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Old 10-13-04, 01:38 AM   #1
jAkUp
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Thumbs up Half-Life 2 PCGAMER US Review (text)

Just spotted this online...

PCGAMER U.S. Half-Life 2 Review

Why is Half-Life 2 he most important game you may ever play? Simple: It makes Far Cry weep and it smacks Doom 3 with its own flashlight. This year's hottest blockbuster entertainment won't be found at a multiplex, nor will it air on HBO...It's on your PC.

It's not just a videogame. It's not just a shooter -- Half-Life 2 is history in the making. It raises the bar for interactive entertainment, and then uses that bar to club all other games into submission. And yes, it's more than worth the wait. We banged down the big metal doors guarding Valve's office to get the worlds first review of this instant classic. We played from start to finish what no one outside of Valve has...and did it months before anyone else will. The secret is out. Half-Life 2 is finished. And it's a historic success for PC Gaming. Read on to see why...

First things first:
This review is a hype-free zone. Will I raveabout Half-Life2 with a smidgen of wild-eyed enthusiasm? Yes, I will -- and galdly, too. It's genuine enthusiasm for a mind-boggling, edge-of-your-seat experience that would make even the most reserved reviewer want to babbie cliches with gusto. Bu there's nothing to see through. While some games have eye dropping visuals, or amazing gameplay, opr maybe a cinematic story with good voice-acting, not one has ever delivered the complete package. Half-Life 2 nails it, surpassing the original in every way. There arn't words to describe just how well Half-Life 2 does what it does -- and my challenge is to find some anyway.

Insertion Point:
The events depicted in Half-Life have left the world a woefully different place. Killing Nihilanth didn't stop the alien invasion -- in fact, the Earth has surrendered to the aliens and is now under martial law. What's Gordon Freeman been up to all this time? The story, written by Half-Life scribe Mark Laidlaw, is cagey to the point of obtuseness. And while it cribs liberally from a host of sci-fi films -- most notably Total Recall, Starship Troppers, and The Matrix -- Half-Life 2 assimilates without being derivative. Just when you think you know what's going on..well, it turns out you don't.

At the beggining of the game, you're awakened by the G-Man -- whether literally or metaphorically, you're not sure -- to make good on the employment forced upon you in Half-Life's finale.

"Wake up and smell the ashes," he intones rhythmically, like the bastard love-child of The Matrix's Agent Smith and X-Files' Cancer Man. The world is in chaos and you are needed, your're told.
Fittingly, the gameplay begins with a train ride as the credits role. The allusion, of course, is to the long, drawn-out tram ride that began Half-Life; however, this trip is short and succinct. It's knowing commentary from Valve to the player: "We're not going to waste your time. Let's get to the action."
Gordon is in route to City 17, a place that was probably a sleepy Eastern Euro city, but now acts as the headquarters to Earth's new government. As you disembark the train, your eye is immegiately attracted to the prominent viewscreen displayed overhead. On the screen doing his best Big Brother impression, is Dr. Wallace Breen, the former director of Black Mesa and now the Interim Administration for Earth.
"I'm proud to call City 17 my home," Dr. Breen reassures. AS he speaks, his lips glide perfectly over the contour of every consonant and vowel. His face is slightly grizzled, graying, and wrinked; his skin etched by the imperfections of time and stress. Somehow, you don't quite believe what he's saying.
The city is under perpectual lockdown by the jack-booted soldiers of the Combine Overwatch, a Gestapo-type force that brutally enforces the new government's laws, Aooriach one and he'll jab you with an electric prod, ordering your to move along. Civilians shamble solemly around the station, mutering to themselves, all hope drained from their eyes.

Our Benefactors:
It's a tribute to the power of the Source graphics engine that despair seems to seep like sweat from the opressed. Soon enough, you're introduced to members of Earth's resistance, Dr. Kleiner and Alyx Vance. Kleiner was one of Black Mesa's balding, white haired scientists from the facility. As the virtual actors interact with one another and you, playfully smirking or resting a hand on another's shoulder, other emotions come to light. It's dramatic, natural, and sometimes even intentionally comicla.
For the last decade or so, a lot of lip service has been paid to videogames' inevitable reinvention as the cinema of the modern age. But not until Half-Life 2 has the marriage of design and technology actually fulfilled the promise. Let's tick down the list. Realistic scripting? Check -- Characters smoothly assume natural oses, looking and talking in your direction, no matter where you go. Voice-acting? Check -- Profession actores like Robert Guillaume and Robert Culp deliver real dramatic performances, not that phones-in crap heard in so many other games. And their characters' mouths are exactly matched to the words coming out of them. Visually intersting charachters? Check -- Some characters look so real and detailed that I was reminded of the all-CG movie Final Fantasy.
Incoorporating the lastest technology -- like dynamic lighting, specular bump-maps, and water refraction -- Half-Life 2 is a visual smorgasbord.
Indoor environments are so detailed that even quiet settings, such as Dr. Kleiner's lab, invite thougrough inspection. The visuals are at their weakest when Source is churning out large-scale outdoor environments, but it's not like you'll really be bothered by low-res textures on rock wall when the Combine is hot on your heels.
All this and I havn't even picked up a gun yet.

Gravity of the Situation:
Once Gordon dons his Mark V Environment suit, it's time to get down to buisness. After a few surprise twists (which I won't ruin), Gordon sets out to rendezvous with the resistance leaders -- both human and alein -- in their base.
To these freedom fighters, Gordon has become something of a living legend. This rock-star treatment is a stark contrast to the dismissive behavior thrown your way in Half-Life: everyone, even your adversaries, seems to have respect for your abilities.
(Except maybe Barney: In a sly reference to Fordon's cart-pushing job in Half-Life, the former security guard ribs Grodon goodnaturedly about his vaunted MIT degree when you participate in another experiment -- by pulling a lever.)
With your trusty crowbar firmly in hand, the "kicking ass" portion of the game begins, and you'll have a plethora of ways to destroy all the Combine tropps and headcrab zombies that stand in the way of your liberating Earth.
Naturally, Gordon runs across stashes of conventional weapons -- including a .257 Magnum (small, but gret for one-shot kills), a submachine gun, pulse rifle, and a crossbow (your sole sniping weapon).
But -- not to sound like an Army commercial or anything -- the deadliest weapon in Half-Life 2 is your mind. Thanks to the Havok physics engine, practically anything not nailed down has the potential to become and Unidentified Flung Object.
And now, some unshamed groveling: Thank you, Valve, for making the Zero-Point Energy Gun such an important part of Half-Life 2. Otherwise known as the Gravity Gun, it's the best gadget a commando scientist could wield -- letting you attract and hold an object with alt-fire, and then shoot it like a missile with primary fire. Its default mode sends out a crackling stream of energy that tosses even the heaviest objects...which come in handy for shoving smoldering cars and other large obstacles out of your path.
What jumping puzzles were to Half-Life, physics puzzles are to Half-Life 2. The Gravity Gun can be used to create makeshift bridges by posistioning a wooden plank over a cravice; to shield your body with a metal barrel or grate by holding it in front of you; to unlock a barricaded door by sliding out the metal slat keeping it closed; and to snatch health packs and ammo from inaccessible hidey-holes.
One of my favorite offensive uses for the Gravity Gun is to grab a radial sawblade, aim it at a pack of zombies, and watch it slice right through their midsections. Taking them down one by one would've eaten up precious ammo and been infinitely less cool.
The essance of Half-Life 2 is exploration and experimentation. It took me roughly 17 hours to complete the game, but I could easily -- easily -- see that playtime creeping into 20-plus hours considering all the nooks and crannies there are to explore.

Diversity in Numbers:
Half-Life 2 never gives you the chance to become bored with any one style of gameplay. One moment, you're scrambling thorugh an urban wasteland as flying razor bots zip around menacingly; the next level your're driving a swamp buggy through thick marshes while fending off gunships. Sometimes you're maneuvering a dune buggy solo down dusty roadways blocked by sni[ers and wrekcage; at other times you're fighting an all-out street battle alongside a group of squadmates.
Gordon actually fights alongside two different squads: One is a pack of Starship Troopers extras, called Ant Lions, theat are controlled by a bag of alien bugbait filled with a comforting scent; the other is a rag-tag team of human rebels outfitted with rifles and rocket launchers. Ordering my Ant Lion army to mangle Combine troops was fun, but there was no feeling quite alike coordinating rocket attacks on towering, spindly-legged alien Stripders late in the game.
My only nitpicky complaint is that your squadmates have a tendency to bunch up in doorways, blocking your path. A gentle nudge gets them out of the way, but the AI should know that just because I snuck into a cramped bathroom doesn't mean everyone on the team should join me.
There are so many genuine "Hell yeah!" surprises in Half-Life 2 -- I've hardly revealed any, since that would just make me an evil prick. But there's one bit that's just so amazing that I'm bursting to tell you about it: It's Dog, Alyx's oversized pet robot that has the demeanor of a puppy and the brawn of a Megatron. He moves, and the ground shakes. When Alyx introduces Dog to Gordon, it's feeling frisky and playfully anxious for you to toss around a ball -- one the size and weight of a satellite -- with your Gravity Gun. But in battle, Dog is a fierce combatant, lifting cars like there were made of balsa wood and flinging them at enemies.
In Short, I think I love Dog. And when you meet hime, you're going to love him too.

98%
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Last edited by jAkUp; 10-13-04 at 01:51 AM.
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Old 10-13-04, 09:01 AM   #2
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Default Re: Half-Life 2 PCGAMER US Review (text)

That is a very high score and a very positive review
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Old 10-13-04, 09:05 AM   #3
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Default Re: Half-Life 2 PCGAMER US Review (text)

Oh man...wetting my appetite,,,,,,DVD version where are u????
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Old 10-13-04, 09:41 AM   #4
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Default Re: Half-Life 2 PCGAMER US Review (text)

I'm waiting for this to hit the newsstand shelves. It's nowhere to be found yet, though it appears that my local Borders was making some shelf space for it.
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Old 10-13-04, 11:03 AM   #5
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Default Re: Half-Life 2 PCGAMER US Review (text)

Yeah, I wanna pick my own copy up also. HL2 will probably go gold in the next 2 weeks. I can't wait. Steam is my new best friend since it will give me my HL2 ASAP!!!! One thing I can't wait for is the gravity gun. That's going to be a huge part in my game play experience.
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Old 10-13-04, 12:13 PM   #6
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Default Re: Half-Life 2 PCGAMER US Review (text)

Not to sound...insulting...but of course they give it a positive review! Heheh, what, you thought they would say the gameplay sucked?


I really hope, really, really do, that it kicks as much ass as the article would lead you to believe...
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Old 10-13-04, 12:22 PM   #7
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Default Re: Half-Life 2 PCGAMER US Review (text)

Don't be so quick to say its a biased review. Remember, PCGamer has a reputation to keep. Their reviews are supposed to keep you from buying ****ty games. If they fail to do that accurately, they lose readers.
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Old 10-13-04, 01:08 PM   #8
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Default Re: Half-Life 2 PCGAMER US Review (text)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jAkUp
Don't be so quick to say its a biased review. Remember, PCGamer has a reputation to keep. Their reviews are supposed to keep you from buying ****ty games. If they fail to do that accurately, they lose readers.
Explain the Doom 3 review then . That was the most hyped review I ever read and after playing the game I was disgusted with wasting my money.
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Old 10-13-04, 01:40 PM   #9
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Default Re: Half-Life 2 PCGAMER US Review (text)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Omega53
Explain the Doom 3 review then . That was the most hyped review I ever read and after playing the game I was disgusted with wasting my money.
.
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Old 10-13-04, 01:41 PM   #10
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Default Re: Half-Life 2 PCGAMER US Review (text)

they got some money to get them to write that 98% rating.
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Old 10-13-04, 01:53 PM   #11
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Default Re: Half-Life 2 PCGAMER US Review (text)

Hey I thought Doom3 was great. Maybe not as great as PCGamer made it to be, but it was still great...

fine you win
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Last edited by jAkUp; 10-13-04 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 10-13-04, 04:19 PM   #12
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Default Re: Half-Life 2 PCGAMER US Review (text)

i was very pleased by doom 3. I was just hoping that Half-Life 2 would have been released on the 30th, coz i finished doom 3 on the 28th. Of course that plan fell flat.
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