete but had to wait until Halo 3 for its time to shine.

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