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Half-Life 2
(hx) 07:37 PM EST - Nov,22 2004

Half-Life 2 is, of course, the sequel to the fantastically praised Half-life. Released, by the then largely unknown company Valve, back in 1998, Half-life was marked as a revolutionary achievement in first-person shooter design, and comfortably set the new benchmark for single-player games. It was the first major title of its kind that got the player deeply involved with the story line and brought new levels of world detail and surroundings. Now, after the years of the development (1998-2004), delays, rumors and hackings, Half-Life 2 is finally here! But did it live up to the hype? Read on and find out.

Much like the first Half-Life, Valve has created a cinematic experience like no other. The story here is larger and more complex than the first. In Half-Life 2, you once again assume the role of Gordon Freeman, the theoretical physicist and dimension-hopping commando who helped fend off the initial alien invasion at the mysterious Black Mesa research facility. Half-Life 2 starts you off facing the infamous G-Man, the mysterious blue-suited character from the first game. Half-Life 2 begins with a train ride into a fateful destination. Instead of arriving to work at the top secret Black Mesa scientific research lab, this time Gordon is transported into City 17, a large European styled city, shell-shocked to near devastation and contained by a seemingly unstoppable invading alien force. City 17 is in a total police state, so don't be surprised to see robotic camera droids hover in the air, taking security snapshots of passers by. As you walk through you will be seeing little moments throughout that really create the illusion that so many other games fail to do, and that is creating an environment that feels like you are not the only one there. The sky is filled with birds (though some birds look mutated), and the sun is perfect. The layout and building design trying to catch the atmosphere of truly depressed Eastern European cities. And you do feel like Gordon Freeman, "the one free man", a hero to a rebellious cause....To achieve your goals, or rather to foil the alien's goals, you will engage and interact with people from the first game and the Black Mesa facility where Gordon worked as a physicist. And that's basically all I will tell you about the plot :-P

In terms of gameplay, Half-Life 2 is a pure first person shooter with the general WASD and mouse controls. There are however a few twists. Along with great rag-doll physics, Half-Life 2 boasts many physics puzzles that one has to solve to move forward in the game. Most of these puzzles are clever but not too difficult. The other is the amount of interaction you can have with various objects in the graphically rich settings. These physics are the best out there, and really add tons to this game. Objects really feel like they have weight to them as they fall and crash realistically. The other noteworthy additions to the gameplay are vehicles, specifically an airboat and a high-speed buggy.

There are a lot of different enemies in the game with different levels of intelligence. There're aliens, zombies, mechanical devices, helicopters, organic alien gunships, and SS style human troops. Although the AI is sort of predictable and straightforward, the enemies that come and attack you are worth the trouble for as you blast one with your shotgun you can enjoy the physic effects and rejoice. Also worth note, the AI concerning teammates that help you out later in the game are quite impressive and actually do more good than harm.

Weapon models and effects are great. The basic arsenal of weapons you'll wield are mostly similar to what was available in the first game, and aside from a few interesting new weapons (Gravity Gun, Combine pulse rifle, ), it's pretty much the standard range of guns: pistol, submachine gun, shotgun, rocket launcher, and some others. There are only three new weapons - the pulse rifle, bug bait (allows you to summon and control vicious ant lions), and the gravity gun which can be used to pick up and manipulate objects larger than he could usually hold, and at a large distance. This allows you to remove certain obstacles, stack objects for reaching higher areas and even use them as shields and weapons. Also, if you're low on ammo and need some immediate stopping power, use the gravity gun to pick up a nearby heavy object, and fire it right into the face of your enemy.

Graphical detail is the first thing you notice with Half-Life 2. The world is full of luscious graphics. The reflections, water, shaders and lighting is just amazing. The engine does a great job of rendering both indoor and outdoor environments, and there's a lot of eye candy to absorb if you have the hardware to handle it. Most surfaces nearly glisten with the latest shader effects, and the textures are sharp and richly detailed. Characters also move in a lifelike manner, and the animations are smooth and believable, especially the facial animation. Never in a game has a character looked so life like when they're speaking to you, it's so well done that you'll be in awe when you see just how incredible it all looks. There really isn't much to say about the graphics, they're fantastic and that really just about sums it up.

Half-Life 2 has no regular multiplayer mode, at least no multiplayer mode based on the single player campaign. For multiplayer, Valve included Counter-Strike: Source which is basically an updated version of the original Counter-Strike game. CS: Source includes new maps as well as updated versions of some of the most popularly played CS maps.

Related links: homepage, cheats, ammo trainer

System requirements
Minimal: 1.2 GHz Processor, 256MB RAM, DirectX 7 capable graphics card, Windows 2000/XP/ME/98, Mouse, Keyboard, Internet Connection
Recommended: 2.4 GHz Processor, 512MB RAM, DirectX 9 capable graphics card, Windows 2000/XP/ME/98, Mouse, Keyboard, Internet Connection

Note: Half-Life 2 has to go online to be activated. So if you've bought a boxed copy from the shops, you need to have an internet connection to get the game running. Once you've done that you can play as much as you want without needing to hook up each time but the game won't play until you connect to Steam to unlock it. (Steam is Valve's new broadband platform for direct software delivery and content management) I'm not exceedingly happy about the forced registration even if it's understandable. But, I don't believe this move will stop gamers from playing cracked version which reportedly don't require online activation.


snd: 5/5 - great effects, music fits, well done voice-acting except the main hero don't speak, minor skipping problems
gfx: 5/5 - stunning, totally immersive environments, impressive physics, a few minor bugs
playability: 5/5 - excellent, tons of gameplay variety, 14 chapters (+18 hours of gameplay), solid AI, poor launch for Steam, no multiplayer (but there's CS: Source for free), game ends rather abruptly
genre: sci-fi first-person shooter
release: November 2004
developer: Valve Software
publisher: VU Games
Excellent
Overall: 95%


last 10 comments:

El_Coyote(09:14 PM EST - Nov,22 2004 )
snd: 5/5 - great effects, music fits, well done voice-acting except the main hero don't speak, minor skipping problems

guess it's a matter of opinion, but the no-speaking is a concept that they carried over from Half-Life. I personally wouldnt pull the score down by that, because it works really well, and it would put gordon freeman ion a cage that's not nessecary.

Phreezer Burn(09:32 PM EST - Nov,22 2004 )
Halflife 2 is the best game out of its kind. Doom had its revolutionary graphics engine but this game makes you fell more apart of the world with its physics and textures. I would like to know how come CS:Source physics are so screwed up, ie cant jump on barrels/boxes or move object seemlessly by picking them up like in HL2. HL2 lets you do all those things but were removed in source? Why so? When those problems are resolved source should mature to be just as great as its sibling but It will be a while untill it totally replaces the ever popular Counter Strike as gamer league backbone. Halflife 2 has so many great things about it, shame it can be beat rather fast on hard. I see alot of efort and detail went into this soon to be imortalized classic of gaming history.

th4t1guy(02:37 AM EST - Nov,23 2004 )
I think it's funny how this game gets praises for it's graphics when all the levels are so rectangular. All the levels in this game look like they were either rushed or made 3 years ago.

sikapossu(03:51 AM EST - Nov,23 2004 )
best fps game what is out now

Stumpus(08:14 AM EST - Nov,23 2004 )
th4t1guy> I think it's funny how this game gets praises for it's graphics when all the levels are so rectangular. All the levels in this game look like they were either rushed or made 3 years ago.

ROFL the best remark i have ever read in YEARS!! :lol: 'Rectangular'
Yep the sewers were rectangular, the coast road was as well...erm NOT either. where do you get that idea from???

The levels were made around 5years ago from the earliest part of the game -do you not know Half-Life's developement period? Besides why just mention Half-Life, why not go on about HALO,Max Payne,KOTOR,DOOM3 etc,etc,etc,etc........................in fact just about all games have levels built from boxouts -the only notable exceptions are Operation Flashpoint (full 12+K sized maps) and Morrowind again HUGE level.
"You can please some of the people some of the time, but not all the people all of the time..."

Stumpus(08:21 AM EST - Nov,23 2004 )
The best part of HL2 (for me) is the permutations that you can have with the gravity gun! I hope that this is expanded on in the <cough> expansion pack :lol: The physics engine is plain and simply the BEST out there -no contest.

The story is brilliant and has a 'V' type plot to it (anyone remember V?)

It's going to win everything, which considering the FALSE hype which was DOOM3 is a good thing, in a day when quality is soooo far away. Developers just churn out games for the masses with little thought other than arcade kicks.

Craftos(09:18 AM EST - Nov,23 2004 )
Singleplayer - best of all games (altough I think HL1 has better story and 'feel', especially escape scenario was more involving than this, quite typical, man with a mission).
Graphics - probably the best,
Sounds, voicing - best
Multiplayer - weak/poor/non existent. CS:S is only for fans of CS. Little number, small maps, 1 mode (TDM). Overall - quickly gets boring.

Anonymous(08:51 PM EST - Nov,23 2004 )
Well... about the graphics i'm amazed.... and hope for what they'll come up with next!
But about the weapons department i'm a bit disapointed... half-life 1 expansion pack opposing force had a much bigger variety of weapons and the best ones were of biological entites and such... which is rather my favorites...but the only one in this game is only a kind of ball that moans when you want to call the creatures.... i think they could have come up with something better.... I AM SURE OF IT.... maybe they where in a hurry to realease the game and all.... but still i am really satisfied with the game and the new graphics engine um CounterStrike : Source.... VERY GOOD WORK!!!

Gaz(04:03 PM EST - Nov,24 2004 )
Well HL2 for me was alot BORING
i know the valve wanted to show "Wow look we can make you use vehicles just like battlefield or other games, very cool hum?" i think the only thing nice was the use of the sand mobs over the enemy the resti had more fun playing Vamprei the Masquerade: Bloodlines

Venom1(04:37 PM EST - Nov,24 2004 )
Good game, worth the time i've spent to :roll:

Anonymous(11:49 AM EDT - Aug,16 2005 )
Dynamic gameplay, rich environment, great sound. Awesome physics.
Runs beautifully (unlike Doom 3) on my P4 2.26, 512 RDRAM 800, GF4 4600 Ti system. :twisted:

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