In conclusion: we miss our dream of Halo. Halo 2 has some glimpses of it here and there. We love the energy sword stuff, and wading into enemies at close range is a joy until they become too tough to fight. The plunging-base-in-gas-giant level is a great (but solitary) level idea. The “dual-wielding” of having two guns in your mitts is provocative too, allowing for a minor boost in firepower. Best of all is the capacity for your second character, the Covenant warrior who is fighting in parallel with Master Chief, to briefly turn invisible. It allows for some sneaky stuff that’s fun, but doesn’t demand tedious adherence to stealth principles. Run behind cover, cloak, reposition, attack. It’s a tiny idea that we expect to see picked up elsewhere.
Halo 2, you see, isn’t truly awful; it’s just repulsively mediocre, with a clumsy story, poorly orchestrated action and bad music. It lacks bombast to the point where the nuclear destruction of a city on Earth doesn’t really seem all that dramatic. It’s a subtle thing: camera angles, the feeling of violent feedback and the nuances that make FPS games great. Average isn’t good enough, especially when it crushes our expectations of greatness. We can’t be genuinely appalled by this failing - Halo 2 is just too boring for that.