Half-Life 2 was one of those games that broke common PC barriers, and created something that was unlike anything that came before it. Every movement felt fluent, every character felt like they had emotion behind their face (avoided the Uncanny Valley), and gave gamers a once-in-a-lifetime experience, that, in terms of sheer quality, hasn’t really been matched to this day.
The game is set after Half-Life, so what follows are spoilers for a game that is no where near as good as this one. At the end of Half-Life, the mysterious, and elusive G-Man approaches Gordon Freeman (which, I will refer to as “you”, for the remainder of the review), and gives you a choice, work for him, or DIE!!! You, like any non-suicidal person, agrees to work for him. So, you start the game out, getting off a train into your new alien-ruled city, City 17. As you walk to your destination, you see Dr. Breen’s smug face plastered on every screen, in every room, EVERYWHERE!
One thing leads to another, and you meet the beautiful and talented Alyx Vance, who is this game’s exposition fairy.
She’s half the reason why this game is so great, and why it’s a benchmark in technology. If you can’t program emotion, as seen in Alyx, you’re a lousy game designer. Emotion also doesn’t have to come from hyper-ultra-super-realistic graphics. Games like Final Fantasy VII, and Metal Gear Solid (1) don’t have hyper-realistic graphics, but they have emotion down-pact. You need to have a “knack”. That’s it. A “knack”. Anyway, she’ll follow you from time to time, usually the game has her do her own thing, so you can get stuff done.
You have a lot of stuff to use, to get said stuff done. Your basic arsenal consists of a pistol, shotgun, and A GRAVITY GUN, although you can also an assault gun, and a crossbow that shoots FLAMING ARROWS, as well a GRENADES!!! (I know, the all-caps thing is getting old). You will be traversing many, many different terrains, in many different ways: on-foot, or other (don’t wanna spoil anything). These terrains look stunning, and can easily oppose many games today, in terms of sheer level-design.
The game’s graphics, as I said before, are amazing, and if you have a high-end computer, forget about it; it’ll knock every article of clothing of your body (same can’t be said for that sexy waitress you’ve been eyeing). Every pixel is there, because Valve wanted it there, for beauty’s sake. Valve are truly perfectionists, the reason they haven’t released Half-Life 3 yet. Every character feels like a real person. Even Heavy Rain (which our own David reviewed: https://leetgamers.asia/heavy-rain-review/) which is a great game, had characters that felt dead, compared to HL2’s. How can you tell if a character looks realistic? Look into their eyes. If you feel no emotion, that’s how you know. I could give you list of games with characters who feel realistic, but that’s not the point/ HL2 does it better than (almost) every game, head and shoulders.
The game sounds great, too (especially with headphones). The music’s great, as are the sound effects, but the voice acting is where it stands out. It’s wonderful. When Alyx talks to you, you won’t be able to get enough. Dr. Breen has the best voice-actor of the whole cast.
The only character that has a below-average VA is Gordon (you), because, he has no VA. He never talks. Ever. Which makes the player relate more with him, as you are, essentially, him. Which is why this game’s story has an above-average way of telling itself. Instead of having to sit through hours of exposition (that’s only good in Metal Gear Solid), you always look through Gordon’s POV, which means you are actively part of the story, rather than just the guy who plays it, till the next cutscene. Only other game I can think of off the top of my head like that, is Portal (Portal 2, more specifically).
Half-Life 2 is a masterpiece. A game that gives so much to it’s players in the few hours it lasts, than most 100+ hour RPG’s could give you in a lifetime. Plus, it has 2 sequels (that aren’t HL3), Episode 1 and 2, both of which continue the awesome narrative of the HL2 series, which I will get to reviewing someday. I suggest you buy The Orange Box, which comes with the three of those games, as well as the amazing Portal and awesome F2P Team Fortress 2.
My tastes in games breach all genres, though my fortes are platformers and first-person shooters. My favorite game series is probably Super Mario, specifically the 3D games. I also love Rayman, Hitman, Bioshock, Half-Life/Portal, Uncharted, and Grand Theft Auto. As for my favorite game, it's hard to say: I love Portal 2, Shadow of the Colossus, Half-Life 2, Bioshock, Resident Evil 4, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Rayman Legends, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Grand Theft Auto IV, L.A. Noire, Fallout 3, Journey, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence all so damn much.
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