Friday, July 25, 2008

Half Life 2: Episode 1 (2006)

I liked how HL2: EP1 started off right where HL2 ended. It really added to the continuity of the game as opposed to HL1 expansions where you were replaying through the same events just from a different side (Which was still good just not the same). It was also better than the time difference between HL1 and HL2 since you not confused about what has occurred between the 2 games.

It really felt like they trimmed out the fat parts of HL2 and bumped up the action. No long boring sewer section or even vehicle sections (I didn't hate these parts in general in HL2 just the excessive length of them). Just lots of on foot action against the combine and some zombies.

Did find it funny that you start with just the gravity gun and one of the last weapons you get is the crowbar. So it sort of reverses the usual game gun sequence. They also gave me the longer underground subwayish scene I was craving. I also liked the burnt out city scenes you travel through.

Lots of nice action scenes and scripted events. I think I might like it more than HL2 though I wouldn't have wanted to miss HL2. Just combine them together and remove the slow/overly long sections into one more fun game. I still like the City 17 and outside sections more than in the Combine's tower though. Crumbling scifi cities feed my post-apoc love.

Now to finish off my playthrough of the HL series with EP2.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Half Life 2 (2004)

Finished my replay of HL2. The first time while I enjoyed the game, I was let down by the "on a rail" experience that it was. I was used to more open ended maps that some other games offered and was hoping HL2 was going in that general direction. Even if it was not a fully open world at least the illusion of freedom even if all roads led to the same map exit.

This time it was more enjoyable since I knew what to expect. Just think of it as a sci-fi action movie where your always on the run. The best parts to me were the beginning and other combat sections in City 17. I really want to see a RPG in this setting. It would have been also nice to be able to explore it more. Still had the most fun fighting the combine in the urban environments and I also liked the short underground tunnel zombie fight. I preferred that to Ravenholm and would have liked the tunnel to be a longer sequence.

While I liked the scenery and some of the bit pieces during the boat and car sections, those seemed to go way to long than they should have. Maybe it was because these came after a overly long sewer/pipe section. I didn't mind them in general just after a while they were too long as if it was just an excuse to show off vehicles and physics. The occasional stop, while enjoyable, didn't help since I knew I had to get back in a vehicle. I'm not against vehicles, just these sections were way to long for their own good. I didn't want to just drive past everything, I wanted to go check it out.

The atmosphere of the environments and attention to detail were top notch though. I loved slowly walking through the worn out urban decay. Its amazing the amount of stuff in each level compared to HL1. Maybe thats where my let down comes from as I wanted to take my time and explore these sections instead of being pushed through them. Maybe they tried that though and testers got lost and didn't like that since not everyone is into just wandering around the wastelands.

I also played through the extra level Lost Coast. While it looked pretty and was nicely full of environmental stuff, it was quite short and you didn't get to go to the interesting looking places. While it was decent for a quick playthrough, I really wanted to get to the town or industrial area. I did explore a wreck behind where you start but wanted to explore the others too. Maybe I need to switch back to Morrowind or Oblivion to get my exploration fix.

Now off to play Episodes 1 & 2. I really need to try Garry's mod, for some world building fun and maybe see what other SP HL2 mods are out there.