(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
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