Halo 2 is what is known as a FPS, or First Person Shooter game. It is played from a first-person perspective, as if you were looking through the eyes of the person that you control in the game. The “Shooter” part is pretty self-explanatory.
When playing Halo 2, either on Xbox Live or in the Single-Player “Campaign” mode, on the screen a HUD, or Heads Up Display is shown. (see below). This important information is vital to function in Halo 2, as the information is not shown in any other location.
Note the arrow next to Your Score, indicating which is yours, making it independant from who is in the lead. If you were the Leader (the player winning), your score bar would be at the top, and the player in second place or who was tied with you would be below your score bar.
Your Shields are very simple: when you get hit with a weapon, your shield meter goes down. If you keep getting hit, depending on what weapon you’re being hit with, and where you’re being hit on your body, and from how far away you’re being hit from, your sheilds will drop completely, and the outline of the now-empty bar will blink red, and beeping sounds can be heard in the game. They will only recharge if you go without being damaged, either by a Melee (I’ll get to that later), a grenade (also later) or a hand-held weapon of some kind (see above for example) for a sufficient amount of time. If you keep taking damage after your shields are brought down, you will be killed.
The Default Controls in Halo 2 are as seen below. As seen above, there are two kinds of grenades in Halo 2, the plasma grenade and the frag[mentation] grenade (known and displayed as the frag grenade). The frag grenade is very bouncy. It will explode only after bouncing off of something (anything, including your face) at least once. It takes about 2 to 3 seconds to explode if you throw it at eye-height. Depending on how much time it has been since the grenade was thrown, it will explode almost immediately after its first contact with an object. The plasma grenade is completely different. A frag grenade, if it explodes right at your feet, will take down your shields. A plasma grenade, however, if it explodes at such a close range, will instantly kill you. Also, it sticks to you. No, that was not some kind of typo. If you throw a plasma grenade at someone and it comes into contact with them before it is right about to explode, you will get what is commonly called a “Stick” but is officially named a “Stick It” medal (see bottom for information about medals and an image of the “Stick It” medal).
What you’ll also see below and may be confused about is the “Melee Attack”, more commonly referred to as the “Melee”. This involves taking the weapon that you are holding and hitting whatever may be in front of you. The damage that this deals is dependant on where you are meleeing your opponent from. A melee to the back is known as an Assassination (see bottom), which is an instant kill. Someone who is jumping down from a height and melees someone on the ground as they are falling will deal much more damage than a simple ground-level melee, which usually (depending on what weapon that you are using to melee with) kills in 2 to 3 melees. A midair melee, which is a melee that occurs when both the target player and the player who is meleeing are in the air, deals almost twice as much damage as that of a ground-level melee. If you kill someone using a melee, you get a medal known but almost never referred to as the “Bonecracker” (see bottom).
If you look at the bottom-left hand frame, you’ll see that the Y button is illuminated and is labled “Dual Wield”. See the image below for an explaination. If you press the Y button or melee while dual-wielding a weapon, you will drop the dual-wielded weapon.
Dual Wielding weapons is extremely strategic, in that there are dozens of combinations, and choosing the right one for each battle situation can mean the difference between victory and defeat. For example, a close-quarters weapon combination like dual-wielded SMGs (SubMachine Guns) won’t be effective at all against someone with a Sniper Rifle on the other side of the map.
As you look at the image above, you’re probably wondering what the red X’s with the arrows underneath mean. Those are known as Waypoints. (See below)
Waypoints are extremely important for teamwork, since running into a room (like I was doing in the image above) filled with several Red X’s may not be the best choice of action, as it probably means that your opponent[s] have a firm hold on that area of the map.
The icon that you see inside the waypoint (the white astrick-like symbol on the red and purple background) is what is known as a player’s Emblem. See the image directly below for some more examples of player emblems in Halo 2.
There are dozens of medals. The three below were mentioned above. Medals are awarded when certiain events occur. Most of these events require quite a bit of skill and more than a little luck to have happen.
The “Bonecracker ” medal is awarded when you get a “beat down”, or kill someone using a melee. It is referred to as the “beat down” medal because when it occurs, the notification on the screen says “You beat down Player” (Player would be the name of the player that you beat down)
The “Stick It” medal, most often referred to as getting a “Stick” is awarded when you throw a plasma grenade and kill the player that you are throwing it at by getting it stuck to them by the time that the grenade explodes.
The Assassination medal is awarded when you kill someone be meleeing them in the back, causing immediate death.
One of the most common ways to compare performance after a game of Halo 2 on Xbox Live is to measure up who was awarded the most medals. It is just one of the many ways that Halo 2 is so competetive and fun.