In a recent commentary on Valve's Half-Life 2 Episodes, Marsh Davies criticizes much of Episode One for its "failure to make your navigation comprehensible, either spatially or narratively." He goes on to praise Episode Two for remembering to provide the player with an overview of its regions, so that the spaces allow the player to see the places he has been, or is going to. As I was reminded in my own recent replay of the original Half-Life and its companion games, this is not a recent improvement by Valve, but a return to form.
Recently released Half-Life concept art is rumored to belong to the very long-awaited Half-Life 2: Episode 3. The Internet briefly caught fire before the denials came down from Valve. Going by Dorkly's Half-Life spoof, whenever a sequel to the episodic games does come, Gordon Freeman is likely to remain a silent character.
Game Description: The Orange Box includes all the content of The Black Box for PC, plus the original Half-Life 2 and Half-Life 2: Episode One. Innovative games featured in The Orange Box include Half-Life 2: Episode Two, the second installment in Valve's episodic trilogy advances the award-winning story, leading the player to new locations outside of City 17, as well as the pioneering type of single-player action game Portal, which rewrites the rules for how players approach and manipulate their environment, and Team Fortress 2—an all-new version of the legendary title that spawned team based multiplayer action games with a daring new art style features the most advanced graphics of any Source-based game released to date.
Half-Life 2 was for me a little bit of a letdown. It was an epic game of grand scope with superlative storytelling, and I did think it was one of the best first-person shooters I'd ever played. But I couldn't help but be a bit bothered by the game's stubborn adherence to rather dated genre clichés-one man carrying a small arsenal, breaking open crates to find bullets and medicine, and the contrived placement of various weapons, exploding barrels, and magical crates of infinite ammo.
Half-Life 2, though I felt it was a bit overrated, was undeniably a major release and a massively influential game. Valve might be toiling away creating the next-generation Source engine, but they know a cash cow when they see one and Half-Life 2 has the fan following to keep them afloat while they work on their next big blockbuster. While the engine coders do their thing, we gamers will be getting our Half-Life fill with a series of short "episodes" that expand the series' plot a bit. Half-Life 2: Episode One is essentially just an expansion pack, but it's the first in what will be a series of episodic content that continues the story line that ended so abruptly in Half-Life 2.
I think that I'm impossible to please when it comes to video games. When I play a terrible game, I take an almost ecstatic glee in pointing out all the many, many ways in which the developers screwed up. When faced with a nearly perfect game, on the other hand, I start to nitpick, and search for tiny mistakes to grouse about, as if admitting that the existence of perfection somehow invalidated my worldview.
Anyone who reads GameCritics.com regularly will know that I'm not a big fan of first-person shooter (FPS) games. I don't hate them, but I don't think it's particularly fun to just run around and blast things, either. Most of the games tend to be very repetitious and unimaginative, and the genre has rarely captured my attention. Being the non-fragger that I am, I was particularly interested to check out Half-Life.
Trying to gauge which game was the first to blur the line between game and movie is a daunting task (and one sure to inspire more than a few arguments). However, the game that tends to stand out as one of the first to do it effectively is Half-Life—a classic PC game that is now making its debut on the PlayStation 2 gaming console.
Game Description:Half-Life features an integrated storyline with stunning visual effects and a huge, sprawling environment filled with aliens determined to hunt you down and kill you. You no longer just point and shoot—Half-Life is a dynamic, plot-driven, complex world where you need to play smart to survive. Monsters have a strong instinct for self-preservation. They will duck, jump, hide behind barriers to avoid gunfire, and even retreat if feeling threatened. Superior AI drives these behaviors and they are different for each species. Plus you can choose from 18 different weapons, ranging from a crowbar to laser-guided rockets.
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