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The shutdown of Halo 2 - One Year Later
Posted By: FyreWulff <>Date: 4/14/11 11:17 p.m.

One year ago today, the game that more than likely sold thousands of people on Xbox Live subscriptions shut down. Well, officially. Of course we all know that some people (like me!) stayed on past the shutdown, and on past the ability to sign in for weeks, with the last person finally signing off during the Reach beta.

Chat Log, April 14th, 2010
(10:06:57 PM) MKiddr: asdfskdad
(10:07:00 PM) MKiddr: SO MANY PARTIES
(10:07:15 PM) X Equals Loser: WARTHOG SUICIDE SQUAD
(10:07:26 PM) MKiddr: we have like 3-4 more freaking hours
(10:09:30 PM) MKiddr: it's kind of hilarious that Halo 2 going down results in more people than slots

Bungie's final MOTD for Halo 2 - the first time it had been updated in 3 years.

That day began like any other. Exhausted from the hours long farewell-fest in Halo 2 the previous night, I was ready to send the game on a canoe out to see, Viking burial style. I had recovered numerous tags to my 360 (Trivia: OXbox games only recognize the 7 'newest' gamertags on the box, forcing me to delete them as I went along) to get people that promised lobby flair. We recorded one last game of Worst Game Ever, a Penny Arcade forums classic, and said our last goodbyes while sounding like someone on the witness protection program. Power down the Xboxes. Go to to sleep.

Then I wake up, expecting to read stories on the internet about how the game was now off.

Except it was not.

The damn thing was still on. I popped on, played a couple more games, and signed off again, figuring it wasn't worth it to try and chase that award for being in the last game. And then I recieved a text message from our good buddy "xzzy". "Fyre, get back on! People are getting knocked off and can't sign back in". Okay, I'll try it.. oh hey, I'm in! Unfortunately, only 3 people I played Halo 2 with made it in before the gate closed: PrimusD, Xzzy, and X Equals Loser. Little did we know what we were in for. We played a few games, laughed about how we were on after things closed, and went to sleep with our Xboxes left on.

The news start spreading around, GAF, and the rest of the internet. People were still on Halo 2. Bungie's matchmaking and stats servers were still happily matching people up and recording games. I created a tribute thread on PA to the game before the shutdown; now it was to be our daily log on this endurance match. At least we had the closing tooltips to humor us while we waited 30 minutes for matches to configure:

Then official word came down.

and.. @notwen pulls the plug. bye xbox 1! (trixie360 tweet)

Chat Log, April 15th, 2010
(5:18:12 PM) MKiddr: it wouldn't be halo 2 without you idling in the menu for 6 hours
(6:39:05 PM) X Equals Loser: I know. I had to go out right.

Microsoft had merely shut down the ability to sign in; the Live "Heartbeat" signal that determined who was allowed to stay on had not shut off. There was now a finite amount of Halo 2 players in the world to play games with. A crash course on friendliness was about to occur. Coordinating via the Halo 2 forum, which for some reason did it's damnedest to not acknowledge me and Xzzy existing (Primus had lost his connection at this point), people would announce a central playlist to search in. "How about we try BTB?" "4 searching in Team Slayer, will be trying for next hour".

Xzzy snaps a picture of my teeth to confirm I got all the food out while we wait for games.

At this point, we were still getting douches in games. Modders were long gone, due to the 1.5 security update that had come out 3 years earlier. In their place were superbouncers, bxr-rs, and general asswipes that didn't know how to properly cherish a game that had been on for 6 years at this point going down. But they were slowly being weeded out; via their own impatience and being constantly booted out of games. The athmosphere was about to change, and for the better. We all went to sleep again, huddled together in a single party for warmth and connection reliability.

Chat Log, April 16th, 2010
(2:10:01 PM) MKiddr: is this how it all ends
(2:10:08 PM) MKiddr: all of us idling in lobby
(2:10:54 PM) X Equals Loser: Yep. I'm gone all weekend, so it'll still be there
(3:40:29 PM) MKiddr: did you just tell someone to make your tag join our party?
(3:41:30 PM) X Equals Loser: I was home for a few minutes.

Second Thoughts

The third day in, I started really noticing how blue Halo 2 was. I began to loathe the color. While before I let the 360 idle when I wasn't playing with the TV still on, I turned it off when not playing. That's how sick I was of the color. But we still soldiered on. More and more people were disconnected, and playlists soon started to become inoperable. Team Skirmish was the first one to go, followed by Team Snipers.

Big Team Battle, Team Training, and Rumble Pit were now the main centers of activity. The ranked playlists didn't take long to bleed out. My recorded game IDs were now less than 20 numbers apart, something unheard of while the game was active - even you played a game 2 minutes apart during Halo 2's heyday, your game IDs would be at least seperated by thousands. Games now recorded 2 hours apart had ID separation in the single digits. I even managed to pull off what I never pictured myself doing and being in the final recorded ranked game of Halo 2.

People now kept spirits up by running customs during the night when they tired of matchmaking. Due to how Halo 2 invites worked, people had to start nuking their Friends List in order to send Friend Requests for invites. If you felt your list untouchable, you weren't going to be getting any games.

The customs started to drag on however. The remaining survivors were in two camps. The 24/7 Zombies customs camp, and the "let's play matchmaking because Halo 2 PC and Halo 3 are still around for Zombies" camp. Determined to not end my no-DNF streak, I soldiered onto through no-score limit games on Lockout set to 60 minutes long, and scuttled off to a private lobby whenever possible.

The long wait times on the stream were made interesting by DJing music out to my viewers. A particularly popular song was very fitting to play. But I was starting to crack. I couldn't play any other games. This was our desert island, and all we had brought with us was Halo 2.

Chat Log, April 18th, 2010
(8:15:36 AM) X Equals Loser: WE WILL MAKE HALO 2 LIVE FOREVER.
(8:15:49 AM) X Equals Loser: Until the Reach beta starts and we need to switch over.
(2:59:54 PM) MKiddr: are you ever getting back to you xbox
(3:00:21 PM) X Equals Loser: Tonight.
(7:24:02 PM) MKiddr: NOOOOOO
(7:24:05 PM) MKiddr: YOU WENT OFFLINE

And then X Equals Loser was a zombie disconnected that night. Only me and Xzzy were left.. once again huddling together in a party. A new strategy had been devised; one person who wanted to continue to record games would have the other person join their lobby when they were done for the night. The leader would then go search for games during the day, using the AFK buddy as another body for getting games to configure. It worked very well.

The Final Days

The pool of players dropped. You could now visibly tell when we had lost a person - at this point, you had all the gamertags memorized. What they sounded like. If they were an Elite (only 3 of us!) or Spartan, and which control scheme they used (I'm pretty sure I was the last Legacy sticks user on Halo 2). "Oh damn, we lost Bob last night. Power blinked." More and more playlists shutdown. Ranked was no longer a viable option, and the final two hideouts were Rumble Pit and Big Team Battle. We soldiered on, avoiding the endless Zombie customs and praying for somebody at Xbox central command to just temp-ban everyone and end the madness.

And now a pact had been forged. I was going to head out on the 21st, with Xzzy soon to follow after me. I chose the 21st because it was a nice 7-based number, and nothing more.

Later that night, the news came down. had stopped recording games; Bungie's line to the data had been severed by MS. They were completely in the dark as to our existence. The gamertags to record a game on the 20th:

FyreWulff Rex
NoName Nomad
Sherlock 1
WGL Gonzo
xxBooker Dxx
Lil JP
Envoyyy JG

The last holdout, APACHE N4SIR, had not recorded a game that day. We had become quick friends over the past night. Unfortunately, I lost his friend request soon after due to a technical problem, and I was never able to re-friend him due to his gamertag being heavily publicized soon afterwards. Life is cruel and limited to 100 friends per person like that. The final game of Halo 2 had been recorded. Amusingly, on Elongation, and ended in a 0-0 tie. The history books can now officially reflect that nobody won Halo 2.

In some ways, the final hours of Halo 2 on Xbox Live were what the game was meant to be. Fun. Nobody BXRed, nobody superbounced, nobody booted, and no racial slurs were thrown. It was the closest a Halo game will ever get to Nirvana, or at least some form of it. The game had been returned to those innocent times in the first few hours of Halo 2's launch.

Done playing Zombies on Coagulation, I decided to make my move to disconnect. The plan was to do a Campaign run to close out - for those that don't know, Halo 2 disconnected you from Live after viewing the end credits for some reason. We had constantly joked around back in the day that whoever got a 50 and 'beat matchmaking' should have the credits shown to them and then be summarily disconnected. What a better way to go out?

Now here's where a video montage of that campaign run should be. It was pretty great, from expert parking by marines and Elites to the game deciding I should no longer have checkpoints and being sent back through the entirety of Sacred Icon when I accidentally walked off a platform. Halfway into the run, I was finally hit by the notorious 'ghosting' glitch that occurs on 360s - somehow managed to avoid it for an entire week!

After carefully wedging the banshee into the final boss room and killing Tartarus (and parking the banshee juuust right so it'd appear in the cutscene), my time in Halo 2 was over. It had been good times - the people were great. The games were fun. Joking around, being silly, and probably playing a little too much zombies.

And in my opinion, that's the way it should stay. A memory. While Halo 2 enjoyed being #1 for the entirety of OXbox Live's entire run, it was because there was nothing better. The game's revolutionary party and overshell interface made it the de facto gathering service for all Xbox Live games. Even people that wanted to arrange game nights in Splinter Cell or Burnout would meet up in a Halo 2 lobby to discuss which games to play, and then go to the new game. You'd constantly see people idling in menus, essentially using Halo 2 like they would the 360 dashboard today.

But for all it brought in, the game had many problems that plagued it until the day it went down. Animation exploits ruined the intended role of the BR and other weapons. What was supposed to be a long to mid range weapon became better than the shotgun at CQB range. Modders discouraged people from playing and convinced them to trade in the game for something else. Superbouncers broke the flow and design of the maps by going out into unreachable play space. Dummy glitchers made people avoid objective playlists because they didn't feel like hunting flags down on the top of Headlong for 3 hours. The final two maps made by Certain Affinity for the game killed superbouncing with cleverly placed kill barriers and design; for those last 4 fleeting months before Halo 3, it was like a little bit of the Halo 3 experience had been backported to us.

Maybe MS feels the same way. To date, Halo 2 is still the only game in the trilogy to not be made available via Games on Demand. They quickly ported and pushed out Halo 2 for PC and immediately forgot about it, continuing to ignore it's achievements on Halo Waypoint to this day. Before the mass injection when the closure was announced, the population was very minimal.

Some feel that the game should come back via Xbox Live Arcade. I personally have no problem with a Halo 2 remake.. but like I've said before with Halo 1, I only want a campaign mode. At this point, all the glitches and problems with the game would need to be fixed in order to not have the online be even more of a wasteland than the original version. Some of these same proponents even want all the glitches to be retained as if they were intentional; ignoring the fact that superbouncing was fixed for Halo 2 PC (it was a Havok bug). They want to go back to the days of playing the metagame instead of actually playing Halo 2, an arms race of stupidity to see who can magically levitate to the top of Ascension first and snipe unsuspecting players.

As it stands, I don't want to revisit that online "experience", and MS has shown no interest either with it's neglect. They can't even be bothered to make Halo 2's final DLC available legally via a burnable DVD image. And people want them to port Halo 2? They already did that before. It wasn't a good thing.

So goodnight, sweet prince. May you forever be locked in the casket. Because memories and the people are the only thing that's good about your online at this point.

Because it sure was fun to be spawncamped or spawncamp on Burial Mounds for 12 minutes because somebody thought being spawned into open killing fields was a good idea.

Hopefully 343 is only looking forward these days. Sure, I'd take (fixed!) remakes of Halo 2 maps for Reach at this point. But the world has moved on from Halo 2 multiplayer. Bungie has moved on from Halo 2 multiplayer. Microsoft has moved on from Halo 2 on both platforms. And so should 343.

But damn, was that last night and the ensuing week pretty fun.

- Fyre out (but I'm totally up for boosting Halo 2 Vista achievements)

fyrewulff dot com

Message Index


The shutdown of Halo 2 - One Year LaterFyreWulff 4/14/11 11:17 p.m.
     Re: The shutdown of Halo 2 - One Year LaterAvateur 4/14/11 11:30 p.m.
     Oh, Halo 2Azo 'Galvat 4/15/11 12:09 a.m.
           Re: Oh, Halo 2padraig08 4/15/11 12:47 a.m.
     Re: The shutdown of Halo 2 - One Year LatercheapLEY 4/15/11 12:15 a.m.
           Re: The shutdown of Halo 2 - One Year LaterFyreWulff 4/15/11 12:30 a.m.
     Great post!Leviathan 4/15/11 1:09 a.m.
     Re: The shutdown of Halo 2 - One Year LaterScarabgunyeah 4/15/11 1:42 a.m.
     One thin I miss about Halo 2 on Xbox Live...The BS Police 4/15/11 2:29 a.m.
           Re: One thin I miss about Halo 2 on Xbox Live...FyreWulff 4/15/11 2:47 a.m.
                 Re: One thin I miss about Halo 2 on Xbox Live...The BS Police 4/15/11 3:42 a.m.
                       Re: One thin I miss about Halo 2 on Xbox Live...FyreWulff 4/15/11 4:02 a.m.
     Manly tearsTwitch 4/15/11 3:57 a.m.
     Re: The shutdown of Halo 2 - One Year LaterDEEP NNN 4/15/11 6:25 a.m.
     Re: The shutdown of Halo 2 - One Year LaterUrban Reflex 4/15/11 6:43 a.m.
     Fierce, flawless, amazingJillybean 4/15/11 11:09 a.m.
     Re: The shutdown of Halo 2 - One Year LaterSonofMacPhisto 4/15/11 12:06 p.m.
     Re: The shutdown of Halo 2 - One Year LaterFrankie 4/15/11 12:35 p.m.
           You have to scratch first. *NM*Duncan 4/15/11 1:30 p.m.
           Re: The shutdown of Halo 2 - One Year LaterGeneral Vagueness 4/15/11 2:59 p.m.
     Fantastic post, FyrewulfKermit 4/15/11 1:31 p.m.
     Re: The shutdown of Halo 2 - One Year Laterexcowboy83 4/15/11 6:38 p.m.
           Re: The shutdown of Halo 2 - One Year LaterFyreWulff 4/15/11 8:06 p.m.
                 Re: The shutdown of Halo 2 - One Year Laterexcowboy83 4/16/11 10:55 a.m.
     Re: The shutdown of Halo 2 - One Year LaterTrent4now 05 4/15/11 10:24 p.m.
           Re: The shutdown of Halo 2 - One Year LaterFyreWulff 4/17/11 1:17 a.m.
     During one of the last games...Jordan117 4/16/11 12:11 a.m.

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