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December 24, 2004


A Dodd

Was anybody else out there as dissappointed, no, frustrated as much as me by Half-Life 2?
A game that gave us a linear slightly tedious path through what is supposed to be a city and then the coast?
Its just so disappointing in every way, graphics and sounds just beyond good, physics and realism brilliant, but story and levels, well how do I say it: unimaginative and boring. And there is no excuse for that. Half-life was soo original and well thought out, intelligently made levels with a wide wide variety of INTERESTING enemies and a proper selection of weapons to create ambushes and mayhem.... and then the second game, phhhh, what a let down. Seems like it tries to capitalise on the half life 'feeling', by having all the stuff, like sounds from the suit and the recharge points and stuff, but all within a claustrophobic dull empty environment, with a history of which we are all unaware of!

Gordon freeman is supposed to be in a large city, but we can only see it from behind fences and force fields and over the top of high walls and ledges. All we can do is move through the very obvious set path to the destinations, and when we utilise the gorgeous physics engine and pile together some garbage to make a ramp over these obstacles, some invisible barrier stops us. It all seems like were being coned by lazy level designers who can't be arsed to go into any kind of detail and would prefer we whisked through everything with only a glance around us. Is this the ground breaking kind of thought and layout we were expecting? All this is present in the original Half-Life but that was in an underground base environment with occassional ventures to the surface, where a tightly set path even aided in giving the feeling and atmosphere of being on the road to alien-hell nowhere, but in the middle of a city, and even on the coast? man wheres the roaming freedom that that should all imply??????

And a lack of life and activity around us, no moving cars or herds (or even just a small flock) of people, its just a dead, restricted environment. Fair enough it’s supposed to be a police state 0f the extreme kind, but we are talking GOD DAMN DESERTED! Even when you walk out of the train station at the start of the game into the square, there are just big gates and police right in front and around the corner, to stop you going anywhere or seeing anything. This is a poor excuse for levels of a game, what is it now MORE THAN FIVE YEARS IN THE WAITING!!!

Just a little bit more space to move around in, little events or sequences to see, or a glimpse of activity in the distance would have made all the difference. ...And quickly, the entire section in the silver tower was a huge lost opportunity. First you f#uck around in the basement, see what could have been some interesting activities of slave/drone people building weapons, gun ships and tripod dudes, fight on a few floors and then get zoomed straight to the penthouse sweet and miss all the stuff in the middle. Complete cop-out, lack of effort rubbish. No running battles, no hordes of civilian militia attacking, no witnessing of people being made into combine cyborgs, or encountering rooms and chambers full of fresh and ready to roll enemies, residing there in temporary storage for the time being. Just poor poor poor easiest possible method of constructing levels. All smoke and mirrors to hide the fact its plain and dull. Just try playing without some of the nice graphic effects to show you what I mean. And then like, you can’t drive any combine vehicles, and when you should see loads, on the highway sections and in anticitizen 1, you don’t see any. That would have been the perfect section to get ambushed or attacked head-on by some mean grey people carrier thing, but no, empty, just trashed cars.

You spent most of the time fighting foot soldiers and those flying disc-saw things, which are very very good, but that’s it. The odd gunship, a couple of easily despatched helicopters and apc's. The first half-life had all kinds of vehicle madness, but there are really hardly any here. Nothing really tough or menacing to come after you. Just a couple of sand-lion mother creatures and a couple of gunships. Not even anything dark or menacing in the sewer sections. Just pants pants pants. And those combine guys in the white suits were just the same as the others but with that disintegrating/fading away weapon thing, with which they more often than not missed. A real missed opportunity there, I mean they could have carried a heavy heavy automatic rifle, or a pulse death cannon or grenade launcher, but no, just the silver grey blob gun!
The story wasn’t explained in any way at all, no details on how long the earth had been under combine control, of how it all went wrong for humanity and why soo much has been devastated, how doctor bream became ruler of earth, what became of black-mesa, or who or what the G-man is. Instead of escaping into raven Holm, freeman could have gone through a section of black mesa to the coast, encountering new up to date takes on the complex, revisiting this once almighty facility and encountering some of its unpleasant inhabitants. But no, none of this, just skipping on ready for the big cr@p ending! The king of let downs, and a very easy way to justify another game, and dragging this whole sorry mess (of a sequel) into yet another incarnation. Moving along a very narrow rigid path, not knowing a scrap of info, while encountering peace meal groups of the same bunch of cannon fodder and wobbly, meat aliens is not my idea of a quality experience, no matter how many objects you hurl at things with the gravity gun, or how many neat faces the characters pull...

Soo restricted when you can see soo much around you, but all is blocked by the old invisible wall, restricted selection of weapons, same old ineffective footsoldier cannonfodder around every corner and cant drive combine vehicles, AND shameless lack of G-Man info and cop-out ending to lead to another half-life cash in: Half-Life 3, "The great Half-Life cash in"
This game was not worth the money or the wait, and I sold it as soon as I got through the disappointing last levels, and saw the gash ending.

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