From: "Brian Lanni"
Subject: Halo 2 Review

Dear. Mr. Jones,

I am writing this email under the assumption that your "review" of Halo 2 was a badly-implemented joke. If it was, congratulations on fooling me and countless other people into thinking you were actually serious. If it wasn't a joke, please carefully read and consider the points I make in this email.

I am an extremely avid video gamer. I own a PS2, an AlienWare Doom 3 edition PC, a Gamecube, a GBA and two XBOXes. I have been playing games for as long as I can remember and I have always valued public reviews of games for two reasons; one, so that I can get an idea of what's good and what isn't, and two, so that I have an idea of what others think of games that I like or dislike.

Your review of Halo 2, and I am hesitant to call it a review, upset me and many others for several reasons. I'm fine with the fact that you don't like the game; in fact, I was very interested to read your review and discover why you disliked it so much. However, after reading it, it is clear as day to me that you have in fact never played the game, and this review is based entirely on the three screenshots you somehow obtained and included with your piece. I guess I'll start at the beginning.

"While the Xbox was less powerful and less popular than the PS2..." This statement at once caught my eye. Factually, the Xbox boasts about 1.5 times the graphics processing power and about 3 times the RAM capacity of the PS2. These statistics come from the "tech specs" sections of Sony and Microsoft's corporate web pages, respectively. The difference can clearly be seen in a number of games that were ported to both systems. Games such as Tony Hawk's Underground 2 which featured 1024x768 resolution graphics running at an average of 58 frames per second on the Xbox, and a noticeably lower 800x600 resolution images capped (to reduce RAM issues) at 25 frames. I could name countless other titles with similar comparison, but if you're a reasonable person, you get the point. As an owner of both systems I can tell you first hand that PS2's raw graphics power doesn't approach that of the Xbox.

"Why does Master Chief work for the Coveners (sic) halfway through the game?" Had you actually played the game before you "reviewed" it, you would know that the Covenant (not Coveners, as you suspiciously spelled it several times) that Master Chief joins to aid halfway through the game are a rebel sect of Elites that are bent on preserving the Forerunner project. Captain Jacob Keyes was not killed in Halo 1 - that was his father.

"... the first thing you notice is just how easy the game is." I suppose it is rather easy, if you have it set on "easy" mode. Clearly you did, or you would have mentioned the unlockables that one receives upon beating the game on any harder difficulty setting.

"... I don't like the new vertical split screen though" At this point in your review, I became 100% certain that you have in fact never played it. Not only can you play co-op mode in horizontal split screens, vertical split screen mode is not an option in Halo 2. I am interested in knowing where you got this screenshot, because after emailing Bungie directly I was informed that vertical split screen was never even considered for inclusion in the game.

"How about the flashlight can only stay lit for 30 seconds?" This is incorrect, and again, you clearly have never played Halo 2. The flashlight will remain lit until the player emerges into a lighted area again, and while in the dark the light battery is unlimited.

"... what is basically a 500 mhz GeForce 1 computer." Wow. It's funny that you chalk yourself up to be someone who knows a thing or two about PC gaming and then you blatantly reveal to us that you have no idea what you're talking about. I would assume that the "computer" that you refer to would be the 256 MB GeForce 3 card that handles most of the processing in the Xbox system? That card, coupled with the 799 mHz CPU in the Xbox crushes the 300 mHz sony CPU working with a generic 32 MB card in the Playstation 2. Check the facts before you deny them - www.playstation.com and www.xbox.com.

About framerate. After emailing Bungie, Sony, and NVidia with several questions I received these answers in response. From NVidia, a third party graphics hardware company without bias towards either Xbox, Gamecube, or PS2 stated that Halo 2's average framerate is just shy of 72 frames per second. At it's point of maximum processing in a 16 player system link game with full vehicle sets the framerate dropped to an all-time low of 27 frames per second, well within reason and a difference that your human eyes cannot detect. Sony wrote back answering my questions about GTA 3 - San Andreas (a game that you recommend in the stead of Halo 2). GTA's framerate is capped at 25 to avoid RAM lockup, and Sony told me that "...it will be rare that I should see a framerate drop below 8 per second." I guess it's good that its rare, because to me, 8 frames per second seems less than acceptable. If you're going to compare two games, make sure you don't ignore these kind of inconsistencies.

"All the multiplayer maps have been recycled from Halo 1..." Halo 2 includes 12 maps, plus one unlockable upon completion of the game on "Heroic" difficulty. One of the maps has been taken from the first game and updated drastically, that map being Coagulation. The other 12 are completely original. Play the game before you review it.

"Xbox Live costs around $9.95 a month." I guess you got scammed, because the rest of the general public, including myself and my friends, all pay $50.00 per year for Xbox Live. Thats a little less than $4.16 per month - you were off by about $70 dollars per year. In addition, if you're going to rag on Halo 2's multiplayer for "crashing" (which I have yet to see after playing probably somewhere near 100 matches online) and then recommend GTA - San Andreas, why not mention San Andreas' complete lack of multiplayer functions at all?

I own a newest-generation Xbox and have yet to experience one single problem with loading maps. About your last paragraph - if Halo 2 seems to you to be a release of the same game "over and over again," what do you have to say about GTA - San Andreas? I guess a feature that allows the player to get fat from eating fast food is enough to keep PS2 players busy for another 3 years. Because other than that, I'm afraid there is very little to be seen in GTA that can't be found in Halo 2.

I am glad that you write reviews for games so that we can all read your opinions on new games - However, I must ask that in the future you play a game prior to writing a slashing review of it. What you have done here simply demonstrates your ignorance and idiocy. If you have any questions about any facts I've mentioned here please feel free to email me back and I'll be glad to link you to them.

Brian Lanni
[email protected]

I admit that I did not read this email. It's not so much that it's long. It's that nothing it says has anything to do with anything. I mean, okay, my review was full of inaccuracies and I probably agree with every point you made. The problem is that it was a fake review and the inaccuracies were deliberate. I mean, where do we go from here? I don't know! I wrote a fake review and you spent a good amount of time writing up what we already knew. Mission accomplished I guess.

I don't know what to tell you.

From: "Ron"
Subject: Was your Halo 2 review meant to be serious?

I know Something Awful is a humor site, so when I opened the Halo 2 review I expected it to either be strightforward in being a joke or to at least be accurate in pointing out some of the game's flaws. What I didn't expect was the complete fallacy that was posted as a "review." Whoever reported on the game's storyline must have either skipped evey single one of the cinemas or binged on crack shortly before playing the game! The Master Chief doesn't work for the Covenant, you play as their Arbiter in some stages. Cortana does not die at all, nor does Captain Keyes return from the grave. His daughter however is very much alive and well and serves as a ship commander.
The game DOES fix the flashlight problem from the first game. Now the flashlight is light-sensitive. When it detects that there is sufficient light in the room it automatically turns itself off, unlike in Halo 1 where it had a battery meter. While I will agree that the framerate doesn't feel as fast as most first-person shooters on the market today (Unreal Tournament 2004 is a good example) it certainly is NOT as slow as the review would lead one to believe. Also your sense of graphical quality must be seriously skewed if you can claim with a stright face that they are comparable to an N64 game! Halo 2 is by far one of the most detailed worlds I've played through in some time, and believe me when I say I've played through a great many games!
I can't speak for the 5.1 surround sound as I don't own the equipment to verify that, however I do feel the sound in general was very underrated. I'll admit, the music in the game is not the standard fare in this genre, but it's also not bad either. In keeping with the story that the Covenant is a strongly religious sect, the music does feel right for the game world however. In terms of the Xbox Live gameplay I've had barely any problems with lag. I've only faced one connection problem with the game in over 40 matches, and that problem resolved itself and reconnected me to the game in under a minute. The number of game modes was strongly understated, especially once you get into tweaking your own modes of play, and the number of copied over maps is purely ridiculous (only 2 were retained from the first Halo, and even those were notably improved upon!)
I do agree with your point that the weapons should have been better balanced. The sword is far too destructive, but the shotgun is nowhere near as underpowered as you suggest. In CTF games it's one of the strongest defensive weapons in the game! In closing, Halo 2 is not perfect by any means, however it's not as weak a title as your review would suggest, and it is a worthy inclusion in any Xbox fan's library. My personal scores (using your own rating system) would read as follows.....

Graphics: 9 (a few repetitive textures prevailant in the game, but no serious oversights.)
Gameplay: 10 (the control feels tight and becomes second nature easily.) Replay Value: 8 (the various online/multiplayer modes make the game worth keeping in the box. Reduce to 4 in the event of no Xbox Live and no friends.)
Sound: 8 (unorthodox, but effective soundtrack. Excellent voice acting, and decent sound effects.)
Fun: 10 (an excellent choice to blow off steam after work or "0wnz0r b1tch3s" online.)
Overall: 45

Again this is only my personal opinion of the game, but based on other reviews it would seem I'm in the majority on this one. You certainly have the right to post a different opinion on your own website, but may I at least suggest fixing the incorrect statements within the review (outlined above) and adding a spoiler warning at the top (you outlined the ending of the game.)

This email is a bit more complex than the others. The reason is because this guy supposedly reads Something Awful and enjoys its content. Here's what I don't understand. If he got to the Truth Media review by typing in www.somethingawful.com or clicked on the link in his favorites list, how did he not know about the whole concept of Truth Media? Can it be assumed that the guy just doesn't pay attention? Is this the kind of guy that when someone says, "The meeting is at 5 o'clock." this guy immediately asks, "What time are we meeting?"

What's the deal here?

From: "Brad Webb"
Subject: your an idiot

I didnt bother reading your review after seeing the score you gave it (16/50) which is RIDICULOUS... why dont you actually play the game instead of stealing screen shots and stating that this game is recycled, when infact it isnt.. infact if bungie would have changed the basic gameplay of Halo it would have been dissapointing, because its, well... PERFECT... of course your in title to your own opinion as I am... and I personally think a) you didnt give it a chance, or play it more then 5 minutes.. b) you hate Bungie/Halo because of its success... now I didnt state your were a fanboy of a game or system, but Im starting to believe your are... or maybe you just want attention and want to get as much feedback as possible (99.9% negative most likely) whatever it is... its PATHETIC.

I take offense with a number of points in your email. First of all, I didn't steal the screenshots from anywhere. I took them myself with my digital camera. Second of all recycling does not do anything for the enviroment and in actuality creates more work and pain and suffering and if you've been paying attention to Penn & Teller's Bullshit you'd know that. I don't hate Bungie because of their success. I hate them because they killed my parents and left me for dead in a ditch. I did give Halo 2 chance. I gave it a chance to plead for it's pitiful life before I shot it dead between the eyes. I don't want 99.9% negative feedback, I want 100%. And with this email you're just helping my quota.

I appreciate the email. Next we have Seth on the Spokker Jones Show.

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