Halo 2 is a first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie Studios. Halo 2 was released for the original Xbox on November 9, 2004 and is the second video game title in the Halo franchise and the sequel to 2001’s critically-acclaimed Halo: Combat Evolved. The game features a new game engine, as well as using the Havok physics engine; added weapons and vehicles, and new multiplayer maps. The player alternatively assumes the roles of the human Master Chief and alien the Arbiter in a twenty-sixth century conflict between the human UNSC and Covenant.
After its initial release, Halo 2 was the most popular video game on Xbox Live, holding that rank until the release of Gears of War for the Xbox 360 nearly two years later. By June 20, 2006, more than 500 million games of Halo 2 had been played and more than 710 million hours had been spent playing Halo 2 on Xbox Live; by May 9, 2007, this number had risen to more than five million unique players on Xbox Live. As of November 2008, Halo 2 is the best-selling game on the original Xbox with 8.46 million copies sold worldwide and at least 6.3 million copies sold in the US alone. Critical reception of the game was generally positive, with most publications lauding the strong multiplayer component; at the same time, the campaign was the focus of criticism for its cliffhanger ending.