Half-Life 2 Review

Well, it's been almost one full week since I purchased Half-Life 2, and in that time, I've managed to set aside around 18 total hours to play this game from start to finish. Valve has truly created an interactive masterpiece...one that will no-doubt set the bar for other first-person games for quite some time. In the process, they've created a top-notch game engine that renders stunning environments that put both Doom 3 and FarCry to shame. I'm very much looking forward to future games that leverage the power of the Source engine.

Like many people, I spent about 40 minutes Tuesday night trying to connect to Valve's Steam internet service to activate my copy of Half-Life 2. I received various arcane errors that made it obvious to me that Valve hadn't planned very well for the onslaught of traffic they received on the first day. Needless to say, I was quite frustrated. Not only had I been waiting for 5+ years, but the box and DVD were in my hands! It surprises me that Valve doesn't have a 30-day grace period like Windows XP product activation. Anyway, after a bit of persistence, I was finally able to activate and fire up the game.

I was elated to discover that I could configure the game to run at 1,920 x 1,200, the native resolution of my recently purchased 23" Sony LCD monitor. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that the game recommended setting everything to "high" for my dual Opteron workstation. Running the video performance benchmark that's included with Counter-Strike: Source reveals that my system is capable of around 70fps at these settings...more than enough for smooth game play. I guess I made the right decision to delay my computer purchase until this release.

Unlike the original Half-Life, Half-Life 2 doesn't include a separate training level. Instead, it introduces new concepts as you play the game. When you encounter a situation that warrants the use of a new feature, the system displays a short message on the screen telling you which key to press to access the functionality. They really did a good job with this, because the situations don't seem contrived, and they provide just enough to get you used to the new feature.

There is a very deep sense of immersion into the environment. As I mentioned, the graphics are downright stunning. Even my wife (who isn't a game player at all) was impressed with the quality and watched me play for a little while. The shadows, light, and surface reflectivity all lend an air of realism to the scenery, and there are some scenes that are nearly photographic. The audio is also extremely good. I was immediately thrown back to the original Half-Life game when I heard some of the very familiar sounds. Also, the weapon effects have a satisfying depth that I found missing in Doom 3.

On top of all that, the game physics add even more to the realism (courtesy of the Havok engine). For example, you can push and lift many of the boxes and barrels in the game world, and this capability is used for some very clever puzzles. You eventually get a "gravity gun" that allows you to pick up or push much heavier items like refrigerators, televisions, and rusted-out cars. There's nothing like "throwing" an old car at a group of approaching enemies and watching the ensuing rag doll physics. Priceless.

Unfortunately, I frequently encountered the nefarious stuttering problem that has plagued so many players. But, unlike many of them, I decided to continue playing despite the fact that it tends to jar you away from the storyline. The only other negative that I can think of is the simplicity of game play on even the medium difficulty level. Although I had to replay a few areas many times, for the most part, it was nothing like my experience with Doom 3 or FarCry. This is a minor complaint, since it's still a fantastic journey.

Overall, Half-Life 2 is an excellent title. If you're a fan of first-person shooters, or if you like interactive fiction, this is a worthwhile purchase. It's smarter and brighter than Doom 3, more moody and beautiful than FarCry, and miles ahead of Halo 2 (which isn't a totally fair comparison, since Halo 2 is limited by the aging Xbox hardware). This is truly one of the best games I've ever played, and as a matter of fact, it might become the first game that I play through a second time. Kudos to Valve for a very polished and immersive experience.

If you'd like to read another perspective, I found Scott Hanselman's review to be both unique and insightful.

Comments (56)

  1. Preach it brother! I too was damn frustrated Tuesday night, but that all went away when I got around to playing it.

    I snagged an ACD 23" a few months ago and was able to play @ 1920×1200 also with everything cranked up. That’s pretty impressive for any game. Other games like Splinter Cell 2 and Jedi Knight: JA can’t handle that resolution as smoothly as HL2 did. This was on a 9700Pro w/ 1GB dual channe PPC3700 OCed.

    Nice rig BTW. Have you OCed the Opterons?

  2. I did try to overclock the Opterons, but I had little success. From what I’ve read, they’re more difficult to successfully overclock than something like the FX chips. I’ll probably try it again when I can follow a more rigorous process.

  3. Dave says:

    Quite a good overview and evaluation of Half Life 2 and the Source engine. I have been a first-person shooter player for quite a while. The graphics and movie like immersion aspects of the game is very impressive. The combination of visual and audio effects are amazing.

    After riding the jet boat for 2 hours I had to take a break as I was feeling a little weezy (sea-sick). There is very little wrong or bad with this product.

    There are a few areas where I hope patches and other game extensions will improve. (some jerkiness in the game through tunnels, the AI was a little poor at times, the game seemed to provide only one solution in many/most situations) At times this game was likened to the very first arcade game where they had this sword wielding individual (Dragon’s Lair http://www.hut.fi/~eye/videogames/arcade.html) running through an interactive animated film.

    Also, another big short coming was the lack of multiplayer experience. How can you release a first person shooter without the mplayer aspect of the game. I enjoy at the end of the day a good fight out with 30 other individuals online. Hopefully this will come though add-ons.

    Overall however, one excellent game that does set the standard for the rest.

  4. Dave says:

    Loved the game… AI sucked… doom 2 had better AI .. The ending???????? WTF?? Ok when i buy a game i expect a compeated product.. not a movie .. Why do i keep seeing referances to the matrix in every review/ post i have read about this game. I just finished this game about 15 min ago.. (on hard) it took me about 18 hours to do. No multi , Manditory registration….. (i feal this is a invasion of my privacy) etc..

    For those of you thinkin of buying the game i would wait a few months untill some mods have come out and definitly Multi has been reliesed…. Over all i enjoyed the game , but the fact that they took 6 years to make it and still didnt compleat a (FINISHED) game … kinda sucks.

    why do i say its not finished? the ending leaves you in total bewilderment on wtf is going on.. It took them 6 years to make this? man how long is it goin to take them to make the next? The thing is the game leaves you asking a lot of questions ..

    love it or leave it ..

  5. Cleo says:

    I’m puzzled. I have limited experience with video games. Because I like a challenge, right off I played Half-Life 2 at its most difficult level. No BS, I walked right through the game, dying only once (cuz I was experimenting in the room with all the automatic guns and picture-paintings on the wall). I walked right through the game until the ending with few problems. The ending was surprisingly easy. I walked right through it and simply accomplished it. Frankly, I’m dissapointed. I didn’t walk easily through Half-life 1. It took me hours/days (and many deaths) to complete it. Yes, HL2 is a beautiful looking game, fun effects, and vehicle. But I completed it very quickly, and it was not challenging at all.



  6. realist says:

    Well Dave Half-life 3 is already planned sorry for the spolier, and its gonna be another clifhanger

  7. Curtis says:

    A very good review and I agree with most aspects of it, great gameplay, graphics, good AI, but what impress’ me the most is the real world physics with objects, people etc very cool. Played it on hard difficulty and completed it in around 19 hours. Best chapter was Nova Prospect for me. Anyway… seems I was not the only 1 alittle dissapointed with the ending, execting a momentous battle of alien proportions, what we got was a fairly unthrilling and simple one, "ending" seems to be the wrong word. But even though ending was very questionable I enjoyed playing HL2 alot, will become the basic of every other game in its genre from now on!

  8. Alex says:

    First of all graphics were done very well, the physics of objects are amazing, vehicules are fun, plot keeps you on the edge, But WTF is the ending all about. It didn’t make any sense to me what so ever. This pissed me off the most. You don’t know what is going on in the end. What happens to the plot of the rebels vs. power tripping cops? The ending killed it for me when I had great hopes of seeing the conflict unravel. WTF does the ending mean?

  9. OkinawaMarineSSgt says:

    Dude, the gameplay ruled ’em all. The day before I started playing HL2, I got a copy of HALO2. Played it once, and sold it to a friend. Did not even finish the game. Like you said, it’s unfair to compare the two games, being two different platforms (PC & d aging XBOX). I’d rather wait for HALO2 PC version if there’s one coming. Anyway, I run HL2 in a 30" Sharp AQUOS LCD-TV, ATI 9800XT, 1G DDR, 1024×768 res, 4xAA, everything set on high….Man….if u don’t have a copy of this game, you’re wrong. I love those bugs by the way (Nova Prospect). Hated ’em

    when I first encountered ’em. Can’t wait to see how the game HL2 will perform with my new PNY Geforce 6800 GT 256mb…….sorry ATI…NVIDIA chipsets are cheaper nowadays, I guess. We’ll see. Happy Gaming and Semper Fidelis!!!

  10. Paul says:

    Half-Life sucks. A lonely trip down dimly-lit corridors being attacked by the alien un-dead…what an original concept.

    And the end!!? What was that all about?

    Far Cry was a better game.

  11. Jay says:

    Whats the deal with video games these days and not having a definate ending. I finished Halo 2 three days ago and was pissed that there was no ‘real’ ending. I was expecting a huge covenent battle but nothing. Then I just finished Half Life 2, and the same fucking thing. This is really starting to get on my nerves, leaving everything open at the end so one day they can make another sequal to fit in really easily because the story lines are being written by 12 year old kids, no imagination. If i want to listen to a good story and not hear the end of it ill talk to a drunk homeless person. Anyway, before the ending, awsome game, worth the money.

  12. DOOM 3 OWNS YE ALL says:

    Hl2 was quite interesting(took me about 10-15 hours of gameplay to finish it). The gameplay was entertaining, tho it has a lot of bugs and glitches. Graphics still could not come even close to what doom 3 can offer. Overall not a bad game kinda like Red Faction.

  13. I’m surprised that you think that Doom 3 has better graphics. I’d definitely put Half-Life 2 above Doom 3 in that category. There are scenes in Half-Life 2 that could almost be photographic. There’s nothing like that in Doom 3.

  14. kel says:

    yeah Just completed HL2 was really pissed with the "ending" , the ai of your team mates generally sucked , even the enemy werent that smart , the jungle troops in farcry were better .the game engine is nice at best ,but no multiplayer ….?

    overall the games been a big disappointment

    considering the wait the game sucked balls

    and Doom 3 does have better graphics !!!

  15. V says:

    You guys bitching about the ending just have to remember that Valve wants you to buy the next game in 35 years. And you know you will after witnessing that ending. Just enjoy the game! And the AI doesnt suck if you play on anything other than easy. The graphics were great when you consider that entire landscapes were created. Not just detailed indoors like doom3 I thought the game was really fun.

  16. Master Cheif says:

    Does anybody no when Half Life 2 is coming out for XBOX.

  17. Ski says:

    Lot of comments I have to agree with – specifically the end – I was expecting ALOT more trouble.

    As for the graphics – I think that Doom3 was better – the detail in D3 was fantastic – compare ANY still in D3 with HL2 and there is no contest (ok – except for the severed heads in D3, and I guess the fact that D3 was always in enclosed spaces helped). Far Cry had a much better gameplay than D3 and HL2 ’cause you could go almost anywhere – great fun trying to go back through FC a different way each time.

    But HL2 wins hands-down on the physics engine – well done Havoc boys – and if you could cmbine all 3 of the above – then WOW, that would be good.

    Overall – loved the game – and will NOT be selling my copy on eBay!!


  18. devon says:

    Doom 3 may look a little sharper but the engine isn’t as good. I mean, when in Doom do you take a car or a raft and speed down some open space, dodging and attacking helicopters. The physics of the Half Life engine were incredible.

    As for the ending, WTF. I mean, I love HL, but the ending delivered nothing. It pretty much left the whole game as it started, (SPOILER ALERT for all you nerdz.) Gordon is still incarcerated by the G-man. But where the hell were all the aliens and cool monsters of Half Life 1? Where were the puzzles and cool little science tricks and even the cool F’upped weapons?! Oh well…hopefully there will be a story expansion before the next half life…maybe involving shepard? (Doubtful since gearbox is out of the picture.)

  19. Jon says:

    I just beat the game on medium, took me about 15 hirs I guess. I loved this game I really do. The story was what kept me going more than anything else, I just had to find out what would happen next. The ending, good grief charlie brown. I have a basic concept of what happened. Obviously Gman has access to some fancy technology and warped in to get Freeman. I’m really curious as to who these clients of his are and why they would want Freeman. I mean think about it, hes just one guy, and sure with you playing as him hes the hero and hes alot stronger than he should be and is able to bring down a world of hurt on such a vast army and blah blah. But considering all the things that we cant comprehend like that lame docter said, it seems unlikely that one man would be of any use at all. Thats what I just dont get. I look forward to playing hl3 in 100 years or however long it takes valve to make it. ALSO, when your gravity changes thats the fucking shit. I had so much fun with it.

  20. Jimmy says:

    I really can’t wait for the expansion/negt HL game to come out i have all of the previous games and i love every single one of them..I ending really pissed me off too…I will be thinking about it for days now..THANX VALVE!!!!!…

  21. I have gone insane over hl2's ending says:

    I can tell you what the ending is…but don’t tell anybody…shhh!

    The first thing you have to realize, is that the G-man is not human, In the first hl, G-man confuses you by saying "the xen world is now under our control, thanks to you" or something like that…suggesting a "rogue goverment." and in half life 2 prima guide it suggests that he is not comfortable with human speach (that is why he sounds like a fucking jerkass when he talks to you–haha)–thanks valve for the hints….I have BEEN THINKING ABOUT THIS SHIT FOR WEEKS…and I am going to go crazy!

    However it is easy to notice that all the military guys are dead in the backgroud in hl1. So who the hell is gaining control over Xen….?

    then in HL2 when you talk to the red eyed aliens (the ones that throw electricity in hl 1) talk to you about "the common path we tread" and that "you (freeman) released us from the power of nihilanth" —nihilanth was a mind control over them. …when you killed that asshole in hl 1 you released them from their control (I bet you already knew that) anyway..

    why do you think these aliens always help you in hl2, or for that matter, seem bonded to you? and why do the other aliens are against you, and the whole human race? intending to enslave you?

    that is because there are two "meteorological intelligences" (what dr. breen was describing to dr. vance at the top of the citadel) —these vast meteorological intelligences that control the aliens are represented by the G-man, and the guys that created the Combine to take control over Earth

    they are two sides of the coin, kind of like good and evil. One side wants freedom to let species control of themselves and give balance to the natural phenomenon. The other beleives that instinct and certain natures of intelligent life cannot rule themselves, and need universal control—

    represented if you listen carefully to the constant blabber of dr.breen on the monitors…remmember when he says fighting instinct? that you must fight it to bring unto the new age?

    why do you think the G-man had teleportation before freeman inserted the thing into the beam in hl 1…? it was not that some other faction of black mesa, or a super powerful conspiracy-goverment type thing that also had the teleportation before…Freeman and his comrades did not even know how to stabalize the beam…

    but G-man can already fly around the universe on his little train..?

    he’s an alien that assumes a human form to ensure the human race’s survival and well being

    and Freeman is comparable to neo in the matrix…someone with insurmountable energy and natural super intelligence (the reason he survives–using his head) and is noted by the G-man as "the one" that can bring back the balance to nature on Earth..the G-man thus, uses Freeman as a weapon to aid mankind through it’s downfalls against the "dark energy" or bad meteorological intelligence.

    The G-man’s employers are humans and seperate entities of meteorological intelligences—they tell him where there are distresses in their areas…to pursue freedom and have balance to nature, (kind of the values of democracy I guess)

    you can see this when he is talking to the tactician (the guy who gives you your first rocket launcher) colonel I forgot his name..anyway…when you look through a lens along the coast after killing a few combine and entering a small shed in half life 2 you see him talking with the G-man on the other side? why?

    all the other instances he simply apears on screens or alleys checking your progress…but why talking to this guy?

    The G-man is a universal negotiatior to bring balance to certain areas in space in time…Concerning Earth..to have supreme power and control over all beings is not normal (not part of the natural evolution of Earth)—thus the rebellion by the citizens..etc..the electricity aliens and the G-man fight for the common balance…

    the other aliens and the combine…is the bad…

    so in conclusion, the G-man is an alien and you (freeman) are an energy that is only found very rarely that can bring balance to a system…unfortunately he has noted you…and since the good meteorological intelligences (G-man and red eyed aliens) have created you in the first place as a weapon…you owe your powers to save the human race when in distress (your area in space and time)..

    so there it is…now you can go to bed…I will keep thinking about this and update you on any progress.

  22. just another asshole says:

    god man, you must really be fucked up in the head.

    what is so bad about the ending..what did you expect? I expected no less man.

    Was it the pretty girl that gave you resentment? when she was being blown away by the blast maybe? It’s a frieken game, I was actually getting bored with the goofy bonding that the game tries to create so as to shatter you to trauma at the end…

    I was like yey! that bitch is dead..now I have finished! and you G-man…your a fucking "jerkass" –yey! everybody is dead and I am in a dark hallway as G-man’s slave until he decides to come and comfort…me..lol the frieken pedophile…he certainly sounds like it with his moronic gay ass voice.

    who the hell cares..kool graphics, kool physics engine…

    what do you expect, valve writes video games and wants to make money..their just like the next moron…

    Valve thanks for the ending! I LOVED IT–great laughs! keep it coming

    it’s not like I expect anything more than 12 year old storyline anyway–LOL hahaha

    hohoho and shut up.

  23. Neil says:

    The game was great the endin kinda sucked tho, but then again it keeps u guessin, which adds a more realistic edge 2 it.

    Oh, no way dose doom have better graphics, HL2 all the way!

  24. popeye the tailor says:


    HL2 is the best game I’ve played. Some of the staging was fantastic. The enemy AI must be hit and miss at least, but I played it on hard and pretty much half the battles with troops were completely realistic, with the creepy voice chatter and them signalling and waving to each other when they see you, the jingle noise from their ammo packs as they close in; very very atmospheric.

    The worst thing about the ending for me is that from the new game menu, it looks like there is an extra chapter after the dark energy chapter. There is, but its just the credits!!!!!!!!! This was a shock as I had been using this menu screen and the teaser shots in each window to track my progress. A’ word to you all, there is one chapter less than you expect.

    Anyway… I hope they decided the plot will be explained in expansion packs before the next engine upgrade and HL3. If thats the idea, I’m in. to quote Starship Troopers "Would you like to know more?"

  25. Mr Anderson... says:

    YO yo

    Gotta say, i’ve played the game over and over and over, i love it still!! No matter wat i’ve read on the net bout Steam, i still think they made a big mistake, check out this link about Steam http://www.nag.co.za/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=363 , very very impressive stuff.

    One thing you have to understand (to all the ending haters) is that Half Life 1’s ending was no better than its sequal. This leaves the game open for more storyline, i find it intreguing that Half Life could actually become a Saga rather than a one time blow off. To be honest, the only reason we were all excited about HL2 is because HL1 left the door open, why should we complain when we can have more and MoRE and MORE!!!!

    Ok, just for u graphics freekz out there, Doom 3 can look sweet at time, but technically Hl2 has got better graphics, one example is each character actually has 40 facial muscles that allow amaizing expressions to be displayed. Doom 3 was probebly the hugest resource hog ever to hit the shelves, HL2 runs on a card that only has DX7, giving players without the neccesary hardware to enjoy the game to.

    By the way, Doom 3 overall was hugely disappointing.

    Thanks VALVe, keep ’em comin!!

  26. Guy with no arms and legs says:

    I played Doom 3, Half life 2. And i think each game did a fantastic job at presenting their story in the invironment it was set in. Many people blame doom 3 for being dark and cramped. What did you expect its a base on mars where did you think vehicles were suppose to fit.

    In my mind the best thing to do is for valve and id to work together and combine their two engines, I mean just imagin d3 graphics, lighting and hl 2 physics environment and ai would make any game tuck in their tail and hide in a hole.

    Most important thing to me is that i had fun with both games. I dont think its fair to accuse id or valve for anything. They did the best they could. An dif you are gonna blame them you try to make a game that compares even remotely to either of them.

  27. pissed of at HL says:

    As I played through HL2 i didnt really see why so many compared it to the Matrix. Now that i finished the game I completely see. I compare it most to the Matrix: Revolutions. Both were kicked ass from beginning to right before the end. The ending for both is the worst I have EVER seen. As a matter of fact HL2’s ending is the worst of the 2. In Revolutions atleast we all know the war is over. In HL2 we know NOTHING!

    SPOILER ALERT: Time stops, and the retard that does nothing but make cameo’s in the games talks a bunch of crap that makes absolutley no sense. We dont know what happend to the girl, the combine, the resistance, what happend to the combine leader, why only SOME aliens attacked you, what happend between HL1 and HL2 and why you just appear out of nowhere years later.

    I dont mind cliffhangers. In fact I like the fact they up the chances for a sequel. But when it leaves me hanging with NOTHING answered its b/s. As a matter of fact the enitre story is just mediocre. Its basically just about a revolution of a bunch of "enslaved" people, when a "hero for no big reason" (apparently saving your own ass from an experiment gone wrong is enough to make you a god in valves universe) shows up everyone gets inspired and fights back. Nothing gets answered as to why youre there, nothing gets answered as to where you’ve been, NOTHING. Its basically just Serious Sam with good graphics and physics. I could picture Gordon thinking "WTF IS GOING ON!?!?!" throughout the whole game.

  28. pissed of at HL says:

    Another thing that didnt ruin the game but is a step down is that this time around the balck and white headcrabs are the only aliens youll really have to worry about (along with the headcrab controlled zombies). EVERYTHING else is combine. Yeah you get a few of those hanging aliens from hl1 which are pretty much a waste of bullets. Even in the odd chance they do get you it takes them a looong time before they actually bite. Dont get me wrong there are enough variety of combine baddies to fight like the vehicles, but I wouldve liked some more aliens to try and kick my ass. What ever happend to that glowing blue thing that impaled a guy in the video previews of Half Life. That wouldve been a nice boss battle. Which brings me to another thing. What happend to the boss battles? I didnt see any boss battles in this game. Valve has taken Half Life and changed it into a war game. This game felt more like a "Medal of Honor: Half Life". This is NOT Half Life anymore, Valve has simply jumped the bandwagon and made a cross between Medal of Honor and Halo. Thats it. The game IS fun and the quality of programmers and artists is nothing short of impressive, but the writers and whoever decided what to base the story on and what enemies to bring should be banned from working in videogames. Oh yeah … and whoever came up with that ending should be electrocuted by the red-eyed guys for eternity. As i was given a tour of the combine tower near the end I saw a whole bunch of wierd things i wanted to put a bullet in thier head or blow up. Did they ever come out NOPE! Just for that Valve, im not "buying" HL3.

  29. mickey says:

    halo 2 is much better

  30. valve says:

    half life 2, half life 2, half life 2

    I have an idea for half life 3:

    what about we just do a huge boss that is indestructable and Gordon Freeman dies?

    The plot: It was all made up to seem mysterious…but, as so many have stated, it makes absolutely no sense.

    In fact, I want Gordon Freeman to die in half life 3

    that way the poor bastard doesn’t have to suffer through half life 4

    by the way…I also heard that Gordon Freeman was an actual person–did anybody hear a similar story?

  31. ryan says:

    I’ve gotta say, well done Valve. This is another great and revolutionary game. Your story line is wonderful and the endings to the game, although they give little new information to the not-so-observant, are excellent starters for their follow-ups. Don’t stop.

    To the people who found the conclusions lacking, try to look at it this way: they aren’t conclusions. They are simply the end of a chapter. Remember reading goosebump books when you were younger? If you do, remember how every chapter would end with a crescendo, making you want, no, NEED to read on? This is the effect I believe Valve is after. For whatever reason (money, love, power) they have chosen this method, I will continue to buy their products. I’m a great fan of saga novels and the like and so I find the HL Saga (which I hope it turns out to be) extremely entertaining.

    Any information important to the ongoing story line can be found throughout the game…

    check this out to understand a little more…


    Keep it up Valve and don’t be discouraged by negativity.

  32. walkie says:

    goodness me I can’t believe someone find this a better game than Doom 3! and the reasons given are that HL2 RUNS FASTER when they DRIVE AT HIGH SPEED! why don’t you try wolfenstein then – it will FLY! Just compare DETALIZATION, just look at the hot dam wall surface structure for cyberdemon’s sake! man, half life is just another Duke3D-type of experience with a higher cartoon quality but cartoon nevertheless!!! just how one can think of comparing it with the creepy experience of DOOM 3 is just beyond me! have you been actually able to read any of the writings on the wall in HL when you’re close by? remember those monitors scattered throughout the UAC base – man, what the hell are you taking about when you compare the engines!? and it really, really beats me how people could ignore the dynamic lightning and prefer that cartoon game only because there’re open terrains!

    and the STYLE!!! Doom is just so hot dam stylish! and the sound! and the monsters! and the damn everything around you! I can’t believe anybody in the whole world can take HL seriously – it’s the same as playing pinball! In Doom, it was so many times I felt hair standing on the back on my neck! THAT is the real world! oh my……

    the only reason I thought HL2 would be interesting was because of its `interactivity’, which proved to be equivalent to being able to throw rubbish at your enemies — what a wonderful experience this is! I’m definitely going to get rid of this DVD, but sure as hell I’m going to play Doom again and again, because it IS an another world experience.

    in all fairness, HL-1 WAS a revolution. HL-2 doesn’t come close to beating even Duke3D, let alone HL-1.

  33. Humongus says:

    HL1 was a breakthrough. And so would have been HL2 if they did one thing. Send Gordon through the damn portal and fight some f-in aliens. What happened to the weapon they showed on the demo that you put little alien creatures into for ammo.

    For that matter, why so few weapons? I agree with those who say the ending sucked and this is more like a military FPS. HL1 was awesome because it had it all!

    UT2004 was more satisfying for the money. I loved FarCry and Doom 3 was more interesting going to hell and back. We want mind expansion not another jarhead wet dream.

    Now, what to do, $55 for a great game engine? HL3…ha, I’ll wait for the hackers to get hold of it!

  34. Spartan-117 says:

    Halo 2 has the best graphics, storyline, shooting, and best main character in all of video games! It will be game of the year, and will make Half Life 2 suffer a long painful death.

  35. thedinosaur says:

    halflife 2’s ending was a complete crock!

    i loved playing hl2 from begining to end, especially

    controling the antlions and having the upgraded grav gun

    the gmans lil speach at the end really didnt make me think any less of the game itself, just the fact that

    obviously valve ran out of ideas and couldnt make up their

    minds for an ending

    sure maybe it does improve the chances for halflife 3…

    but i still would like evne the slightest of closure

    i also agree with one of the above, doing the "tour" of the

    citadel, i also wanted to kick those random alien asses!!!

    bring back the big fly shooting guys from hl1 and then maybe

    just maybe the game woulda been a challenge…

    i think an opposing force style game would be cool tho,

    except…u’d fight like 3 variations of enemys in the entire game 😐

    either way, i prefered hl2 over doom 3… but the end was shit 🙂

  36. jorg van Gorkom says:

    Man at first i thought, damn what a great game. I mean, the physics, the engine just unbelievable. After a few hours of gameplay it started to bore me, easy opponents, same old gameplay ( drive,….see a problem,…fix it ,..drive some further….see a problem,….fix it,….drive ..etc etc ). I only died a couple of times,…specially with the stryders, but overall i found it pretty simple.

    My teammates on the other hand are complete idiots,….what’s that for frikkin AI ????. They block doors, when ur running for cover, the stand in your way. I was glad when some of them died. I was better of without them.

    I was also completely surprised by the ending,….i mean in the "matrix " factory ( and we all know what i mean ) i saw somepretty cool creatures i was hoping to battle, only to find that shooting 8 "lightning " balls at some dumbass core ( that did nothing back ) ended the game. My feelings u ask ??? WTF is this ???

    That totally sux, the game ends so suddenly i was staring at my screen like for like 5 mins and thinking to myself GO**AMN !!!, this is it ???

    Totally ruined any decent feelings i had left for the game.

    Overall :nice engine, great physics,lame story, easy enemies ,boring gameplay and an ending ,….well what can i say ………….WTF !!!!!

  37. Paddon says:

    My only problem with the game was the ending and the weapons. The ending was too "Deus Ex Machina", where it was obvious that they simply ran out of ideas and scooped Gordon out of there.

    The Weapons? Too few, and they were all Human/Combine weapons. No bio-weapons like in HL1, those were just damn cool…. The gravity gun was just plain damn cool, especially after it was upgraded.

    Turns out that you can cheat to get other weapons, or so I’ve heard. Lemme know if it works.

    Spoiler alert:

    As someone else said (sorry I don’t remember and I don’t feel like going back to look for him), they should have had Gordon go INTO the other world and kick some alien ass!!! C’mon, bring back Big Blue, or the Hive-Hand Guys!!! Actually show us things about the Combine, about what the hell happened between HL1 and 2!!!

    Overall, great physics, great graphics, but it’s obvious that’s what they spent all their time on.

  38. GhostWolf says:

    Awesome game and graphics, I thought the AI was pretty decent but the ending was horrible and left me feeling violated. I thought I had a few days left of playing and now nothing. Maybe I’ll re-install Doom 3 and try and make it past the 3rd level without going to sleep this time. Dark room, corner, scary monster. Dark room, corner scary monster. Yay!

  39. NightHawk_101 says:

    i enjoyed half life 2 (HL2) right from the beginning to the end. Although i expected more weapons in the game, the super-charged grav gun got two thumbs up from me. The graphics were superb, absolutley awsome , the physics were stunning and the storyline was griping.

    Now the thing that made me the most angry was the ending. Now WTF was that. It happened so suddenly. I expected to escape out of that place with Alyx but NOOOOOOOOO it had to end right there. I was speachless for the first few minutes then i just started to think how are they gonna make HL3, well that is if they ever make HL3. (They better)

    Overall a superb, exciting and obviously the best game of the year for myself and others. Go HL2!!! It rocks. Looking forward to HL3 all!!!

    P.S: For all you Halo 2 fans; HL2 S#%T’s all over Halo 2 in more ways then one.

  40. GB says:

    "God man" you said it.

    G-Man is god.

  41. I.T. Sme says:

    I still think Far Cry was a better game…it had a more conventional mad scientists/monsters story but Jack Carver came with a personality and the Trigens (spelling?) were damn hard to kill, on top of a beautifully rendered world. The AI was also better, as you’d put on the Cryvision goggles and see the mercenaries rounding up on you.

    I was VERY put off by the activation scheme in HL2, and if this continues with games I may just quit and play chess. Heaven knows I’m old enough. Activation never stops piracy, it only strangles honest consumers for more money. And considering that VALVe’s code was stolen last year, the average consumer isn’t whom they should be worrying about.

    Hl2 had more detail in everything and interaction with the world, but it was so relentlessly depressing and grim, and like in the first game you saw the same five people over and over. The last four levels had intense combat, but overall the puzzles and ending weren’t on the same caliber as the first game.

    As for what it all "means"…..it’s kind of like the serious debate about the Matrix until the two sequels came out. You can get a real buzz going by not giving people a clue but sooner or later you have to pull the tarp of and see what’s underneath.

    It would seem reasomable it will all end as some sort of computer simulation/alternate reality, simply because in both games everytime you get killed or don’t accomplish an objective you get a message something like, "subject Gordon Freeman failed to do..blah..blah." It wouldn’t surprise me that in HL3 Gordon wakes up in Black Mesa and the G-man was a scientist running an experiment on him. But then again that could change since I feel VALVe is making the story up as they go along.

  42. Paul says:

    Well I have read some of the above, I missed a few cos i spent so long reading some insane guys take on the storyline.

    Personally it would have been a complete tragedy to wrap up the storyline. Also if you look closely you can see the answers are everywhere. Play the game through again listen to the people that talk to you, especially the aliens (that includes G-Man) think about what will ahppen to city 17 after this with the destruction of the citadel and also try to open your mind to the possibilities that can spawn from this.

    Listen to what is said at the top of te Citadel!!

    This game is, as its predecessor was, a fucking masterpiece!

    The point of a Game is to entertain, and people cannot fail to be entertained by Half Life 2.

    The point of the story is to drive you through the game and all of us here have been!

    The point of the ending is to not spoil what we can conjure in our imagination, the storyline could have closed here but so would the possibilities!

    I for one am very thankful that we will hear (or not hear as it were) from Gordon Freeman again, and in what is bound to be another totally different setting with another amazing storyline and another MINDBLOWING cliffhanger, roll on half life 3!!.

  43. Dave says:

    🙁 I just finished it. Awesome game… yeah, pretty easy – but I feel this is ok? I had it on Easy setting and yeah I walked through it, but I felt the game was still excellent. The engine didn’t show too much awesomeness to me until the last chapter when you get the super charged gravity gun! Picking up people looks awesome HAHA, yay. The ending really depressed me 🙁 I thought Alyx and Gordon were gonna have a love scene thing, it was SO close. Eh, Alyx and Gordon should’ve had more to do with eachother… they should’ve finished on a solid note I think. At least a short movie showing the after-effect and what happened… and a love scene where Alyx and Gordon express their feelings for eachother damnit! lol.

  44. Sleepy says:

    i think half life 2 and halo 2 are a chalenge i really like both in my own opinion i just like both.an doom 3 is amazing too.reply bk

  45. thedinosaur says:

    paul i think ur horneyness has veiled ur eyes from the real topic going on here, love scene or not the final scene and boss sucked

  46. Suzie says:

    I’m a late getter, I guess.  This game was really cool.  First game I was actually able to complete without cheating lol.  The AI was great, and the people talking — their mouths articulating — that was just way too impressive.  What got me though was the fear / suspense factor.  I wanted to see someone get turned into a Combine though (see the three images at Nova Prospekt?  Apparently the Combine is an evolved species…hmm)but I don’t think I ever did during the final chapter.  Did I miss it?  Anyway, looking forward to three!!!

  47. Clacker says:

    First, HL2 and Doom 3 focused on different graphics approaches: HL2 with superior shaders, fluid effects, and Doom 3 with better lighting and shadows.  I played Quake 4 (on DOOM 3 engine), and the lighting looked nice, but it seemed that the engine was designed for indoor, cramped, and dark spaces.  HL2, especially with  HDR level Lost Coast, looked just amazing, and the facial animations are the best in any game.  Farcry’s AI was good, but it also had the luxury of large spaces that allowed the mercs to flank you easily.  When playing HL2 on Garry’s mod, you can observe some very sophisticated AI behavior.

    What alot of people think of as plot holes (like why only certain aliens attack you) failed to realize the actions in HL1 affected the HL2 world, and the only aliens that attack you are xen animals without low intelligence.  They will attack everyone, including the Combine.  Gordon saved the vortigaunts, and they are of course grateful to your cause.  The ending was designed to be an cliffhanger, as they can’t make HL3 or the expansion episodes if HL2 ended properly.

    I can’t wait till episode one come out, the focus on people and HDR will make it an interesting experience.

  48. Loki says:

    I found HL to be a terrible game. It’s the exact gameplay we saw 6 years ago. The addition of vehicles did good for the game. They control like a pile of junk when compared to other games that also use vehicles such as Halo(2) and UT2004.

    The game is linear all the way to the end. No explorations, no secret passage ways. Nothing.

    When released, it had no multiplayer either. As mentioned above, it was a very unfinished product. Later they added the multiplayer to it, but nobody truly cared. CS-Source looks and play just like the old one with a fancier physics. That’s pretty much it. Same cheaters and innacurate(random) weapons as always. If anything, it now helps not only cheaters, but n00bs as well.

    Stuttering is still a problem for many gamers, even though a lot of patches has already come out.

    The graphics are nice at first, but it’s repetitive to death. If you look carefully, only the NPC faces are detailed. Legs and arms are pretty much the same for every character.

    Steam is a pile of garbage too. I still play Diablo 1. Can you say that in 10 years you will be able to play HL2? No. If Steam goes down you can throw your game away. It just does not feel like you bought anything the way it feels like any other game.

    When I buy a single player game I want to be able to play it whatever the heck I want. This aint a massive RPG, for crying out loud. Asking you to connect to their buggy servers to play a single-player game is the worst thing invented since I play games, EVER.

    It also came without a descent presentation. 50 bucks and all you get is a useless DVD (you can download the game through Steam, since only the DVD won’t do any good without Internet connection) and a cheap, horrible orange piece of paper with my key on it. Lame at best.

    The puzzles are boring too. You see a couple of boxes and the first thing you think is: "Oh look, another puzzle to show off the physics of the game".

    I still don’t get the story. You move from A to B, everybody seems to know Freeman but Freeman can’t say a word the whole damn game. Doom had at least a sound when you tried to press the open-door key in a wall or were getting hit. Freeman is voiceless.

    If you want to play a good game, go with Doom 3, Quake 4, Unreal 2004, Battlefield 2 or Call of Duty 2. Let HL2 for Windows/DirectX/ATI lovers and the multiplayer for cheaters and newbiews to do headshots.

    And for everybody saying that Xbox is old and crappy, HL2 is out for the Xbox and it looks and plays great. But who should care to play such a bad game in a console when you have Doom 3 and a lot of great shooters on the same platform?

    And HL2’s end sucked too… Simply because there was no actually plot all the game long. It’s difficult to finish something so inconsistent as HL2’s storyline.

  49. Dongo says:

    I have to agree with Loki here. HL2 is one of those games that you play once. There’s apparently no differences between the difficulty levels you can choose from, reducing the replay value. Except for mods, this game should be dead by now.

    I recommend getting the Xbox version though. At least you don’t have to install crappyware as Steam on your PC. I also noticed that the Xbox version does not have stutteting problems. It lags in some places though, but usually, when it happens, it happens in places without much importance, while in the PC version it can happen anytime, even in the middle of fire fight…

  50. Baal says:

    Oh my. I was searching the web for a way to get rid of steam and I came across this blog. Pretty bad review dude. More like an overview.

    When, unlike some of you, I simply loved Half-Life 2.

    I just can’t stand Steam. Why on Earth do I have to install that garbage in order to play a Single play, off-line game. In order to protect their software against piracy, they have to annoy the peoples who are actually paying for the game? There’re some torrents by Vengeance flying the net and even though they require Steam to play HL2, you don’t have to start Steam every time you want to play the game.

    And Steam is slow and sucky as well. If the program just sits there on my taskbar (note: not playing anything), it can take up to 50 MB of RAM. Doing what? I’ve seen virus that do less harm then Steam…

    I’m not buying any game which is Steam powered anymore. I’m going to get from the Internet instead. And I never pirate games, but Valve and Steam really deserve to get hit on the head with the HL2 retails box.

    P.S: I bought the collectors edition.

  51. HL2Sucks!!!!1111oneonetwo says:

    I personally hated HL2. Half of the game I was either driving an ugly car or a boring boat and solving brainless puzzles to show Havoc’s engine. The other half I was fire-fighting the same enemies over and over and over again with very innacurate and boring weapons. The gravity gun was just okey, but not all the fun. Just usuful at the horrible designed map "Sandtraps".

    There’s basically no challenge either. Not once I had my energy low or was scared to run out of ammo. There’s either too much health packs everywhere or too much ammo (in the case of the G-Gun you can throw anything at the enemy).

    I really didn’t care about Steam though. This is the kind of game you run once and shelf it or try to play the Online mods with cheaters or noobies winning all the time when you spray them. But then again, HL1 was not that great anyway. Quake 2 was better then HL1 and today Quake 4 is still better then HL2…

  52. Kapn says:

    Honestly, the only intelligent, well thought out comment worth reading on this page is from "I have gone insane over hl2’s ending".  I don’t agree with it all, but that’s some pretty decent philosophical deduction there – dude.  

  53. Will Cooper says:

    Man, at the level "Ravenholm" when I first saw the fast zombie running towards me I freaked out and turned off my game…

  54. Writer Unit32 says:

    I dont understand why people say HL2 sucks.

    Unlike most games,it isn’t in the same damn enviroment!You get to go through a City,Kanals,a zombie-infested Town,a Coast,a Prison and a alien mega-stracture.

    Half-Life 2 does NOT have traditional gameplay.It’s puzzles use realistic physics,in the antlion levels you cant stand on the ground without antlions attacking you,etc,etc.

    The story’s great and I loved the ending.Plus we DO know why only some aliens attack you,what happened inbetween HL1 and HL2 and we do know what the Combine are.

    The level design was some of the best I’ve ever seen.And with HL2’s graphics…

    Episode One was great too.Everything HL2 was,but better.Yeah,it was short,but it’s a friggin’ episode!

    Episode Two looks like it’s gonna be amazing.The trailers roXX0rd my soXX0rs and I dare not try to find any flaws.And when I imagine playing it…

    HL2 does NOT suck.It’s one of the best games I played and I still sometiomes play the SP.

  55. egor says:

    i loved the game and it kept me on the edge of your seet your review describes the game perfectly but can someone tell me wtf does the ending mean and why was it such a let down and does alyx ever make out with gorden freeman

  56. Source says:

    Half-Life is a legend. No other game can steal it’s place, as Half-Life 1 was the first FPS game I really played. Legend’s descendant is also legendary,

    Here are HL2’s stats:

    Music – 10, Kelly Bailey is my favorite artist

    Sounds – 9, great voice acting

    Story – 10, no other game can get a better story, some of you though do not understand it

    Graphics – 9, outstanding but sometimes low resolution

    AI – 9, it doesn’t need anything and quite realsitic sometimes

    Actually those are useless, as HALF-LIFE IS THE BEST

    I also wonder why people have troubles with Steam. Click the site, download, install, ready. Also why you would need to play off-line all the time, as I think that all developed countries mostly have people with internet.

    Also, Steam has benefits:

    – Anti-Piracy

    – Anti-Cheat

    – Preserves your saved games if you lose them

    – Friends

    – Clans community

    – Achievements

    – Easy selection system

    – Store

    – If you lose your disc, “No problem!”

    – sometimes you get cheaper/free games

    – easy updating

    – Messenger/voice chat

    – some extra crap

    I will always (at least try to) purchase all Valve’s games.

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