Thursday, June 18, 2009

Half Life 2: Probably the best gaming series, ever!!

I've finally joined the ranks of people clambering for Valve to hurry along and publish Episode 3 having wrapped up HL2: Episode 2 yesterday lunch and I'm here now to say that anyone reading this should make it a priority to play through these games!!

I can blame WoW for the fact that it's taken me so long to get to this game but that would be unfair. To be honest I have no good reason for putting this off for so long and if you're sat at your PC trying to drum up an excuse for not having played this series then stop! Go pick up a copy of Half Life 2, the Orange Box providing the best value at the moment, and get cracking!

Half Life offers pretty much everything that makes gaming great. Intrictate puzzles that rarely frustrate but actually feel rewarding to work out, though sometimes obviously 'gamey' the level design in Half Life is awesome. For example, having got stuck in a room I spent some time trying to figure out how to escape. Initially I started moving barrels into a bookshelf prop, creating a naughts and crosses style effect I could use to jump up to some pipes above. Having got high enough I realised I couldn't jump across to the ledge I could see because the ceiling was too low, but from this vantage point I spotted some crates hanging overhead and thought 'great, I'll pull those down and create a stairway up. Only, when I pulled the crates down I spotted a ladder that had been there all along!!

Ok, perhaps not the best example but the point is that there is always something in the environment that gives you a little push in the right direction. Subtle enough to make you work for the answer but not as patronising as a bright glowing arrow screaming 'THIS WAY!'

The shooting mechanics feel good, there are some satisfying weapons to fire and some great enemies to take down. Killing a Strider is a lot of fun and the audio used is absolutly spot on. In fact, the finale to Episode 2 is perhaps one of the most satisfying things I've done in a game for a long time.

I'm sure there are faults to be found in this game, Burnsy would argue that events are often too finely scripted leaving little room for innovation and I can't entirely disagree. The story is very much dictated to you as Freeman is pushed around as a pawn in some greater plan that lies just beyond your grasp of understanding, and the fact that it's taking years to get Episode 3 out is quite frankly absurd. It's fair to say that the episodic experiment has outright failed in this case!!

That said, I will no doubt be buying Episode 3 the moment it's released and I can't wait for this epic storyline to bring itself to a conclusion. The weight of expectation is huge for episode 3, easily matching anything that Blizzard have to face from their community. I can only hope that Ep. 3 lives up to that expectation and I'm confident Valve will deliver yet again.

In the meantime you should get on and catch up with this game, if like me you've put this off then now is a good time to pull it from the pile and enjoy one of the finest gaming experiences to date.


1 comment:

Andrew said...

I'm looking forward to Half Life 2.... and am creeping closer every day. This post just makes me all the more impatient to finish the first installment.