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Halo 2 Vista is a ported PC version of Halo 2 by Hired Gun for use on the Windows Vista operating system exclusively and as a release title for the "Games for Windows" category. The release date was originally planned for May 8, 2007. However, the release date had been delayed to May 22, 2007 because the team needed "to make some improvements to the install experience and address other technical issues." However, release dates had been erratic, as Australia had publicly available copies, and some stores in the United States were selling copies as well. Microsoft had stated that the release date had been pushed back one final time, due to partial nudity found in the Halo 2 Vista Map Editing Kit, making the release date May 31 for the United States. Its multiplayer server list was going to be shut down in February 2013, but was extended to June 2013 while they discuss the feasibility of keeping the server list. However, it was extended again until early 2014. As of March 2015, the servers are still up and running.
Halo 2 Vista features reworked graphics for PC systems, including high-detail textures plus support for increased screen resolutions above the maximum of 720x480p in the Xbox version. Campaign mode is identical and now integrated with "Games for Windows - LIVE Achievements", which are also integrated into Multiplayer mode. Halo 2 Vista is the first title in the Halo series to feature Microsoft's Xbox 360/GFWL Achievement system.
A new addition exclusively for the PC version is the "Halo 2 Editing Kit", a map editor based on the original Halo Editing Kit. A pre-made "custom" map is included by default, named Example, created by the developers as a reference aid to assist users in the creation of their own custom maps.
Halo 2 Vista is the first and only game to feature Microsoft's "Tray & Play" technology. It is an attempt to emulate the ability of consoles to instantly play games from an optical disc drive. When the game is launched, data begins streaming from the disc while simultaneously being installed in the background during a once-off process.
Halo 2 Vista, being a release title of Games for Windows, includes support for the Live for Windows system. It intertwines with the Xbox Live system, allowing communication with someone who has an Xbox. However, cross-platform play is not supported (this feature was planned). The interface is similar to that of the Xbox 360 dashboard. Instead of using peer to peer matchmaking, players will be able to create dedicated servers, which are created with a program that comes with the disc.
Gamertags, which are used on Xbox Live, are also used on Live for Windows. If a player were to have an Xbox Live gamertag, they would be able to log on using that. Otherwise, a free account can be registered for a player. Players can also match up in parties, and the party leader can specify maps and game types to play on the go.
The minimum system requirements to run Halo 2 on Windows Vista is a Windows Experience Index of 3.0. The recommended system requirements is a WEI of 5.0. Users can play the game with a rating of less than 3.0 but they will have to reduce graphics quality in order to run the game smoothly. The game can be set on different levels of detail (low, medium, or high) to change performance and appearance. Anti-Aliasing and resolution can be changed, as well.
- Requires Windows Vista
- 2 GHz Pentium 4 Class Processor (or x64)
- 1GB of RAM
- 7GB of hard drive space(the Dedicated Server and Map Editor require additional hard drive space)
- Nvidia 6100/ATI x700 video card or above
- DVD-ROM drive
- DirectX® 9.0c or later (included on the DVD)
- Broadband Internet access for Windows LIVE™ multiplayer gameplay
Halo 2 Vista was considerably less popular than the Xbox version of the game. Besides selling incredibly low due to the negative reception of Windows Vista, it also was far less highly rated than the Xbox version. The game netted a mere 72% from Metacritic, a site which regulates and moderates reviews from other websites. Game Informer cited the outdated graphics and lack of innovation, which they said made the game feel "too outdated for a next-generation PC game, especially compared with how stunning Halo 2 had been on Xbox".
Halo 2 Vista was made even more unpopular, when it lacked basic features like online co-operative gameplay or other game modes, which were to be included in Halo 3 for Xbox 360. Halo 2 Vista's Dedicated Server had been severely stripped down of its important features which were part of Halo: Combat Evolved's Dedicated Server commands.
- Achievements were included with the PC version of Halo 2, though they can only unlock while you are logged into Games for Windows Live. These Achievements are shown on your Live profile and go towards your Gamerscore, just like Xbox 360 games.
- You can view your achievement progress through your Xbox LIVE account.
- Halo 2 Vista is the first and only game thus far to feature Tray and Play.
- Halo 2 Vista is also compatible with Windows 7 and Windows 8.
- Although Halo 2 Vista was for Windows, the menu instruction (e.g. "press A button") is still the same with the Xbox version. It shows that Halo 2 Vista was only ported directly, unlike Halo PC.
- It is suspected that the H2EK (Halo 2 Editing Kit) has had many features disabled or deleted, which would disallow much of the custom tag creation process.
- Halo 2 Vista was rated M for Violence, Language, Blood and Gore, and also Partial Nudity, which the Xbox version lacked. It turns out that a bug in a .ass error appeared to show the butt of a naked man. This can be removed simply with a patch downloadable from the Halo 2 Vista website.
- 343 Industries announced that the Halo 2 Vista servers would be disabled on February 15, 2013. However, this has currently been delayed to early 2014, to "investigate further support options". As of 2016, the servers are still up and running.
- Bungie's Announcement
- Halo 2 Vista: The Inside Scoop
- Modacity (formerly h2vista.net), a fansite dedicated to modding Halo 1 CE
- Rework3d (formerly halomods.com), Modding Wiki for Halo 2 Vista
- Halo Maps, an archive of Halo 2 Vista maps and tools