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Friday April 20, 2007 4:13 pm

Top Ten Improvements in Halo 2 for Windows Vista

Halo 2 Vista

So, Halo 2 for Windows Vista is launching on May 8, 2007, and we have been able to spend some time reviewing the title. Since everyone is familiar with Halo 2, we felt a full review wasn’t in order. Instead, we wanted to clue you in on the ten best improvements we experienced while reviewing the game. These ten features raise the bar for Halo as a whole, and may be a foreshadowing of things to come in Halo 3:

Achievements: If you are looking for something fun that adds another level of fun and challenge to the Halo 2 world, this is it. We have said it before, and we will say it again - Microsoft hit a gold mine with the notion of achievements. No sooner than when we finished a multiplayer deathmatch did we rack up a total of three achievements. Meleeing five people from behind (and thusly earning the Ninja achievement) was nice, but Meleeing someone who already had the Ninja achievement (and thus earning the Flaming Ninja achievement) was even better. We have the achievement to prove it. For those wondering, yes, the achievements you earn in Halo 2 for Vista (or any other Games for Windows game) is counted towards your Xbox Gamerscore.

Halo 2 Vista Achievements


Dedicated Servers: This is huge. In fact, I didn’t realize how huge it was until we experienced it first-hand. Microsoft had 24 dedicated servers available that we were able to test. To those that always wished they didn’t have to go through matchmaking because they wanted to play a specific map or game type, this is your answer. The Halo 2 for Windows Vista disc includes an installation for installing server software on a PC of yours too, and you can then have your own dedicated server available for which you can set playlists, game types, and permissions. We only wish this feature was available for the Xbox version of the game, and we can only assume that Halo 3 will have this functionality built-in.

Halo 2 Dedicated Servers


Custom Multiplayer Maps: Oh, sweet nectar of the heavens. Did you realize that Halo 2 for Windows Vista includes map editor software? The software includes tools that allow you to take textures and geometry that you create in an external 3D program, import them into the editor, and then manipulate them to create your map. You choose placement of weapons and spawn points, and it uses the in-game engine so that your map visuals are as close to the “real thing” as possible. Once complete, you can invite others to play on your new creations over LIVE.

LIVE Interation Built-in: As mentioned earlier, since this Halo 2 for Windows Vista has achievements as a feature, it had to be LIVE aware. This is where Games for Windows LIVE comes in. The PC version of Xbox Live works great, allowing you to access key Dashboard features like your gamer profile, Messages, Friends List, Players, Private Chat, and Personal Settings - and navigating it is so much faster than using the “real thing” on the Xbox 360 itself. The best part? If you are already an Xbox LIVE Gold member, your Games for Windows LIVE account is included free.

Halo 2 Vista


Peripheral Support: We have seen no better use for the Xbox 360 Controller driver that allows you to use the controllers in Windows Vista. That means that for those of you who don’t want to change from your learned behavior, you can use the Xbox 360 controller. The improvement, however, is that you can choose to use a keyboard and mouse instead of the Xbox 360 controller. Word on the street is that the keyboard/mouse combo is the best way to play a first-person shooter, and now Windows Vista users have the pleasure of using that very control scheme in Halo 2. Something tells us that there will be a lot more headshots raining down in this one…

Improved Graphics: Like, much improved. We can now see why this game is only available on Vista. The game features much higher resolution, and higher LOD models. Everything just feels more realistic, especially when you crank the resolution up to 1680x1050.

Halo 2 Vista


Disrict and Uplift Maps Included: You know those two new Blastastic maps released on Xbox Live for Halo 2 for $4.00? Well, the District and Uplift maps are included as a free part of the package in Halo 2 for Windows Vista. You save yourself $4, and you walk away with better looking versions of the areas.

Tray & Play: We believe that Halo 2 for Windows Vista is the first game to use the new “Tray and Play” technology. For those who are unaware, most PC games require you to fully install the game before you can jump in and start playing. With Tray & Play, after you insert the disc and enter your activation key, you can start playing while Halo 2 finishes up the installation in the background. Once it’s installed, you don’t need to have the game in your DVD drive anymore, as it runs completely off your computer system.

Halo 2 Vista


Voice Communications: PC gamers have never had the level of voice chat support that is enjoyed on the Xbox platform. With Games for Windows LIVE, that changes, and Halo 2 for Windows Vista is the first game to take advantage of it. With no separate software to install, gamers can now inititate and participate in both in-game and out-of-game voice chat with friends across both Windows Vista PCs and Xbox 360. Same goes for text messages using the Guide.

Halo 2 Vista


Sets The Bar for Games for Windows LIVE: We must say, we are very impressed with the way that Halo 2 for Windows Vista has come off. Everything mentioned above is something that stands out to us as an improvement or added value, and that is the way to come out of the corner swinging. We know that Shadowrun is next, but after that, expect many more Games for Windows LIVE titles. If they all mimic what Halo 2 for Windows Vista has done with the service, Vista gamers are in for a treat.

Now it’s your turn to sound off - let us know what you think of Halo 2 for Windows Vista on our forums.

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Forum Discussion

Yes, Oscar is correct. The voice chat is system-wide. It doesn’t depend on the type of game you are playing - or the system. You can chat with your Xbox friends, or people playing totally different games.

As for the graphics, it’s true. They are better than Halo 2 on Xbox. I wasn’t comparing it to ANYTHING but Halo 2 for Xbox. Bringing other PC titles into the mix is irrelevant, as that isn’t what the comparison is for wink

Actually, it is relevant, as you said the graphics were a reason that it’s Vista exclusive. And PC’s have had integrated chat across the system too, see Ventrilo and Teamspeak. And again, those are old, free, and will work on almost any OS.

Ah - I didn’t see the context in which you meant it.

Truth be told, you have to see it to “get” it. There are a lot of subtlties that take advantage of some Vista technologies.

As for the chat, if Ventrilo and Teamspeak allow for communication between a game console and PC, I certainly stand corrected!

High res screens please :D

Ah - I didn’t see the context in which you meant it.

Truth be told, you have to see it to “get” it. There are a lot of subtlties that take advantage of some Vista technologies.

As for the chat, if Ventrilo and Teamspeak allow for communication between a game console and PC, I certainly stand corrected!

That has nothing to do with the service being good, that has to do with Microsoft having a complete lockdown of what’s allowed on 360. And Halo 2 doesn’t use any of the DX10 technologies, so there are no graphical features that couldn’t be done on XP.

I have to say, I am impressed. Thanks for the article, it was a good read, I’ve been looking forward to this game for a while. (But I still have to get Vista >.<)
Think we could get a high-res. screen of the Beaver Creek one you took (sexy) and the Dedicated server?

Oh ps, can you tell me a little bit about the netcode? It’s not the same horrible one that was shipped with the first Halo PC is it?

Thanks! :D

Couple things in this article made me go “wtf?”...

Voice Communications: PC gamers have never had the level of voice chat support that is enjoyed on the Xbox platform. With Games for Windows LIVE, that changes, and Halo 2 for Windows Vista is the first game to take advantage of it. With no separate software to install, gamers can now inititate and participate in both in-game and out-of-game voice chat with friends across both Windows Vista PCs and Xbox 360. Same goes for text messages using the Guide.

This being the biggest. How long has it been since you’ve played a PC game? Even the old HL1 based CS had voice com integrated into it. UT2k3, 2k4 and most Unreal engine multiplayer games have had it. CS:S, DoD:S, Battlefield 2… almost all PC games in the last few years have had full voice chat support. As a PC gamer I found that offensive.

Improved Graphics: Like, much improved. We can now see why this game is only available on Vista. The game features much higher resolution, and higher LOD models. Everything just feels more realistic, especially when you crank the resolution up to 1680x1050. [/quote

Again, wtf? There are far better looking games that run on WinXP and Linux. Quake 4, Quake Wars, HL2:Ep1, Stalker… I could keep going for a while. Not only that, but the game doesn’t even use DX10, so even then it’s not using the additional graphical features that Vista brings to DirectX.

Couple things in this article made me go “wtf?”...

Voice Communications: PC gamers have never had the level of voice chat support that is enjoyed on the Xbox platform. With Games for Windows LIVE, that changes, and Halo 2 for Windows Vista is the first game to take advantage of it. With no separate software to install, gamers can now inititate and participate in both in-game and out-of-game voice chat with friends across both Windows Vista PCs and Xbox 360. Same goes for text messages using the Guide.

This being the biggest. How long has it been since you’ve played a PC game? Even the old HL1 based CS had voice com integrated into it. UT2k3, 2k4 and most Unreal engine multiplayer games have had it. CS:S, DoD:S, Battlefield 2… almost all PC games in the last few years have had full voice chat support. As a PC gamer I found that offensive.

Improved Graphics: Like, much improved. We can now see why this game is only available on Vista. The game features much higher resolution, and higher LOD models. Everything just feels more realistic, especially when you crank the resolution up to 1680x1050.

Again, wtf? There are far better looking games that run on WinXP and Linux. Quake 4, Quake Wars, HL2:Ep1, Stalker… I could keep going for a while. Not only that, but the game doesn’t even use DX10, so even then it’s not using the additional graphical features that Vista brings to DirectX.

Sure a lot of games have had voice intagration, but none of them (from what I’ve played) have had as good quality as other programs I’ve used, like ventrilo. Most of the games, you can barely make out what the other people are saying, unless you’re on LAN. Hopefully this will have better audio quality.

And it’s on Vista to take advantage of the new “Windows Live”, which Microsoft isn’t making on XP.

Couple things in this article made me go “wtf?”...

Voice Communications: PC gamers have never had the level of voice chat support that is enjoyed on the Xbox platform. With Games for Windows LIVE, that changes, and Halo 2 for Windows Vista is the first game to take advantage of it. With no separate software to install, gamers can now inititate and participate in both in-game and out-of-game voice chat with friends across both Windows Vista PCs and Xbox 360. Same goes for text messages using the Guide.

This being the biggest. How long has it been since you’ve played a PC game? Even the old HL1 based CS had voice com integrated into it. UT2k3, 2k4 and most Unreal engine multiplayer games have had it. CS:S, DoD:S, Battlefield 2… almost all PC games in the last few years have had full voice chat support. As a PC gamer I found that offensive.
.

You are right that other games before the new Windows Live games have had voice chat, however, the new games take it to a bigger level by integrating that feature with the system not just the game. In the same fashion as does the 360 game console.

Yes, Oscar is correct. The voice chat is system-wide. It doesn’t depend on the type of game you are playing - or the system. You can chat with your Xbox friends, or people playing totally different games.

As for the graphics, it’s true. They are better than Halo 2 on Xbox. I wasn’t comparing it to ANYTHING but Halo 2 for Xbox. Bringing other PC titles into the mix is irrelevant, as that isn’t what the comparison is for wink

And Halo 2 doesn’t use any of the DX10 technologies, so there are no graphical features that couldn’t be done on XP.

Actually, that’s isn’t entirely true.  Halo 2 for Vista may not use DX10, but it uses the new DirectX 9.0d, which adds improvements on top of DX9, which is exclusive for Vista, for non-DX10 capable cards. Therefore, Halo 2 DOES take advantage of graphical capabilites not available in XP, though not to the extent of DX10.

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Comments:

wat the hell! there are no dedicated servers anymore! someone make one!


Comments: Page 1 of 1 pages

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