So I’ve finally played Half-Life 2. And it’s awesome! The trick is, Valve sat down and and thought up a whole bunch of set-piece scenarios to put you in. So it’s not just running from one room to the next shooting people, and you never feel like you’re doing exactly the same thing twice. The gravity gun adds a lot too – Valve’s strategy seems have an emphasis on thinking of clever things you could do with it, rather than adding a huge arsenal of guns.

Classic moments!
-Flinging saw blades at zombies
-Charging around the beaches on a buggy, looking for safe spots from the Antlions
-Arranging a safe path over sand with bits of debris, again to avoid antlions
-Bitter shootouts with scaring looming tripods in the city streets

No Xen section, for those of you who hated it first time around. Also, the urban environments are very well done – I’m out of touch with the latest graphics but to me the Source engine looks really awesome in action, even in locations that don’t sound too promising like ruined warehouses.

The story is minimalist in some regards – by the end you still don’t really know much of what’s going on – but still quite gripping. And there’s a strong element of human drama thanks to the characters you meet. They really are brought to life in a convincing manner – animation, choreography and voice-acting are the best I’ve ever seen in a game. More on that point in a future post.

Anyway I’d like to replay the original but have lost the CD, godammit. However, I’ve already shelled out on the (confusingly titled) Episode 1. Steam is insidious like that, it’s so easy to spend money!