Half-Life 2 review by Tyson

Overall

Buy

     I found Half-Life 2 to be a very fun and I enjoyed how the game was designed with older first person shooter games in mind. If you want to go back to a day where you could carry more then 2 guns, not have regenerating health, and decent level design then Half-Life 2 is your game.


Gameplay

     Since I havenít played the first Half-Life game I am not fully understanding the games story. From what I have picked up though it seems that this foce known as the Combine have enslaved the Earth. You end up playing as the kick butt scientist Gordon Freeman. It is up to Freeman to fight back the Combine and help free humanity. Overall I was happy with what I was able to get from the story. I found myself liking many of the npc characters such as my favorite Alyx Vance.

     Half-Life 2 seems like a more advanced Doom or Quake and I have to say that I like that. I like how you need to collect health packs to refill your health and how you get a multitude of usable weapons instead of just getting to use 2 or 3 like so many Halo inspired first person shooters. Speaking about the weapons the game does do a good job with them. You get some basic shooter weapons like a pistol, a shotgun, or a submachine gun but you also get some cool weapons like a Gravity gun that lets you lift up and move objects around the environment. I have to say that I had a lot of fun using weapons like the Gravity gun throughout the game.

     Any decent first person shooter needs some excellent levels to play around in and Half-Life 2 is able to pull this off very well. You get a good mixture of levels like a destroyed city area with City 17, a horror based area with Ravenholm, and some futuristic areas like the Citadel. The level design seems like it is built like a cross from puzzle like areas in Doom and more straigth forward levels in stuff like Halo or Call of Duty. This makes the levels fun to play and helps reduce the feeling of getting lost but there are still times for example where you will get stumped until you find that ladder to climb behind some pipes. Also I did find some spots in some levels where the difficulty curve was pretty brutal such as the end of the City 17 level where I had to fight some giant three legged Strider enemies.

     One of the biggest innovations that Half-Life 2 brings to the first person shooter market is the use of physics. There are times where you will need to stack items to get up to high to reach places or use some items like bricks to create a counter weight to lift up a platform so you can reach another area of the level. I did find some times though where the physics system felt a bit weird such as one time where part of a crate got stuck under this go-kart like vehicle that I was driving. Though I didnít find any issues where the physics kept me from being able to complete the game or cause me to reload from a previous save.


Control

     I had no issues with the control setup in Half-Life 2. You can fully customize the control setup to fit how you play. I kept everything at the defaults and had no problems. I liked the WASD movement setup and being able to use my mouse scroll wheel to switch through my weapons was a nice touch.


Graphics

     I am suprised by how well the graphics in Half-Life 2 have held up over a decade. The character models and texture work still look great to this day. The environments look great as well. Even things like the water effect still look great. The only issue I had with the graphics was the very few framerate stutters I would get throughout my playthrough.


Sound

     The musc and sound effects also hold up very well. I enjoyed the sound effects used for the various enemies or weapons. There is something awesome about hearing a combine soldier talk into his intercom. I also enjoyed the voice work for the game but it was kind of weird to never have Gordon Freeman talk though. Still games like this show that a silent protagonist can be done with other characters being fully voiced.