Most PC gamers have already heard the hype of Half Life 2. Many already own it. For those who don't, I want you to know that Half Life 2 lives up to its hype. It is definitely one of the best First Person Shooters out there. I got the Orange Box a few months ago, and I just finished Half Life 2 and EP 1/2 for the second time. Because The Orange Box is now only $30, and it comes with Half Life 2, Episode 1, Episode 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2. Those who haven't had the pleasure should definitely consider buying it.
Keep in mind that because Half Life 2 can only be played with Valve's Steam authorization program, YOU MUST HAVE AN INTERNET CONNECTION TO PLAY HALF LIFE 2'S SINGLE PLAYER MISSIONS. If you don't have internet, then I advise you to either get out of your hole and get internet, or to avoid buying this game, as you won't be able to play it.
Half Life 2 is the sequel to the equally hyped Half Life 1. I didn't think the original Half Life really deserved much of that hype, but HL 2 is a different story. After the events of Half Life 1, Gordon is frozen in time for a few decades. During this time, aliens called the Combine came in, and in an anti-climatic 7 hour war, enslaves humanity. Gordon is released back into the world, and set to unleash havoc upon the Combine forces.
The basic gameplay is familiar to First Person shooters. Basically, use guns to kill things and advance through a fairly linear plot. However, the game introduces a number of interesting concepts, such as the use of a gravity gun to solve puzzles or kill people, or the use of your own personal ant lion army. There's also A LOT of driving in the game, which may make or break your experience. The game gets more interesting as you move along to episodes one and two, and spend more time with your sidekick Alyx. The top notch voice acting and memorable characters (many from the first Half Life) really immerses you into the game, and the action is solid. Overall, it's an exciting and pretty awesome game in general, and episodes 1 and 2 really make the game even better, moving it from a 4 to a 4.5. The only real gripe I had was that Valve forced the players to use the gravity gun often. It's a fine weapon, but I prefer that I were given the choice between the gravity gun and regular guns.
The game runs fine on my computer, on 1280x1024 (or something like that) and with most settings on high and 2x Anti-Aliasing. It lags sometimes when the game starts getting flooded with HDR, but setting the shadows to medium remedied that situation. Though if it starts to get slow, you can set the settings to medium and not notice much of a visual difference. The entire Orange Box with a few mods takes up about 20 gbs, just in case you were all wondering. The game started to lag during Episode 1/2 when the developers discovered bloom/hdr and decided to spam the hell out of the game with it.
As one of most popular PC games of all time, you can bet your @$ there's a hell of a mod community out there. I played Half Life 2 the second time through with high resolution textures and a slightly older looking Alyx and with a realistic weapons mod (High resolution mod textures require far more video memory though). But it doesn't stop there. Want to play the Half Life 2 story cooperatively? Done, Synergy's Half Life 2 Co-Op mod does that. Want to play as a zombie in a deathmatch? Zombie Panic mod. Medieval warfare with crossbows and warhammers? Age of Chivalry. There's a lot more, but you get the idea.
I get my mods from here: http://halflife2.filefront.com/
I bought the Orange Box for $35, though the price dropped to $30. Interestingly enough, Half Life Episodes 1 +2 alone is $30, Portal is $20, and Team Fortress 2 is $20. Don't ask me why Valve did this, but they did. Many gamers who purchased HL 2 before The Orange Box feel ripped off, but as I mentioned earlier, this is a steal for those who are new to the series. The Half Life 2 and Episode collection is worth at least $20, and Portal and TF 2 are great games also. Because the game came out years ago, most bugs have already been remedied, and I haven't experienced any.
Some players have complained about Steam. Steam is a program that logs Valve games and verifies if your game is legit. Thus, it has to be connected to the internet to verify your game. That means that downloading an illegal copy is pretty fruitless. Players have complained that it's intrusive or privacy and absurd that you have to be online to play a single player game. I on the other hand don't care, and Steam has a handy X-fire like feature that lets me chat with other people on a messenger without alt-tabbing.
This is a great series, and if you're a PC gamer FPS fan, you should definitely consider this game. There's a HL 2 demo in Filefront that has the non-action first level of Half Life 2, and a zombie level that shows you the gravity gun and types of puzzles you'll be going through. I highly recommend you try this demo out before buying The Orange Box. On a final note, YOU MUST HAVE AN INTERNET CONNECTION TO PLAY THE SINGLE PLAYER GAME. This isn't a problem for me as I always have the internet on, and I have no problems with Steam, but be sure to keep this in mind before purchasing The Orange Box.
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