Half Life 2: Episode 1

hokiethang

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Released today, and i've just started playing it. It is pretty good so far. The first part is somewhat challenging, but so far i'm liking it.
 

BlaRo

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I preordered it (OMG SAVED 2 BUCKS) and yeah, it's great! It starts off backwards from the regular game in terms of what weapons you have (not trying to reveal too much), which isn't a bad thing. And the newer zombies are a nice touch.
 

Hatmouse

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BlaRo said:
And the newer zombies are a nice touch.

God, the scariest thing ever was when I ran out of my room screaming

(note: not RLY)

after getting brought down to 1 health by those fucking black headcrabs. And now there are new ones? :| :shock2:
 

cvrefugee

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http://img99.imageshack.**/img99/6914/ep1citadel0300011oi.th.jpg
http://img55.imageshack.**/img55/3764/ep1citadel0300020lr.th.jpg
http://img99.imageshack.**/img99/4277/ep1citadel0300041sx.th.jpg
http://img99.imageshack.**/img99/2817/ep1citadel0300058vd.th.jpg
 

R-Type

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Hey I usually avoid self pimpage, but its kind of necessary to explain why I wrote a review. I'm a host of the PC Gamer affiliate podcast The Widget and wrote this review for our forum and news site. Hopefully It'll help anyone on the edge about the game.

Introduction

Half Life 2: Episode 1 is the next chapter in the Half Life saga, and the first of three episodes in total. When Half Life 2 burst onto the scene on November 16th 2004, it was greeted with glowing reviews and numerous accolades. This wasn't simply a hype machine though, as the game was truly phenominal. In fact, several prominent industry journalists (i.e. Gamespot, PC Gamer) bestowed upon it the highest score they had ever given a video game. Certainly then, Half Life 2 was very good, and Valve faced a challenge known all too well by studios such as Bungie and Blizzard: How do you improve on something so perfect? Its a difficult question, and one which certainly crosses the minds of gamers as they wonder if Episode 1 could possibly be a good as its predecesor. Well I'm here to tell you that it is indeed, while it lasts.

Story

One of the aspects that has always set the Half Life series apart from the plethora of other first person shooters is its immersive and compelling story. The story is so well crafted and tightly woven that it feels like you are playing a blockbuster movie, and Episode 1 doesn't break stride. Without throwing any spoilers at you that you wouldn't have gathered by watching the trailer, the general premise of the game is pretty straight forward. Through an event which will make you question a bit of what you knew about Gordan Freeman's plight, he ends up once again in Alyx Vance's company, and this time she sticks around. It is up to the two of them then to fight their way out of the ruins of City 17. What the story doesn't address is that Alyx is apparently a highlander, but more on that in a moment. Rest assured that Episode 1 continues the story of Half Life 2 as if there were no break at all.

http://img457.imageshack.**/img457/1750/alyxsmall0mu.jpg
Alyx accompanies you throughout the entire game

Gameplay

The gameplay in Half Life 2 was an almost perfect blend of run and gun shooting, puzzle solving, and strategic gameplay, so wisely Valve hasn't messed with the formula too much. In fact, there are really only two areas where the gameplay varies substantially from Half Life 2. The first occurs in the first hour to hour and a half of the game. During this time ammo is very scarce, if available at all, and you are forced to defeat your opponents in more clever ways that would be the norm. This is actually quite fun I thought, and served as an excellent break from standard FPS "blaze till they're dead" gameplay. The other aspect of altered gameplay is that you now have a permanent sidekick in the form of Alyx Vance. Fortunately for us, someone at Valve obviously understands the the frustration involved in playing a game where you have to keep someone else alive as well as yourself. To prevent Alyx from being a liability, they have made Alyx immortal. Whether she's standing on top of a grenade when it blows or playing target practice for combine soldiers, Alyx doesn't bat an eye. While this is for the most part a relief and I wouldn't want it any other way, it does bring the immersion level down just a tad when, in the early stages where you're poorly equipped, you can just hide in a corner and let Alyx clear a room. However, If you can resist the tempation to abuse the system, this proves to be largely inconsequential and does nothing to lessen your enjoyment of the game.

Graphics

Listeners to the show will know that I have voiced concerns about Valve's decision not to substantially revamp their source engine with all the newest graphical tricks. After playing through Episode 1 however, I am happy to say that my concerns were, for the time being, unfounded. When I first played HL2 I was immediately blown away by the sheer level of detail and realism in the game. Even now, almost two years later, I still believe source is the most realistic looking game engine on the market. Sure it's not tossing around the polygons or the excessive real mapping that the Doom 3 and Crytek engines are, but it also doesn't suffer from the plastic look that plauge the aforementioned engines. With fantastic level design and crisp, beautiful textures, Episode 1 is the game to show your friends and family to make them say "wow". This awe factor is aided by the addition of full HDR lighting, a feature implemented into source after HL2 was already released. This is a subtle effect that simulates the effect of walking into bright light in the real world, and is truly stunning to behold. So we've established that Half Life 2: Episode 1 looks fantastic, but even better is that it runs fantastic as well. The heavily optimized and expertly coded source engine allowed my test machine equipped with a rather lowly 7600GT to play the game at 1680*1050 with full effects, 2x AA, and 4xAF while still averaging over 50fps. Astonishing.

http://img88.imageshack.**/img88/153/hdrsmall6eo.jpg
The HDR lighting is beautiful

Sound

The source engine utilizes a sotware based sound implementation that is quite simply fantastic. Surround sound positioning is superb and the effects are very cool as well. For instance, if you are too close to an explosion when it goes off, not only will you take damage, but your hearing turns to a high pitched whistle before slowly returning to normal. The voice acting is also top notch, with absolutely no moments where you feel like you're listening to a pizza faced member of the programming staff reading lines he wrote the night before. Alyx talks quite a bit more in this episode, dropping the occasional joke or suggestive comment"Is their room in that hazard suit for two?". The voice actor for Alyx also does an excellent job conveying her softer side and vulnerability without cheesing it up at all. The various rebel forces you meet also have stuff to say, though they usually come across as ungrateful. For example, "I don't dream anymore...". Is that so? Do I look Like doctor Phil? No, I'm Gordan friggen Freeman, and i'm sure your friends who had headcrabs latch to their skull don't dream either, so quit your whining... Anyway, yeah, the game sounds great.

Conclusion

When all is said and done, Episode 1 accomplishes just what it set out to do; continue the standard of excellence established in Half Life 2 while moving the story forward. Sure, you can run through the game in 4 hours, making it about a third as long as Half Life 2, but it is only $20, and for that much you'd be hardpressed to find anywhere near as much quality gaming elsewhere. I can wholeheartedly recommend you pickup Half Life 2 episode one as soon as humanly possible, unless you didn't play Half Life 2, in which case you need to kick yourself in the head and immediately buy HL2 AND Episode 1, you won't regret it.

Story: [10/10]
Gameplay:[9/10]
Graphics:[10/10]
Sound:[9/10]
Value:[8/10]

Overall:
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9.5 Giant glowing orbs out of 10
 

hokiethang

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Kebab gud said:
WAY to short!

Yeah, it's short, but I think that's the point in making it only $20 instead of a full $50. Also I'd rather get new content every year than have to wait 6 between releases, even if that new content I can play through in a few hours.
 

hokiethang

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Overheat said:
good review at gamespot as always: http://uk.gamespot.com/pc/action/halflife2aftermath/index.html


and I think it's really silly how people are saying it's too short - it's about the third the price of a full game and a third the length of a full game - you get what you pay for and beides, would you rather wait another 8-14 months for a full game?

Yeah I agree, now if they could only make it like every 3 months for the next episode. I just finished it today, and i'll agree, it was very short, probably no more than 4-6 hours of gameplay, but I'll accept that, especially since I only had to pay $18 for it (yeah I pre-ordered it).
 

BlaRo

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I just beat it today, and I can't wait for Episode 2 to come out, now scheduled for October.
 

AxlxA

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Do i need halflife 2 the original to play this episode one?

I dont wanna dish out 50 bucks for a semi-old game.
 

CyberMonkey

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If I remember well this game is stand-alone :)

But hey, HL2 is worth every penny. It doesn't look or feel old at all.
And it doesn't cost 50 bucks anymore neither...
 

hokiethang

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CyberMonkey said:
If I remember well this game is stand-alone :)

But hey, HL2 is worth every penny. It doesn't look or feel old at all.
And it doesn't cost 50 bucks anymore neither...

Yeah it is standalone, $19.95 and you get the episode one experience. It is fun by itself, but parts of it won't make as much sense if you haven't played HL2.
 

Jacobfox

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"they're zombines, get it..."
those things can ruin your day really fast. I've beaten it twice since I got it on thurs. good game, but my computer is playing nup again, because of a cheap-shit powersupply... among other cooling issues.
Nice game, but a little steep for what you get.
 

Viper007Bond

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I beat it on the 2nd. I woulda beat it on the day it came out, but I got all HL2'ed out, so I had to take a break

Kebab gud said:
WAY to short!
That's the whole point.

Release one game like 12-18 months from now? Or release it in 3 parts evenly spaced throughout that time?

CyberMonkey said:
what about the multiplayer? I read there was something new about that too.
It's strictly single player. But if you buy it, you get HL1: Source and like CS:S or something with it too.
 

Overheat

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quick question before I commit money to this game - does it require Steam? I'd like to play it on one of my dedicated gaming systems and I really don't want to have to connect them to the net.
 
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