Co-op – Playing co-op can be great. Like the motto goes, it is fun to play together. Co-op is even better. The first Halo did co-op well and many people wanted Halo 2 to be co-opable (is that a word?) over Xbox Live, but it never came to pass. I didn’t really care if they did or not. It seems that four-person co-op was at least considered, as it lets you set up a four player co-op game but will prevent you from actually playing it. But I played with a buddy of mine and we played through the first couple of levels. I had only seen most of them once and they were all new to him, so it was pretty sweet to discover stuff at the same time. The team dynamic can be as good or as bad as you want it. I love sneaking around, clearing out a hall and the securing the other side so my teammate can make it through. Running over grunts with the Warthog while my teammate guns other baddies down is a riot. Nicely done.
Xbox Live – I’ve talked about this one before, it’s easy to say that Halo 2’s biggest draw for me will definitely be playing on Live. Its implementation is pretty slick and the EE geek in me really appreciates the time spent to ensure it runs so silky smooth over the internet. I tip my hat to them for that. Nevertheless, waiting for games is still a pain.
Xbox Live with guests – Playing with guests is both fun and a tad frustrating. Games take somewhat longer to find since you can only join practice (non-ranked) games, which is necessary for obvious reasons, but it’d be nice to set up your own game and have people join it until it fills. Right now you can make private games but you’ve got to invite people to them. And since I know no one yet on Live, that’s out of the question.
System Link – We had our first Halo 2 party with twelve people last night, and it is still my favorite way to enjoy Halo. I don’t play with a headset on Live, so I don’t know how the team dynamic works out there, but it sure is easier to lean over to your buddy and tell him where you are and what the strategy is. And of course there’s the up-close-and-personal trash talking. Nothing is better than shouting across the room talking that smack after your shotgun made spaghetti of their entrails. Good stuff!