Halo 2 released on November 9th, 2004, just over 13 years ago. Halo 2 is probably one of my most played games of all time. I remember waking up early in the morning to go to school to find that my parents had already bought the game for me. I loaded the disc in my original Xbox and played the first incredible story mission. It would take me months to finish the campaign due to the incredible replay value of the multiplayer mode.
Halo 2 remains one of my favorite games to play online. The multiplayer is still fun in Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Halo 2 became my life until the Xbox 360 released in late 2005. Despite all of the great accomplishments in the campaign and great map design in multiplayer modes, the community was the real star of Halo 2.
For some reason everyone in my middle school was playing Halo 2. I made more friends online through the multiplayer, than I ever did inside the walls of classrooms and hallways. Eventually those online relationships spilled over into the “real world” and my friends circle grew.
The Halo 2 community was special because of our freedom to create. The community created Zombies mode and War mode, found superbounces, revolutionized console eSports, and popularized machinima, the art of manipulating video game technology to create animation.
Zombies was an incredible community undertaking. Each game began with an explanation of the rules and the procedures, because nothing was included in the game. Players had to manually switch teams after being killed. Humans could not use the sword even though they always had one available to them. Players were actually responsible for their own fun, and any sour sports were kicked out of the lobby.
I made friends across racial barriers, across income gaps, and across vast age ranges. The beauty of Halo 2 and video gaming is the equalization of players no matter their background. We all shared the common goal to have fun.
I once completed a high school public speaking assignment on the three most important things in my life. Halo 2 was number one. Unfortunately, I do not believe my teacher agreed with the importance of video games in that instance.
Halo 3 would later introduce the Infection game mode officially. However, it was never as fun as the community version in Halo 2. Gathering a lobby full of friends and strangers and getting to know them over the course of an evening was exciting. After a great play session I would add them to my growing friends list.
Playing with online matchmaking made creating a game easier, but players would often only stick around for a match or two and the sense of community was lost.
This must be the same feeling that World of Warcraft players feel about the vanilla game. Maybe someday Microsoft will release Halo 2 Classic and revive the community, the machinima, and the super bounces.
Happy anniversary Halo 2!