Review: Half-Life 2

-Samer Farag 

   To compliment Mr. Shawn’s Half-Life 2 review, I’ll be reviewing the now very famous Half-Life 2. This game marks a significant change in storytelling and how FPSs’ are played. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Plot

     You are Gordan Freeman. Like, seriously, you 

are

 Gordan Freeman. Not once are you taken out of the first-person perspective. Your mission is to defeat the Combine in a cat and mouse game of survival. 

     The story in HL2 is interesting in that it is very vague in its telling. You’re never really sure of what’s going on, and its up to you to find out. Key story moments still allow full control of Freeman, and really put you in the think of the action as it occurs. Overall the story in Half-Life 2 is pretty good, and engaging throughout, minus the fact that we may very well 

never

 see a conclusion (HL3, darn you Valve!).

Gameplay

     Wow. This is how you can describe HL2’s gameplay. HL2 is a shooter, pure and simple, reminiscent of past shooters such as Quake and Unreal. What sets it apart is its feel, and its atmosphere. Every movement, every bullet fired, the physics: All of it is on the dot. Shotguns flip Combine soldiers over from the impact. Assault rifles have recoil, but are effective. Every weapon simply 

works

, from the revolver to the infamous Gravity Gun. They are all useful for different situations, and allow for experimentation. 

     Another great aspect of Half-Life 2 is pacing (minus one aspect which we’ll get to in a moment). Things start off with a bang, and rarely, if ever, slowdown. You’re constantly feeling the pressure to keep moving, and the push and pull from hunted to hunter is great. Just when you may get bored, 

bam

, a new weapon, or plot twist, or action scene, shows up to keep you invested. It all ties in well for a cinematic, invigorating game. 

     I mentioned one point where the pacing in HL2 is off: Ravenholm. Seriously. While at first it makes for a cool horror experience, it drags on and on and 

oooon

! By the end, you aren’t scared. You’re simply bored, and waiting to move to the next environment.

     In the end, however, gameplay is the core of the gaming experience, and Half-Life 2 pulls it all off with aplomb.

Graphics

     Being quite a few years old, HL2 holds up very well on the graphical end. Thanks to great style and visualization, impressive textures, and a physics system that still works well, HL2 is still quite the visual spectacle. Also to make note of is the fact that the game works well on old hardware as well, with minimal graphical impact.

     The audio in this game is darn near sublime. Everything is realistic and believable, and if you’ve got headphones in, you’re in for a treat. Monsters sound threatening, Combine soldiers are gruff and militaristic, the voice acting is top notch, and every sound has been accounted for, from different surfaces that are steeped on to radio cut-out when killing a soldier. Music is minimal, minus infrequent action beats during climactic sequences. All of this, coupled with surround sound, draws the player deeply into the experience, and allows for a great sense of immersion.

Presentation

     Half-Life 2 has a great presentation, in that it never takes control away from the player, and gives a great sense of immersion. The entirety of the games aspects tie together very well, engrossing the player. Also, the HUD is simplistic and clean, allowing one to be focused on the action happening on screen. In the end, the game presents itself quite well.

Conclusion

     Half-Life 2 is a fantastic game that still holds up today, through its interesting story, great atmosphere, and on point gameplay, that can be enjoyed by anyone who is into shooters or great storytelling. 

Verdict

:

95%

Got an Empty Wallet:?

: Half-Life 2 can be purchased dirt cheap via steam, as well as in the Half-Life bundle, to truly get bang for your buck.