Review: Half-Life 2 Feature - The Next Level

Review: Half-Life 2

DSP takes on Valve's most anticipated first-person shooter of the year.

Article by Phil Burnell (Email)
November 29th 2004, 09:54PM

Ever since Valve Software “broke the mold” with its groundbreaking firsr-person shooter Half-Life, and then it’s subsequent dozen or so mods on the engine including Team Fortress and Counter-Strike, people have been hungry for more. Valve was the first company to add a gripping story to an FPS game and pull it off, in such a fashion that most compared Half-Life to a good sci-fi adventure show or actual motion picture production. Fast forward to 2004, where graphics, sound, and all-around game quality have improved dramatically since the release of the original Half-Life. With Half-Life 2, Valve again attempts to break boundaries and revolutionize what a first-person shooter should be.

For the release of the game, Valve decided to do something totally different in order to prevent people from playing early and then leaking the game ahead of time. In order to play Half-Life 2, which is a single player game, you need to have an internet connection. As strange as that sounds, Valve has learned their lesson from the leaking of the Source engine which HL2 is based on and was leaked illegally to the public some time ago. When you attempt to play Half-Life 2, a program called Steam executes. Steam used to be Valve’s online matchmaking service for it’s multiplayer games such as Counter-Strike, but here is serves a different purpose. Steam verifies the legitimacy of all the Half-Life 2 files on your computer, and then “unlocks” them, making the game playable. This was ONLY possible on the day of the game’s official release. This caused some hilarity, as some stores such as Best Buy decided to sell the game early, but when consumers got home they were unable to play! Imagine how pissed you would be if you bragged to your friends you had gotten Half-Life 2 ahead of them, only to be unable to play for another few days like everyone else. Oh well, serves you right for trying to get something ahead of time.

From the second you start to play Half-Life 2, you’re engrossed into a story, and you don’t ever pull out. The entire game is one long, flowing series of events, as opposed to level-after-level of mindless shooting. You start out the game in a human processing center, meet up with some rebels who oppose the government in power, and then end up a fugitive on the run. It’s everything you’d expect to see in your quintessential Tom Cruise flick, only this time, it’s all taking place on your computer screen. The characters have their own personalities, voices, and mannerisms, and the dialogue is well-written. There is continuity from the plot of Half-Life 1, but don’t worry; if you missed the first one, Half-Life 2 is very easy to jump right into without wondering what the heck is going on (ever try to watch Matrix Revolutions without watching the first two?).

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