9.2 superb Editor's Choice
Gameplay - 9
Graphics - 10
Sound - 9
Value - 9
Tilt - 9
Gamespot Review (Page 1 of 4):
Read the other 3 pages and watch the video review at: http://www.gamespot.com/pc/action/ha...flashtop_storyIt's hard to believe that, prior to Half-Life 2, Valve had really made only one game. Of course, it was a masterpiece. Half-Life single-handedly reinvented the first-person shooter, putting the emphasis on cinematic pacing and complete immersion in the experience. As a result, it paved the way for many of the outstanding first-person shooters that have followed. And while there was little question that there would eventually be a sequel, no one could have imagined the long and torturous development process that led to Half-Life 2. Well, it's time to forget about that, because Half-Life 2 has arrived. And, in many ways, this big-budget sequel does what it sets out to do: Half-Life 2 is a technically amazing, sharply honed first-person shooter that pulls all the tricks that made Half-Life such a beloved experience. With that said, many of those tricks feel more than a bit familiar now, and the game itself is saddled with a disappointing story. Still, that doesn't stop Half-Life 2 from being a very impressive and engaging shooter, and a faithful follow-up to one of the greatest PC games of all time.
It's time for you to once again take up your submachine gun and take out all the foes threatening humanity.
In Half-Life 2, you once again assume the role of Gordon Freeman, the theoretical physicist and dimension-hopping commando who saved the world from an alien invasion at the end of Half-Life. Or did he? Half-Life 2 starts you off facing the infamous G-Man, the mysterious blue-suited character from the first game. At the end of Half-Life, the G-Man offered you a choice: work for him or die. Since there would be no sequel if you chose the latter, Half-Life 2 assumes you chose the former, and you start the game in a train entering City 17 for your introduction into this new world.
City 17 is a run-down urban center that's the equivalent of the Warsaw ghettos during World War II, but instead of Jews being rounded up to live in City 17, it's all the remnants of a defeated humanity. Half-Life 2 takes place an untold number of years after the Black Mesa incident, but it's clear that much has changed. A mysterious enemy known as the Combine has conquered the planet and installed a human puppet government to carry out its rule. Black-clad security forces patrol the streets, while propaganda blares endlessly from omnipresent video screens. If there's one thing that Valve does extremely well, it's capture a sense of atmosphere--this vision of a dystopian police state is chillingly effective. But you won't spend a lot of time soaking in the scene before you're thrust into the struggle to defeat the Combine and free humanity.
As soon as the shooting begins you'll join an essentially nonstop battle that will last the remainder of the game. Like the original Half-Life, Half-Life 2 is presented as a nearly seamless experience--you play entirely from Gordon Freeman's perspective, there are no cutscenes or perspective changes to take you out of the moment, and are there no narrative jumps that skip ahead in time. (At least, there are none from your perspective.) There also aren't very many long loading times to interrupt the flow of the game, as all the levels are discreetly broken into sections, and when you transition from one section to another, there's only a slight pause for the new section to load (at least, on a high-end PC). Put it all together and the game's single-player campaign, which will probably take you between 15 and 20 hours to complete, comes off as a very long day in the extraordinary life of Gordon Freeman.
In case of alien invasion, find Gordon Freeman and break glass.
The original Half-Life was highly cinematic in nature, the virtual equivalent of starring in your own blockbuster sci-fi action movie. Who could ever forget the first time a headcrab leapt out at you from a dark corner? Or the moment when the commando tossed a satchel charge into the sewer pipe you were hiding in? The movie analogy is apt, not only because Half-Life 2 packs a few cinematic moments of its own, but also because, like most movie sequels, it plays it safe and doesn't deviate much from its storied predecessor. Half-Life 2 doesn't revolutionize the genre, instead sticking with the familiar formula of run-and-gun action, occasional puzzle-solving, and scripted sequences established by Half-Life. And it's an effective formula, for the most part. The game gets off to a rousing start, as the opening levels combine these three ingredients masterfully. You start off on the lam from the Combine, armed with only a pistol and your wits, and embark on a chase through a train yard and tunnel system that's filled with all sorts of hairbreadth escapes. The sense of pursuit hurtles you forward so quickly that you don't have much time to admire the cutting-edge graphical prowess on display.
The story unfolds in a near flawless fashion. It's weird that Gordon never speaks, but easily forgotten. You'll be hooked by the storytelling and drawn into the action naturally.
Half-Life 2 has usurped DOOM 3's place as the best-looking game on the PC. It's astounding from both a technical and an artistic standpoint.
Once again, simply top notch work. Gunfire, the sounds of Combine vehicles, the alertness of guards, voice acting, and all else can't be faulted in any significant way.
A near flawless implementation of a first-person shooter. A mix of intelligent and frantic combat, puzzles, driving, and squad control creates great variation and paces the game perfectly.
9.0 Lasting Appeal
I want to play Half-Life 2 again and again. It's just that much fun. I do wish there had been more HL specific multiplayer, though.
(out of 10 / not an average)
IGN Review (Page 1 of 5):
Read the whole review at: http://pc.ign.com/articles/566/566202p1.htmlI wanted to make this review short and sweet, but it's hard to stop writing, even when excluding facts that could potentially contaminate an exceptionally well thought-out gaming experience. There's just so much to say. Half-Life 2 is, simply put, the best single-player shooter ever released for the PC. It does so many things right in so many ways that it might be possible to write a thesis on the topic of Half-Life 2 compared to other single player shooters. What Valve has created is simply a masterpiece -- a work of art in the genre. Not only does it engage the mind with mysterious happenings, vagaries, and mostly intelligent dialogue, but also captures the senses with a superb visual style made possible by brilliant technology. And once the initial shock of it all wears off and it becomes possible to peel back the polished layers of sight and sound, there is an excellent shooter here. Half-Life 2 doesn't do anything particularly new; it doesn't really innovate in many ways. But what it does is set a new height for all other designers of first-person shooters to reach. It still isn't exactly perfect, but it's about as close as I've seen in my tenure here.
Before I really get into the review, you should know the background of how this game was reviewed. Valve did not want to send out copies of their game (for fairly obvious reasons) before it was released to the public. In order to play the game, I, and several of my colleagues throughout the industry, took a trip up to Seattle to visit Valve in order to have some private time with the title. I was given a little room to myself where I could close the door, turn off the lights, click my little red slippers, and pretend that I was sitting at home. It worked for the most part, largely because I was so engrossed with the game that when I came out of my trance I often had to take a moment to get my bearings. Obviously, Valve was happy to bring me into a controlled environment for ideal playing conditions.
The system that I played the game on had these specs:
ASUS P4C800-E dlx motherboard
Intel P4 3.2GHz CPU
2.0GB DDR400 dual-channel RAM
Radeon 9800PRO 128MB video
Creative Audigy 2 ZS sound
Western Digital 160GB SATA HD
Obviously, since we were only allowed to play the game at Valve, this is the only system that we've had the chance to play with. That said, at 1280 resolution, the game ran flawlessly, even in the most extreme environments with tons of geometry and lots of objects moving around, both with and without AI. The Source engine is an impressive piece of software from the outside looking in. There's a large chance my brain would melt like Velveeta in a microwave should someone try to explain its inner workings.
What's particularly impressive about the game running so well is that it does so without compromising any part of gameplay or design. Environments are complex, colorful, and highly detailed; AI is certainly impressive in that NPCs work as teams, flank, react to sound and movement, and then engage with lifelike aggression. But like I said, we're going to have to wait and see what the game runs like on a more standard system after it's released. Therefore, you can look for an additional supplement to this review about how the game runs on lower-end systems after we've had the chance to check.
The other problem with reviewing the game up at Valve is the simple fact that we couldn't test out Steam and how well the product registration system necessary to playing Half-Life 2works. I'm not exceedingly happy about the forced registration even if it is understandable in today's climate of highly pirated games, though I can't say I believe this will stop ultra-determined hackers from cracking the game regardless.
Still, no matter what you think of Valve's business policies, Half-Life 2 is a "must buy" game. If you're a fan of the series, that was already obvious. Heck, if you're a PC gamer chances are you're going to get it at some point anyway. But if you're new or skeptical of the genre and want to see a prime example of the power and excitement of a first-person shooter, this is it. And it begins with the continuation of a story.
I'll add more reviews later.