Halo 2 is the creme de la creme of console shooters. Released in late 2004, Halo 2 sold an obscene number of copies and single-handedly made the Xbox Live service relevant. Halo and Halo 2 made the Xbox, and paved the way for Xbox 360. So it's understandable that Microsoft would look to Halo 2 as a launch title for Windows Vista. But Halo 2 is nearly three years old, and Halo 3 is only a few months away from hitting the Xbox 360.

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However, the biggest problem with Halo 2 being a Windows Vista exclusive is it doesn't warrant being a Vista-only game. Aside from two multiplayer maps and support for high-resolution and antialiased modes, Halo 2 on Vista is indistinguishable from the original. There's no DirectX 10.0 support, squelching the one possible justification.

The good news is Halo 2 feels tight and responsive on a mouse and keyboard. It's not perfect - the game was clearly designed around a console controller - but PC purists won't be disappointed. Sniping weapons, in particular, benefit from mouse-driven aiming, making headshots an effortless affair.

Halo 2's single-player campaign is a relatively repetitive exercise. Multiplayer is where it dominates, and it's here where the PC version will find redemption. Halo 2 servers online are still few and far between, but we expect more to go live soon. But even if this Vista version of Halo 2 finds enormous popularity, it won't get the same response as the original.

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Halo 2: Specs

  • 2GHz Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon processor
  • 512MB of RAM
  • 3MB of hard disk space
  • Windows Vista
  • DirectX 9.0c compatible 128MB graphics card
  • 2GHz Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon processor
  • 512MB of RAM
  • 3MB of hard disk space
  • Windows Vista
  • DirectX 9.0c compatible 128MB graphics card

OUR VERDICT

This is the ‘ultimate' version of Halo 2, but shares all the flaws and assets of its source material. It's unfortunate that the developers weren't more ambitious in trying to sort out Halo 2's well-documented shortcomings. And if your PC isn't well-specces, you're in for some choppy framerates.

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