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Cheaters Online in Bungie's Halo 2

Published December 18, 2004 in CONSOLE GAMES
By Ryan Parsons | Images from Bungie.Net and GameSpot
You would be lying to yourself if you didn't think people cheated on Halo 2.
What is probably one of the largest multiplayer games played today? Well, the number one talked about game used to be [and probably still is] Counter-Strike. And, with so many players, there always comes cheaters. Those who play Counter-Strike on a continuous basis know what a cheater is and how common they are. As Steam and Valve work to keep up with stopping cheaters with new anti-cheat software, it usually takes only hours to a day to find a new leak in the game and exploit it. Cheats range from being able to look through walls to auto-aim. Imagine your cross-hair automatically jumping to the head of each opponent you encounter. Not only is this unfair to other players, but should take most of the fun out of the game. One of the major reasons this occurs for Counter-Strike is the fact is it is a computer game. Players, with computer games, also have direct access to the code used to run the game. After enough time, those familiar with programming can find some type of weakness. This is what makes playing console games, such as Halo 2, on the X-Box Live network so great. With a console, it is nearly impossible for players to access the code; so cheating should not exist. But it does, especially in Halo 2. Now Bungie finds itself in the same dilemma as Steam and Valve, how to handle and prevent cheating.

Glitches and Bugs in Halo 2

Assault Glitch

Before I begin with how players are cheating, I'm going to expose some of the bugs that players have discovered and taken advantage of. The largest exploited bug in Halo 2 multiplayer occurs in Assault games. During Assault, each team is given two rounds to play on offense and two rounds to play on defense. The team on offense must plant a bomb at a specified location, while the team on defense must prevent a bomb plant from occurring [pretty similar to Counter-Strike de_maps. When an offensive player is killed while carrying the bomb, the bomb is dropped at that exact location. The defensive team cannot touch or carry the bomb, so it sits at the dropped location for a certain time period. While the bomb is dropped, all players can see its location with a beacon. However, while an offensive player is carrying the bomb, the defensive team has no idea where it is.

Each round usually last two to three minutes, usually ending with a sudden death overtime. Here is where Bungie has encountered the first exposed glitch. A player can take the bomb and literally hide forever with it. Clans [teams] have used this tactic to win games. A player will get the bomb and hide in 'special' hiding places where they cannot be found. The clan allows their player to wait there until the opponent clan grows weary and quits the game. By a clan quitting a game, they forfeit the win. It has been recorded that some clans will allow a player to hide for over an hour [boring!] to cause the opponent clan to quit. That sucks!

Wall Glitch

The next glitch is walls that can be used to walk through and hide in. Some of the Halo 2 maps have glitches like this all over them. Bungie's only solution to the maps that had multiple wall glitches was to pull the maps from matchmaking. Great!! There aren't even that many maps to begin with, Bungie can't afford to take any more out. In fact, Bungie needs to create more maps for download, and quickly [which they are doing].

The wall glitch doesn't just end with people using them to hide and travel in either. There are certain spots on multiple maps where players can grab the flag and bomb from behind a wall. Players will notice the bomb, or flag, just disappear out of thin air. How fair is that!

Flag Grab Glitch

This glitch is simple. Players have figured out how to grab the flag from far distances away. Teams will be protecting their flag stand and next thing they know, their flag has vanished about thirty feet into the hands of an offensive opponent. Bungie definately knows about this glitch and are working to figure out what is causing it. Check out the pictures from Bungie.Net. Each picture shows the path of a flag carrier [yes, this information is logged too]. Notice that the blue path runs the flag starting from the flag base. The red path, on the other hand, shows that a player started with the flag about 30 game feet from the flag base. While this move is considered a glitch that can be taken advantage of by all, I would call it cheating.

Notice the blue line representing the route of the flag carrier. This is a proper route, starting from the flag post.

Notice the red line representing the route of the flag carrier. Notice that the route begins far from where the flag stand is. Somehow the player grabbed the flag from here.

Sword Glitch

You can either hate or love the energy sword. That sword can change the face of game play quickly. If a player is hot with that sword, he can easily achieve a killing spree of 10-15 kills before he is taken out. One of the best uses of the sword is on Ivory Tower. If you are able to hold the sword and sniper rifle, you are a lethal source on the hallway. All you have to do is take a hallway corner and watch the length of it with the sniper rifle. If anyone gets too close, whip out the sword and start slashing. Ok, that's a tip, not the glitch.

Have you ever wanted to be able to lunge at a player up to thirty yards away? Well, it should be impossible considering that the sword reticule does not turn red until you are about 8 yards away from your target. Well, it is not impossible thanks to a glitch similar to that of Counter-Strike. In Counter-Strike, players figured out that if they have their reticule on an opponent with their handgun out, they can quickly do a 'previous-weapon' switch to an AWP [sniper] Rifle and snap shot it with deadly affect. Well, the same goes for the sword but, instead of accuracy, you gain range; tons of range. Here is how it works:

You need to be carrying the energy sword and another weapon [lets say the Assault Rifle]. For example, imagine you are watching the long hall area on the Ivory Tower map. With your AR out, keep a watch out down the hall for opponent players. Once a player enters your field of vision, target your assault rifle on them [unzoomed] until the reticule turns red [meaning your aim is on target]. Once the reticule becomes red, quickly change to your sword and do the 'full swing' [right trigger] instead of the simple melee. If you time it perfect, you will go soaring at your opponent with a lunge that will be talked about for days.

Again, Bungie has acknowledged this glitch but, because of the difficulty of performing the move, has not considered it a problem... yet.

All of the above are acknowledged 'glitches', but they are not considered cheats as all players can find ways to exploit them.

Players Cheating in Halo 2

Alright, this is what really pisses online players off. There is a cheat that is acknowledged by Bungie, and Bungie is taking the steps to remove players from X-Box Live who do cheat. While the cheat has nothing to do with the game software, it does take advantage of the latest hardware and server software.

What the Cheat Looks Like

Imagine yourself playing a game of capture the flag and you are on defense. Your team/clan remain close to the flag, as to not allow your opponent team take it and capture it. While the opponent clan has made some attempts for your flag, your clan has pushed them back every time. Then it happens: while your entire clan is hanging around the flag post doing flag protection, you all of a sudden get a notice that your flag has been taken. You look, and with bewilderment, your flag is gone! And, within ten seconds of your clan being taken, the other clan scores... in ten seconds!!

This has happened during many team matches, leaving the defensive team in shock on what they did wrong or how they let their flag get away. Well, if your story is like the one listed above, a player [or players] on the opponent team/clan was probably cheating. This same move can be used with Assault too. Defensive team will be protecting a dropped bomb, then the bomb disappears and plants without the clan seeing a single player come to retrieve it.

How the Cheat is Done

Simple, you can probably start doing it right after you read this. Some of the newer broadband modems and routers have a new 'standby' button. All you have to do is hit this button while playing a match, and you can move around the map unhindered. Then, when you take the flag and have run it away some distance, shut the 'standby' off and the other players are immediately notified that their flag is gone. By hitting 'standby', you and your actions become a ghost.

Why the Cheat Works

First, this is why I don't think people should have to pay five bucks a month for X-Box Live. You have purchased the X-Box, you have purchased the game, you should be able to play for free. For those of you who play Counter-Strike, you know how many free servers there are to play on.. and their dedicated and fast too! X-Box Live doesn't play matches on dedicated servers, their servers just help transit all the consoles to one host; one of the consoles connected to that match. This is why, during a matchmaking game, the game will pause and you will be presented with a blue screen saying 'setting up game' and 'setting up connection.' This means that the chosen host of that match left the game, and the X-Box Live servers are working to make another console the host. So, you pay five dollars to have you, or another, host the game.

Because of this, the cheating glitch can be done. The coding for Halo 2 on X-Box Live tells the servers to wait on information on each console. What the servers should do is force the particular console to keep up. If the console can't keep up, it is the one that should be experiencing all the lag and losing packets of information. However, this is not the case. Instead, the game continues on like normal [even though all players may notice an increase in lag], even without information coming from the cheater's console. This is what happens with the 'standby' button. The player/cheater, who used 'standby', continues to play on his own console without sending any of his movements to the other players' consoles. Then, after the cheater has made his move, he will shutoff 'standby'. All the other consoles then get the updated information from the cheaters console about his movements and flag grabs... and the other consoles listen to this information!!!

While I'm hoping that Bungie will step it up in patch and map production, they currently seem to spend most of their time trying to catch the cheaters and suspend them from X-Box live. What this means is that you will probably still encounter cheaters while playing Halo 2 games.

A Fun Halo 2 Glitch

If you had read this entire article, you will remember the part about being able to lunge far distances with the energy sword. Well, imagine lunging so far, that it would be like you were flying. This is possible, and here are the steps:

  • Setup a Game on Coagulation
  • Make sure to have two players for the map
  • Make sure to have the energy sword as a weapon on the map
  • With your sword, grab the warthog and drive it to the center of the map
  • Have another player fly the banshee over to your location
  • Line up the warthog so, when sitting passenger, you can line up your reticule with the sniper spot high on the cliff
  • Have the player who flew the banshee get out and come within range of your target reticule [turn red] with the sword
  • While sitting passenger, press the right trigger to attack that player [reticule must be red], nothing should happen but you may feel your controller vibrate a little.
  • Next, remain seated and DO NOT press any other buttons. Allow the other player to jump back into the banshee and fly up to the sniper cliff.
  • Once the player is up there, they should jump out of the banshee and just stand within view of you on the cliff.
  • Remember, you are still sitting passenger in the warthog
  • Place your reticule back over the other player [it will NOT turn red], now press the 'X' button
  • You should end up flying out of the car directly at the other player.

  • It's a neat trick! If you are able to record yourself doing it, send it my way.

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    Compiled By (Sources)
    Ryan Parsons
    Sources: Images from Bungie.Net and GameSpot

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