9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5 stars are not enough...,
This review is from: Half-Life 2: Game of the Year Edition (PC DVD) (Video Game)
Games come out every day. Most, you play them once, you're finished. Usually you don't even finish them. You lose interest before it's even over.
Sometimes however, once every decade or so, a game comes out thats so compelling that you not only finish it once, but replay it a dozen times over, savouring every last moment, and scene, and action. HL2 is one of these.
It's simply stunning. From the beginning where you start off as a very ordinary joe getting off a dull and dingy train at a dull and dingy station it intrigues - who are the brutal east-european type guards who seem to watch your every movement? Why the dejected and down expressions on your fellow travellers? Why the incessant jabbering of the viewscreen whose voice seems to pervade every corner of the place that you can't get away from it? And why is it blathering such insinuating, yet obvious, propaganda? Clearly, something is very wrong in City 17. From then on it's a roller coaster of a frightening trip where you evade the police force (for thats what the guards are) into an increasingly deperate fight for personal survival and ultimately, it turns out, for the entire human race itself. Who are the mysterious overlords known as the Combine? Why do they seem to run Earth and why is there an air of unending gloom and depression that seems to hang over everything and everyone? Why does the human race itself seem doomed to extinction?
Half Life 2 will answer these questions, and present more and ever more complex ones that will bewilder and delight at the same time. There is much to admire here thats not obvious at first glance: the radio crackle of the Combine soldiers: listen to it, it's quite brilliant in it's authenticity and it will give clues to whats really happening not present elsewhere. The budding relationship between the hero and the daughter of one the rebels known as Alyx... ah, lovely Alyx. She comes over as a "real" believable character with her own personality and hidden depths, and emotion too. Has any videogame character been more compelling? Certainly few have been more believable, or believe-inable.
The great glory of HL2 is the set piece battles, the best being the battles with the Striders towards the end of the game. City 17 is reduced to smoking ruins by the end of it, and if you've seen documentaries about the fall of Leningrad or one the great WW2 battles, then you'll get the idea about this. And you'll really feel like you've been there at the fall of Leningrad, sorry, City 17. The Ravenholm section is like a mini-game in itself, and few are more creepy or downright nerve wracking. Imagine a disturbing horror movie and you'll get the picture. Don't, like I did, play it alone in an empty house, in the wee small hours of a cold, dark winters' night. You'll have trouble sleeping for days.
There are so many jewels in this box it's hard to pick out individual parts but the storming of the Combine HQ, the Coast Road, and the tough Xen wildlife thats taking over the Earth (the wonderful AntLions being a fantastic example) really give a feel of despair, and hope at the same time. The Combine must be defeated, and you, as Gordon Freeman, are the one to do it. If you like pure, non-stop mindless action then this is probably not the game for you. If, on the other hand, you like thoughtful, reflective, intelligent gameplay that makes you think as much as much it makes you work your trigger finger, then you'll love this.
Utterly, utterly wonderful. I loved it. My hat goes off to Valve. As good as a first rate action movie, and then some. And it's interactive. Valve, I salute you. 10/10.