Halo 2 is so rad

Halo 2 is so rad. Well, gameplay-wise, anyway. I think overall, if looked at alone, the original Halo is better. It’s put together better. The story and the way everything is designed is just really well done. Halo 2 has a whole bunch of improvements in gameplay and level design, but the story on the whole just isn’t as good.

One thing that I really like, though, and this is what inspired me to write about this, is that you get to find out more about the Covenant Elites.

In the first Halo, the Elites are pretty smart. They dodge your shots, they know if you’re able to see them or get a shot at them. They curse in an alien language when attacked and laugh at you when they kill you. I always figured that the stuff they were saying was really smart, that they went to really good schools, and that they were good kids with families that had summer homes. They enjoy the finer things in life. Kinda like the German officer Wilm Hosenfeld in “The Pianist”. Maybe the Elites have pictures of their families in their quarters back on their ship and really sophisticated hobbies.

Finding more about the Elites is a treat in Halo 2. You even get to be one. When the story begins, it follows the Master Chief (the hero) as he is being commended for destroying the Halo in the first game. At the same time, in distant Covenant territory, the Elite officer in charge of stopping the humans is sentenced to death by a council of higher-up Elites and their Prophets for a military failure so bad that they consider it heresy (they believe the Halo destroyed by the humans is sacred). The Prophets later that simply killing that Elite would be a waste and devise better plans for him. They decide to make that punished Elite an “Arbiter” which has some kind of special role in their society. He gets a special suit. You are sent off to kill a Prophet which is considered a heretic because he found out the true purpose of the Rings (what they call the Halos discovered by the Master Chief in the first game) – they’re weapons designed by the Forerunners (an ancient alien race killed by the Halos) to wipe out all sentient life for light-years all around them as a last-ditch measure against a widespread infestation of a parasitic race called “The Flood”. Another class of creatures in The Covenant called “Brutes” stage a coup and take the place of the Elites as assistants and counselors to the Prophets.

As their name suggests, these creatures are filthy and big. They’re pretty smart, but the Elites believe they are superior. The Brutes believe the same thing (but you know, vice-versa), and they see themselves as part of a new way … that they finally got the Elites out of power. I see a sort of Democrat/Republican relationship there. The Brutes being the Republicans, naturally. The similarities don’t go too deep, so I’ll stop there.

The Elites in Halo 2, to my delight, speak English. I’m so pleased that I was right about the Elites. They hold a high place in society, they’re tough opponents (new AI makes them even tougher), and they speak with dignity. My favorite part of the game is in the chapter called “Fight Club”. You’re playing as “The Arbiter”. After taking out a whole bunch of Brutes, several Elites are dropped from the sky in special cannisters to join you in battle. Elites only wield Covenant weapons like Plasma Rifles, Needlers, and the elegant Energy Blades. So with a couple of Elites by your side, you run through a corridor and go through a room filled with a collection of weapons. Mostly human weapons like shotguns, a rocket launcher, etc. and the “Brute Shot” gun. One Elite, in his gruff voice angrily says, “What vulgar taste; even as trophies these weapons are worthless!”

I love that.