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Review: Half-Life 2

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the please-refrain-from-poking-the-head-crabs dept.


The original Half-Life is regarded widely as a defining moment in the first person shooter genre. The game's use of story and in-game scripted elements changed the expectations of game players and spawned a bevy of imitators. The sequel, Half-Life 2, has been in the works for almost six years and is one of the most hyped and anticipated games of 2004. It was launched last week after delays, a code theft, and lawsuits frustrated the anxious fans waiting for a chance to play. Post-launch the game has received wide praise and, thanks to the unique distribution and authentication system called Steam, many complaints as well. Read on for my impressions of Valve's Half-Life 2.

  • Title: Half-Life 2
  • Developer: Valve
  • Publisher: Vivendi Universal Games
  • Reviewer: Zonk
  • Score: 9/10
The first component of Half-Life 2 that a player is likely to encounter is the massive hype that has surrounded the game for over a year. Advertising, articles, and player expectations have elevated Valve's second game to a level that ensures a certain level of disappointment. Regardless of the actual merits of the game, there are some players who have been waiting for this game since late last century. The game is not a defining moment in civilization. The lame will not be made whole by playing Half-Life 2.

As we've reporting in the past week, many players have experienced difficulties in getting the game running after installation. The initial load on the Steam servers caused by the large number of people attempting to play the game at once caused massive slowdowns in authentication and file downloads. For the most part these problems seem to primarily be reported by individuals who purchased the game in a retail store in a box. I purchased the game via Steam and downloaded it in the space of about three hours. I have experienced no problems in playing the game.

With all those caveats out of the way, Half-Life 2 is an incredibly impressive experience. In playing the game you step again into the role of Gordon Freeman, a scientist who originally worked at the Black Mesa facility. The first chapter of the game finds you arriving via train in the dystopian atmosphere of City 17, a ramshackle series of buildings raised from the remains of a now mostly destroyed civilization. A mysterious organization known as the Combine exerts control through police forces and alien troops. Via televised transmissions the citizenry is controlled mentally, spiritually, and even reproductively. From the first moment you enter the game Valve does an excellent job of imposing a sense of despair and barely contained anger rippling within the populace of City 17. What we are not imparted with is a sense of what has happened to Freeman since the events of the previous game. While clues are unearthed during the course of the game as to what has occurred, there are no firm answers to the many questions players are likely to have. With confirmation already in the news that Valve has begun work on Half-Life 3, the impression that you're left with is that this only part of a larger story. The story stands well on its own, but don't expect to come away from the game with all your questions resolved.

The new graphics engine that Valve created for their second game, Source, is an incredible achievement. The level of detail in the game is nothing short of breathtaking. From the reflectivity of water and tile flooring to the incredible facial animations, the game engine places Gordon Freeman directly into the world and makes exploration a joy. One of the best moments of the early game comes in a lobby. You emerge from the depths of the train station and face one last room before the freedom of open air. It is dusty and decrepit, filled with lost souls looking for nourishment rations handed out by inhuman robotic servants. Light pours into the room from windows set high in the external wall, and these amazing shafts of light fill the room. Motes float inside the light beams, lending an almost reverential air to what is essentially a ruin.

The physics of the game are wonderful to behold as well. The tech demo at E3 last year was quite an eye opener, and Valve allows you several opportunities to enjoy the physicality of the Half-Life world. At two points in the game you take control of vehicles. The wildness of the bouncing white knuckle ride you get with the airboat and dune buggy make for memorable gaming moments. The airboat in particular makes for excellent visuals as you speed across the water in a series of canals, ripples and waves speeding away from your craft and beautiful splashes marking where you hit the water after a jump. The gravity gun displayed in the tech demo is indeed as much fun to use as it is to watch. The weapon allows you to snatch objects from distances and launch them as projectiles. While the uses of the gun are usually more practical than some of the opportunities shown in the tech demo (the number of saw blades lying around in Ravenholme is kind of disturbing), there are a number of creative opportunities scattered periodically throughout the game. Beyond the vehicles and the gravity gun, there are constant reminders of the physics underpinning the game, as enemies push objects aside rushing at you and heavy objects swing like deadly pendulums through obstacles and crush opponents.

Once you step outside the door of the train station, your moments to stop and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings are few and far between. Almost immediately you as Gordon are connected up with the Underground Railroad, populated with peoples not willing to submit peacefully to the Combine. You reconnect with old friends from the previous game and after an experiment accident, you find yourself on the run from Combine forces. The instant the crowbar returns to your hands is truly a sweet moment. From there you move through the urban landscape of City 17, hop an airboat to duke it out with Combine troops in flooded waterways, and explore the Lovecraftian ruins of a small town inhabited by alien hunters and a mad priest. The game keeps you engaged with a constantly changing backdrop of locations and a series of pretty memorable characters. I was particularly impressed by the voice actors, all of whom do an excellent job of getting across what their characters are about. Each of the non-player characters has a nice moment to talk to you and make an impression. Dr. Vance's daughter Alyx is actually the one who introduces you to the gravity gun, and the quirky time spent with her may be the funniest, best written part of the game.

The visuals in the game are astounding, but the auditory experience is fairly impressive as well. The musical moments in the game are few and far between, and are used to accentuate tense or impressive moments. The music tends towards electronic stings and they raise your heart rate by a good deal when they're used. The sound effects range from pretty standard clinks and clunks to the viscerally gripping howls of stalking predators. The atmosphere in the town of Ravenholme, where the predators live, is phenomenally creepy all around, and is conjured by the pervasive sound environment. The weapon sound effects are all very competently executed, with the satisfying blast of the revolver being a personal favorite.

Overall, the game is an incredible accomplishment. Valve has done an excellent job living up to the expectations their first title has prompted in the gaming community. The lack of closure in the game's story is the only real flaw in the plot, which otherwise provides excellent motivation to keep moving and find out what will happen next. Gameplay elements stay true to the previous game, providing action and some simple puzzle solving moments. The visuals and physics of the Source engine make for a beautiful and interactive world to move through. The deep audio environment keeps the player rooted in the moment, while the excellent voice acting makes the non-player characters come to life. The collaboration of individuals who created Half-Life 2 has proven again why video games are a unique art form. I heartily recommend it to anyone who enjoys first person shooters, horror and suspense, or engaging storylines.

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optix is a fucking moron (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#10891306)

I want to, but should I? (5, Interesting)

Allen Zadr (767458) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891307)

Damn. I wasn't planning on buying this game, until reading this review.

I do have a question though. As someone whom has *gasp* never played Half-Life, would I be lost trying to pick it up in it's second incarnation?

Re:I want to, but should I? (5, Informative)

FiReaNGeL (312636) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891341)

Half-life 1 is included with Half-life 2. They even upgraded it to the Source Engine (which means better graphics, prettier effects). Its a great game, you should play it before the second, just for the experience. The story is kind of confusing anyway, and the link between the two even more so, so I think you`ll be as lost as everyone else :)

Re:I want to, but should I? (5, Informative)

fobsen (798504) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891381)

Just FYI: Half-Life Source (aka Half-Life 1 using the new engine) is not automatically included in every version of Half-Life 2. You need to get at least the "Silver" Edition from to get HL-Source. It is not included in the boxed version. See []

Re:I want to, but should I? (3, Interesting)

Allen Zadr (767458) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891498)

Good information (both of you). The local best buy has a 'Boxed Silver' that I happened to notice the other day - although, based on other user reports - I think I'd probably purchase online, directly through Steam.

Something else that isn't clear - are there any other on-going costs to this odd "steam" intallation? [ Subscription costs or anything else odd? ]. Can 'steam' be removed after the game is 'activated'?

Re:I want to, but should I? (4, Informative)

IKnwThePiecesFt (693955) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891530)

There is no subscription fee, and no, steam can't be removed without removing HL2 as well. This is for both retail and steam versions. The reason is that Steam is an integral part of the engine (for example, you can access your friends list while playing). However, once activated, you do not need an internet connection.

Re:I want to, but should I? (1)

fobsen (798504) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891543)

You can't play HL2 without Steam (at least not with a legal, non-cracked/non-patched version). I heard there are so called "no-steam"-cracks out there on the web, but I don't know whether they work or they are just trojans ;)

Re:I want to, but should I? (3, Informative)

Zeriel (670422) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891342)

You might be a BIT lost in terms of where you-as-main-character got involved in all this, but they acutally run through a bunch of the backstory in the first parts of the game.

Speaking as someone who played the first one, and is partly through HL2, it's gonna be a touch perplexing either way, and the focus of the story that I've experienced is really on "forget all the 'whys' and 'hows' for the moment, we have things to do here and now."

Re:I want to, but should I? (2, Informative)

nomadic (141991) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891351)

Apparently the silver edition of HL2 (which is like 10 bucks more than the basic one) comes with HL1 remade using the HL2 engine, so you might want to get that.

I had always planned on playing HL1 when they lowered the price to bargain bin status. They never seemed to do it; years and years after it was released it was still being sold for like 40 bucks, which was annoying.

Re:I want to, but should I? (2, Informative)

Geek_3.3 (768699) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891352)

Depending on what version you get, nope. The 'deluxe super version' (I can't remember offhand, sorry) has the original Half Life using the upgraded source engine. MAKE SURE THE BOX SAYS IT COMES WITH IT BEFORE YOU BUY IT.

Re:I want to, but should I? (1)

Geek_3.3 (768699) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891378)

Sweet jeebus, 4 similar answers in under a minute... God Bless /. :-)

Multi (1)

Allen Zadr (767458) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891526)

I appreciate your individual effort, and I'm (I hope) probably not the only person who would find these answers helpful - even if they're all similar.

Re:I want to, but should I? (3, Informative)

Zonk (12082) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891354)

There are no actual *gameplay* elements that you need to have played the first game to understand.

As far as the plot goes, as other folks have commented here, they don't do a great job of recapping what happened in the first game. If you want to be on board from the first chapter a quick play through the first game would probably be a good idea.

You can even buy a partial remake via Steam, if you're so inclined. They just reused all the old textures, so it's not terribly pretty, but the added physics and the pretty water are nice touches.

Re:I want to, but should I? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#10891359)

The only complaint I have of the game so far is the load time between scenes. It can make the game a little jarring.

Re:I want to, but should I? (1)

Allen Zadr (767458) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891469)

This is interesting...
What sort of hardware are we talking about? What sort of delay between scene transitions? This could be helpful to others (NotJustMe).

Re:I want to, but should I? (1)

say__10 (768448) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891367)

Im in the same boat as you, I have no idea what is going on in the game, just that its pretty, the game play is emmersive and it was well worth the wait.

Re:I want to, but should I? (2, Insightful)

Mike Bridge (8663) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891370)

buy the $60 ($5 more then retail MSRP) silver edition from steam, and you'll get every valve game ever, so you can at your leisure play thru half-life 1 (in original, or newly created source-engine flavors), and then optionally play the alternative perspective opposing force, before heading into half-life 2.

Re:I want to, but should I? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#10891382)

I finished half-life and completed half-life2 a couple days ago. Even if you have played the first one, most of the story won't make much sense since it has little to do with the first game. Don't let that stop you from getting the game though. Apart from a confusing plot, hl2 is the best single player expierience I have ever had.

Re:I want to, but should I? (2, Interesting)

Nos. (179609) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891384)

Go ahead and pick it up. The story is nice, but you don't NEED to know the story of the original to enjoy this one. If you're that curious about the story, you may want to search around a bit, I'm sure someone has the basic story of the original posted somewhere. I played the first one not long after it first came out and frankly remember very little of it, yet still found the second to be very enjoyable. But even without the story to back you up, the plot line keeps you moving. The puzzles are interesting but not overly difficult. They are rarely time sensitive (you don't have an endless swarm of guys coming at you while trying to figure out how to open a gate for example).

My biggest complaint would have to be that the game was a bit short. Probably took me about 12-15 hours of gameplay to beat (on easy). I'll go back and play the harder difficulties now, but it did seem a little short for my tastes. Then again, I didn't buy it for the HL2 single player game. I bought it for the multitude of mods that are being worked on for it.

Re:I want to, but should I? (2, Interesting)

dougmc (70836) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891388)

As someone whom has *gasp* never played Half-Life, would I be lost trying to pick it up in it's second incarnation?
No -- it's still your basic FPS, you'd be fine, though you'd miss a lot of the story. And the story is very good for a FPS ...

However, if you buy the collector's edition, or the `HL2 Gold' or whatever pack on Steam, you'll get `Half Life Source', which is (I believe) the original Half Life re-released with the new graphics engine. You might want to go that route, and play through the first Half Life first.

If you do get HL1 to play it, forget about the expansion packs (Opposing Forces, Blue Shift.) They really didn't add anything signifigant to the story.

HL2, on the other hand, is really excellent.

I was one of the people who had lots of Steam problems (and yes, I did buy the retail edition.) I still don't like how it phones home every time I start HL2, but at least it's sped up greatly -- now HL2 starts in about 2 minutes rather than 8 or so minutes.

Re:I want to, but should I? (2, Informative)

ronfar623 (784908) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891477)

If you do get HL1 to play it, forget about the expansion packs (Opposing Forces, Blue Shift.) They really didn't add anything signifigant to the story.

While I agree that they don't add anything really significant to the story, they do actually add quite a bit. For example, just off the top of my head, the nuclear device the G-Man reactivates at the end of OpFor. I would recommend at least giving the expansions a shot. Blue Shift isn't so great, but Opposing Forces is quite enjoyable. I'd say it was at least as fun as Half-Life, if a little shorter.

Re:I want to, but should I? (1)

AnyNoMouse (715074) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891542)

Also, if you go the Silver route on Steam ($59 instead of $49), it includes not only HL: Source, but Opposing Forces and a few other games as well.

Re:I want to, but should I? (5, Informative)

smiley2billion (599641) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891412)

I do have a question though. As someone whom has *gasp* never played Half-Life, would I be lost trying to pick it up in it's second incarnation?

The story isn't too hard to follow, you're a scientist with a crowbar. You unleashed hell back at the Black Mesa (old working place). Defeated an army of headcrabs and other such monsters and also a gov. task force sent in to clean up. HL2 picks up *kind of* right after. Some time has passed and the earth is a little changed. You being the hero figure in HL2, must free the people from the "Combine" (not farming equipment). Go get the game, it should be enjoyable even to people who have never played HL1.

Re:I want to, but should I? (1)

NFNNMIDATA (449069) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891423)

Not really, since there were so many unanswered questions in the first one anyway.

Re:I want to, but should I? (4, Informative)

zx75 (304335) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891529)

I didn't read the review, because I'm still playing and I didn't want to chance upon any spoilers that might not have been warned against.

I never played Half-Life to any real extent, I started it, shot a few aliens, then went to counter-strike so a lot of things are very new to me.

Well, let me tell you that Half-life 2 has been a lot like falling down the rabbit-hole. It submerged me in this world and I haven't been up for air since. Its a lot of fun, and more than a little disturbing at times, but there were no issues with holdover information, you will pick up everything you need to know about the story as you go.

hl2 for life (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#10891310)

half life 2 rocks
valve rules
not you

My Thoughts, 3.5/5 (2, Insightful)

PktLoss (647983) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891314)

For all its praise I'm not too happy with steam. The essence of which boiled down to this for me; pay $50 for a game, then download it at 30-50K/s (on a line capable of 200K/s). To add insult to injury, I have to go through Steam every time I try to play the game, which wastes a few seconds 'Preparing' for an unknown reason (I have heard that it actually connects to the server every time I play... which seems rather redundant)

In terms of the game itself, I haven't played Half Life (1), so I really don't understand what is going on, or why. Vague references from the in game charecters hint at what is going on, but I really think I would have needed to play the first game to understand

Valve needs to walk over to Bungie with a presents one day, and beg them for education on how this load/save/death thing should work. Pausing for 3-20seconds in the middle of an action sequence while the game loads the next zone doesn't make any sense and just works to break up the game play. Death also requires a reload of the previous checkpoint. This is all stuff that Bungie figgured out for Halo 2, if only Valve could watch and learn.

The physics is fun, I really enjoy the ocasional puzzle with ropes and weights, It adds a little something, especially when most of them are optional for extra ammo or health. You feel like you've accomplished a little something when it's done. There have been a few places in a game where I was requird to load a previous save in order to continue (dune buggy was under water, and couldn't be moved, I was surrounded by radioactive slime, and couldnt escape, etc) which combines with the annoying loading to break up the game play. It has however given me an opportunity to catch up on some reading.

Overall I would give the game a 3.5/5, Steam is slow, loading is slow, loading while playing is annoying, and I still don't really understand what is going on. The game physics are fun, and the graphics are decent, I just lack the background to understand why it is all as it is.

Re:My Thoughts, 3.5/5 (2, Funny)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891425)

Glad you commented on knowing what's going on having not played pt 1. I was wondering about that myself, having never played HL1 and not knowing if I should try out HL2. I'm sure the game is gorgeous and sounds great, but I want to enjoy more about a game this big than how nice it looks.

Re:My Thoughts, 3.5/5 (1)

PktLoss (647983) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891457)

Seriously, I really don't know what's going on. I often progress because it seems like the aprropriate course of action, rather than out of some determination to resolve a problem or something.

Re:My Thoughts, 3.5/5 (5, Informative)

fireduck (197000) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891467)

In terms of the game itself, I haven't played Half Life (1), so I really don't understand what is going on, or why.

basic storyline of half-life: you, as gordan freeman, work in a top secret underground laboratory, Black Mesa, doing god knows what with equipment not meant to be doing what it's doing. Game opens with you showing up to work in the test lab (in probably the absolutely best intro sequence in a game ever, simply because of the awe you have when you realize it is interactive). Something goes horribly wrong with the sample you are analyzing, the whole of Black Mesa basically blows up, and a bunch of aliens start warping in. Your job is to stay alive and get to the surface, whereupon you realize that the government is cleaning up the mess by eliminating everyone, including you. Throughout the story is the mysterious G-man, the guy in the suit, who pops up in the oddest of places to give you consternation by closing doors you just want to go through. At the end of Half-life, he gives you a choice to work with him. hence the intro to HL2.

As for other tie-ins (and i'm only at the airboat section). The guard you meet, Barney, was the nickname for the lovable loaf from the original HL. The barney's basically run around to get killed in the original, and because fans loved them so much, they got a semi-expansion at one point (blue-shift?). In the original HL, there were 3 scientist models, 2 of them re-appear as characters here (at least thus far in my game); although Robert Guiamme wasn't a voice in the original game.

In an HL expansion (opposing force), we learn that some of the aliens don't get along, with some xeno slavery being practiced.

As for the loading issues and telling Valve to talk to Bungie: the original HL was much better in this respect. while there were loading periods, they were much much shorter than HL2. So Valve obviously knows how to do a semi-seamless transition, just perhaps that hasn't been optimized yet (which is frustrating).

Re:My Thoughts, 3.5/5 (2, Informative)

CleverNickedName (644160) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891500)

There have been a few places in a game where I was requird to load a previous save in order to continue (dune buggy was under water, and couldn't be moved, I was surrounded by radioactive slime, and couldnt escape, etc)

I've played HL1 and it really doesn't make much of a difference. In HL2, Gordon Freeman doesn't really know what's going on either.

As for reloading, it is never necessary. You can knock your dune buggy out of the water with the grav-gun, and as for being trapped in slime, it sounds like you just didn't have much energy left. I got stuck there too, but only because I went the wrong way. :)

I'm not saying the game is perfect, it is just another linear FPS, but I don't think that particular complaint is valid.

Re:My Thoughts, 3.5/5 (1)

SuperRob (31516) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891550)

Plot holes due to not playing Half Life 1 are not entirely Valve's problem. Half Life's massive success means that most players would already be familiar with the plot of the first game, and for those that aren't, certain Half Life 2 packages include the Source version of the first game.

Certainly, it would be better from a storytelling perspective to not rely on the knowledge of the first game as much, but the assumptions (and concessions) Valve have made alleviate that to a large degree.

As for the loading, you NEVER load during an action sequence. There is always a lull when the loading happens, and it was designed this way. That said, the loading times are atrocious even on a 3GHZ machine with massive storage and RAM, and something NEEDS to be done about this.

Fantastic game (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#10891318)

But having played FarCry to death, and revelled in the freedom it allows in terms of strategy and movement, especially in the outdoor levels, I feel something is lacking in HL2.

Don't get me wrong it's a fantastic game, I loved the Prison level and Ravenholme. I just think I was rather spoiled by FarCry.

Re:Fantastic game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#10891528)

the freedom it allows in terms of strategy and movement

I felt the same way about Brick Out...

Re:Fantastic game (1)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891549)

That would be my only critique of HL2 having played Far Cry myself. Most FPS games have that tracked "amusement ride" feeling; in that you don't have much freedom to go out and explore or approach a goal different ways. That's where FC was an eye opener, if they'd just would have worked on the story, character design and AI a bit more the game would have been perfect.

Still I'll say HL2 is the best FPS I've ever played going back to the original Castle Wolfenstein.

The ending (Not spoiling) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#10891322)

The ending really sucks. Most of the game is good up to that point, but it was like the makers ran out of time and just threw on the ending at the last minute. It's a horrible letdown.

Yeah, but... (1)

Staos (700036) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891394)

Just think of the increase in ambient noise levels if they didn't do that, delayed it again, and threw on another six months of polish.

I would bet you could hear the screams ten miles from civilisation.

Re:The ending (Not spoiling) (1)

fobsen (798504) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891419)

The developers just wanted to keep the end open to continue the sequel in a few years. Hopefully they don't need as much time for HL3 as they did for HL2...

Physics engine breakthrough! (1)

iopha (626985) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891323)

Finally, I have found an outlet [] for my urges to smash bottles on people's heads... Technology is grand.

Re:Physics engine breakthrough! (1)

iopha (626985) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891349)

Wait, wrong game. Mod down!

Ow. (2, Funny)

csmacd (221163) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891505)

Too Late! PA is dead!

Warning: mysql_connect(): Host '' is blocked because of many connection errors. Unblock with 'mysqladmin flush-hosts' in /mnt/nfs-w1/users/penny-arcade/www/php_admin_heade r.php3 on line 11
Host '' is blocked because of many connection errors. Unblock with 'mysqladmin flush-hosts'
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Nice game but... (1)

crull (221987) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891326)

Ok, its a nice game and everything, but... a bit short? Im done, and waiting for HL3, at least expecting HL3. :)

Re:Nice game but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#10891344)

Not as short as Halo 2.

Re:Nice game but... (1)

Leroy_Brown242 (683141) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891443)

I fully agree.

I feel i was cheated some how, as the game was so short. I remember the first game taking me weeks to finish.

This is almost the same feeling I had when i beat Opposing Forces in a couple days.

Re:Nice game but... (1)

Specks (798579) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891454)

The logical next step for HL is to go from a single player FPS with networked play to a massive multi-player persistent world that is a constant battle with dynamic battle lines and story line content.

No no no no pro-problem! (5, Funny)

scribblej (195445) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891329)

I'd like to go go go ahead and go on record as saying that I've not not exper-experienced a single pro-problem with Half Li-Life 2.

Re:No no no no pro-problem! (1)

Leroy_Brown242 (683141) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891470)


The stuttering builds character! :P

burned before (-1, Flamebait)

spoonyfork (23307) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891330)

Please don't let HL2 suck as much as Halo2. Please please please.

Re:burned before (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891468)

Please don't let HL2 suck as much as Halo2. Please please please.

What part of Halo 2 sucked? The ending was a little weak (cliffhanger), but if you followed the story it did give a small amount of satisfaction. It was like the ending to Empire Strikes Back. The rest of the game is top-notch, and the multi-player component is the best I've seen. Half-Life 2 had to go and re-hash Counter-Strike (again!) to get a decent (not that I would call CS "decent", but apparently some people like it) multiplayer game in the box, and they didn't do anything new in the game besides updating the graphics.

It'd be nice if Valve would release a demo of HL2, so I could gauge how well it will work on my aging GeForce 3. At least with Halo 2, I know that it will work so long as I have an XBox. No need to drop another $200-500 to upgrade a video card so I can play the game decently.

Repeative and Boring (-1, Troll)

jbond03 (833329) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891331)

i feel the hole HL2 game was over hyped, and it feels repetative now, especially the driving levels with the horrible controlls. The whole game feels like its a show off for their whole engine and loses its fun after the first 2 hours of play.

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#10891332)


Review of the review (1)

Shut the fuck up! (572058) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891338)

-1 Redundant. Of course it rocks. What's next, movie reviews ala Katz? Nothing to see here, move along.

hl2 (2, Insightful)

Zlib pt (820294) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891348)

It's kinda small, but is worth's the money.
Don't forget the biggest MOD comunity on the world used HL1 engine, and 90% of their code is compatible with HL2.
A must!

You never played? (1)

Locdonan (804414) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891350)

I myself have played Half-life for only the first 3 minutes. I plan on buying the game tonight. If you are lost on a few inside jokes or people, does it really take that much away from the game?

Mods (5, Interesting)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891371)

I'm interested in the mods. is one I am very interested in

There needs to be a MMOFPS with more greed involved. Planetside doesn't cut it since you can't power your character up much. We need long term goals of: forming a good clan
Obtaining vehicles/equipment
Obtaining stats/levels
Creating a fortress

Heavy FPS fighting, and goal oriented tasks would keep your mind off the standard level grind found in current RPGS.

I'm not sure I have the coding power to pull this off though.

Nice ad placement. (0, Troll)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891372)

I love the HL2 ads to the right of the 9/10 HL2 review.

News for nerds my ass.

Re:Nice ad placement. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#10891548)

Your tin foil hat seems to be stuck up your ass.

All Hail (-1, Troll)

The Ape With No Name (213531) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891373)

All of the bitching about Steam should stop. If it weren't for Warezd versions of HL1 and little camping, shit-for-brains cheaters whose mama's didn't love them enough, I'd STILL be playing HL1 in the multi-player mode and treating your asses like Madonna treats dick AND we wouldn't need Steam. I haven't played HL2 multiplayer yet, but if Steam stops 1/10 of the various hacked up cheatmod shit I'll be on it.

Re:All Hail (2, Interesting)

Kenja (541830) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891395)

"if Steam stops 1/10 of the various hacked up cheatmod shit I'll be on it."

And if it causes the game to take hours to install (if you can actualy connect), slow to launch and pops up adds on your desktop? Steam is a joke, it has done nothing to stop pirates and will do nothing to stop cheaters.

Re:All Hail (1)

Infinity Salad (657619) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891501)

I think the purpose of Steam was really more to allow Valve to bypass publishers so they wouldn't have to share revenue. 'Stopping pirates' was probably stated to give the project a more noble goal.

(no, I am not saying that Valve was wrong to try and bypass; I am simply saying that they wanted to put a pretty face on it!)

Energy Storage...OF THE FUTURE! (5, Funny)

American AC in Paris (230456) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891385)

...lemme get this straight--you need to worry about how long your flashlight batteries last?

I mean, you've got this freakin' gun that can telekinetically heft and fling oil drums over great distances, but you've still gotta worry about flashlight batteries?

"Good news, Gordon! We've managed to create a palm-sized supergrenade that rends the fabric of space and time in a ten-foot radius! We've also developed a personal digital assistant that can run for over fifteen minutes on a single charge!"

Re:Energy Storage...OF THE FUTURE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#10891503)

It's even funnier how it seems to draw from the same powersource when Gordon is taking a sprint : He must be -really- lazy.

"Hey Doc, while you at busy at6 my HEV-suit.... Couldn't you built-in some running device ?" "If you need the power, just draw it from my flashlight energy source!"

Re:Energy Storage...OF THE FUTURE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#10891539)

Now, now, one thing at a time.

At least we've discovered how to manage a torch and gun at the same time.

Slashvertisement! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#10891392)

Nice Slashvertisement... Given that the users here provide content, are the registered Slashdot members entitled to know how much Slashdot gets paid for placing stories like this one on the front page?

Quid pro quo (4, Informative)

Infinity Salad (657619) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891393)

Quid pro quo is loosely translated as 'this for that.' What was stated above were 'caveats,' that is, 'qualifications or warnings.' -1 Offtopic. /dork.

Team Fortress Mod? (1)

pitdingo (649676) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891396)

Anyone heard of the status of the Team Fortress Mod, or Team Fortress 2? Team Fortress Classic is one wicked mod for HL 1.

Extremely impressive indeed (5, Interesting)

carcosa30 (235579) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891406)

I have to say, I was floored by HL2.

I didn't like the first one very much. I wanted to like it, but it gave me severe nausea, worst ever in a shooter except for Kingpin.

But in halflife2, the engine nausea is gone, and I was very surprised to find that the game pulled me in to an extent I haven't seen since maybe Doom2.

In Halflife2, it's the storyline that does it. Very dark take on a police-state future, reminding me a bit of science fiction stories like "The Sheep Look Up."

And the use of the physics engine is nothing short of phenomenal.

One serious criticism I have of the game is how bloody linear it is. It's almost like a rail shooter at times. Even out in the open, you're limited to a thin strip of land that you can drive on, and there's only one way to go-- tunnels collapse behind you, and the way forward is usually so obvious that it might as well have neon arrows pointing in that direction.

The climb-and-jump puzzles are back, too, and in my view that's not a good thing. Don't like 'em. I'd much rather have open-ended gameplay and maps that allow you to go anywhere and take any of several routes to the finish rather than extremely linear chutes that funnel you toward the finish.

Of course, with more open-ended maps, you'd miss out on all kinds of really interesting storyline, like Father Grigory.

Oh, and like they said, the engine is totally insane-crazy. At times it's almost like you're in a movie. And like the first one, there are numerous ways to skin a cat in many of the tactical puzzles. Once you realize that, the game gets a lot easier.

I don't see a lot of replay value with this one due to the extreme linearity. I understand people replayed the first one again and again, but that doesn't float my boat, personally.

Expect the mods on this one to be awesome, though.

Re:Extremely impressive indeed (2, Insightful)

scribblej (195445) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891509)

Well said. I agree with your analysis -- except that the game itself is just so fun that I am enjoying it my second time through, and I expect to have some fun with it in the future as well.

The interesting thing about the linearity of the game is that it's so natural -- the first time through I didn't really realize I was being led around by the nose.

As far as climb-and-jump puzzles go, I don't remember a single one. I remember a couple of points that were evidently supposed to be climb-and-jump puzzles (like 'stay off the sand!' and that radiation-filled room in the underground car tunnel) but I was able to complete these sections with a minimum of climbing and jumping through 'abuse' of the gravity gun.

Steam-like online distrubtion is inevitable (5, Informative)

onethumb (4479) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891410)

I wrote a short entry [] on Steam and why online distribution (or a worse alternative) is inevitable for PC games (console too, eventually). I'd love to hear some commentary on it from fellow /.ers.

Also, I've heard many complaints about Steam's bandwidth and whatnot. The solution [] is simple, and Valve went so far as to hire Bram Cohen, of BitTorrent fame, at one point to work on Steam. (Note the timestamp on this article before complaining I'm outta date :) No clue why it doesn't intelligently swarm yet...


Re:Steam-like online distrubtion is inevitable (3, Interesting)

onethumb (4479) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891455)

For those inclined not to click, the short story is thus:

- Half-Life 2 took tens of millions of $$ to make and 6 years.
- Valve only makes $5-10 per copy retail.
- With Steam, they can make closer to $25-30 per copy.

= We get better games if Steam is a success*
= If it's not, we'll see retail prices rise to $60-80 in the near future to compensate.

Long live Steam!

* If you buy into the more time + more money = better game. Given the right talent, I think it does, but there's always games like Rollercoaster Tycoon to prove us wrong...


Re:Steam-like online distrubtion is inevitable (4, Interesting)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891546)

> = We get better games if Steam is a success*
>= If it's not, we'll see retail prices rise to $60-80 in the near future to compensate.

I'd gladly pay $60-80 for a non-steam version of HL2.

> Long live Steam!

Because the day Steam's authentication servers go away, your $40 boxed retail version and your $30 pile of GCF files become worthless.

Praise Indeed (5, Informative)

CleverNickedName (644160) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891411)

It must also be said that valve did an excellent job on making the game accessable to lower end machines. It runs fine on my 2.7 GHz, 512 Meg laptop with no graphics card to speak of.

Not great, but "fine"... :)

someone PLEASE tell me.. (1)

Moustache N Tits (828608) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891415)

ok, so after the incredibly disappointing ending in Halo2, I have to ask... does half-life2 do the same thing? I got that impression from the review, but am I going to be as pissed at Valve as I was with Bungie for the studden credits half way through the story!?

Re:someone PLEASE tell me.. (1)

Leroy_Brown242 (683141) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891495)

The ending to HL2 left me thinking that if there isn't some more to this game soon, like a HL3, I'm going to have to back hand some bitches over there at Valve.

Good but not fantastic. (1)

eddy (18759) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891427)

It's a railway FPS with scripts acting out a scene before your eyes every so often. Most often, the finale of the scene involves you killing the actors.

It's nice, but like many other games which add something new to the mix (in this case the physics), too much time is spent trying to showcase the tech. "Really? You mean that if I add weight to that side, the other side will raise? Amazing! Can we do it again?"

I give it 3.5 out of 5. Good, but not very filling.

Stolen Code (4, Funny)

goldspider (445116) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891438)

No wonder it took so long to develop. It must have sucked having to start from scratch when that code got stolen. I wonder how the burglars got it out of the building. Did they put it in a briefcase and just walk out the door with it?

Re:Stolen Code (1)

Girckin (831557) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891516)

A hacker in Germany stole the code through their internet connection. They actually realized that it was happening part way through and ran around unplugging all of the computers, but it was too late to stop the transfer completely. See the Final Hours of Half Life 2 [] .

All i wanted was to play.... (2, Interesting)

Hexzero (744801) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891451)

Talk about a good place to finally shout, rant and scream. I was not planning on buying the game, but that changed when I saw a couple screenshots in a review a couple days before release. *edit*(Yes I know the code was stolen and authentication was needed) Two quick points- 1. Valve/Steam authentication Sucked! The servers were completely bogged down and I had problems for more then 26 hours after purchasing the game online. Why didn't I just buy the game at the store? Well, I would of had to authenticate through Steam/Valve anyway, so I though I was cutting out the middle Man. Turns out the man didn't care to much about it's customers. Read through the forums on their website and you will see that there were problems galore. Halo2 didn't run into server problems on their big release. Why? Because they anticipated the number of servers that would of been required based on presales numbers. Microsoft did something correct for once.... Point #2 The game has some great graphics! Facial animations are done to perfection. The storyline is half decent.. Outside of that, there is not much more to the game. I beat it in a couple days of playing off and on when bored or between football games. The only thing I have to look forward to is the spam I have been spraying on Valve/Steam's boards.... Mods will be the only thing that make this engine truely great! Final Conclusion: Save your money until Mods are released. The game is great, but there will be better on the horizon.

It's all about the engine (1, Insightful)

Stalyx (633692) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891452)

That's right people. Forget the game, it's merely a showcase of the true abilities of the engine. The game is good, nice story, stunning effects, a fairly high coolness rating... the engine on the other hand is the next generation

I know some of you will argue that Doom 3 is more visually appealing but doom 3 still had a lot of work needed on the muliplayer aspect. Whereas half-life 2 focused on the multiplayer. This fact alone makes it a more appealing to developers

Thanks Zonk! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#10891460)

Your fantastic review makes me want to buy it!.

Now go fuck yourself.

OS X users

Big Deal: Give me GTA (0, Troll)

DogDude (805747) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891462)

Big Deal. Another 1st person shooter. They've been around since Castle Wolfenstein 3D. Prettier graphics, better detail, better physics, but in the end, nothing truly innovative. Instead, I've been blown away by the story, acting, music, detail, depth, and freedom in GTA San Andreas. This is a TRULY unique series which I think blows away everything on the market. Sure, you need more than a rudimentary reptilian brain that reacts to flashes of light on the screen, but that's what makes it so awesome. I just don't understand the fascination with 1st person shooter #2156. On top of that, I'd have to buy a brand new $1000 computer to play it on. Uh, no.

To recreate the feel of an FPS: (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#10891463)

1. Start by putting on blinders. Peripheral vision does not exist.

2. Learn to walk, jog, and run in a perfectly fluid fashion. Never skid or stumble. Your locomotion should should approximate driving a boat on calm waters more than anything else. This balance is impeccable, regardless of nearby explosions, physical blows or bodily condition.

3. Climb, vault, and crawl at designated points only.

4. Assume all physical hazards have the impact of nerf bats to at most a strong punch. Revel in the fact that you can absorb blow after blow with only slight visual distortion when the immediate hit is made. (counterstrike players ignore this rule)

5. Most important: Strap your right hand to the trigger of a large gun. This shall be your primary interaction with everything. Never allow it to leave your field of vision unless swapped with another weapon. .... so am I the only one that thinks the FPS genre feels like so much new paint? Now that I've become a recent console convert, I must say that third person, paradoxically enough, feels more immersive.

HL2 (1)

VAXGeek (3443) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891472)

What was good:

Graphics, physics were awesome.
Single player is also totally awesome.
Everything looks great and feels really fluid.


Where's the rest of the SDK?!!
The ending... sorry, I just thought the last 2 chapters were REALLY boring. The ending reminds me of the ending of the 2nd Matrix movie.

Re:HL2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#10891512)

I enjoyed the last level (but not the ending) because of the gravity gun. It was almost as fun as abusing your Jedi powers in a Jedi Knight game.

Half-life 2's invisible walls annoying... (5, Interesting)

brxndxn (461473) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891473)

I am loving Half Life 2 and I think the game really rocks.. Though, I'm annoyed with two things..

You cannot skip a part of the game or 'take shortcuts' if you find a faster way to do something like in normal FPs's.. As an example, I used the airboat to jump through a dock area without blowing up some strategic exploding barrels to form an entry. But, when I tried to complete the next jump, I hit an invisible wall in midair... until I completed the first part and the 'wall' dissappeared. It's happened elsewhere in the game.

Also, the characters have no interaction. Freeman never talks and the other characters are invincible. So, I usually pelt them with barrels and other debris using the gravity gun while they're talking to me. It gets pretty funny sometimes when you smack a guy in the head with an exploding barrel from across the room and he just keeps talking..

In summary... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#10891474)

it sucks

Something you maybe didn't notice: (4, Informative)

Canthros (5769) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891478)

The game still looks good in lower-detail modes.

The last game I played through was Tribes: Vengeance, which runs off the UT2K4 engine. Doesn't run well at all on my decrepit GeForce 3 until quite a few things are turned off, at which point, only the number of polygons is impressive: the textures are muddy, the light soures don't glow, etc, etc.

Half-Life 2 ran beautifully on the same hardware at the same resolution with only a couple of settings turned down (textures at Medium, water reflections on simple). There were times when I needed to turn things down a bit more (shaders caused me problems at various points), but it still looked fantastic.

Correction... (5, Funny)

EpsCylonB (307640) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891484)

The sequel, Half-Life 2, has been in the works for almost six years and is one of the most hyped and anticipated games of 2004.

And 2003 as well, but thats a whole other story...

Missing feature? (4, Funny)

brundlefly (189430) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891486)

I was quite upset to discover that the game has no Super Turbo Turkey Puncher 3 console anywhere in any of the levels. Big disappointment.

trilinear filtering = UGLY (1)

michaeltoe (651785) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891493)

The least you could do is use some anisotropic filtering for the screenshots.

Doom3 Engine Comparisons? (4, Interesting)

_bug_ (112702) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891514)

Could anyone whose played both Doom3 and HL2 care to offer any comparisons between the two, on an engine level. (Try to ignore story, if possible.)

I've only played D3, and the items listed as breakthroughs in HL2 seem to already exist in Doom3. So is it just hype, or is there a real difference?

About the only thing I've heard thus far is that HL2's engine seems to be more forgiving for older hardware. Any truth to that?

multiplayer action... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#10891515)

when is the server coming out for HL2???

FYI: Stutter fixed & upcoming patch! (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891519)

See VE3D [] and here [] .

6 years development (2, Funny)

blanks (108019) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891520)

20 hours of game play. From what I have been hearing most people have just skipped the single player game, and are just going right into the multi player games.

Help re system specs experience! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#10891521)

I match the minimum. Anyone play with something similar? What's it like?

1.3Ghz Athlon
256mb RAM (Win98 not XP... I understand XP needs double the RAM for games or something)
Radeon 9700 (non-pro)
I plan to play it on my TV which is only 640x480 resolution.

So... ?

Quid pro quo? (1)

njfuzzy (734116) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891531)

"With all those quid pro quos out of the way, Half-Life 2 is an incredibly impressive experience."

I do not think it means what you think it means.

All I can say is... (1, Interesting)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891532)

.... gravity gun + sawblades + row of zombies == MAD FUN.

Seriously... I bought the CD, and had my issues with Steam the first day. Most people will bitch and moan about steam for months. I don't mind it so much, and the HL2 experience more than overshadows any steam issues.

Keep in mind... the people bitching about steam right now are the people who will bitch about it forever. The whole 'having to be online to play a single player game' isn't an issue for me, cause I got roadrunner on all the time, anyway...

well? (1)

dep01 (730107) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891538)

Is it like the original half-life? only it's half-life 1 on fire, going 130 miles per hour through a hospital zone, being chased by helicopters and ninjas...And, the ninjas are all on fire, too?

Defining moment? (1)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 8 years ago | (#10891540)

Pardon if I disagree. The opening sequence to Half Life was indeed impressive. And then you were presented with a pretty jumping puzzle, reminding you that no matter the story, games are about gameplay.

Finished! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#10891541)

OK so I just completed the what am I supposed to do for the next 6 years?
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