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'nother review of an old(er) game

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EricBall

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This weekend while my wife was in Miami and my son was at school or asleep I played far too much Half Life 2. I got the game as part of the Orange Box for the PS3, which I bought to play Portal. But HL2 is an FPS and thus is verbotten in my wife's opinion. But what she doesn't know. . . Based on the walkthrough, I've played through over half of the game (maybe even two thirds). And although I had fun, it wasn't quite as satisfying as the original. I will say that I thought many of the environments were extremely well done. City 17 felt real. You could feel the oppression, depression and collapse. The sheer hopelessness is amazing. Ravenholm was convincing as a zombie town. And the train bridge captured the feeling of climbing hundreds of feet over the river.But there were many other things which I didn't like. The biggest is how linear the game is. You can't get lost, although you may have to search a little to find the next exit. But when I was trying to escape City 17 I quickly realized I simply had to follow the most obvious path and I would be on the right track, which kinda defeated some of the fear & tension.Also high on my list of dislikes is how long the loads take. Maybe it's just the PS3 port, but I found it very annoying when the action stops as it loaded the next section. Since the game is linear, couldn't the next level be loaded in the background half-way through the level? It's also kinda sad when I can predict when a set scene is going to occur.I also found the story worse than HL1 - in spite of it being more complex. Why the G-Man brings you back and where the new Combine aliens came from is never really explained. And maybe Dr. Breen isn't the "bad guy", he's just trying to make the best of a near hopeless situation.Finally, the NPC and enemy AI doesn't seem to act as intelligent as HL1 - i.e. charging mindlessly into overwhelming fire. (Although it's kinda nice when I had the big gun on the car. I'd park the car, spring the trap, then run back to the car.) And although it's initially distressing when "friendly" NPCs get killed, I quickly realized there was no impact. (And if they are dumb enough to attack a gunship with an SMG standing out in the open, then the predictable will happen.)

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One negative I forgot to mention was the gravity gun. Sure it's cool to be able to catch/lift/drag/throw objects, but which objects the gravity gun works on is extremely limitting. I wanted it to work like Force Unleashed, grabbing enemies with the gravity gun and hurling them to their doom. That being said, the saw & hook "weapons" in Ravenholm are cool. Unfortunately, some enemies can't be sliced in half - most annoying & frustrating.

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I enjoyed Portal, but couldn't play any of the other Orange Box games due to motion sickness (not sure why I wasn't affected by Portal). The load times in Portal sucked. It's definitely a poor port in that regards as level loading isn't an issue in other PS3 games I have.

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Just bought Half-Life 2 for my Xbox for $5. I've been wanting to pick this up for a while; but I've never played it nor the original before.

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When the game flashes up at you "quicksave", it's probably a good idea to save. Save early, save often is a good motto.

 

Don't worry about the story if you haven't played the original - just kill everything that tries to hurt you. Although you can often survive a one-on-one standup fight, you will die if you're outnumbered and/or outgunned if you just stand there and take the damage. Therefore sneaking and snipping from cover is often a good idea, or running/driving very quickly. Oh, and unlike many FPS games - just 'cause you cleaned out an area before advancing doesn't mean you're safe from attacks from the rear.

 

Watch your ammo, reload often and try not waste it. (Although there are places with infinite ammo, including the ammo box on the back of the buggy.) Oh, and beware of accidentally killing yourself with the secondary fire.

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Well I finally finished Half Life 2 after an 18 month hiatus. Unfortunately the last third was much like the middle third. There's some frantic battles but no new weapons (until the final chapter) or puzzles. You do get the opportunity to take down some Striders, but only if you have an infinite supply of rockets. Otherwise it's a slog along the linear path trying to preserve health and ammo until the next resupply point.

 

Oh, it turns out there are some areas with infinite enemies. So if you hang back and try to eliminate the opposition from cover you will eventually run out of ammo and/or take fatal damage. So you either have to dash from one safe area to the exit, or dash into danger (which then shuts down the enemy generator).

 

In the final chapter you finally get a super gravity gun which can pick up your enemies. But rather than flailing around like they do in Force Unleashed, they turn into rag dolls - dead even before they are thrown into their comrades.

 

I'm now debating whether to play through Episode 1 & 2.

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