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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Valve

 

Developer

Valve

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

October 9, 2007

 

 

- Everything. The $30US price tag seems a paltry amount when you get to experience something this good

- Short appearance of Lamar, the de-fanged head crab

 

 

- What happened to Barney!?!

 

 

Review: Half-Life 2 (PC)

Review: Half-Life 2: Episode 1 (PC)

Review: Half-Life (PC)

 

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Half-Life 2: Episode 2

Score: 9.5 / 10

 

Bought separately or as part of “Orange Box” Half-Life 2: Episode 2 is just what the gaming public wants from Valve: more Half-Life 2 so handily crafted that one can’t help but restart the game immediately after the credits roll.

 

half-life 2 episode 2          half-life 2 episode 2

 

The biggest departure from the other Half-Life 2 installments is there’s a lot less shooting to be found in Episode 2, but what shooting there is generally epic – particularly the extremely satisfying climatic battle.  There’s a decided focus on puzzles and driving a modified muscle car, which pretty much crushes everything in the way.

 

“Focus” is misleading in this case.  Valve has done such a good job of masking and integrating the puzzles to fit neatly into the overall gameplay it’s easy to miss them.  It would do a disservice to anyone thinking about purchasing Episode 2 to actually showcase any examples (thereby spoiling them), so you’ll just have to

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take my word – and the word of just about every other gaming enthusiast – that the game is tight with logic and physical puzzles.

 

Towards the end of this Episode the story telling is quite thick with a lot of information flying around about “unforeseen consequences” and the ambiguous goals of the mysterious G-Man.  Pieces of the story are

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littered throughout the game and it happens around you rather than just kicking in a separate cutscene.  I haven’t seen any other game pull this off so successfully; making the player feel part of the action.

 

There is also a surprising amount of humor.  It’s an interesting shift, but one could argue that has to do with the comparatively upbeat nature of the story.  The Combine are seemingly on the run and the survivors of City 17, though scattered, are hopeful that a final solution to their problem is on the horizon.

 

half-life 2 episode 2          half-life 2 episode 2

There's plenty of driving to be done (left); the simple explanation of Episode 2's single new weapon (right)

 

Episode 2 is an awesome example of packing various kinds of gameplay into a compressed time span without the whole thing descending into a discombobulated mess.  You’ll explore an ant lion nest, take jumps in the aforementioned muscle car, learn the safe way to grenade jump, survive some nasty Combine ambushes, and generally be doing something different about every ten minutes.  It’s a fine balance but Valve manages to do it.

 

Episode 3 will be released at some indeterminate time in the future.  Actually, I’m a little anxious about how long the wait might be.  There isn’t even a sneak peak of Episode 3 offered at the conclusion of the game – it was done for Episode 2 at the end of the first Episode and that was a year-long wait.  Hopefully it’s sooner rather than later because there were just too many loose ends to tie up.

 

- Omni

(October 26, 2007)

 

half-life 2 episode 2          half-life 2 episode 2

 

half-life 2 episode 2           half-life 2 episode 2

Taking down a copter with the gravity gun? It's possible (and fun!) (left); probably the funniest moment in Episode 2 (right)

 

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