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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Chino, California
Re: HL2 review, 96% in PCG UK
Well, Einstein can preform triple salto-mortale in his grave, but that won't help him much. Long ago in the previous century (not actually that far, far away, but we must exaggerate, if the reviewer wants to create pompous atmosphere at the release of the game) a company named VALVe split the "gaming atom". It happened in 1998, the explosion was fantasticly shocking, but even worse was the nuclear winter which followed. The gaming world mutated and the cataclysm went so far, that we demanded from the game developers more and more crazy stuff. A lot of titles tried to experiment on the same level, and about games like Call Of Duty, Counter-Strike and Far Cry we can say that they actually represent the kidnapped or lost children of Half-Life.
Half-Life's descendant is neatly dubbed Half-Life 2 (I guess we now put together all the particles in one Life?), the shock, which the gaming industry has been through because of the BINKs we've seen, doesn't foretell nothing good for the future. At least not for the other developers. The genes are even more mutated. The games that will be inspired by Half-Life 2 will have to go through the same pattern, because ther is no other option left, except downfall. This game makes its own moves in ways of storytelling of a linear FPS. It's a game which grows through time, develops its potential through well placed inspirational routes. It's a sequel of HL1 and there is a big emphasis on to the second exact timed storytelling and production without any mistakes at all. In the game is gathered astonishingly lots of ideas and the experience, that lays in front of you, will be full of dramatic moment which will thrill your imagination for years. Our task is of course to review this thingy in a spoiler-free way. You don't want to know everything about the game, which will soon hit the store shelves.
Ambition of the game to tell the story in a most credible way as possible is big. The story will twist around about dozen characters, including some key protagonists like Barney and dr. Kleiner which survived the events in Back Mesa and of course the whole team of the rebels and aliens which will help Gordon on his ultra-violent rampage. Although some NPCs will be continuoulsy appearing through the game, their personalities and the level of detail will make sure you'll be completely amazed. The developers succedeed to mix facial animation with amusing and intelligently directed voice acting. The NPCs look very lifelike, though they are artificial, smooth jokes about various things are beautifully knit into the drama. In some parts of the game is this attention to detail devastatingly spectacular,.. your jaws will be knocking on the floor, we promise.
But this bonuses would mean nothing without the very with love made enviroments through which you'll go in wish to discover new pieces of the story. Gordon is pushed into City 17, which undoubtedly represents one of the richest and authentic gaming worlds that game developers ever created. Dirty flats combine with the armour surrounded city districts, everything directly [prepleteno] with a labyrinth of the sewer tunnels, abandoned aereadunhabited aereas descending to the deserted coast and high-tech adapted military buildings which are drawn out from nightmares, really. In short the enviroments, are made in architecture style of Eastern Europe, industry is present everywhere and cables hang from the crowd of the ships. Every being and every building give away a shadow into the enviroment and eventhough the the engine cannot compare with the quality of dynamic lightning of Doom 3 engine, Half-Life 2 succeeds to present a fenomenally high level of details and very natural look of the objects. The enviroments are completely convincing and City 17 represents installation without any comparison, a perfect arena for the events which evolve while we fight through the game, revealing its secrets and reading the dtory which involves so much grotesque disgust that we are afraid that will our nerves will be on the biggest strike again. This is science fiction, folks and stunt tricks are no rarity here.
You can easily see that this new world is set in time after the Black Mesa events. Experiments of teleportation which Lambda team was carrying out, didn't bring chaos only in the BM complex but into all the world. The city is filled with zombis and headcrabs, aliens from Xen now represend the oppressed population which was forced to retreat beneath the surface, away from the faschist boot of corporation Combine. Guards represent the brute force which supervisors and oppreses, creating a tense atmosphere. It's like we wold ind ourselves in some communist country where evne rats stink of revolution, really.
The opponents you will be facing in the game are mostly humanoids, meaning erect standing and something holding in their hands, if not even running and roaring at you with their bare hands. But they represent only a part of the trouble you will run into. Through the game will the intensity of the action itself rise and the city will outbreak in violence and of course, the helmet-head will try to prevent this, not with "pies and coffe" but with lead. The hunt on Freeman will begin on a more concrete level, that's where the striders and special forces are called in (like the Marines in HL1). These giants are quite a piece of metal to tame, in your delight the rocket launcher with laser guide come into play.
Like a bewildered giants they will howl and beat the ground with their machineguns and cannons making parts of buildings fly through the air and big craters in the ground. This single chapter in the game will be capable of more ferocity than most of the FPS can offer right now... but here is only one part in the whole epic war which you'll have to survive through the game.
Constant bombardment with events is ruthless and sometimes is just too much. It's never just a breakthrough through a corridor full of monsters, although there's lots of that in the game. There will alwyas appear a fresh and well desinged puzzle which you'll have to solve or you'll find yourself in another difficult and tense situation. The weapons also, we have to admit, will contribute at solving them, and whoever made them up, is of course a genious, especially their functioning will rip the stitches of your intimate clothing. Explosions will resound over the open spaces and firing a gun in tunnel will gradually cause deafness.
In the newest equation if HL2 you'l see something fresh - physics. Not the physics in which Gordon is an expert but the one, that makes the shrapnels fly around your head and enables throwing dead bodies. If we remember right, we used to laugh at bashing the enemy and watch him die, we also weren't calm about the interactive enviroment. Half-Life 2 takes that at a very high level because the physics represents the core of everything. Gordon can actually interact with almost anything that is around him. At first there will be moving the boxes and tin cans but later on through the game the physics engie will show of what it's capable to do. The tasks and obstacles on the journey will become bigger and more difficult and it's not just about deceit and effect which would serve the graphical atmosphere. Freeman will have to use objects of the world to beat the perils and get out of trouble. That's where the gravity gun comes in. With its help you'll be able to draw, throw or hold in the air a broad range of objects, what will be important later on in the game. Manuevering space for misuse and manipulation with the enviroment is big and since you can pick up furniture, computers and radiators, you'll like the thingy. You'll be very glad to throw a saw blade at zombie and in the same moment you'll think that this is actually a special moment which to perfection carries out the capabilities of realistic physical engine within a modern game. Think of that again when you slap the headcrab with a closet or when you take cover with some harder object from the sniper.
The diversity ov adventures in City 17 represents Half-Life 2 to the gaming community as the perfect sum of all levels in FPS gameplay of the last 5 years. Take for example Far Cry and its vehicles or the scripting and squad action in Call Of Duty and you'll have a hunch only about a bit of that what awaits you in VALVe's game. You'll chase around with vehicles on water and asphalt in two sequences in the game. It's about mentioned high-speed stunt tests which blow tons of dust in the air. With spectacular jumps you'll avoid ambushes and chew the steering wheel and you'll ask yourself if there is really necesarry to have such a great contrast between ways of gameplay in the game. let us respond quickly, it is. The metrocops will chase ferociously, in the city of ghosts you'll reveal a dark secret, you'll join the epic battles on the streets - a vivid repertoar indeed.
Freeman might be a hero, which rides alone, but in this fight he certainly won't be alone. Dozens of rebels will appear on his way and there will be quite a few groups which will join you in combat because they also want to uproot the evil and darkness from the city which was once their's. Even though their functioning is quite simplified, it is the realization of these NPCs excellent. When necesarry the characters will take the initiative, some other time they might send you in the front line, knowing that cracking the problem will take much more than just human effort. Meanwhile they'll give cover while you reload and they will be very glad if you command to advance forward. If there's a medic nearby, don't hesitate to use him on the aching parts of your body. The interaction with friendly characters looks and functions very intuitive.
Five years. VALVe needed five years to bring the players an experience, which is almost flawless and at the moment doesn't have any competition among FPS games. Some might complain that there is no other multiplayer than Counterstrike: Source, but that's why the single player experience clearly shows with what ease the community will be able to verate mods and what freedom will the creators have. The future will probably bring a lot of upgrades and total conversions, but the player will enjoy the original for years. Half-Life 2 is a game which must not be overlooked by any gamer. It has finally arrived. And it's a masterpiece.
PCF 96% The most beautiful moment of game culture on PC, regardless of half-life.
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Last edited by jAkUp; 10-01-04 at 12:22 PM.