Half-Life 2 Review (2021) – A Splendid FPS Game

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Half-Life 2

Mathew Bradford

Gameplay
Graphics
Ease of Playing

Summary

Half-Life 2 is not a perfect game, rather it came nearly perfect, unlike other games in the same genre. It creates a combination of the first-person shooter with the great story, voice acting, and physics

4.5

It’s been 16 years since the release of Half-Life 2 as a first-person shooter game. Since its release, it had broken many records and surpassed its competitors. Valve Corporation has developed this excellent science fiction shooter game after extensive development over five year period. Over the years, the game received hundreds of positive reviews and massive ratings from critics. The single-person shooter game is available on PC, Xbox 360, PS4 Pro, and the original Orange Xbox.

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I would not be exaggerating if I declared Half-Life 2 as one of the best video games of all time. Ever since the release of the game, no other title able to complete the fame. Therefore writing about Half-Life 2 never stopped even 16 years after the release. Valve did a great job with the game, and there are so many things done right. Overall it is a masterpiece of a single-player shooter game involving superb gameplay. The game revolves around intelligent dialogues, intensive gameplay, superbly created visuals and graphics (at that time), and science fiction events. Simply put, the developer does a great job, and they introduced nothing special to the single-person shooter games, but it set recent trends in the genre and innovated the shooter genre’s ongoing trends.

Half-Life 2 surpassed many games in terms of its achievements, and only a few video games can achieve what it has in its lifespan. The game broke the records in the gaming industry and made an everlasting impact. Over the years, it managed to get nearly 50 plus gaming awards from various events and drove itself to the era’s greatest game. It’s not only the game’s innovation but also the remarkable gaming experience that separates it from other games in the same genre.

The game is an immersive experience of futuristic science fiction action and gives unique characters access to play on your PC or Xbox screen. The game kept itself equally popular during its era and withstood the testing of time better than any other game. It kept itself on top of charts for years and captivated the users in its journey right from the start.

The unique experience that Half-Life 2 provides is because of the advanced source engine. This source engine proved to be ground-breaking technology and set innovations in the industry. It allowed many things in the game that were previously unheard of for video games. Few leading technologies that improved from this engine include sophisticated lip-sync, new industry-breaking physics dynamics, and cutting-edge facial animations. All this upgraded technology contributed towards the improved games that we see now. The gameplay’s physics innovated a Gravity Gun that hit the enemies and bulky objects, making them light-weighted with zero gravity effects. The game allowed the players to interact with the environment of gaming and utilize the new things for an everlasting experience.

If you still have not played Half-Life 2 yet, then you should experience it at least once. The game is always available to explore. You will feel overwhelmed with the industry forwards innovations that happened in this game and paved the way to the future of first-person shooter games.

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The Story

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Half-Life 2 is a story-oriented game full of impressive dialogues between the characters. The key feature of the game is immersively details and dangling graphics. There is no context to the players when they jump into the game. They do not know the affairs’ fate and clueless about the endgame every time they move to the next step.

The first impression about the gameplay is the classic resistance gaming with futuristic technology. You come across hybrid zombie monsters that overpower human existence and oppress them. Other enemies include alien creatures that add terror effects to the game.

Half-Life 2 is a mysterious world to explore and indulge you in gameplay hours, discovering new things and fighting aliens. Sci-Fi and technology-oriented concepts bring a twist to the storyline. The revolution, oppression, and resistance against the enemies make the gaming concept exciting and enjoyable. The story is different and manipulates the players at every stage of the game.

The story of the game is incredibly linear and starts with Gordon Freeman as the main character. The game is a single-person shooter, so it revolves around the main character as Gordon Freeman. You went missing after you escaped from the Black Mesa Lab. In the previous episode of the game, the world has already seen lab experiments’ consequences in 1998. During all this experimentation, they opened a portal to the alien world. As a result of this, an alien race named “Combine” takes over the world and conquers Earth.

You wake up in a world that is under the control of “Combine” aliens. You are traveling on the train, and your mission is to clean the world from aliens and defeat them. During the mission, you face zombies like aliens and adapt to the sudden changes in the story. You do not speak in the event, but everything else tells the story.

A computer voice helps you to understand the events happening in the game and brief you about the things at the moment. You wear an HEV suit, and the action starts with the screen loading. The first voice you hear in the game tells you to wake and “you are needed once again.” You do not carry a weapon with you while you are on the train and get to the station. As soon as you find yourself on the station, you hear a high-pitched voice welcoming you to City 17, the game’s futuristic city. You get a flash of the camera, which blinds your eyes for few seconds as it takes the picture. While crossing the station, troopers are masked and have computerized voices that hit you with a cattle prod if you come close to them.

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After passing the trooper, you start feeling the game essence and even get amazed by the cans and other stuff blow around your feet in a realistic way. Then you encounter a woman, and you ask her about the presence of anyone else on the train. She replies that her husband was on the train and taken off by the troops for investigation. You can feel the sorrow and sadness in the event. She explains that he would come to the station by next train, but you know that this will never happen. The quality of the voices and character expressions make the scene an excellent depiction of the art.

You barely escaped Black Mesa, and your role includes collecting more information and progress in the game. The head of Back Mesa, Dr. Breen, now worked on the aliens’ plan to convince humanity to bow before their new rulers. Dr. Breen is now a scumbag and spreading the alien’s visions, and there is a description in the game that suppresses the world from giving birth and preventing children’s production.

Source Engine of the game is so powerful that you started to see its full effects right from the game’s start. The in-game architecture of the building and the roadside give a brief overview of the graphics. Striders detailing is near to perfect, and the tower you as you move around the city. Aside from the illustrations and sound of the game, you quickly notice the physics involved. The game objects are not merely animated representations but also a fundamental contributor to the game’s realistic approach. At the start of the game, you get accompanied by two main characters. Dr. Kleiner and Barney, out of these Dr is Professor wearing a white coat while barney is the character from the original game. Later there are fights with the troopers, and you smash your way through the story’s aliens and puzzles. Meeting Alyx, an intelligent character, along with Dr. Eli Vance, leads you through various events.

At one stage, you feel the game’s pace, and things take a turn in the story. You get along with the Alyx and explore the locations that you doubt going. But it happens in the game quite often that you unable to understand the direction of the game. On one level, you go boating chased by a helicopter that showers the bullets towards your boat, and you escape the mines and ammunition.

In the game, you get a chance to control the NPC characters that involve real fun. You fight through the streets of City 17 and come across infamous Striders. These organisms are a combination of alien and machinery bound to functions as big tripod units.  All these scenes give World War II like feel where you have to get along with many uncertainty and incoming flights. You fight with the Striders in the streets back and forth. One of the best events in the game is firing a rocket at these creatures. Summing up the story, it is an excellent combination of Sci-Fi events packed with robust dialogue and realistic animations that seemed impossible to achieve at game release.

Gameplay

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Besides Half-Life 2 story, the gameplay evolved the gaming industry in so many ways that no one considered it possible to achieve. The twists and turns accompanied by the dialogues produced a satisfying gaming experience. In comparison, the gameplay is a uniques combination of physics and puzzle solving maps.

Gordon acts as a silent character in the game and does not speak, while the NPC characters often give advice and instructions. The game consists of different levels separated by the occurrence of the events in the game. The main gaming screen is quite informational and gives a detailed view of player health and weapon information.

The game map is vast and shows a clear landscape and countryside of City 17 during external levels. But due to the intelligent management of the gaming engine, small areas are maintained. The levels in the game are object-oriented without any actual exits. You seem to go towards the objective in the maps, and other sides get blocked. So there is the absence of exits with the game’s geography to derive the players to the levels onward. There is minimal room for the possible distraction from the game if you miss all the NPC characters’ conversations. You can still solve the puzzles and go through the game by finding the right way and pushing the enemies.

Half-Life 2 is a first-person shooter game involving the element of resistance, and everything works in combination with the story. With each level, new weapons get unlocked that helps in fighting the more formidable enemies. As the game goes on to end, more options related to the strategy and weapon are available for the playing character.

With every upcoming mob of monsters and zombies like creates, Gordon needs different weapons and strategies to eliminate them. It would be best if you had good shooting skills and weapons to fight the crowded mob. Different levels need a different set of skills and other strategies with the weapons and tools. But do not worry; you often get over the enemies quickly with the improved mechanics in the game with the time and levels.

Regarding weapons in the game, NPC often points out the required weapon and alerts the players against the upcoming events. There are some iconic weapons that every player wishes to carry along with himself when defeating the game’s enemies. The crowbar and gravity gun have high demands in the game. The player can get ten weapons of different types and have freedom of choice to use.

Although the game contains advanced simulations and physics and puzzles to hover in your mind, you sometimes feel exhausted. The game involves a lot of grinding, and the rewards and loot from the grind put you off sometimes. But that happens with the fun of this similar story and genre. You feel exciting on some levels and get exhausted on some levels. This situation is part of the game, and we all went through it.

Graphics and Sounds

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The music in Half-Life 2 follows the same pattern and nostalgia that the overall game shows during the events. Though it has not left a strong impact, it complies with the game’s art and design. The world in Half-Life 2 is gritty. Unclean, and full of growling monsters, and zombies like creatures. The sound department did a good job depicting the overall theme of the game along with the sounds.

City 17 is full of futuristic buildings carrying the theme of oppressive colonize. The alien supremacy is clear from the graphics, and facilities and homes are dirty and cluttered with dust. Pieces of equipment and metals are rusty, with a sad-looking contrast to the overall gameplay. We can compare the general graphics with the 1980s look of London and suburbs with a space-age touch.

The game carries a grand art scheme and astonishingly shows the countryside. Traveling in the countryside offers the chaos and hell created by the alien invasion. The futuristic city has excellent structured buildings that got shelled and have radioactive rivers. Big tripods like creatures circle the roads and add terror to the destructive countryside.

Each character and weapon has an oddly satisfying scheme of sound that distinguishes them from each other. Sound is not flawed at any level, and ranging from zombies, bullets, blasts, and tactical movements, all have an equally unique sound. This experience weighs the overall gaming experience and gives a punchy shot to the gameplay.

What the game does right?

Half-Life 2 has created a new era in game development due to its revolutionary source engine. The game carries a fantastic approach towards graphics and character development. The real crisp of the game is its graphics bounded with perfect sounds for each event. A vast opportunity for the new game development has opened after this masterpiece. NPC character guides you through the game, and sometimes you get stuck in levels, but they help a lot towards upcoming events. The physics in the game proved to be out of the world, such as using a gravity gun. You play as Gordon’s character, but you become submerged in character due to its story and first-person shooter nature.

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What brings it Down?

The story in Half-Life 2 is unfocused, and you get lost sometimes figuring out things that are going to work at that level. It is the most disappointing aspect of the game, and you feel either rushed or lost in the story. Another worse event in the game is its several unanswered questions that didn’t address this game episode. The first release of the franchise Half-Life has many events that needed to focus in this edition, but Valve Corporation left them unfocused. This overall confusion stuck you in the middle of the story, and you feel like missing something in the story.

Aside from overall gaming excellence, Half-Life 2 carries another disappointing factor of poorly calibrated artificial intelligence. Unlike its first edition, the game’s enemies feel like they are not focused on attack and take a cover, peek, fire, and charge with less intensity. Especially the humanoid enemies show this behavior more often. Maybe this happens due to the overpowered weapons and better mechanics. Only a few enemies in the game feel powered and fearless. Otherwise, you complete the game with a lot of ease with upgraded weapons. Even on the tougher difficulty level, you feel that Half-Life 2 is easy to go and need the presence of mind and right weapon to get you through those levels.

One other flaw in the game is that the NPC’s artificial intelligence sometimes seems to be out of order. Most people observed this issue, especially when a crowd of enemies stuck with NPC in the room. They block your view or way towards the escape and get you killed. While searching the rooms, they get behind you and block the way to explore the rooms efficiently. This Ai issue is not huge, but it cost time that you invest towards the game. Merely adding a command mechanism for NPC would make them follow you or avoid the distractions.

Minimum Requirements

As the game is an old title, therefore its requirements are comparably low to the modern games. It works decently on a PC with a 700 MHz processor, but the bare minimum following specifications are required.

  • CPU: Intel 1.2 GHz processor
  • RAM: 256 MB RAM
  • Graphics: DirectX 7 level graphics card
  • Operating System: Windows XP, Windows 7, Vista
  • Hard Disk Space: 6.5 GB

Recommended System Requirements

Having a 2.4 GHz PC is enough to run this game without any issues. DirectX 9 graphics cards run the game entirely, and interestingly no CD is required in the CD ROM to play the game, courtesy to STEAM. For running games following are recommended specifics.

  • CPU: Intel 2.4 GHz processor
  • RAM: 500 MB RAM
  • Graphics: DirectX 9 level graphics card
  • Operating System: Windows XP, Windows 7, Vista
  • Hard Disk Space: 6.5 GB ( See Best M.2 NVMe SSDs for gaming)

Parental Guide

Parental Control Guide

You are hired as an alien-fighting soldier to fight against the alien invasion on a futuristic City 17 involving blood and weapons. Violence in the game is the blood of zombies-like creatures and humanoids and the overall theme of jumpscares and maybe not scary to some people. Dead bodies of aliens in the game can be scary for the children. Overall, blood, gore, and weapons in the game should not be suitable for kids, especially the aliens’ burnt bodies.

There are some positive role models in the game. You have a character for Gordon that saves the world from the alien invasion. The game’s theme is evident in the liberty of humans and their supremacy over the zombie aliens.

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Final Verdict

Half-Life 2 is not a perfect game, but it came nearly perfect, unlike other games in the same genre. It creates a combination of the first-person shooter with the story, voice acting, and great physics. The unique design of in-game levels and the intense story makes it a fascinating experience. After playing Half-Life 1 and Half-Life 2, fans long waiting for the third edition of the game, but there is no Valve confirmation. A new edition with all of the technology that we have now can produce another masterpiece.

For Best Gaming Experience in Half-Life 2, you need the perfect gaming accessories like these:

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