This game is obviously more recent than my last game I reviewed, but know that I only review games I recently played. Perhaps many of you have heard of this one? I hear it's a dousy!
I was not hesitant to enter the world of Half-Life 2. I mean, having beaten the original and both its expansion packs (and loved them to boot), I was obviously eager to play the much hyped-up sequel... but then again, I was still playing the original Half-Life online (!), so maybe I was jumping in too early? Nevertheless, HL2 (after a good session of play) gave me everything I expected from the name: Cool guns, smooth controls, mutants, dry storyline... wait a minute! Yes, HL1 was not the insanely awesome single-player that many hype it up to be. Almost devoid of a story, it was a fun time, but I was often questioning why I need to ride mine-carts for hours on end. Sadly, HL2 falls to many of HL1's same flaws. The game makes you think something awesome is a brewing at the beginning... but pretty much nothing significant happens for literally the rest of the game. The humans and enemies both come in large numbers, but no one is really that memorable. Still, it's not like HL2 doesn't improve on things: gameplay, graphics, and environments all come with noticeable changes and improvements (more on that later though).
The pistol is a pretty useful when you...aw, forget it; the pistol blows!
Who cares about single-player anyway? After all, the real reason I loved HL1 was because of its ridiculously fun online play... damn it! I forgot Valve decided not to include online play on the Xbox version! Sure, I can't play online on Xbox without broadband anyway, but I'm fine with simple split-screen! Don't question your sales when you rip the best damn part out of the game! #&$% you Valve! ... Whew, now that I got out of my system, I'll go back to single-player reviewing... since I have no choice!<Br>
A few things HL2 was heavily hyped-up about: high-end graphics and a realistic physics system. The graphics are definitely fine looking and they look like they lost nothing in the transition from PC-to-Xbox. Granted, I still think there are better looking PS2 and Xbox games out there (HL2 is missing a certain... "pizzaz"), but HL2 is still an excellent achievement and is well above the norm. The gameplay is essentially the same as the original (not a bad thing), but the Havok physics engine adds enough dimension to it to make the gameplay "sequel-worthy." A few more things to note (it's a deep game!): environments and atmosphere. The developers obviously noticed that you waded around dark corridors and sewers for far too much of the first game, so the developers wisely made the choice to see the great outdoors (or at least larger spaces) more in the sequel. Impressive, dark, and intriguing atmosphere is peppered into the massive environments too (Ravenholm anybody?)
The sci-fi levels at the end of the game are possibly the games' finest (and are almost Halo esque).
HL2 is not without its problems though; it's still no Halo. The game is exceedingly long, not like a FPS has to be 10 to 12 hours (HL2 goes somewhere above 25), but when HL2 forces you to ride a dune-buggy through the mountains for the next 3 hours, you're not exactly having the time of your life. HL2 (like HL1) is also a bit too dependant on shooters of the past (get a new toy and use it for the next level, varied effort put into places, etc.), however perhaps it wouldn't be Half-Life without being like that...
Bottom Line: For everything I can find fault with HL2, somehow, even with its faults in play, I can still have a damn fun time with the game. Yes, the game is overrated, but as a shooter, it gets the last ticket to first class, and, as a PC type of shooter, it is still the best FPS series on the platform, even without the multiplayer!