Whatwhatwhat? It’s less than five hours long? Those people telling me it’s 8 or 9 hours are bloody liars. Mind you, they also said Episode One was 5 hours and I did it in three and a half. Anyway.
But what an amazing five hours it was. Better in every way than Episode One, improving on even Half Life 2 itself – partly graphically, but mainly because of the number of quality, epic set pieces. The ambush in the village, the Hunter attack, and, especially, the final fight.
At the end of Episode One, there was a fight against a single Strider in an enclosed space. It was pretty poor, to be honest, not to mention easy. The end of Episode Two, however? How about 10 Striders and a swarm of Hunters, with a new weapon to take them down? Epic!
Now Valve – let us have Episode Three nice and quick, yes?
So I came out of the bit I was in, found a car (which required completion of a see-saw puzzle – a HUGE see-saw puzzle), and then Alyx and I set off for The White Forest again, without the Vortigaunt. I was worried the car bit was going to be like the car bit from Half Life 2, but thankfully was far less annoying.
Partly because I can run zombies down in it. Ace! Then I found an old building with a radio transmitter, but in the process of exploring it some Hunters attacked. They’re a bit like a cross between a Strider and an Ant-lion, sort of, with electric shooty wires. The best way to kill them was to throw heavy objects at them – aceness!
So a helicopter started chasing me, and I took cover in a train yard, where some rebels were stationed. I helped them take down the chopper (by chucking its bombs back at it), and then had to navigate a junk yard full of zombies and soldiers to take out some autoguns. With that done, it was back on the road, looking for Lambda weapons caches on the way.
Gah, dammit. The perils of leaving games you don’t want to play yet in your console. I saw it there, on the 360 dashboard, and couldn’t help myself and started playing it.
So far: very good. It’s different to both Half-Life 2 and Episode One, mainly because you’re not in or around the city. It’s also improved graphically a little too, especially character models. The HUD has had a few tweaks as well, and the flashlight and oxygen meters are no longer one and the same.
Most of the play so far has been in and around some mines and ant-lion tunnels, mostly accompanied by a Vortigaunt who is either overly praising of my endeavors, or is incredibly sarcastic. I fell through a hole into a pit, and he said something like “The Freeman is very thorough in his exploration”.
I then came out of the mines and found myself having to kill not one, but two ant-lion guardians. Thankfully, I had cover and help from the Vortigaunt. Now I’m in some sort of warehouse full of zombies and headcrabs, while Alyx and the alien cover me using a sniper rifle. Woo!
Erm, that was very quick. I know the game is meant to be short, but I’d heard around 5-6 hours. Imagine my surprise, then, when I killed the game’s one and only Strider and then the game finished, just three and a half hours in.
So yes, it was good, but as well as it’s length it didn’t do anything new. The whole episode was made up of bits from Half-Life 2, only in a different order.
Time for another break before I play Episode Two, now. Maybe by the time I get round to completing that, there’ll be an Episode Three ready to play. Besides, NiGHTS just popped through my letterbox…
With a few games since Half-Life 2 was completed, I felt it time to return to the story. I’d heard Episode One was pretty short too, so it’ll be good for a quick play before starting something else.
So far, it’s more of the same. Sort of. No crowbar though! There was a bit at the start getting back into the Citadel, stablising the core, then getting the hell out. Then a train crash, then a bit in a multistory car park, and then some running through the streets with ant-lions and snipers.
It’s good and all, but I haven’t got much in the way of weaponry (unlike the previous outing), and there haven’t been any “OH! WOW!” moments yet either. Having Alyx follow round all the time isn’t actually annoying (it’s not an escort mission – I hate them), as she does help take out baddies for me, so that’s OK.
Well, I wasn’t expecting to complete it tonight, but the last two chapters were very short and so I did. Erm, hurrah!
I won’t spoil it for anyone else who hasn’t played it yet, but the last few hours were mostly filled with huge battles with striders and gunships, and hordes of baddies. Luckily, you’re accompanied by a team of other people for much of it, until you reach the Citadel, anyway.
The end boss was a bit easy, although I did die on him once. And the ending clearly leaves everything wide open again. At least I know there’s Episodes One and Two to follow!
Overall then… really good. As I said before, however, it isn’t a proper sequel to Half-Life, and there have been so many FPS alien invasion games in recent years that even the story isn’t as great as it could be, but if you just take it for what it is, then you won’t mind. 4/5, probably.
I’ve just realised, but “Eli Vance” sounds like “elephants”. A bit. If you squint.
Anyway. I made it all the way through Nova Prospekt, including a few bits where I got to place some turrets of my own (before Alyx activated them). Found Eli, although couldn’t actually release him at first, until I made it to a teleporter and Dr. Mossman went loopy and did a runner with him.
Eventually got my turn in the teleporter, and Alyx and I ended up back in City 17 at Dr. Kleiner’s lab – a week after we’d teleported out! All sorts of things seem to have happened now, and I’m about to set foot back outside in the city with Dog…
Played loads of this today, and finished the whole buggy section. It took longer than was probably necessary as I stopped at every junction, house and building to see what was inside – usually ammo I didn’t need and baddies I certainly didn’t need.
The buggy section, like the airboat bit before it, seemed to go on far too long. It was more fun than the airboat bit, and you actually felt like you were getting somewhere in it (whereas with the airboat you seemed to go round in circles a lot), but it would have been better with less driving.
It didn’t help that when I finally had to give up my buggy at the lighthouse, I was told to put it in the garage. So I did, and then died. No warning – just death. Bizarre.
I had to take down quite a few of those gunship crafts today as well. They’re a pain, as you can only kill them with rockets, but you can only carry three at once, fire one at any one time, and although you can “steer” the rocket, the gunships can shoot the rockets down. So they take quite a while to destroy as you have to constantly go looking for more ammo.
Bumped into one of the best baddies just before the railway bridge – a man with poison headcrabs all over him. The reason he’s great? He meows like a cat, and throws the headcrabs at you. Like the Mad Cat Woman from The Simpsons. Amazing.
After the buggy section, there was a long bit where you had to get across some sand, touching only the rocks, platforms and debris on the way. Touch the sand, and some antlions come out. There’s an achievement for doing it all without touching the floor too, so I made an effort. Managed it too, but didn’t get the achievement! Rubbish. Then had to kill an antlion queen (or something) and was then shown how to use the antlions on my side, and spent most of the trip into Nova Prospekt sending antlions out to do my bidding and kill the Combine soldiers. Aces.
Finally for today, I made it into Nova Prospekt, and it reminds me of Manhunt from the surroundings (it used to be a prison or mental hospital – or both). Had another antlion queen to defeat there too. My game save says about 8.5 hours now. I understand that there’s around 12 hours play in the game, and I suspect I’m a little behind schedule, but there’s not loads left now, I don’t think…
So Ravenholm is straight out of Resident Evil. They might not be actual zombies, but they’re no so different. And then there’s The Predator who jumps around the rooftops and climbs drainpipes. Oh, and the harder versions of the headcrabs who poison you as well as jump on your face.
I didn’t really like Ravenholm that much. Nothing about it seemed like Half-Life to me at all, and the loon from the church just detracted further. After that, it was onto the mines, which were full of headcrabs and poisonous headcrabs, and then it was out into the open and I got myself a car (of sorts) with a gun on it.
Played through a bit more of this this morning. There was a huge section on an air boat thing, which did seem to go on for longer than it really needed too, ending in a fight with the helicopter that had been chasing me for most of the game so far.
After that, I found Eli’s lab, with Alyx inside, and spent a while playing catch with Dog – a robot. I could play catch, since I had been given the Gravity Gun – aces!
Then the Combine found us in the lab and I had to leg it down towards Ravenholm, which I thought was a place in World of Warcraft.
Now, you see, I bought The Orange Box for Portal. And nothing else. Although I did think that perhaps I’d like Team Fortress 2 a bit, as although not my usual sort of game, the unseriousness of it appealed. And so It Was Done, and The Game of Orange was Purchased, and Lo, Portal was Divine and Team Fortress 2 was Lovely. There was much rejoicing.
And today, I was going to play TF2 a bit more, for I thought, why not try Half-Life 2 for a bit? After all, I did love the first game, and completed it several times so many moons ago. I never bothered with the sequel as the story didn’t sound so great. I mean, I loved the running round the Black Mesa facility, so being in the open world? Just seemed too much like every other FPS ever. And aliens taking over the world? Yawn, Halo 2.
But. It’s great! Not as great as the original (yet), and missing things like the brilliant intro and stuff, but it has many of the same characters and stuff.
So far, I’ve been incorrectly teleported, got my crowbar (yay!), and escaped through the sewers and beyond on a hovercraft thing. Lots of shooting, a bit of puzzling, ace!