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Half-Life 2
Developer: Valve Publisher: VU Games Category: ShooterRelease date: 16 November 2004Official site  
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Half-Life 2 Review

And if you don't believe...
I have issues. Let me explain. Don't let me fool you into believing that I'm special or something like that. No. I want to introduce myself as a regular person, who likes to think that he might one day be loved by what he would treasure most in this world, who believes the world has not gone mad and that there's still hope, the kind of person most people would relate to because it represent normality, not in the wicked sense that normal makes no sense nowadays, but in the way that it is average, all the necessities of the world combined with all the vulgar display of uselessness.

My secret is all but too common these days. I'm overwhelmed by three demons, each of which has started a fire that consumes my very essence, without my being able to exercise the slightest form of control.

The first demon is called Frimon, the most beautiful of them all, supreme bodily creature that makes me lust for beauty and to search perfection, discarding everything that is not absolute. I tame him with my mirror.

The second demon is called Crileth, the primitive beast that craves for blood, that urges me to slay and feed and rape, to let go of all that's rational and immerse my feet in tears, to sink in puddles of carnage memories and repress kindness, mercy and forgiveness.

I tame him by whipping myself senseless.

The third demon is called Gratek, geometrical being of unequivocal purpose, calculating his impulses so that every time he makes me take a step, it's as far apart from the next one as the last one was. I tame this demon with the Rubik cube.

Still your passenger

I am not important in the Half Life 2 equation, Gratek would say, but that's not true. I'm not here to make common sense observations about some product, but rather to express the feelings and ideas the essence of this game has inspired me to aspire to.

Don't let my uninteresting introduction affect your perception of this article. This is a PC game review, and I promise to do it thoroughly and comprehensive, so that you may all experience what I never will.

There's no point in delaying telling you Half Life 2 is a great game. Trivial at is may seem, this phrase is very important in the economy of this paper, because many are the aspects I have taken into consideration to make that statement. I've considered what most other people consider when playing a game, while adding a touch of myself that lets transpire a few of my impressions.

I know you can see

Like you, I too have been waiting for this game, ever since it was announced. I found the idea of having a Half Life sequel to be very exciting, as the original game set the standards for what FPSs should be in a time when action shooters like Quake 2 and Unreal were the best thing anyone could think of.

Sure enough, the game took its time in making. I don't want to discuss that though, lots of articles have been written by people far more credible that I am, lots of boards have been flooded, lots of rumors have been heard, and so on. I for one, well I'm just glad it's here.

I wanted to talk about the Half Life 2 graphics, powered by the source engine. This has been a very crowded year graphic wise: Doom 3, Far Cry, X800 and 6800 cards, and so on. Sure enough, HL2's Source engine was expected to be one of the better looking and performing engines. Expectations are met, and more.

I'm not going to go into details like textures, poly-count, filters, special effects and the rest. They are all there, doing what they should and performing great. My primary concern when analyzing a game's graphics it that things look natural. Even though most of the settings are surreal, the familiar feeling of recognizing objects and phenomena is there, I believe what I see and it makes me fit in, get with the program.

The really impressive part about the way HL2 looks is detail. A lot of work has been put into it, with no room left for imagination. Everything's there, all of the surfaces have the natural textures they are supposed to have, all of the objects are well defined and blend in at the same time, so that at first glance Half Life 2 does not look spectacular. I was actually a little disappointed at first, to be honest, because new games try to impose their visual capabilities right from the start. Developers try and hit you with everything they have in order to get that great first impression, and that's exactly where this particular game surprised me.

When I got off the train, nothing special made me feel glad that I was finally playing Half Life 2. I wandered around for fifteen minutes or so, when it hit me: it was perfect! I get up in the morning and look around: an almost empty glass of wine, some cigarette leftovers in the ashtray, a blood stain on the wall, my girlfriend lies dead next to me, and nothing's surprising, nothing's out of place, every thing looks as it's supposed to look, because that's what my eyes are for, perceiving the visual reality as it is, my brain identifying for certain all the visual stimuli.

All of the other games give you this new set of eyes, with new visual information to get accommodated with and train your brain into processing it right. So that's why HL2's graphics are perfect from my point of you: I felt like I wasn't' looking at the screen, but rather looking through a window. Frimon grins evilly.

Touch, feel, thrash, kiss

The total immersion comes when you actually start interacting with the environment. Everything looks the way it's supposed to, and that just arises your curiosity, "what ifs" start to appear. So I pick up a beer can. You know, in the game. I look at it, a turn it on its sides, and then I throw it in a trash can. The can arched in the air, spin with some momentum, then hit the trash can, ricochet off the edge, and clunk! Hit bottom. I wasn't surprised to see a can go down some trash can, I do that all the time, in real life I mean, but in Half Life, well, the physics are so well implemented, not only you feel like looking through that window, but also reaching out through it and interacting with what's there.

And that's just the first impression, because Gratek was very pleased to find all throughout the game new reasons for entertainment. The main tool here is the gravity gun, by far one of the best weapons ever to be implemented in a game. All of the other weapons are the same from Half Life 1, but this gravity gun makes the difference. You can grab, pull, push, toss everything you feel like grabbing, pulling, pushing and tossing. You can grab a God damn bicycle from the floor and toss is at high speed to put down your enemy. You can lift a car over you head and throw it over your opponents, pull a metal door and use it as a shield. It all feels natural, perfect even.

Max Payne 2 used to have best physics in a game, and now Half Life 2 comes and makes a mockery out of that. Things spin as they should, float or sink as are supposed to, break into pieces according to natural common sense, nothing's unalterable, the immersion with the environment is complete, irreversible even.

Lean Back

Half Life 2 was advertised as being the greatest single-player game to come out this year, best action, packed with a story that had a lot of potential. The first game left things unclear, the Black Mesa facility incident turned out completely unexpected, and lots of things were left hanging. So it was natural for us to expect the second game to come and explain some things, while of course adding more spice to the mixture.

Well, you probably found out for yourselves that HL2's story is not a regular one, not in the way that it's special, but more in the way that... there really isn't one. The game has a fast paced rhythm that'll keep you alert for like fifteen hours or so, taking you through spectacular and varied locations. You get to drive vehicles, to solve puzzles, even jump-puzzles, you fight enemies that then you can then control to make them fight on your side, you are faced with unexpected perils as you advance, the adrenaline rush is high, and then... stop. The game ends, and not much of what was going on is explicitly made clear, more things are left hanging than in the first game, and you are left still and breathless, trying to shake out of it.

So, as compensation, my imagination finally had to kick in. I perceived HL2's story as a cloud, in the way that different people see different things in a cloud, even though the phenomena responsible for the creation of the cloud, or the cloud itself, isn't aware of the meanings it can hold for others.

I for one was grateful in the end. Although the plot does not explicitly unfold, nor does it carry out towards a meaningful finale, I grasped some understanding from this game. Overwhelmed by the apocalyptical setting and the perspective of total annihilation of humanity as we know it, I understood that the most admirable thing about humanity is not that is creates wonderful technology, nor that it can harness nature and shape it to fit his needs, nor that it has reached out into space or found a way to cure diseases, but that no matter what, humanity struggles to survive. Regardless of the suicidal tendency it generally has, humanity embraces life in the end and doesn't let go, it struggles on and makes the most out of everything, out of nothing. This is what disappointed Crileth the most, that although conflict plagues human nature, the true purpose of life is for it to continue.

There are no coincidences, there is no fate, no right man in the wrong place, nor a destiny to be fulfilled. There's life to be lived and death to reignite the vital circle. Humanity will find a way, and that's the other half life, that's its bright trait and noble goal, survival.
Teh Notes:
Graphics: 98
Sound: 95
Resources/Compatibility: 97
Gameplay: 98

Final Note: 97

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Teh best game evar. Ma rog pina apare altu :) Half-Life 2 gamebox

Posted by PixelRage [Thursday, 18 November 2004 - 16:38]

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