HALF-LIFE 2 & EPISODES
A lot of people say that some games get better with time. Most of those people are lying. Technology just progresses too quickly, trends are as fickle as the capricious northern winds, and games consoles live and die to be immediately replaced with the next model. Games just don't get better.
"Half-Life 2" is a game that gets better with time. Not just because people like it, but because it's still going. It's making babies. And, even when you play it for the second or third time, it seems like it's a living, breathing entity.
Since it was first released in 2004, its developer Valve has written two additional "episodes" to the storyline, carrying on from where the first game left off. They knew that they couldn't reserve the material for a sequel - this wasn't some half-assed attempt like "Halo 2" and "Halo 3" which are two halves of the same game. They knew that this was still "Half-Life 2" and they were going to release it as such, in the forms of "Half-Life 2: Episode One" and "Half-Life 2: Episode Two". The game still lives, and it's getting bigger and better as it goes.
"Episode Two" was released as part of Valve's game compilation "The Orange Box", and again individually in stores in 2007. After three years, it was still growing and developing, the story expanding as the characters deepened and more of its world revealed. "Episode Three", the last segment of "Half-Life 2", is being developed as you read this, but may yet be some time.
The game - and let's talk about it as one game; one story - is a first-person shooter of the highest calibre, reawakening the dormant scientist Gordon Freeman after his first adventure at Black Mesa in "Half Life". He wakes up on a train, heading into the subjugated City 17.
The world has moved on a little since Gordon was last around. After maybe two years, the dimensional rifts that happened as a result of Black Mesa's ill-destined experiments have been hijacked by an expanding alien race known as the "Combine". Their avatar on Earth, a corrupted human by the name of Dr Breen, has taken control of the city and the surrounding landscape, subduing the population until they are thoroughly defeated and hopeless.
Not entirely hopeless. There is a resistance movement, which Gordon becomes a part of. More than that, he becomes a sort of living martyr, a figurehead. The illustrious Gordon Freeman is back to lead the resistance against the Combine, and free humanity!
The storyline is awesome. And that's just the main segment of the game. The following two episodes incorporate spectacular set pieces and plot changes, tugging at the emotions of the three-dimensional characters as their plight becomes more dire by the minute. They aren't just add-ons or expansion packs, and there's so much stuff in there that I can't go into it here. Needless to say that if you like a game with story; with advanced graphics and in-game physics; with cool weapons like the "gravity gun" to accompany other ass-kicking human and Combine arms; with realistic characters with human expressions and top-class voice actors - then you need only purchase "Half-Life 2" and its accompanying episodes. A spectacular vision brought to life, as exciting, emotive and dramatic as anything a gamer could hope for.
Awesome puzzle game using the H-L2 engine. It involves creating an "open" portal with one button, and an "exit" portal with another - use it to figure out you way around obstacles and enemies.
Sounds very simple; in reality, it's an intricately desiged, incredibly-challenging game that fails only because it's too short. There is a very loose story and a boss battle of sorts at the end that really pushes this game from four stars to five. Awesome ending credits, with brilliant music throughout. Definately not one to miss.
TEAM FORTRESS 2
I have to confess, I haven't played Team Fortress 2. It's an online deathmatch FPS, using formulas that have been perfectly honed for years. The first Team Fortess had unbeatable gameplay - no exaggeration,
UNBEATABLE - and this has proven with fans to be even better.
The graphical style is unique amongst games, but borrows a lot from classic US and European newspaper strips, which also inspired the art style of films like "The Incredibles". The graphics are wonderful and vibrant, and the selection of character-types and weapons is wide and varied. There are also numerous achievements to unlock, and also a bunch of pretty funny cut-scenes for each character-type.
It's not my type of game, being online and without a story of any kind, but what I've seen is good and I trust the praise bestowed upon it by my peers!