I did not write this very long article. The original can be found here http://www.mlgpro.com/forum/showthread.php?t=34549
This is long, but any true Halo Fan should find it HIGHLY fascinating...
The following is all true, based on documentaries, articles, interviews, the special DVD that came with the game's Silver Edition, and basic perception.
Roughly 7 months before E3 2003, Bungie decided they would shock the world with an intense footage of live, actual gameplay that blew everyone away. Unfortunately, 7 months before E3 2003, all they had finished making so far was the game's basic outline (story and content-wise) and an experimental version of the game's engine, all of which took about 5 months in itself. Nevertheless, they spent the next 7 months solely on that 10 demo so that it would hype us out of our minds for the actual game. Anything they could think of that seemed cool, they threw into the demo without thinking about any consequences it may have. Like people thinking it would be in the game. They were just too excited to care.
Ultimately, finishing the demo took up all of their 7 months of work time.
After Bungie hyped the world out of its mind with their undeniably awesome demo, they came back and realized they had made a mistake that not even the public or gaming press would think a game company could make... which officially became known as, based on hard stats, "The Greatest Upset in Gaming History".
They had wasted the last 7 months of work. Completely and 100%. They realized they didn't have a level. They didn't even have a part of a level. What they had was a demo, that ran on an experimental engine that ultimately could not work with the Xbox, and none of it could be implemented into the actual game. For the next TWO months, I kid you not, Bungie studios was practically empty because they were so confused on what course of action to take.
Those 2 months dwindled away. That's when Microsoft showed up...
Microsoft, being fair and rational, inquired as to why the hell Bungie had been screwing around with Halo 2 for 1.5 years but still seemed to have no useable material. Who knows if Bungie leveled with Microsoft and admitted they screwed up, or if they hid the truth somehow. The fact was, the hype for Halo 2 had been set with an actual playable demo. The public would not stand for waiting much longer after seeing something that made the game look so... complete. In all rationality, a good game takes about 1.5 years to make. It had been almost 2 since the public thought Halo 2 was in the works. So Microsoft did what it had to do. It gave Bungie a deadline that would wind up as their death sentence. They were given 10 months to finish the game before Microsoft demanded the discs be made and shipped.
They hadn't even started making the actual game...
For ten months, Bungie studios sacrificed every fiber of their beings to make the game. They did not go to their homes after work. They designed and programmed for 18 to 20 hours a day, falling asleep on their desks or on beanbags. They rushed the game furiously. Slamming it together piece by piece, hoping things at least functioned without a total crash.
And as the leader of Bungie said, "At that moment, Pandora's Box was opened...".
Literally 75% of what Bungie had originally intended to be in the game, had to be scrapped. It was absolutely the only way to finish the game on time. If anyone wants me to, I can develop a list of what was promised in the game that was ripped from it.
The worst part of it all, was that even the original intended storyline had to be mutilated. Anybody remember the original Halo 2 Teaser where the MC jumped out of a space station? Think about what we saw happening to Earth in that trailer. Or watch it again. What do you notice?
Earth... is in flames.
Most people have forgotten that the trailer and demo of Halo 2 both gave a direct impression that the game would contain the first stage of THE LAST BATTLE FOR EARTH. ALL ACROSS AND OVER EARTH. Think of the demo. Human bombers bunker-busting giant covenant artillery, Jackals marching in formations, fleets of Phantoms swarming the clouds, legions of starcruisers circling the earth, razor drop-pods, hundreds of them, crashing to the ground, each holding deadly black-armored Elites with energy swords that actually LOOKED like they were made of energy. All the while, the entire sky has been painted orange with the flames consuming the planet the whole surface of the planet. This was the last battle we had been waiting so long to fight.
Remember anything of that caliber in the final version? Where did it all go? Easy. Bungie did not have the time and resources to develop a game with a battle of that magnitude. So what cover-story do they pull? Anyone remember?
They rewrote the story so that the ships that attacked Earth was merely a small strike force that accidentally jumped the gun, and didn't harm any part of Earth outside the levels in the game, being New Mombassa. Bungie's best cover story was to make a profit named "Regret" (how creative) to accidentally warp in too early. Genius. Crafty. They succeeded, because only the particularly sharp gamers noticed the dastardly move they pulled. And in case you read the novels and are wondering why a fourth one is not coming out when there are so many questions unanswered, this is the reason. Eric Nylund could not work with the material from Bungie’s substitute-story in a way that could connect to his universe properly. Nylund was probably planning a book after First Strike based on the original story of the last battle Bungie wrote out for Halo 2. Well, Bungie cared more about finishing their game then being friendly to the novels. So there you have it. Bungie killed the Halo novels as well.
As far as game CONTENT that didn't make it, well, with Multiplayer being whipped together in 2 months, and stuff that they didn't have time to make work, the list would be huge, but I could make it if someone wanted me to.
Why do you think Halo 2 has been ruined by cheaters? For a whole year, the cheating ratio became 1 out of 4. That's because within that 10 months, Xbox live had to be rushed in design and program as well. In fact, they were not even sure if they would be able to get it working for Xbox Live by the deadline.
Why do you think so many of the aspects in Multiplayer seem broken, unfinished, and unbalanced? This is your answer. This is your answer to all your questions.
If anyone has wondered why anything in the real game seems worse, different, or missing things that were shown to us in the TRAILER and DEMO, this is your answer.
You have three choices. One, you believe this, and you accept it and choose not to let it get to you, and call me a knit-picky whiner. Two, you believe it, and you get angry, confused, and disappointed, like every hardcore Halo fan has the total right to do. And three, you tell me this is all bullcrap, and I go search for concrete evidence to further prove I know what I'm talking about and shove it down your throat. Take your pick.
Any questions on the subject directed towards me I will gladly answer in truth and accuracy.
---gt;LIST OF CUT HALO 2 MATERIALgt;---
Notes: List is updated regularly, & "Video available" means there is recorded footage floating around the net somewhere.
01. Three to four-hit melee combo strings in campaign and multiplayer.
02. The four-wheel ATV, or "Mongoose". Initially weapon-mounted. Render made.
03. The human assault hovercraft, or "Kestrel" flying vehicle Banshee equivilent in campaign and multiplayer.
04. Damage to vehicles effecting how they drive/function (boosting, barrel-rolling wingless Banshee, anyone?)
05. The RELIABLE, and effective versions of the Needlers. Video available of prototype versions.
06. The single SMG that could kill w/o aid of nades/melee. Videos available of prototype versions.
07. ODSTs having more advanced AI/behavior/tactics than Marines. Watch the demo.
08. Giant, plasma-throwing Covenant artillery installations. Watch the demo.
09. Human bomber jets (Longbows) being seen actively in campaign. Watch the demo. Very cool.
10. The "Juggernaught" flood-giant form. Bigger than a Hunter. Very cool. Video available.
11. The "Drinol" giant ogre-like Covenant alien. Render made. Kind of like Star Wars "Rancor".
12. The Covenant sniper alien. Very cool. Render made. Concept art in LE dvd.
13. The "Blind wolf" Brute-mounted walking creature. Render available. Concept art in LE dvd.
14. The Covenant "Engineer". Render available. This guy was even meant for Halo 1.
15. Grunts without their masks actively seen in campaign. Render available.
16. The Flamethrower for campaign and multiplayer. Render made. See LE dvd.
17. Jungle and Arctic variants of the Warthog. Renders made.
18. Plasma swords that actually looked like burning plasma & not plastic. Watch the demo.
19. Black Elites that emerged from fallen drop-pods on Earth level. A sad loss. Watch the demo.
20. The great, last battle, meant to be all across earth and in space. See original teaser-trailer.
21. Covenant AI that knew formations, like Jackals in defensive lining. See demo.
22. The original models for the Battle Rifle and SMG. See renders on b.net.
23. The original effective and cool-looking version of the Plasma Pistol. See demo.
24. Balance between the UNSC weapons and Covenant weapons. (Carbine vs. BR anyone?)
25. Balance between the Elite model and Spartan Model. (Elite = Giant walking target)
26. The effective version of the Plasma Rifle, even single-wielded. Video available as prototype version.
27. Fuel Rod Gun being in multiplayer as an effective Rocket equivilent.
28. The reliable version of the Warthog that doesn't explode to one or two frag nades.
29. Vehicle's that didn't burst into flames just because the pilot was killed. Video available.
30. Lighter auto-aim on the BR so a monkey or an infant couldn't easily get 4-burst kills.
So yeah, all in all Bungie really fucked up Halo 2. And there's the story behind it. 7 months making a demo. It is a long read but it is worth it for any Halo 2 fan to know.