Half-Life 2

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Half-Life 2 on Steam

MSRP: $9.99

Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux, XBox, XBox 360, PS3, Android

Release: 11/16/04

Steam rating: 97% positive


Every time I hear or read anything about the Half-Life franchise, Half-Life 2 is always described as the must play game.  I get it – after all, it holds up pretty damn well for a twelve year old game.  However, I found myself almost immediately dealing with a bad case of sequelitis – I had absolutely no idea what was going on,.  Let this serve as a warning: either make sure you know about the events of the first game, or prepare to be very very lost.

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I gave it about an hour, and still really had no idea what I was doing.  Which is a shame, because it was really an enjoyable experience despite that.  At this point, most people have played a game – or many games – that was built upon the foundations that Half-Life 2 pioneered, so it feels less impressive than it once did.  That said – it holds up well. Really well.  It still looks pretty good in spite of it’s age, and it plays beautifully.

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I had no nostalgia goggles here, and I went in as blind as was possible.  I’m fascinated by the world, impressed by how real the friendly NPCs felt.  Although you’ll encounter load screens, there are absolutely no cut-scenes. Most of the deaths I experienced were results of either (a) having no idea that something was hostile or dangerous or (b) being so damn lost – I would have given just about anything for a map or directional arrow during several points in the game’s first hour.  The longer I played, the easier time I had getting around, however.

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I absolutely get why people are still talking about Half-Life 2 (and bemoaning the lack of a Half-Life 3) twelve years later.  For story purposes, I’d recommend playing the developer updated version of the first Half-Life (or you can play the original if you’re a purist) before diving into Half-Life 2.  Valve also offers the Half-Life Complete Bundle if you really want to immerse yourself – it’s currently on sale for only $7.25, which is less than the retail price of Half-Life 2. At that price, there’s no reason not to make your first foray into the shoes of Gordon Freeman.

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