Halo 2 by Microsoft's Bungie Studios sold more than 2.38 million units in North America on Nov. 9, its first day of release. With Microsoft claiming opening-day sales in excess of $125 million, Halo 2's debut surpassed three-day sales for the opening weekend of Pixar's The Incredibles.
One of 2004's most anticipated game titles, Halo 2 is the sequel to the popular Halo: Combat Evolved, which introduced us to Master Chief and an alien empire known as the Covenant. The Covenant is united by a religion whose main precept calls for the annihilation of the entire human race. Having now discovered Earth, only the United Nation Space Command and supersoldier Master Chief stand in the way of the Covenant's religious mission.
Terminology in the Halo games borrows liberally from Christian themes, but playing the game reveals the same plot lines you would expect to find in a typical Hollywood blockbuster-right down to the cliffhanger ending. To the credit of Bungie Studios, the profanity and sexual themes so common in movies are noticeably absent in this game.
But, rated "M" for mature audiences of 17 or older, Halo 2 is not suitable for young children. Playing the game is an intense and often violent experience. It features a detailed "campaign mode" and also includes a multiplayer component that allows up to 16 gamers to play against each other online using Microsoft's Xbox Live service.
Success in Halo 2 is determined more by aggressive button mashing than by problem solving. That said, Halo 2 is not nearly as violent as competing "first-person shooter" games such as the recently released Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. It also lacks the demonic imagery so common to the genre. What you do get is an immersive combat experience with a compelling storyline and outstanding multiplayer features.