Last week I wrote about the website Halo2Sucks.com, a site devoted to discussing why Halo 2, despite being tremendously popular, was not actually a good game in the minds of some people; more specifically, why it was not as good a game as the original Halo. The key points of this argument were laid out by the original administrator, Shaker, who has since departed to parts unknown, leaving in his wake an absentee landlord. The denizens of that site's forum, who seek to carry out the site's legacy of saying Halo 2 Sucks, were left locked out from modifying the main site's content, despite the fact that some of them, while they agreed with some (but not all) of ShakeR's points, disagreed with how he expressed them. Some disagreed with some or all of his points. Some don't think Halo 2 sucks. Others don't think it's productive to say Halo 2 Sucks, regardless of whether it does or not, because after that word "sucks" lots of people tend to stop listening to you.
I was invited into the forum to see how that community fares now, instead of reviewing the leftovers of a long-gone screed writer, and that is essentially what I found: a community that was dissatisfied with many aspects of Halo 2, but has difficulty developing a consensus on exactly what the more important reasons for that disappointment were, how they should be rectified, and if it is proper or not to use the word "sucks" when referring to how one feels about Halo 2.
Unlike Shaker's rants, however incoherent at times, there was a single monolithic opinion to deal with. You could agree with it, disagree with it, argue with it: whatever you liked. With the forum, it's almost redundant to do that, because the forum disagrees with itself about as often as anybody from the outside could.
There is, perhaps, one single thread of opinion that flows through most of the whole site, from the original rants down to most recent forum posts and the discussion about the article I wrote earlier. It was the idea that people expected Halo 2 to be a sequel in a rather strict and literal sense: to be the same, but more.
To be honest, Halo and Halo 2 bear a rather vague and cosmetic resemblance to each other. Sure, you're a big green metal guy shooting at a lot of brightly colored aliens, helped by a glowing, curvaceous purple hologram. The details of just about everything, though, changed. The homebrew physics engine that Bungie made, which they described as constructing every object as if they were made of springs? Gone, replaced by the middleware Havok engine; presumably to enable the features Bungie wanted without having to code them all themselves. Nearly every weapon was modified in some way, or altered in its use by the addition of the dual wielding system. The vehicles were also all altered, first by destructibility and then by boost. The Banshee is so different about all you can say that is the same about the Halo and Halo 2 versions is that they are both purple.
I wrote last time that the essential complaint of Halo2Sucks.com was that the game, especially in the online multiplayer component, did not sufficiently reward player skill. It did not adequately and accurately express how much better one player is than another. Many of the forum members do seem to feel that way; it's just that I think it's a good thing and they don't. However, they also feel that Halo 2 was far too different from Halo to be a sequel; that too much was changed, and while some good things were added, some great things were removed.
Here's hoping there won't be a Halo3Sucks.com; a domain which is already registered and points to the current Halo2Sucks.com site; firstly, because we can all hope that Halo 3 will be a distillation of all the best things from the first two games, with some of the kinks worked out and the bugs fixed, plus whatever new things Bungie has invented in the past two and a half years, and secondly, because the best way to start a dialogue about a game franchise you love so much that you devote a great deal of your time talking about it does not start and end with the word "sucks"... dot com.