Half-Life completely redefined what immersion meant, and was truly a stunning masterpiece that made anyone surprised to find that Valve only created one title prior. The game macadamized concepts for many first-person shooters that have followed. Half-Life 2 has been in development for more than 5 years, and it has finally seen the light of the cold day. Half-Life 2 is a technical masterpiece, a brilliant sequel to a great first-person shooter, and stays true to the roots of the experience while furthering it to a whole new level of light. The storyline itself isn’t that terrific, but that doesn’t mean that Half-Life 2 is not an impressive and moreover engaging shooter that is worthy of being titled a ‘classic’ in the near future.
Gordon Freeman, the theoretical physicist and savior against the alien race is back. Half-Life 2 begins with the players’ introduction to a soliloquy that is short and sweet by G-Man, the man in the mysterious suit in the first game. At the end of Half-Life, G-Man offered you a choice: work for him or face the wrath of death. Half-Life 2 assumes you chose to work for him, and you start the game in City 17, a dystopian world that is evident of a defeated humanity.
Combine soldiers of the Civil Protection Unit have installed a puppet government to carry out its rule. Half-Life 2 takes place an untold number of years after the Black Mesa incident, but it is clear that much has since changed. This world is not a free one. Security forces reminiscent to Nazi SS regime patrol the streets, while propaganda and federalist letters of humanity are far and few. It’s a world against the combine for the free humanity. The question is: Can you help to conquer it?
Half-Life 2 is the same presentation of a seamless experience where everyone plays entirely from Gordon Freeman’s perspective. There are no cutscenes to take you out of the moment, and are there no narrative jumps that skip ahead in time. There also are not very long loading times to interrupt the flow of the game, as every level is broken per section and when you transition from one section to another, there is only a slight pause for the new section to load.
The enemies and their varieties are not too few. You will soon discover they can all be challenging, picking up health packs and recharging your hazard suit at energy stations. Some of these enemies such as headcrab and the barnacle are familiar while others, like the manhacks present whole new challenges. At the beginning of the game, you’re given the submachine gun, shotgun, crossbow, and, of course, the omnipotent crowbar, where the answer is always to claw into the head until something dies. These weapons haven’t changed much, and they feel the same. There are only three new weapons, including the pulse rifle, pheropods, and gravity gun. We’ll let you try those for yourself, but know that they’re a whole slew of fun.
Half-Life 2’s story takes to a disappointing side. The first half of the game feels like there’s something missing, while the second half seems rushed. Even worse, the story leaves behind unanswered questions, and it doesn’t satiate questions from the first title. In many ways, Half-Life 2 feels like the middle climax in a bigger plot, and you just end up confused as if the movie was turned off. Disappointing artificial intelligence is also a part of the second chapter. Even on the tougher difficulty levels, most of the enemies seem to show a new kind of lackluster behavior that they didn’t in the previous game. They’ll seek cover and then peek out to fire, but ultimately just end up charging right towards you –which is ridiculous.
Half-Life 2’s has undoubtedly set a level with the source engine. To start off, there’s a load of custom features that can make the engine run any game, by any modding community that has their heart set on it. Even though Half-Life 2 came out a year later than anticipated, it features state-of-the-art graphics technology. The level design is unparalleled, including a deserted town full of traps, and zombie villages that just give anyone who likes variety and shooters a taste of bliss. The Source engine is undoubtedly the newest and best thing to happen to the PC yet.
Valve givesplayers Counter-Strike: Source with Half-Life 2. The original Counter-Strike was developed as a free team-based multiplayer mod for the original Half-Life, and it quickly gained Valve’s attention. Counter-Strike: Source is the updated version of the original Counter-Strike, bringing the graphics in line with the powerful new Source engine and making a few tweaks, but otherwise keeping everything else the same.
Counter-Strike: Source is exciting, and great tactical-combat play that even gives SOCOM a challenge. It is also a highly social game. Its appeal comes with a spectator mode, voice chat, team chat, and beautiful camaraderie. Since each round lasts only a few minutes, there is not much downtime before the game resets and you’re shooting again. Finding a game is not a problem, either, as Valve released Counter-Strike: Source more than a month before Half-Life 2, and there are hundreds of servers and thousands of players online at any given time during the day.
When you combine the decent single-player experience of Half-Life 2 with Counter Strike: Source, the only thing that comes to mind is something that is a great buy. While Half-Life 2 doesn’t do anything to drastically new with game mechanics, it is a technological accomplishment that will be remembered forever.