The Orange Box Reviews

  • d3vilsNightd3vilsNight55,839
    29 Oct 2008 04 Oct 2010
    104 5 19
    “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

    It’s only fitting that a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln, often considered one of the greatest Presidents in United States history, is used to open a review of Half-Life 2, often considered one of the greatest First-Person Shooters in gaming history.

    Half-Life 2: The Orange Box strives to be all things to all gamers; does Valve succeed in proving Mr. Lincoln wrong? Fear not, dear reader, for within this review you will come to understand why many have dubbed The Orange Box not only “The best deal in video game history” but also one of the best titles on the Xbox 360 console to date.

    :: Identity Crisis ::

    Is The Orange Box a story-driven First Person Shooter? Is it a team-based online shooter? Is it a unique and innovative 3D puzzle game? The answer is Yes, Yes, Yes!!! The Orange Box is actually 5 games in one: The original Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal. I must confess that I never played Half-Life 2 when it was released for the PC, and didn’t try the original Xbox release, either.
    I was most looking forward to Team Fortress 2, being a longtime Quake Team
    Fortress fan, and I didn’t yet know what to make of Portal. Although I had always heard people sing its praises, I entered the Half-Life 2 experience skeptical, but open-minded. Putting 5 games in one box at a discount price was enticing, but would it work?

    :: Triple Threat ::

    In the Half-Life 2 story, you take on the role of theoretical physicist Gordon Freeman. Not your typical action hero, Gordon has greatness thrust upon him when Earth is attacked by otherworldly creatures. When HL2 opens, Gordon is on a train making its way to City 17, a security-restricted stronghold of the menacing Combine. It’s your job to escape City 17, embark on a quest to take the fight to The Combine and stop them once and for all.

    The story is well-paced, well-written and presented with the scope of a Hollywood blockbuster. The story drives the action well, and the varied locations and weapons keep the game play fresh. Gordon will journey through a city oppressed by villainous alien conquerors, beaches infested with giant ants, caverns, lush forests, deserted outposts, the creepiest town you’ve ever experienced, an abandoned prison, and to the heart of the enemy stronghold itself. Each environment is expertly-planned and well-realized,
    and while none of the graphics are on par with today’s cutting edge, they do more than just get the job done.

    The controls and game play hold up well in the 4 years since Half-Life 2’s initial release. The physics engine particularly shines, which is important when you get to the best part of the game, and start having some real fun – The Gravity Gun. The Gravity Gun is what sets HL2’s game play apart from most shooters, particularly its peers at the time. You can use the gravity gun to manipulate most of the environment, using as ammunition everything from boxes, buzz saws, toilets and even the bodies of fallen baddies.

    HL2: Episodes One and Two continue the story as short campaign additions
    and provide more of the same that you’ll find in HL2, which is not a bad
    thing. They particularly improve upon the environments, with more of the
    game taking place outside in scenic and realistic locations. Episode One
    can be a little slow at times, but the pace picks back up with Episode Two,
    and then some. When all’s said and done, the entire Half-Life 2 experience provides a very solid story, innovative and fun game play, high-quality graphics and animation, all which stands up well against today’s new titles.

    :: There’s no I in Team Fortress ::

    As the name suggests, Team Fortress 2 is a team-based online shooter – no single player campaign here. However, it differs from your usual online shooter fare in two key areas: presentation and game play. First, the presentation. The developers decided to go with a cell shaded, cartoon-like
    look for the game which works surprisingly well with the game’s comic undertones and light attitude. It doesn’t pretend to set any new graphical standards, but it’s not trying to. It just wants to be a fun, solid, team-based shooter.

    You start by selecting a class, the defining feature of TF2. There are many classes to choose from, and they each have very distinct abilities – and weaknesses – which keep each game fresh. Choose an Engineer to build health-dispensers or set up turrets for base defense. Place demolition charges with the Demoman to protect key areas or catch unsuspecting enemies. Sneak behind enemy lines with the chameleon-like Spy, or make a run into the enemy base with the speedy Scout. The rest of the classes add just as much variety: The Soldier, who can rocket-jump; The Medic, who provides invaluable healing for teammates; The Heavy, who is slow but
    packs incredible stopping power; The Sniper, who can pick off enemies from great distances; and The Pyro, who needs no introduction. The game play is fast-paced and frantic at times, but the classes are well-balanced and quite varied in style. The maps are very well-made and lead to great battles,
    but too few are included. However, A DLC pack is rumored for the future.

    TF2 is simple enough to pick up and play, but the myriad of strategies you can employ with the varied classes makes the game difficult to master. This combination of simplicity and complexity, combined with fresh graphics will easily satisfy your team-based shooter needs for months.

    :: If the cake is a lie, I can’t handle the truth ::

    I went into The Orange Box knowing the least about Portal, and being quite unsure what to expect. In the end, it became my favorite part of the compilation.

    The entire game and its mind-bending puzzles revolve around the use of the Portal Gun, and the concept is at the same time simple and amazing. Aiming the Portal Gun at a wall and pulling the right trigger creates a Blue Portal. Aim at another surface and pull the left trigger to create an Orange Portal. If anything, including the player, enters through one portal, it will exit from the other. As I said, the concept is simple, yet it opens so many amazing game play opportunities.

    The challenges begin fairly simply, allowing you to get familiar with the
    controls and the operation of the Portal Gun and its various uses. The difficulty quickly ramps up in the higher levels and you will sometimes find yourself frustrated by the confusing nature of the topsy-turvy puzzles.
    However, none of them are so challenging that they will leave you frustrated enough to quit. That’s what the challenges are for. After you complete Portal’s extremely satisfying story mode, there are challenge modes which will test your ability to complete the levels on increased difficulty, in a
    certain number of steps, and using a certain number of portals. These can get extremely difficult, especially when trying to obtain the Bronze, Silver, or Gold medal status on each challenge.

    :: How The Orange Box disrupted my sleep schedule ::

    Yes, I am talking about Achievements, folks. At 99 Achievements in all, I can safely say it contains the greatest number of achievements of any game I’ve seen. Normally I may consider this overkill, but given the enormity of the content, I don’t see what they could have done differently. They do a good job of keeping them uniform, with nearly all the Achievements being divisible by 5, with the exception of one 2-pointer.

    There are so many Achievements that sometimes the effort-to-benefit ratio can feel a bit out of whack. On some occasions I found myself wondering why I spent hours trying to get that 5 or 10-point achievement. However, that makes racking up a hefty gamer score in The Orange Box that much more impressive, and feels very rewarding.

    The difficulty range for the Achievements is good. They scale from the very easy to the very difficult and everything in between. Some can become quite tedious, but very few, and much less than most of the retail games out there. Casual gamers like myself can expect to get 400-500 Gamer score from The Orange Box, with only truly hardcore players putting forth some effort will approach the golden 1000.

    :: The sum of all its parts ::

    The Orange Box, at a bargain price, is everything you could want a game to be. It contains an excellent and extensive First-Person shooter, a fun online team-based shooter, and a unique and inventive puzzle game. Replayability on HL2 and the Episodes and on Portal is moderate since there is no multiplayer, but they offer so many hours of fresh and exciting game play it’s well worth it. Further consider the solid multiplayer component that is Team Fortress 2 and you have a package that will keep any gamer busy for weeks, if not months. I would consider at least a rental of this package mandatory for every 360 owner, even if you’ve played HL2 on the PC
    in the past. The stroll down memory lane will be fun, but you’ll stay for the new surprises. If you’ve never played Half-Life 2, like I hadn’t, I’d suggest purchasing this as it’s virtually a steal and truly the best deal I’ve seen in my 20 years of gaming.

    Eat it, Lincoln!
    5.0
    Showing most recent comments. View all comments.
    Metakingkirby"eat it Lincoln"

    i totally agree.
    Posted by Metakingkirby On 29 Aug 10 at 03:39
    DiegopieI thought that Portal was amazing, I've not played Team Fortress Two yet, but I thought that Half-Life was awful. Was it an amazing, innovating game at the time it came out because I am suffering playing through the game.
    Posted by Diegopie On 26 Mar 13 at 03:23
    B rizzle098Great review! I was thinking of buying the orange box anyway (since its one of the best bargains on the 360!) and after reading this i am definitely convinced to get it. smile
    Posted by B rizzle098 On 27 May 13 at 21:44
  • SashamorningSashamorning2,721,118
    30 Mar 2010 23 May 2013
    41 7 3
    It's difficult to overstate how great a deal this is. The bottom line of this review is... BUY THIS GAME. You can get it used for about $20 (or less), and is easily one of the best deals in gaming, even at full price. Period. And (yes, I have to say it), this cake is definitely NOT a lie.

    When Half-Life debuted for the PC in late '98, the magnitude of the effect on the gaming industry was enormous. With its unique gameplay, silent protagonist, and more practical methods of healing (no random health packs!), Valve's story-driven shooter became a phenomenon, and an influence on practically every shooter since. So much so that the highly anticipated sequel was hacked before release, and needed to be overhauled. The wait was worth it... Half-Life 2 somehow exceeded expectations when it was finally released in 2004, and later ported to the original Xbox.

    But it wasn't until Holiday 2007 that the 360 finally got its taste of Half-Life 2... and Valve found a way to up the ante. With the release of The Orange Box, Valve not only brought a better port of HL2 to the 360 (as compared with the stripped-down Xbox port), but included its two minor sequels as well, the aptly named Half-Life: Episode One and Episode 2. These shorter shooters continued the saga of the silent physicist Gordon Freeman (recently named by GameSpot.com voters as the "All Time Greatest Video Game Hero", topping even Nintendo's Mario in a head-to-head final) as he battles an interdimensional invasion of Earth by a collective known as the Combine.

    The story is compelling, but the gameplay is even better. Valve designed the physics of the game to more closely resemble actual physics, and allowed players the ability to manipulate their environment more than any game before. While technology has improved since, in large part due to HL2's widespread influence, the game retains the same magic as it did when it was first released.

    Needless to say, if you've never played it, it is simply not to be missed. The REALLY cool thing is that's only 1/5 of The Orange Box. Besides Episode One and Two, there is also the excellent Team Fortress 2, a multiplayer arena game that combines solid gameplay with over-the-top cartoonish humor.

    But the real gem of the set, surprisingly, is the cult hit Portal, a shorter puzzle-driven shooter that was as innovative as the earlier shooter was. The game is simple on its surface: you are a test subject in a laboratory with a special "portal gun." You shoot the blue on one wall (or floor, or ceiling), the orange one someplace else, and you can go through one and come out the other. (You can also sneak up on enemies in the same way.) The same physics engine from HL2 works in Portal, and such physics are vital in order to progress through parts of the game.

    And 99 achievements?? Each of the five parts has a collection. Some are straightforward mission achies, some involve challenges in Portal, multiplayer kills in TF2... and then there are the offbeat ones. Shoot a basketball through the net and get 2 points. And then there's the Gnome...

    Buy this game. It will suck you in and change the way you look at games forever. And that's a very good thing.
    5.0
  • Wull ScottWull Scott494,608
    20 Jun 2011
    14 3 2
    OK. This one is hard. Very hard.

    The FPS genre has moved on a bit since Half-Life 2's time. But then, elements of the game were way ahead of their time... Hmm...

    Let's start with Half-Life 2 and mash in the Episodes for ease. Half-Life 2 is simply one of the greatest First Person Shooters ever – it has a timeless feel to and the graphics still stand up today.

    On a negative note, let's cover the fact that Episode 1 feels fairly weak and lacklustre in comparison. Not bad, by any stretch of the imagination, but I felt there were perhaps one or two too many insta-kill situations in the first section - most guilty a section on an elevator with falling debris. Other than that - it was more than passable. Episode 2 feels slightly odd due to minor interface tweaks (which are actually a marked improvement), but has a superb pace. Had this been retroactively applied to the first two elements of the game it would have been a welcome addition.

    Looking at the negative first - I don't really like the music in Half-Life 2, so it was turned off. My only other mild complaint would be that on occasion, I felt slightly detached from the combat. This isn't something I can explain, because I never felt this when first playing the game in 2005, but I think it might be that I far prefer the visceral feel of aiming down your weapon like in Call of Duty or STALKER. That being said, the pistol has a fantastic kinetic feel to it, as does the pulse rifle. If I'm pushing it, I might add that the driving controls feel slightly clumsy but are compensated for by a decent auto aim function on the vehicles.

    The positives are far greater. The rest of the sound design is superb, from the background noises to the weapon sounds. Worth special mention are the enemy sounds - the flatline sound of downed combine troops, the cry of the zombies and the excellent otherworldly noises of the Hunters and Striders. This is not to mention the brilliant echo effects in open locations. Amazing. Voice acting as well is superb, leading nicely onto...

    The story is very well written and acted. The overall tone of the game is one of absolute hopelessness with a locked down city and abandoned industrial complexes lent a haunted and haunting atmosphere that feels both sad and oppressive. Of special note is the coast section which feels all the more special for the fact that you could essentially drive straight through most of it, but stopping at the various houses tell their own little stories through the environment. The three parts of Half-Life 2 are themselves split into their own individual chapters which keeps the story and player's goals manageable, so essentially you tend to be more focussed on the fact that you need to deal with the problem at hand before tending to the salvation of mankind. This keeps the epic quality of the story truly epic - and on occasion, less important than the current task - while focussing on the human details.

    Characters, despite being stereotyped to a degree (the absent-minded professor, the down-to-Earth trustworthy security guard, the conflicted betrayer) the human characters are superb and genuinely likeable. The facial animation lends a real edge to the relationships - especially between Eli Vance and his daughter Alyx. This relationship is absolutely believable and let’s just say that very last scene in episode 2... Well, let's not spoil it, but if you are unable to share in the experience, you are dead inside. Ironically the character of Gordon Freeman is (by design) the least developed. The amount of hero worship you face puts your character into context, but to be fair he doesn't really use his degree from MIT at any point, which is really the only information given about him.

    It's all very well and good discussing all these elements, but what about the game. As you can probably imagine from what I have already said, classifying Half-Life 2 as an FPS is misleading. Personally, I would describe it as a First-Person Adventure. The environmental puzzles feel integrated into the experience, not tacked onto a shooter. And these puzzles are superb, putting the game's fantastic physics to excellent use and always making sense. In addition, the Ravenholm section of the game feels like a genuine survival horror and is genuinely unsettling. The driving sections are well executed with superb pacing, but as already mentioned, slightly clumsy controls. Equally clumsy is the squad management element toward the end of the main game, but not cripplingly bad.

    So on the whole, Half-Life 2 has aged very well indeed - the combat element slightly more than the rest, to be fair, but not enough to dent its appeal.

    Scores -

    Half-Life 2 - 9.0
    Episode 1 - 7.5
    Episode 2 - 8.5

    Team Fortress 2 is simply not my cup of tea. I played 10 games online and feel no need to play it any more. I don't particularly like the cartoony graphics and felt the weapons were pretty weedy and ineffectual.

    It may also have just been me, but I also felt like I had been thrown in the deep end a bit with no real explanation of what was going on.

    So, much in the same way that I haven't taken my negativity towards multiplayer into consideration with my other reviews, I will simply skip over Team Fortress 2, because it isn't an element I will use. My only minor annoyance is that some of the achievements require that you play this game...

    Team Fortress 2 - N/A

    So all-in-all a superb collection.

    However...

    Half-Life 2 has been completely and utterly upstaged.

    Portal - for my money - is as close to perfect as a game can come. Portal will be the first game in my entire life that I would give a 10/10 rating to. This is a big step for me. I acknowledge that no game is perfect, so to that end 10 simply indicates the closest to perfect you can get, and I have never felt a game has climbed beyond 9/10.

    Portal is excellently paced, immaculately designed, superbly written and tells a simple story without reams of exposition. Each level introduces a new element to the gameplay, but makes you work it out yourself - it really is wonderfully balanced and some parts that seem impassable, especially in the final act seem shockingly simple when you work them out. Wrapping your head around the Portal Gun's workings is simple enough when you think about it logically - go in blue portal, come orange, go in orange, come out blue - but then working out how the physics work in relation to the Portals is gently, but emphatically trained. You feel like you have LEARNED something.

    I must admit that I felt that I had actually achieved something while playing the game, which is a testament to how well designed the game truly is.

    The clinical design of the early stages is superb and uncluttered, so when you first come across the "behind-the-scenes" section, it feels very unsettling indeed. Up until this point the excellently voiced GLaDOS computer has already made you feel slightly ill at ease, which turns into a true feeling of foreboding as the game continues. Yet this never feels disconnected from, or contrary to, the humour in the game. Despite all the oppressive atmosphere, the writers have superbly balanced this with genuine, properly funny dialogue. GLaDOS by turns encourages, threatens and cajoles you right up to and through the final showdown with her, and despite this I felt a fair amount of guilt at having to take her down. Which leads to the closing song...

    I finished the game in around 3 hours in one sitting, which I personally feel was worth the money. It played out; it told its story and was done. It didn't outstay its welcome and left me wanting more, so the song "Still Alive" at the end of the game filled me with a strange sort of relief!

    Portal - 10

    So, a shining collection then... Far more relevant for those without PCs, or people who haven't played the originals. The game translates very well to controller, and even allows you to completely redefine your buttons, which I find a MAJOR selling point. Also the developers’ commentaries finish off the package nicely and I find them fascinating insights into game development.

    Congratulations, Valve, on making me break my word. I have given a game 10 out of 10.
    5.0
  • Removed Gamer
    Gamer has been removed
    12 3 0
    For those of us PC gamers, Half Life and its creator, Valve, is not a name taken lightly. With the creation of a first-person shooter that completely revolutionized the FPS and gaming world, Valve opened up more doors to new and innovative thinking than almost all other gaming companies combined. Obviously, that's just the opinion of one humble fan of the Half Life series but there is so much more revealed with The Orange Box than the continuing saga of Dr. Gordon and his crowbar! We're talking five separate entities all wrapped into one disc. 5! In a world that releases disc-based games that really should be DLC content just to top up their bank accounts with your hard-earned spending money, Valve gave you Half Life 2, Episodes 1 & 2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal! Each will be looked at in this review and will show you, the reader, just why I think The Orange Box is beyond great! It's legendary!

    Half Life 2 + Episodes 1 & 2

    We find Gordon in limbo. Immersed in darkness carried on from the original Half Life finale (no spoilers, as the darkness could mean any ending!) with a dear, old friend telling him that it's time to get back to work! Boom. You're now standing in a train being driven to a mysterious location filled with oppressive masked men who order you to pick up soda cans (make sure you both toss out your can and throw it at the oppressor for two fun achievements). This is where your story re-starts. Entrusted with the power to once again don your suit and wield your trusty crowbar, you set off around an all-new landscape outside of Black Mesa and it's science-filled terrors.

    Familiar faces return, new friends and freedom fighters emerge and your legacy precedes you into this new world. Hopefully, you can live up to the hype and help liberate those beat down by the tyrants! The story's pacing is incredible, with a great blend of plot and action that neither really overshadow the other. You are placed amongst a rich story that just keeps getting better as you go along. Even today, many await Half Life 2: Episode 3 or Half Life 3 itself! When, Valve, when??! When's gonna be our time!

    Story: 10 out of 10

    The gameplay is what put Half Life on the map in the first place: fluid motions with a massive range of options to interact with the world around you. An arsenal of weapons that can do serious damage. An engine capable of making load times short and draw distances long. You are interacting in a world that feels more fluid than real life! Now, port all of this successfully to the console and you have Valve's crown jewel in their already impressive royal jewels collection! 360 fans rejoiced when this was announced! I know I was more then excited to finally play the story without melting my laptop's motherboard or shell out a massive amount of moolah or sell my soul to the Devil (or the highest bidder! Check my eBay page!) to purchase a proper gaming machine. All of it is here and works perfectly.

    Nothing feels forced or chunky when I'm using my 360 controller. The button mapping is well done, the movement is easy, and I am able to do everything I want with it. You won't feel bogged down by chunky weapon changes or stubborn triggers with this game. Interacting with the world is a one-button set-up, so use what's available as best as you can!

    Difficulty isn't really a factor here, as Valve always seemed to tailor their games to both the hardcore gamer and the casual fan. You'll easily breeze through if all you want is to find out what happens next with only a few moments of extreme difficulty and questioning. The average gamer will enjoy what the game has to offer.

    The extra two episodes add a lot to what the game is already offering, though the second episode feels a bit sluggish at times, though very rarely. It's a grind to hammer out these achievements but it is totally worth it!

    Gameplay: 9.5 out of 10

    I'm going to combine both the visual look and the sound of the game into one category as there isn't a single fault I can find with either. While other games age horribly like cheese, Half Life 2 seems to retain its genuineness and still impress with simple graphics, realistic colour schemes and fantastic images and sounds. You'll feel immersed in the world around you and lose that sense of being a part of the 4th wall.

    The few musical interludes there are play up the intensity of the setting. The bass pumps and the beats flow when helicopters are raining bullets down on your tiny farmhouse. Mystery heightens in dark tunnels and alleyways. The Man seems that much more sinister with a great batch of music.

    Sound effects are familiar to those already associated with Half Life with much more being added. Not to mention the brilliant voices of those aforementioned masked men, who sound like they are more garbled than my cell phone's connection! More evil, indeed!

    The Look and Sound: 10 out of 10

    Achievement hunting for this game are a blast! You have garden gnomes taking part, for Pete's sake! How can that not be fun! The achievements prove challenging at times, as well, which really does add to the limited difficulty of the actual game and makes it a challegen to 100%.

    The replay value alone is high just due to the game's fun factor. I loved every minute of the sudden horror movie feel of Ravenholm and I would replay that section alone just for fun. Gotta love a creepy priest filled with God and shotgun shells!

    Replay Value: 10 out of 10

    Overall, Half Life 2 does not disappoint whatsoever. By adding two extra episodes as Epilogues to the main story is a fantastic thing and I comend Valve for this!

    Overall: 10 out of 10

    Team Fortress 2

    Are you looking to Half Life 2 with hopes for online multiplayer experiences? Disappointment is surely to follow. But fortunately, Team Fortress 2 makes up for everything Half Life 2 lacks in multiplayer fun! Team Fortress 2 puts you in control of nine different classes of men with weapons and special abilities galore in order to help your team win their battles against formidable opponents. Want to light people on fire? Done! Blow them into the next dimension? You got it! Want to beat someone over the head with a liquor bottle for laughs? You can do that, too!

    Team Fortress 2 takes the best of online play, makes it easy to connect to friends or random strangers, and still houses an impressive amount of gameplay to this day! Jump on and terrorize some randoms or gather your friends together for a group game; whatever you want to do, you can with the easy accessibility of TF2.

    There's no discernible plot, just gameplay! Take advantage of the mindlessness of it all!

    Gameplay: 9.5 out of 10

    Differing from what Half Life 2 offered, the look and feel of TF2 is cartoony and fun. Bright colours, bubble fonts, cheesy character designs, and much more makes the killing fun! You get the sense that Valve was looking at this as purely joy-seeking mindless violence. I've played a bit online and there aren't your rage-filled gamers like a game of Modern Warfar 2 or Black Ops. I haven't seen a video where people take the game so seriously they start acting like they really are soldiers fighting a war! How can you take this seriously when there's a tank of a man firing a gatling gun at you followed by a medic with a regenerating machine pumping him full of health?

    The humour follows the cartoonish look with fun voiceovers from a great cast! Plus, the people I've played with have all added to the fun with their hilarious commentaries.

    The Look and Sound: 9.5 out of 10

    People are still playing this game in droves today. 'Nuff said.

    The achievements are fun to go for, though the 1,000 kills can be a bit of a grind. There are tricks that make it easier but you could easily come across the achievement naturally by just playing. It also helps that Valve keeps track of your progress (similar to the Left 4 Dead series) and shows you how close you are to your goals.

    Replay Value: 10 out of 10

    Overall, I am not a multiplayer fan but I love playing this game! It'll convert the biggest nay-sayers of multiplayer gaming and make them true believers!

    Overall: 10 out of 10

    Portal

    Are you still not convinced that The Orange Box is worth its weight in shiny, shiny gold nuggets?? How about a look at Portal, then! Portal is to gaming what Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon was to music: a blip on the radar screen that everyone took notice of and accepted as the next big step. Portal is the Mona Lisa. Portal is the printing press. Portal is a game changer.

    You are Chell, the female protagonist in charge of testing the new Apeture Science Handheld Portal Device through a labyrinth of rooms, each with its own challenge to overcome. Initially, you have access over only one portal but soon you control both the Alpha and Omega, the entrance and exit, and you teleport around rooms, fly through the air, detach cameras from walls, all with the promise of yummy cake! Mmm, delicious!

    Story: 9 out of 10

    But here's where things get interesting: the physics of the game make for some serious brain wrinkling. You are essentially subverting the laws of reality by being able to create portals on semmingly ordinary walls. All the while, a mysterious mechanical voice observes your every move and congratulates you on your success. Seems fun, eh?

    It is! Hopping across levels in order to access buttons and pressure points, avoiding talking turrets all the while, makes for an amazing game. It's the simplicity that will overwhelm you. You can imagine Portal's development team's first meeting: "So, what about teleportation in the form of a badass looking gun and a girl with an orange jumpsuit?" Cut, print, it's a wrap!

    The challegnes in each level are fun yet brow-furrowing, as there are several right answers. No time limits make the trial-and-error enjoyable and interesting. Sure, you can die by falling to your death, getting crushed, getting shot with a ball of pure energy, but that's life! We could die in our chairs today! Get out there and use your portal device to freefall endlessly for all eternity! Reach for your fridge from the other side of your house! Check out what Lucy Lui's doing by a simple pull of two triggers! No? Then just search for that damn cake, then!

    Gameplay: 10 out of 10

    Again, simplicity reigns supreme when discussing the visual appearance of the game. Grey walls with shiny white fixture adorn many of the rooms you'll come across, with a healthy smattering of shiny metal pistons and cute little companion cubes. The best part of the look is when you shoot your first oddly-positioned portal and look through to see your vision twisted and turned. Camera angles are no much for the portal device!

    The voice work in this game is brilliant! Turrets talk in feminine mechanical tones and call out to you if they catch a glimspe of you around a corner or through a portal. The helper voice that follows you through your trials also adds humour while being just a little eerie. You couldn't ask for better!

    The Look and Sound: 10 out of 10

    The regular playthrough not challenging enough for you? How about trying to solve some of the most difficult rooms using only a maximum of 9 portals? Ridiculous, I know! But that's what Valve asks you to do in order to 100% this game! There are websites dedicated to Portal walkthroughs and tutorials, so start your searching! It's a blast to try and challenge yourself with these levels. Achievements fill the major component of the game as well, but the real replay value just comes in the game itself. It's a blast to play! Easy as that! You can replay your favourite levels and hone your technique in preparation for Portal 2's release! Co-op, baby!

    Replay Value: 10 out of 10

    Portal 2 is hugely anticipated for one reason only: it exists. It's a blast to play the original and to challenge yourself to best GLaDOS once and for all! Keep your eye on the cake! Though, some say it's a lie...

    Overall: 10 out of 10

    The Orange Box, overall, is such a steal that you'd be daft not to own it! Get it and start it as soon as you can! GLaDOS promises a 97.4% chance of enjoyment!

    Overall: 10 out of 10
  • inspectorpjinspectorpj67,264
    23 May 2013 24 May 2013
    7 4 0
    (Note: I'm just reviewing Half Life 2)

    Picture a somewhat stylish and enigmatic person, running around in a orange suit and not saying a single word during some of the most intense, interesting and sometimes thought provoking hours of his life.
    Did I mention he is also being stalked by a strange and mysterious man in a suit? What?! The latest Slender game? Nooo!.... Oh boy, kids these days!

    I'm talking about Half-Life 2, a journey that (unfortunately) only recently I got the chance to experience and it simply blew my mind.
    How can a game from 2004 leave such an impression on me you ask? Well, by simply being brilliant, by achievement a near perfect balance between gameplay and story and because after all these years it's still better looking than some titles on the market.

    Story
    The story in the HL series as always been somewhat mysterious, leaving a lot of room for interpretation, most of the time not holding your hand and never requiring cut-scenes to be told.
    Instead, the narrative unfolds through interaction with lifelike and interesting characters, exploration of the detailed scenarios and the imagination of the players. (hey! I have one of those!)

    HL 2 starts with G-Man (the stalker in the suit I mentioned early) warning Gordon Freeman that his hour has come.
    Once again you start the game in a train, this time taking you to City 17 and that's basically the story you get in the beginning of the game.
    It's so good that I don't want to spoil anything, so I'm just gonna leave it at that.

    This campaign to find out the truth about what Mr.Freeman is doing in City 17 will take you around 15 to 20 hours, at least that's how long it took for me, but maybe I'm just a terrible player...who am I kidding, of course I am!

    Gameplay
    One of the main questions players had at the end of the first HL was how did a simple scientist like Gordon Freeman kick so much ass?
    It's still not explained in this one, but since we don't know all that much from the One Free Man we can assume (or hope) it will all be explained in time, these doubts about his abilities are actually referenced in the game by one of the main character.

    Even if Gordon Freeman sometimes finds other ways to achieve his goals besides shooting or exploding his enemies (he also hits them with the crowbar), HL plays like any other shooter. It just has a bit more variety than most, using jumping puzzles, physics puzzles (a lot of hype back then because of those), driving sections and a few others to help the players feel even more immersed in this world.
    The quality of the puzzles and driving sections varies, but they are usually top notch and super intense.

    In terms of gun-play HL has weapons that feel very satisfying to shoot like the shotgun, the revolver or the crossbow. It also has others that are completely different from what you will find in most games, the gravity gun being the most important one, the pheropods or "bugbait" is another example of a gun that feels unique and will help bring more variety to the gameplay.

    Of course like any other game, HL 2 has it's flaws, for example, our hero tends to move a bit too fast when you're trying to execute some of the more precise jumping puzzles, the section of the game where you will have some A.I. controlled teammates is unnecessary, I mean, at least those teammates are.
    Aside from that I can't really point out anything else that is really wrong with the gameplay.

    Graphics
    What can I say about HL 2 graphics when the game came out in 2004...they are going to suck, right? Wrong!
    I was really surprised on how detailed and realistic some of the scenarios and weapons looked, it actually surpasses some recent games.
    The lighting is one of the things that quickly stand out, the first time you find yourself in the need of turning on your flashlight because it's too dark to see, you will understand and appreciate how good the source engine is! All those creepy shadows might be hiding your next enemy, and you feel scared, and you will probably cry...or maybe not.

    Each level will take place in a slightly different time of day, that means the sun will be in a different position each time, and when it goes down oh boy, prepare to use that flashlight to the max.
    I mean, there had to be a reason for HL 2 having so many scary mods! I guess this is it.

    The proof of the source engine reliability, flexibility and general quality is the amount of games and mods that still use it even to this day, Left 4 Dead, Dota 2, Counter Strike: Global Offensive are some of the best examples.

    Sound
    The first thing you hear when you start the game is G-Man, the dark tone of his voice, combined with some great writing makes it a pretty creepy moment that will make you realize very quickly that HL 2 sound is top-notch.

    The game alternates between long periods of silence when atmosphere is needed to powerful explosions and adrenaline filled music when the action starts.
    The loud and powerful sounds of the guns help create even more intense action sequences, they also sound very different from one another which makes it even more interesting to change weapons all the time.

    The actors that lend their voices to the characters of this game did a fantastic job, you can almost hear all the emotions, all the fear, all the excitement that the characters are feeling at that point. Really quality stuff indeed.

    Conclusion
    To conclude I have to say that Half-Life 2 still feels like a modern game, even though it has almost ten years! Aside from the lack of regenerating health and you being able to carry a god-like amount of weapons everything else still feels modern, probably because most shooters borrowed so much from the Half-Life series.

    9 out of 10

    For more news and reviews check out:
    http://noreviewleftbehind.blogspot.com/
    4.5
  • PiMDxPiMDx59,900
    21 Oct 2009
    1 4 0
    You can't find more bang for your buck anywhere else. 5 games for $20, WIN! WIN! WIN! Now if Valve would actually support The Orange Box and patch TF2 which they have been promising for 2 years and forget about all the Left 4 Deads, I would be an even happier man.

    They should use the Burnout Paradise game as an example of the perfect way to patch the game. Release a 1gb free patch which updates the game for online play with all the new content, then charge for 100kb patch that turns it on. That way everyone is happy unless you have the 20GB HDD.

    Anyway, I am still addicted to the games and am guessing if you pick it up today, you will be too.
    5.0
  • LessrOf2WeevilsLessrOf2Weevils87,366
    17 Oct 2010
    2 6 0
    The Orange Box is clearly one of the best values you'll ever get out of a video game. When Valve released Episode 2 of Half Life 2 it not only packaged it with re-releases of Half Life 2 and Half Life 2 Episode 1 (yes, the titles are confusing), it also included two brand new games: Team Fortress 2 and, the star of the show, Portal. Portal alone is worth the price of the package, but let's start with the Half Life games.

    If you are at all a shooter fan, but somehow have not played Half Life game, then the Orange Box is a must. Brilliantly paced, Half Life sets the standard for story telling through this medium. The story is not told through fun stopping cut scenes, but through live interactions with the environment and characters. These characters are wonderfully realized and voice acted. In fact, the character of Alyx, who accompanies you through much of the games, is, in my opinion, the best realized AI character out there. As great as the story telling is, it never gets in the way of the fun. The strider battle at the end of episode 2 is particularly intense and a blast.

    Then there's Portal, the shooter unlike any you have ever played. Describing Portal just doesn't work. You have to play it. At first it may seem a bit confusing, but the game eases you into the central concept gently before you are pushed into a world of clever puzzles, and the driest wit you will find anywhere. It is often laugh out loud funny, though to say this is some kind of comedy game is dead wrong. Portal is easily one of my favourite games of all time and I quickly downloaded the expanded version, Portal - Still Alive, from XBox Live.

    Finally there's Team Fortress 2, a co-op, on-line combat game. This game certainly has its fans but I really don't have much to say on it as I've never played it. I didn't think I would like the on-line gaming, but given the fun I've been having with Left 4 Dead, perhaps I should reconsider that.

    Story: 5
    Interface: 5
    Game Play: 5
    Challenge: 5
    Fun: 5

    Overall: 10/10
    5.0