Half-Life 2 (PS3)
Over this week Skyrim had gotten a little 'samey' so I decided to play The Orange Box which I kind of ditched back in August. I didn't get very far with Half-Life 2 so I picked it first out of Portal and Team Fortress 2. Here's my verdict, a review, on the game...
Half-Life 2 was released on Microsoft Windows in 2004, ported to the Xbox 360 in '06 and finally released in The Orange Box for the PlayStation 3 in '07. Half-Life 2 is a continuation of the story in Half-Life which was released in 1998 as Valve's debut product. Basically in Half-Life you play as Dr. Gordon Freeman a scientist at the 'Black Mesa' facility. A teleportation experiment goes wrong and open dimensional rifts where parasites come through and attack earth. Eventually Dr. Freeman kills the overlord at the end of the game, unknowingly widening the dimensional rifts. This leads to a trans-dimensional race called 'The Combine' to attack earth. Humanity surrenders and the Combine take over and so on. Basically in Half-Life 2 you play as Gordon Freeman fighting in the resistance against the Combine.
My first impressions of the game weren't great. I thought the gameplay was repetitive, graphics mediocre and overall a boring game... Oh I was so wrong!
The game, at first glance, is your average joe standard first-person shooter. After playing through the first few levels which just introduced me to the story and getting into the proper gameplay I realised that there is actually a very good puzzle theme to this game. For example in the level 'Water Hazard' where the player is able to pilot an airboat there is a small ramp that is submerged underwater. To get it to re-emerge you have to grab air barrels and put them under the ramp so that it flips up allowing the player to jump it. At times these puzzles took me a long time to figure out which in turn was rather irritating. But that's one of the charms of this game: you'll be introducing bullets into enemies and then suddenly you'll have to figure out how to climb a ledge that's too high or get past an abandoned truck that's too big to squeeze past. Sometimes the solution will come to you in a second and other times it will take a good 5 minutes.
The combat gameplay is what you would expect in an FPS. You work your way through the level shooting everything that breaths and looks like it could cause any amount of harm to you. It's not all mindless shooting though - many a time you have to be strategic so as you are not killed especially in 'Ravenholm' where enemies called 'Headcrabs' are frequent. Headcrabs jump at the player's face and are relatively quick. They are very frequent and very annoying! Headcrabs can also attach themselves to a human host's head and produce a 'Headcrab Zombie'. These, although slow moving, come in many numbers and can overwhelm you easily if you have low ammo or are in a tight corner. The introduction of the Gravity Gun also gives the game a strategic approach allowing the player to pick up and throw objects from afar. This can be helpful in situation where there are explosive barrels which can be thrown at enemies to cause major damage. Many secret spots are in each level where you can collect rewards of health packs or suit charges which increases the players armour. These are very helpful and are surprisingly common if you take time to seek them out.
The visuals are mediocre, although seeing as the game was released in 2004 they are good for its time. The Havok physics engine adds a really enjoyable feel to the game - especially in the solving of the aforementioned puzzles. It plays well the majority of the time although I have known it on occasion to slip up and objects can get stuck in walls or fling upwards.
Half-Life 2 is a BIG game (with well over 35 hours gameplay including the 2 expansions 'Half-Life 2: Episode One' and 'Half-Life 2: Episode Two') with BIG ideas and is an excelling compilation of an excellent soundtrack, decent graphics, brilliant gameplay and of course zombie headcrabs. There is the occasional slip up or glitch with the physics or an irritating puzzle but forgiving these cons Half-Life 2 is a First-Person Shooter with a unique twist for the better!
My Rating: 8/10