Monday, 25 July 2011

We don't go to Ravenholm...

Half-Life 2 (PC, XBOX, PS3)
I finally completed Half-Life 2, after approximately 2 weeks of obsessive, addictive gameplay. The only obvious thing I could do was write a review! Read on...
In those 2 weeks I honestly couldn't stop thinking and even dreaming about this game; I constantly wanted to play it! It was more an experience for me than a fully-fledged game; I felt like I was really there, I really was Dr Freeman, I really was fighting the Combines, and there really was something spectacular going on--a rebellion, a war.
Half-Life 2 is a game by VALVE (the company that brought you Left For Dead 2, Portal, Team Fortress 2), and was released in 2004 on PC, and was also released on other platforms.
 It's a linear game, but trust me; it hardly seems linear, although if you analysed the levels you could tell. Being led to different areas by the different characters seems natural--a natural flow into the next area of the game. Sometimes certain games really feel linear, but this one didn't, and was engaging enough to carry on.
The beginning of an odyssey                             "You're waiting for a train...a train that'll take you far away..."
"Welcome to the world of Half-Life 2--here your journey begins" says the images before you as the game starts.  And what a world it is.
You're thrown right into the storyline as soon as you load the game up, and the storyline takes no time to get in to. The immersion in the beginning chapter foretells the immersion in the other chapters; you get completely sucked into the game and the lives of those around you in-game, and strive to help the world become a better place.
The thing I love most about this game is it doesn't use any clever tricks or ultra-stylized graphics to lure consumers into thinking it's a good game. Half-Life 2 needs nothing like that. Half-Life 2 is no show-off, that's for sure. Everything in the game is there for a reason, and nothing feels shoehorned in.  No weapon is there to take just because you can--each different weapon/piece of equipment serves you well in the future, and that's how it should be. This game really does set itself apart from all other shooters (so much so that it's strange even calling Half-Life 2 a shooter)--adding in a completely understandable and interesting storyline, and also real-time cutscenes. This adds to the atmosphere quite a lot, not having to switch from gameplay to HD cutscene, and back again.
The gameplay feels fast, smooth and overall, clever. The keys 12345 and 6 are for your weapons/equipment, and is extremely easy to switch between each weapon. I never got any lag between switching my weapons. Left click is for shooting, right click is for rolling grenades (this will be useful when you get further into the game) and using a certain piece of equipment, and the scroll button is used to scroll through your weapons instead of pressing numbers on your keyboard. Space is for jump, WASD to move, ctrl to crouch, and that's it. The controls are simple enough and makes the game alot easier. 
I'll try not to go into a full-scale review, as I'm sure most people have already read a few reviews on Half-Life 2--this game wasn't released recently, of course, but I'll be trying to write about all the different games I play.
Audio: 8   If you think you're going to get epic ditties as found in Super Mario Galaxy, you'll be mistaken--there are no full-scale OSTs in this game, as far as I can tell, although sometimes you'll hear a bit of music in certain situations. In a different sense, however, the audio is very good, in terms of things you can hear around you; the lone growl of your car, the wind tearing through the terrain, and the ear-splitting shriek from crazed zombies. It all adds to the atmosphere, and I love it.
Gameplay: 9   With the gunplay, driving etc., the gameplay is exciting, and seeing as you're in full control of your character throughout every second of the game, it's a great experience.
Graphics: 9  I think it's probably the best looking game I've played in a while, seeing as most of the games I play are pixellated (on purpose!) or look their age. Half-Life 2 definitely doesn't seem as old as it does, and all the graphics look smooth.
Plot: 9  Very immersing and a joy to follow, the plot really does make this game fun to play--if you're ever stuck on a part of the game, or you're left alone with zombies surrounding you, you're constantly wishing for someone from the storyline to come and help you out of whatever mess you're in, and if there's a part you're not doing so well, you push yourself further to get past it and on to the next chapter.
Overall score:  9/10  An exciting game, and one that will be one of my favourites for a long time to come. If you haven't played it already, what are you waiting for?

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