Half-Life 2: Episode One

Half-Life 2: Episode One

HL2EP1.jpgThis month we got to sample the first installment of what probably should have been called Half-Life 3. Though Episode One lacks the overall emotional impact of a 15-hour game, it’s a fantastic, inventive shooter that’s awesome from start to finish—albeit a little shorter than we’d like.

The episode begins right where Half-Life 2 left off—you’re in the Combine citadel in mortal peril. In a true deus ex machina, you and Alyx are miraculously rescued, and must escape from the crumbling City 17. The next five hours are a whirlwind of puzzle-solving, co-op combat with Alyx, and incredible battles that are as memorable as they are difficult.

The variety of new experiences in the game is splendid. The physics puzzles are much more fun and challenging this time around, and the fighting is as harried as ever, with several boss battles that are as explosive as a Michael Bay movie. The big focus this time around, however, is the interaction with Alyx, which Valve got just right. You’re with her for 90 percent of Episode One, and she’s never a bother. In fact, she’s very helpful in combat, a reassuring presence (Valve’s commentary track notes her role in praising the player), and has terrific dialogue that made us laugh out loud a few times. She’s a genuine pleasure to be around, and in no way reminds us that we “can’t leave without our buddy SuperFly,” which is a significant achievement in FPS gaming.

The weapons are the same as in Half-Life 2, which is disappointing. Worse, there’s only one new enemy—the Zombine—which is just a zombie Combine soldier. We were expecting at least a few new baddies, and maybe a new weapon or two.

There’s still plenty of goodness to experience here, however, and even though it’s “just” more Half-Life 2, we’re OK with that, because Half-Life 2 is pure FPS awesomeness. Episode One represents quality over quantity. While we would have loved more, we were satisfied with what we got for our $20.

Month Reviewed: September 2006

Verdict: 9
kickass=yes

URL: www.half-life2.com
ESRB Rating: M

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theexfactor

Da #1 UBER N.E.R.D.

complete and total ownage lol

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