Product Type: Vivendi PC games
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Control the greatest gaming hero ever, Gordon Freeman, in one of the greatest games ever!
Half-Life 2 (PC)
Member Name: CheesySpam
Half-Life 2 (PC)
Advantages: An absorbing story, fabulous and unique gameplay, great graphics, flawless voice acting and music.
Think back to November 1998. Do you remember the impact Half-Life made? People called it 'a revolution in FPS gaming' and 'the best game since Doom'. It was so fantastic that Valve must have worked for hours and hours making the sequel, Half-Life 2, trying to make it just as good as the original, if not better. Could they succeed in this nearly impossible task? Yes, and they did a great job. Excellent gameplay, an absorbing story, breathtaking graphics, amazing voice acting. What game could be better?
The start of Half-Life 2 sees you being talked to by the mysterious, creepy G-Man. He wakes you up from stasis, and when he says the words 'smell the ashes', you know that something has gone wrong since you escaped Xen in Half-Life. It turns out that things have gone wrong. G-Man places you on a train that is on it's way to the grimy City 17. On arrival, you come across some guards, who don't appear to be very nice. One of them takes you to a small room with blood splattered on the floor. If it was me, I'd be quite scared right now. But then, the guard reveals himself to be Barney, your friend from Black Mesa.
He tells you to make your way to the lab of Dr Kleiner (a scientist of Black Mesa). Barney tells you not to go to any checkpoints. So what do you do? You go into a checkpoint. Luckily, a young woman comes and saves you from electric stick-wielding guards. She tells you that she is Alyx Vance, daughter of another scientist at Black Mesa, Eli Vance. She escorts you to Dr Kleiner's lab. After getting into your HEV Suit, both you and Alyx are teleported to Eli's lab. Actually, her trip goes smoothly but when it's your turn, Kleiner's 'pet' interrupts the teleportation, landing you outside the lab. Your job now is to make your way to the Eli's lab on foot. At first, anyway. The trip involves you getting into violent shoot-outs with the guards, finding a way to get past the many obstacles, meeting some refugees and getting an awesome hover-vehicle.
Gameplay-wise, the game is also fabulous, mixing first-person action with puzzles to make a fun, memorable experience. The combat is familiar if you are a fan of the original Half-Life, with some varied weaponary. First you get the crowbar and a Half-Life game wouldn't be Half-Life without it. Soon, you get much more advanced weapons, like the powerful revolver to the futuristic pulse rifle.
So combat is great, but the puzzles are what makes the game so good. The unique Gravity Gun helps you get complete the many puzzles throughout the game. The mechanics of the Gravity Gun are simple - left clicking launches smaller items, while right clicking will pick an object up. These objects can include planks, explosive barrels, debris and much more. These puzzles are often physics-based, and here is an example of what the Gravity Gun can do. A large plank is leaning onto its side and you want to tip it the other way. Grab some objects and place them onto the part of the plank that is in the air. The weight of these objects will obviously make the plank fall on its side, which is what you wanted to do. But this is just a simple, early puzzle and the later ones will really challenge you, making both experienced gamers and brainboxes think hard.
The game maybe well over six years old, but the graphics are still very good. The characters look fairly realistic, with plenty of detail on the face, including wrinkles. The environments are also detailed. Because the game isn't open world, Valve focuses on making the world full of detail. For example, you see a frame of the scientists at Black Mesa in Dr Kleiner's lab. One of the faces is scribbled out and as the game progresses, you will figure out who this is. Basically, even the smallest things may add to the story.
To sum up the sound in one word: spectacular. The music is catchy and often fast-paced, suiting the type of situation you are in. Fast, loud music will play in an action-packed shoot out, while slow and creepy music will play while you are walking along a dark corridor with no enemies nearby. The music is awesome, but the voice acting is even better. These days, no effort is put into finding great voice actors in games, but Half-Life 2 is an exception. Expression is always found in the characters voices. If a huge battle is won, the characters will cheer and sound happy, but if a number of people have died, they will sound sad and unhappy. Basically, the sound is perfect.
Half-Life 2 is amazing. Awesome. Every positive word you can think of. Unique puzzles. Fun combat. Brilliant graphics. Fabulous voice acting and music. Everything is great. I found no flaws even after playing the game through twice. You may find it quite challenging at first but this is good - it may make the game last over twenty hours. I wouldn't buy the game as a standalone product though, but rather with The Orange Box, which features five games: Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2 Episode One, Half-Life 2 Episode Two, Portal and Team Fortress 2, which will cost you about a tenner.
The only problem with the game is that you need Steam to play it. This is an online store from Valve. I'm not saying that this is a bad thing for me, but of course you need the internet to get Steam and not everyone has internet. If you don't have the net and you want the game, I'd seriously recommend getting the internet because this game is absolutely essential. Really.
Summary: Everything is fantastic - an essential purchase.