|The crowbar has returned ! Well, actually it isnï¿½t the crowbar but the man that handles it, Gordon Freeman. Half-Life 2 is finally upon us and weï¿½ve checked it out to see whether itï¿½s worth the long wait and seemingly endless delays weï¿½ve had to endure.
Gordon Freeman wakes up in a metro station after having a weird dream. Heï¿½s unarmed and doesnï¿½t really know what to do so he just goes with the flow until he meets up with Barney whoï¿½s working under cover. Black Mesa is history but Gordon isnï¿½t and within minutes heï¿½s back in his powersuit, ready to kick ass and chew bubblegumï¿½ oops, sorry that was someone else. Anyway, you get the picture.
Last night I dreamt that I had lost all the money that I had invested in a program called the 1G Profit System and I woke up with a start. I could not gather the courage to check my laptop in the night because any loss would mean that my friends were right and they had strongly recommended me against the software. But somehow I felt the need to follow my instincts.
Next morning when I checked my laptop I knew I had to face the music and I was prepared. But what I saw instead made me smile. I had amassed a profit of $500 on my investment. I withdrew my profits immediately. Thank god!
This year, two shooters were highly expected, Half-Life 2 and Doom 3. We reviewed Doom 3 a while ago and said that although things were good on the technical side, there wasnï¿½t any ï¿½feelingï¿½ present. It was a plain shooter without much background and you didnï¿½t get the idea you were part of something bigger. Thatï¿½s exactly the difference with Half-Life 2. Here, you also go around, shooting (almost) anything that moves and pulling switches when necessary, but the storyline is gripping and you get the feeling youï¿½re really IN the game, not just playing it. Valve has made a fantastic story that grabs you by the balls and doesnï¿½t let go until youï¿½ve finished the game.
Of course, the storyline alone couldnï¿½t bring over such an effect and the AI is one of the things that helps. The enemy AI that is. Opponents will start shooting at you when youï¿½re in range, run away or take cover when youï¿½re killing them and youï¿½ll almost get the impression youï¿½re fighting real players. Badly skilled players, but real ones nonetheless.
One of the most important things when you talk about Half-Life 2 is the graphics. People have been waiting for years for this game and the graphics have been hyped since the very beginning. Finally someone would be able to beat ID Software when it comes to creating an engine. In fact, when it comes to outdoors sceneries, I must agree in full force. Half-Life 2 creates a scenery that looks extremely realistic and although you wonï¿½t have the feeling youï¿½re playing in a movie by the graphics alone, together with the storyline and AI, you wonï¿½t be far off.
The characters are nicely modelled and look humanoid, something a lot of games still canï¿½t manage to achieve. Compared with Doom 3 I would say they are equal in quality on this part. When it comes to indoor, Doom 3 shines a bit more but that isnï¿½t really a problem with Half-Life 2 as Valve has set things up in such a way that youï¿½ll constantly have the feeling youï¿½re roaming around in a huge world and indoor scenes are limited.
The weaponry at your disposal is also nice and original. Of course the standard guns, rifles and bazookaï¿½s are available but price for originality definitely goes to the anti-gravity gun. With that you can pick up large object and throw them at your opponents. Walking around in a house and need to get rid of some zombie ? Just throw a closet at him ! Going through a scrapyard and a bunch of opponents are stalking you ? Try to get them aligned and swirl that circle saw at them so theyï¿½ll get chopped in two with only one saw ! Great fun to use and it even comes in handy when you want to get somewhere out of reach as you can also build staples that you can mount on afterwards to reach for things that are too high.
The sound is something the fans of the original Half-Life will certainly appreciate. Itï¿½s been upgraded but all the original sounds are integrated (and updated) which makes things very familiar. Again a nice detail that will appeal to people.
If everything fantastic with Half-Life 2 then ? Arenï¿½t there any downpoints ? One would almost dare to say yes but that would not be the truth. I was really angry with the installation procedure.
First of all, if you donï¿½t have an internet connection, forget about playing HL2. Even if you only want to do singleplayer, youï¿½ll still need the internet to register and without that you wonï¿½t be able to play. Steam is integrated in the game and no Steam means no HL2.
The specs necessary for running the game are a bit less than with Doom 3 though. With Doom 3 I would get occasional times where the screen would tamper while playing in 1024*768 in medium quality. With HL2 everything went smooth with almost all details on. My Radeon 9800 Pro managed to display everything without a problem.
The original release did contain an irritating bug that would cause the sound to jitter but fortunately, Valve has resolved this problem pretty quickly and you shouldnï¿½t experience this anymore. Thatï¿½s of course the advantage of Steam: patches are pushed onto your client the moment they get released. Also the ï¿½disadvantageï¿½ of only having a singleplayer game (ok, CS: Source is included but I donï¿½t count that as HL2 multiplayer) is gone as Valve has released a Deathmatch mode for Half-Life 2.
I could go on and on about just how great Half-Life 2 is but it would all come down to the same thing: if you like first person shooters, you just have to go out and buy Half-Life 2. Thereï¿½s nothing better than this game.