Half-Life 2 Review
Some think Half-Life 2 is the greatest game of all time, but what does Woodyman think?
Where is Half-Life 3?!
No seriously… where is it?
So because the SGC Kickstarter happened and also SGC 2013 happened, there’s a few blogs I owe the g1 nation. The blog this week is a review of Half-Life 2. The blog was suggested by Blademan916 and I hate him for it.
I hate him because this is one of the toughest reviews I ever had to do. I always wanted to play Half-Life 2 to see what all the hype was about. This is considered by many to be one of the greatest games of all time. So there is all this pressure and hype surrounding this game, it is difficult for this to not have an impact on my review.
Just so it’s clear, for the sake of this review I played Half-Life 2, Episode 1, and Episode 2 on the Orange Box on the X-Box 360. Instead of doing my normal review style instead, I’m going to go through what I disliked from the game and what I liked from the game.
From here on out, there may be spoilers concerning the story of Half-Life 2 and its episodes. If you do not wish to be spoiled you have my permission to stop reading.
Before we go into the plot of Half-Life 2, I suppose I should mention the setting. The game takes place on a dystopian Earth. The planet and all of its resources have been taken over by an alien force known as The Combine. When The Combine first arrived, humanity tried to fight back but was defeated in a mere seven hours. Now The Combine rules with an iron fist, and a militaristic police force that was created by recruiting and biologically assimilating humans and other species. The Combine uses City 17 as a hub, because it’s the home of the Combine Citadel (a big ass tower that has some purpose… I think.)
If you do not already know Half-Life 2 stars Gordon Freeman. Following the events of the original Half-Life, Gordon has been places in stasis by the G-Man. When the game begins you find yourself on board a train headed to City 17. You must quickly escape from the train station and the Combine guards. After your escape you meet up with Alyx Vance and other members of the Combine resistance.
They eventually make their way to The Citadel and try to take it down, strike a blow against the Combine, and take down Dr. Breen. Dr. Wallace Breen is the man who originally surrendered to the Combine and has thus become leader of Earth and a puppet of the Combine.
It’s an interesting story of a small oppressed minority rising up against a seemingly insurmountable alien force.
Half-Life 2 succeeds in atmosphere in two separate ways in setting and in immersion.
In terms of immersion, Half-Life 2 succeeds because of the control you have throughout the game. We know what Gordon Freeman looks like, but how do we know? Is it from the cutscenes? Not really. Almost all the scenes in this game take place in the first-person perspective, from Gordon Freeman’s perspective to be specific. You are rarely, if EVER, taken out of control of your character. There are only a few moments in this game I can remember where you don’t have free range of motion, but even then you can look. You experience this game the same way Gordon Freeman experiences the situations occurring around him. You are immersed, into the game.
The second way Half-Life 2 succeeds in terms of atmosphere, is setting. Half-Life 2 has numerous memorable locations that stick with the player for years after they play it. I know I’m not the only one who remembers the Antlion Beach, the ruined Citadel of Episode 1, or the vast outdoors of Episode 2. Most fans of the game truly remember Ravenholm. The city of Ravenholm is one of the most memorable because it was foreshadowed early, Alyx says that they don’t go to Ravenholm anymore and even the chapter is called “We Don’t Go To Ravenholm…” The level itself is full of headcrabs, zombie, vicious traps, and little to no ammo. It’s dark, creepy, and memorable.
Half-Life 2 has a large variety of weapons most of them are standard SMGs, pistols, machine guns, and shotguns. One of the most iconic weapons is the crowbar. There is one other weapon that steals the show, but I’ll get to that later. Instead, one of my favorite weapons in the game is the crossbow. The crossbow is essentially this game’s sniper rifle. It has a zoom function and also kills most enemies in one shot. The thing I like best about the crossbow is that it fires a heated piece of rebar that sticks enemies to walls in hilarious poses.
Now let’s get down to business. The weapon that everyone remembers from the Half-Life series is the Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator also known as the gravity gun. The gravity gun is able to pick up nearly any inorganic object, such as barrels, saw blades, and almost anything else. Then the gravity gun is able to fire it back at enemies with high velocity. In addition, the gravity gun was great for retrieving far away ammo, health, and armor without entering your enemies line of fire. It was so much fun to use this weapon throughout the game, and things got even better when you entered the citadel and got the SUPAH gravity gun, which could pick up and launch heavier objects and even people. It’s just a shame the SUPAH gravity gun didn’t last long, nor could it be unlocked permanently through cheats.
Yes, the story in Half-Life 2 is both good and bad. How can that be? Well…
I think that the story of Half-Life 2 is fantastic, but I think the way the story is presented to the player is just god awful. A good sequel that is a continuation of a story will assume you’ve played the original. It will also assume that gamers are forgetful, so it will remind you of the events of the original game. For me this is one place where Half-Life 2 fails.
I played the original Half-Life when it came out, but since then I’ve played dozens of other games all with their own unique story and characters. So I remember a few things about the original, but not much. Half-Life 2 glances over the events from the original game but assumes you know them as well. Numerous events and characters from the first game are mentioned but never explained in full detail. I found myself asking who’s that, or what’s that, throughout many of the scenes of dialogue. I didn’t expect to find out anything about the G-Man because he’s just an enigma anyway, but the game could’ve explained and reminded us better. Instead I was left confused and had to look up some major plot points of the series in order to understand, and that’s not good.
Once again, I’d like to state that I played this game on The Orange Box collection on the Xbox 360. As far as I could tell there are some options to change controls, which I’m fine with… but there are no options and no way to make the controls for any of the driving sections good.
Throughout Half-Life 2 you will be given control of a variety of vehicles, from car-like things, to a fan-boat like thing. All of these sections require precision control to avoid obstacles or navigate small passageways and they all control terribly. Controls are one of the toughest things to complain about, but I’ll try. The driving controls mainly acceleration and steering is counterintuitive to nearly any racing game, or any other action game that allows you to drive a vehicle. I constantly found myself crashing into walls and dying because I couldn’t get used to the controls.
This might also be because of the version I was playing, but I found numerous bugs and glitches throughout the game that took me out of the immersion.
While playing the game there were numerous times that a path was supposed to open up, or a door was supposed to open but it never did so I had to restart my last save numerous times. I’ve glitched through walls and floors, enemies vanished, and I often had to cheat my way through some of the platforming sections (that damn bridge) because of these glitches.
This is supposed to be one of the greatest games of all time, and maybe on the PC these glitches are fixed, but I expected much less glitches from this version. For a game that provided such an excellent sense of immersion, the glitches ruin it.
After writing all that, I still don’t know how I feel about this game. There is no way I can give it a numerical score, but I guess I can provide some closure.
Since, I briefly played the original, and didn’t played Half-Life 2 until recently I have no real nostalgic ties to the series. I feel like it was a great game, but definitely shows signs of age that I cannot overlook, but you might if you played it when it was released.
I’m glad I finally played it and I think everyone should, but if you never experience Half-Life then try to ignore the hype and OMG BESTEST GAME EVARZ, that you will hear.
Also, like many of you, I’m now waiting for an Episode 3 or Half-Life 3, because I am invested in the story. Episode 2 ends on a giant cliffhanger, and it sucks we haven’t heard much since its release. However, I’m not waiting at the edge of my seat.
Next SGC Kickstarter review will be...
Hopefully, I get it release before Half-Life 3 does.
» Tagged In: #alyx, #Citadel, #combine, #crossbow seriously is awesome, #crowbar, #Glitches, #Gravity Gun, #half-life 2, #headcrabs better than genital crabs, #meh, #ravenholm, #Real talk? like 6.5 outta 10 or 10 outta 10 I DONT KNOW, #review, #story, #Stupid fan boat, #We don't go to IGN anymore... cause Destin Zombie
Yeah, that was an issue for me too. The story itself is great, I just wish it was presented better.
I just played through it for the first time too. I thought it was really fun. My only complaint is how far apart story points are. You will be given an objective, for example, "take the waterways and get to the lab". You start out with a feeling of urgency and a need to get there. Unfortunately this part of the game takes hours to complete and after an hour or so you stop feeling like you're going somewhere. There's no clear indication of how far you've gone or how far you have to go. You lose sight of your long term goal, "get to the lab" and all of your thoughts become completely focused on short term goals such as killing the enemies right in front of you. I would have appreciated the story more if it was given more consistently in smaller increments rather than having plot points being up to 3 hours apart.
I understand the hype, but I'm not part of it/
Great? no... I'd say above Meh
Yeah I'll give you that the driving controls are pretty iffy at best as I played this game on PC, and with a PS3/360 controller, which still doesn't make the driving that much fun, the thing is that the rest of the game is still pretty great that I still enjoy it regardless, SO FINALLY WOODYMAN REVIEWED THAT ONE GAME IS COMPLETE.
I'm gonna be honest here, I think I'm one of the few people who think it's just allright. I mean it's a fun game but still I think it's just kinda meh. Never really understood the hype Behind it.