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203 of 208 people found the following review helpful
on 10 December 2007
Ok so I got this game a month ago and have managed to play through all 5 of the sections of this game - for those that arent aware the Orange Box also contains the 2 expansion packs for Half Life 2 which effectively double the length of the game. Ok so lets begin with the big one: Half Life 2. Having heard a lot of the hype I was very sceptical about this game, but after playing through the campaign I have come away very impressed. The game mechanics really single out HL2 from the rest of the FPS market (first person shooters) - Firstly, everything you run into can be picked up, thrown, smashed, destroyed, launched, set on fire - whatever you want. Some of the weapons are very imaginative (a gravity gun which can blast huge objects into the distance or into an enemy soldier) as well as the mandatory machine-guns, shotguns, pistols, rocket launchers and snipers. The pace of the game may be a little slow for some, the areas of intense action and shooting are broken up by simple puzzles. Usually this involved picking up some objects and using them to interact with the environment (eg making some stairs out of several crates). It sounds stupidly simple but actually works very well. The game also contains several vehichle sections which are well done and intergrated into the story although do tend to drag on for a bit longer than I would have liked. However one area in which HL2 especially succeeds is in giving the impression of an outside world continuing around you. You will drive past cities, briefly meet hideouts of rebels, see planes whizzing around the sky. Soldiers you meet will live or die depending on your actions. I especially like the later stages when huge "war of the worlds" like combine vehicles roam around. smashing through buildings whilst they chase you. What is most impressive about this game is the way it moves from one genre to the next. One level is a survival horror, zombie infested town with limited ammunition that really upps the tension. The next a squad based shooter where you order around a small group of rebel soldiers. The next may be a puzzle section, a platformer or a driving section. The entire game has been constructed so that you are always faced with a fresh challenge, never stuck with one task for too long. The load times are quick and checkpoints are frequant so should you find yourself killed you dont have to wait long before you can try again. My only criticisms would be - the soldiers you fight are of the genetic stormtrooper variety. They are all completely lifeless uniforms walking around with guns. I got bored of shooting them fairly quickly. The zombies and aliens were much more fun.

The initial HL2 will take about 12 hours and the expansions about 5 hours each so you are getting your moneys worth with that package alone. However if you arent in the mood for shooting people (yeah, because thats going to happen) then the world of Portal lies before you. When I bought the Orange Box I had no idea that the "bonus" game would be so refreshingly addictive - the puzzles are amazingly clever, mind bendigly fascinating. You can spend ages simply setting up weird loops, an endless tunnel, or chase yourself round in circles untill you throw up. The setup is simple - you are a test subject in a lab experimenting with a "portal gun" - left trigger shoots an orange portal, right trigger shoots a blue protal. Jump through one portal and you pop out the other. Its a simple concept - however once I started discovering the hidden messages of previous test subjects I was so intruiged to find out more I completed the entire game in one sitting, retiring to bed happy and satisfied at 5 in the morning. WARNING - ADDICTIVE. Since playing, this has become one of my favorite games. I know it doesnt sound like much but you simply have to give it a try.

Granted not everyone likes spending half an hour figuring out how to manipulate their own body weight in order to propel themselves over a large pit of acid. However this is not a problem. If you want to shoot REAL people (and having spent many hours on xbox live I use the term loosely) then Team Fortress is for you. An awesome multiplayer shooter, pick one of 9 classes and then participate in a attack/defend online melee with up to 15 others. There are 9 classes to chose from, each with individual skills that are all usefull in different situations meaning there is no core class that is required to win. The gameplay is amazing fun and often very amusing - both the art style and characters. Some of the characters are simply inspired - The engineer can construct sentry turrets and teleporters, the spy can briefly turn invisible or disguise himself as an enemy player, the medic can overheal and eventually turn players briefly invincible with his charged healing gun, the scout is speedy and can double jump, and then there are the more run and gun shooter classes like the rocket launcher weilding soldier, sniper, or heavy gunner - Meaning every class is important to success. The levels are beautifuly constructed and it is obvious that a lot of care and attention to detail went into the design of their layouts for maximum enjoyment. However whilst this is great fun to play and wonderful to watch there are several flaws. Firstly the lack of a splitscreen - you cannot sign in a guest and play 2 player online which I found very dissapointing. Secondly the room search engine is a complete pain, and it can be very hard to find the sort of game that you want. It takes longer than it should, but on the plus side rooms tend to fill up fairly quickly. Just make sure you dont miss the "magic window" before the next game comes out. Whilst there is capture the flag and territory style games (2 teams take turns attacking/defending strategic points on the map) there is no deathmatch or team deathmatch. This is however because of the classes that are available - a medic is vital when attacking a control point but by himself will find himself bested by most other classes, and this would make a deathmatch repetitive and uneven. Lastly the max amount of players is fairly small - 8 men on a team - im sure many would have appreciated a 24 player cap. However this smaller cap means the levels and characters can be better detailed so it all depends on what you want from an online shooter. At the end of the day its great fun to play and makes a nice change from Halo 3 or Call of Duty.

Each of these games deserves 5 stars in its own right. There is something here for everyone. The only unavoidable problem is all 3 of the games are single player unless you go online. Still, if you happen to be that "single player" then your'e in luck because this is one of the top games released this year. Cheers for reading my review - ENJOY!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2009
I'm rather late to the Portal party. The guests have left and there's no sign of any cake. But by all accounts, it was some party. Portal managed to make numerous game-of-the-year (2007) lists, despite being a supposedly minor addition to Valve's Orange Box collection. While the first-person shooter Half Life 2 was top of the billing - and it did, justifiably, receive a huge amount of critical acclaim in its own right - Portal used the exact same game engine to a very different end, and in many people's eyes, completely stole the show. Portal's the reason I recently forked over my not-so-hard earned cash for the Orange Box, and the reason I'd suggest you do the same.

On first appearances, Portal is a fairly standard puzzle game. You push buttons, pull levers and move objects to advance through the levels. The titular portals add variety, allowing you to teleport through walls/floors/ceilings and reach locations inaccessible by conventional, physics-conforming means. As you progress, new puzzle elements are continually added, giving you just enough time to master one concept or technique before moving swiftly on to the next.

It must be said, Portal does its day job incredibly well. It's a very focussed effort, never feeling laboured or stretched for ideas, primarily because it doesn't try to overreach itself striving for 20+ hours of gameplay. It's also very polished: The graphics, though minimalist, are very satisfying. And it should be congratulated for completely foregoing any kind of tutorial section, managing a learn-by-doing approach without leaving the player feeling bewildered.

But to consider Portal only in terms of puzzle gaming is to miss something quite magical. Portal contains a story every bit as focussed, concise and polished as its core gameplay. The plot unfolds organically, through clever bits of scenery, and most importantly, sound. In this way Portal manages to convey more heart and character than any number of lengthy, passive cut-scenes could ever hope to achieve. There's genuine humour too, from a most unlikely of sources, your guide and nemesis, the computer GLaDOS. To say any more would be to spoil one of the gaming experiences of the decade, but heed this: After playing levels 1 to 18 of Portal you will know the game. After playing level 19, you will love it.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 2007
I've have purchased and played thousands of Video games over the years, on many different gaming consoles. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, comes close to the greatness of the gaming package u get here. Let's start at the main game: Half-Life 2. This game is quite simply the finest FPS ever created. It beats even most of the current-gen games on graphics alone, let alone the magnificent gameplay and physics engine. What makes it so good is that the makers have created a disturbing George Orwellian future world where alien machines control man in parallel to how the world is changing in our OWN lives now! It is a warning of a totalitarian existence that could so easily happen if democracy is gradually eroded. What I love about this game is that is combines challenging puzzles, never telling you how to progress to the next area or what to do with the objects in front of you. You have to actually use your brain to guide you through this amazing game. It is never boring, because the huge environments and the gameplaying style can change dramatically with no warning. The sound is also incredible, evoking a nightmare future where we have no real control of our lives. The expansion episodes are also brilliant action games, following on nicely from Half Life 2. Then, if that was not enough, you have Portal and Team Fortress. Portal is very challenging on the brain as you have to use dimensional portals to get through the levels in a specific way. Team Fortress is one of the best Mutiplayer experiences ever created, too! I won't spoil it by talking about that too much. All I can say is that if you only buy one game for your new Xbox 360, then buy this! It will entertain you for months! THE GREATEST GAMING PACKAGE IN THE HISTORY OF GAMING!
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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on 1 November 2007
This package is well worth buying, it has something for everyone, you're guaranteed to find something you'll love here.

I was extremely impressed with the ease of choosing 1 of the 5 games that are in the Orange box and then sitting back and marvelling at the amazing visuals, sound and fun each game has to offer in their own unique ways.

Here is a small review section for each game:

Half life 2: Fantastic game, the longest of the lot, this is a great way to start your orange box experience.

Half life 2 Episode one: Continuing the amazingly compelling and gripping story of Gordon Freeman and Alyx vance as they desperately try to escape city 17.

Half life 2 Episode two: Even better than the previous 2, this episode includes intense battles and reveals more of the incredible story line of Half life.

Portal: An amazing puzzle game, unlike anything else you have ever, or will ever play. Worth the money of the orange box itself.

Team fortress 2: Amazing multiplayer fun, slick graphics and rewarding gameplay, how could you not like this?

Overall I am going to give the Orange box a 10/10. It packs a lot of fun, gameplay and replay value into one small package. You would be a fool to miss this.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 6 December 2007
To be perfectly honest Half Life 2 is hands down the best FPS I have ever played and I have played a lot of FPS games.

When I saw this I almost had a heart attack! Could it be that 5 games could squeeze onto 1 disc and still play well without slowdown or other problems?

Hmmmmm......... yes and no.

I have been playing this for just over a month now and have just completed HL2 and am on the 2nd Chapter of HL2ep1 but I have tried portal and Team Fortress 2 online and have to say they are all excellent in their own way.

Half Life 2: One of the most original FPS games ever released. The graphics still look top notch even by Bioshock standards.

Episode 1 & 2: More of the same as far as I have seen but thats not a bad thing.

Portal: A weird FPS puzzle game where you need to reach the exit by using the portal gun to transport yourself and other objects around the area. It is quite challenging and makes very good use of the games physics engine.

Team Fortress 2: Excellent fun online shooting action. Much more than just a one on one deathmatch game, you need to use all your skills and teamwork to win the battles, a bit cartoony for my liking but overall good fun.

Only minor downside of this game is the loading times, they just pop up unexpectedly and seem to take forever, also when the game has just finished one of these loads it seens to suffer slowdown very briefly.
Although this is more of an annoyance than anything else.

Overall this game is amazing, if you like FPS's get it now, if not you will after you've played this!!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 30 December 2008
I bought this game quite a while ago, (pretty much when it first came out). I had no real experience with Half life prior, except owning the first one on PS2.

I started playing Half Life 2 and i was instantly gripped. I went through all the games (half life 2, ep 1, ep 2, portal, team fortress 2), got all the achievements, yes, they were that great! It took me a very long time, hours upon hours of incredible, gameplay. The characters and the multiple narratives of the half life series take you on an emotional ride. You really care about the characters, their relationships with eachother and their wellbeing. You actually begin to care for Alyx and her Dad. The fact that Gordon Freeman is silent places you in that characters position and you really get drawn in.

The Half Life series is rather old yes, but they are completely timeless. If i were to play these games in 10 years from now, i would appreciate them just as much.

Now along with the Half life series, you get Portal, a genius puzzle game which got me hooked from start to finish. You have to think quite hard to complete and you get a real sense of acomplishment once done. The achievemtns for this game will keep you playing.

Then as if that wasn't enough, Team Fortress 2 is included. To be honest, i didn't know what to expect at first but i gave it a try. It is absolutely wonderful, the cartoon like graphics, the tounge in cheek humour all combined with clever gameplay mechanics.

This disc also contains many many (99) inventive achievements (Little Rocket Man was particularly entertaining) which will keep you playing for a VERY long time. Not one second was i ever bored with this game. I managed to get all 99 achievements and have completed each and every game on this magical disc. Another thing (which i can't quite understand) is the price. It is so damn cheap!? Do yourself a favour and buy this game. This is definately one of the best i own.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 February 2008
I've been a fan of the Half Life series since the first game on the PC and this box set is a fantastic addition to the series. The intelligent and twisting story line creates a really engaging and enjoyable game requiring both skill and brains as the usesual Half-Life puzzles and twisted sense of humour exists in all the episodes making a what is a well round and totaly immerssive FPS that will keep you guessing.

Portal is an interesting addition to the series and is not at all what it seems. It requires at lot of brain work and is highly addictive. Portal takes the best of Half-lifes' clever puzzles w/o the shooting. I haven't been able to put this down as it is a refreshing change. The basics of Portal is a FPS style game where your character has to make her way through a series of 19 3D puzzles by creating a pair of portals to make her ways through the environment and often requires some interesting lateral thinking to solve the problems.

Team Fortress 2 is an online FPS which is provides varied game play with an assortment of maps and objectives. Interesting weapons fast and intense non stop game play which can't be taken seriously which is ideal for those whose doesn't want/like the serious game play of many online FPS.

Over all I highly recommend this box set as is provides a varied mix of FPS, intelligent game play, plenty of humour, and fantastic and immersive story line which definately makes the game one of my all time favourite FPS.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 16 November 2007
If one game from Valve isn't good enough, The Orange Box gives you five brilliant games in one - albeit individually they are a little on the short side.

Half-Life 2 and the two additional episodes that come packed onto a single DVD are simply breathtaking gaming experiences and the Xbox 360's power means they can be played in all their glory, unlike the Xbox version of Half-Life 2 released two years ago slightly let down by graphics and loading times. There is probably around 20 hours of gaming to be had played through once, but plenty of replay value on top of that.

Then you've got Valve's newest creation, Portal, which is a branch off from the usual action-packed adventures. Instead you've got a mind-swindling trance of puzzles, tricks and humour - definitely something different to what you're used to but brilliant all the same. Its originality is very welcome and will give you several more hours of gameplay.

And last, and by no means least, we have the long-awaited (not far off ten years) Team Fortress 2 which will keep you going for ages because as far as online multiplayer games go, this is an absolute blast - very well balanced, fun-filled and addictive.

There's five very good reasons to buy The Orange Box - a worthy addition to your Xbox 360 arsenal.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 24 October 2007
The Orange Box (TOB) is the second of Valve's three episodes for the seminal half life 2, and while we may have had low expectations after the not-so-awesome episode 1, and we've had to wait a long, long time to play TOB, cast aside your worries and concerns: TOB is one of the best games of the year.

There are five games here, three of which are new. The new games are Episode 2, Portal and Team Fortress 2. The older games are Half Life 2 and Episode 1. This means you're literally buying two games you already own, but that's really not a big deal given the overall price and quality of the package, and if you're fortunate enough to not own Half Life 2, then this is astounding value.

Episode 2 is probably the weakest of the three games, but to say it's also utterly awesome perhaps puts the overall quality of this package in perspective. The story picks up exactly where episode 1 left off. You're immediately thrown into a series of long and winding tunnels, utterly linear, with some simple physics puzzles here and there. The gunplay doesn't start proper until about an hour in, when you get to a small human camp. It's a great set piece involving turrets, friendly AI and a hell of a lot of antlions.

The game goes on like this, alternating between rather mediocre linear run n gunning with occasional physics puzzles which are simple, but serve as a pleasant distraction, and then the game throws a simply wonderful set piece at you. I don't want to go into details about them, they are best experienced without prior knowledge. But suffice it to say that while episode 2 is not the greatest of games, it is a worthy addition to the Half Life universe, and a game anyone fond of HL2 should play. It clocks in at about five to six hours, making it slightly longer than episode 1.

The second game in the collection is Portal, and for those of you not familiar with what portal is: you're in for a treat. It's a first person puzzle game where you can fire portals into walls, a blue and an orange, then step through one and out of the other. It's difficult to simply do the game justice with its basic description. The puzzles begin easy, with things like firing a portal across one side of a chasm, and another on your side to easily pass through. But an hour later you'll be pushing your brain and your finger to their limits.

The whole game is only around three and a half hours long, but it's an utter pleasure to experience from start to finish, it has a wonderfully dark sense of humour (and is probably the funniest game of the year) as you're guided by an unworldly computerised voice that is... eccentric. Without spoiling anything, the game also has a simply perfect ending.

Team Fortress 2 is the final original game in the package, and for anyone who even vaguely enjoys multiplayer FPS games, it's the highlight of TOB. It is in essence an objective-based class-based team multiplayer FPS. You'll select a class (each of which has strengths and weaknesses, and has to work effectively with the other classes to function properly), choose your team and jump straight into the game.

One of the greatest strengths of TF2 is that the individual focus of the player is not merely on kills and deaths, but uses a points based system which also factors in kill assists, headshots, dominations (awarded for killing the same person several times), revenge kills (killing someone who is dominating you) and various other things. This means you won't be preoccupied with your simple ability to kill the enemy, but will be more focused on helping your team as best you can.

Visually, the game is a pleasure to experience - it looks more like a cartoon than a computer game, and does wonderful things with the source engine. Another great thing about this game is it's really not all about twitch reaction ability to score headshots at 200 yards. People who don't enjoy counter-strike and the like will definitely find something to enjoy in TF2, with its variety of classes, each of which is unique, its wonderful visual style, its focus on the team over the individual and the sheer fun of it all, TF2 is the greatest multiplayer FPS I have ever played.

Also featured in the package is Half Life 2 and episode 1, its first expansion. HL2 is one of the greatest games of all time, period. It puts the player in a variety of situations and scenarios and transcends the `run n gun' mentality most FPS games have. One moment you're speeding down a road in a mad max style buggy, the next you're in your very own version of the movie tremors, the next you're leading a team of giant insectoid monsters on a prison raid. Really, the depth of gameplay is rather limited, but the breadth is so amazing, words scarcely do it justice. If you've never played Half Life 2, start here.

Episode 1 is the weakest part of TOB, but still well worth playing. It only clocks in at around four hours long, and it only has a few of the awesome set pieces that make HL2 such a wonderful game, but it is certainly well worth playing.

Five games, three new. TOB features some of the finest games of the year as well as one of the finest games of all time. If you've never played Half Life 2 before, you simply must buy this. You simply must. And if you're a HL2 veteran but don't own this wonderful package yet - I have one question, what are you waiting for?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 19 August 2009
In spite of its vintage, HL2 remains my favourite FPS of all time. Simply outstanding! Even several years on it beats the latest games all ends up! Overall, £15 for 5 games of this standard represents outstanding value and I would strongly recommend it.

For me the big surprise was PORTAL. "This was a triumph" as the song goes. A simple yet ingenious concept that could easily have fallen flat on its face. However, the game is cleverly designed and delivered with such style by the developers that I was just bowled over by it. It is short and took me less than 5hrs to complete, and on first run I was never overly tested, but you then have the option to go back and replay some levels again with added difficulty and thats when it gets a bit more tricky. But its more than just a puzzle game. There are references throughout to HL2, and in your demented AI companion, GLaDOS, a star is born. Lets hope she is "still alive" and we see her again. You even get a catchy tune at the end to go with your cake! Loved it and will be looking out for PORTAL 2.
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