Delayed Responsibility

I Shouldn't Be Gaming Right Now… But I Am!

Episode 2, Round 2

Posted by deckard47 on August 16, 2009

So this is the second time I’ve finished Half Life 2: Episode 2, although this time I did it on a computer that did the game justice. It is (as it was the first time) quite a pretty game, and while some things don’t hold up and show their age a bit. Still, overall it’s an amazing game, every single bit of it. Playing it again, I was strongly struck by the things that affected me the first time round (whether I talked about it or not).

The first time you see the Hunters, they’re frightening, and they punctuate their sneaky, abrupt appearances by almost killing Alyx. When you fight them for the first time, they are fast, vicious, and aided by Valves catchy, propulsive techno soundtrack. Fighting them is exhilarating in a way most video game enemies can’t catch up to. Likewise, the final defensive battle is a tense, just-long-enough battle of attrition (and yes, I got “Neighborhood Watch” this time through!) that ill prepares you for the game’s final moments. About those [SPOILER. Stop now, this is your last fucking warning, go play the game already]. It’s still well-written, it’s still moving, and the game’s forced perspective and the restraints the advisors place on you are still incredibly effective devices. They telegraph this last move a good deal, what with Eli and Gordon’s “conversations,” but I don’t think I expected it quite as much the first time round. So, good job Valve, as I think I said the first time. This game makes me incredibly envious, thinking about the kind of awesome people and environment that made this game. This all deserves another post, a special, HL2: Ep. 2 post, but for now, let me say that this is the best thing I’ve played since I played it last.

Also, I think it’s nice that this is one of the first games that I’m writing about now that I wrote about then (when the blog first went up). It feels properly cyclical, as if I’ve finally been around long enough to have my own history. Lucky I spend so much time thinking about myself, right?

So here’s to Ep. 2. Until the next one, I doubt there will be a game I play that impresses its own extreme quality and competency upon me in the same way. Excellent.

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5 Responses to “Episode 2, Round 2”

  1. Eric said

    Yes, that game is just amazing set piece after amazing set piece. The final battle, which I won by mere moments (after a couple of failures) had me shaking with adrenaline when it ended. And the fight against the two antlion guards was an incredible experience for me too– I exhausted literally every last bullet, grenade, and crossbow bolt, but only killed one in the process. I made a run out of the shelter and towards the thumper to pick up an explosive barrel. The charging guard rammed into the thumper and was stunned just long enough for me to grab the barrel, spin around, and toss it, killing the guard. PHEW.

    • deckard47 said

      Yeah, even the second time through it definitely gets your blood pumping a bit, between the musice and the sudden bursts of fighting. I’d forgotten how much I loved fighting hunters. They basically require a lot of Grav-Gun work, which is nice. Still, they weren’t quite as unsettling and deadly now that I knew a tire would do more damage than a bullet.

  2. Brendan said

    Agre utterly. My friend and I had spent ten years debating the plot of Half-Life and who the G-man is and all those things.. and then Eli mentions that HE KNOWS THE G-MAN EXISTS TOO! and I don’t think I breathed from then until the credits finished. Utterly amazing game, as every section of the Half-Life canon has been since Gordon Freeman got on his train that morning in Black Mesa.

    I picked up the original Half-Lifes uber cheap on Steam on the weekend (so cheap, in fact, I gave up my four-ish year boycott of Steam to obtain them) and have decided to play through Opposing Force without cheating–something I never did back in the day.

    Just last night the game had me so tense that when it finally made me jump (the ol’ “headcrab in an airvent” trick) I managed to drop the mouse off the desk.

    Valve truly know a thing or five about making amazing games. In fact, if you ask me, I would claim they are one of the few (if not the only) game developers who truly understand how to ‘tell’ an interactive story (ie. not tell at all, but present). It has been eleven years since they showed us how to present an interactive story without surrendering to the tricks of other mediums (ie, using cutscenes to simulate films) and how to present a plot without halting gameplay, yet no other developer has managed to achieve the same success.

    I can’t wait for the day that other companies follow Valve’s lead and present stories without halting the gameplay.

    Also, if you are interested, Australian Video Game television program Good Game had a big interview with Gabe Newman (assuming I got his name right) and the entire interview is on their website. http://www.abc.net.au/tv/goodgame/ I found it interesting because I love Valve, but that is just me.

    • Brendan said

      Oh, I forgot, I was incredibly frustrated the second time I played through. i was trying to get the achievment for launching the Garden Gnome into space (a 360 achievement, not sure if it is on Steam). I carried the damn gnome through the ENTIRE game, all the way to the end where the shuttle launches… and realised I was meant to put the gnome IN the rocket when it was still docked, when I first got to the base. Aaaargh! >_<

      • deckard47 said

        Yeah, I’ve never tried that achievement. I’m sure it would be way too hard. Carrying him on the car? No way. I loved that ambush in the little mountain villa though. I still haevn’t played Op For or Blue Shift, despite the fact that I own them. Sad.

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