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Dust off your crowbar for a return to City 17.,
This review is from: Half-Life 2: Episode One (PC DVD) (Video Game)
Half-Life 2: Episode One is the first in a trilogy of episodes which has been on release since last year (2006). You don't need to own Half-Life 2 to play Episode One, as it's a stand-alone product. And Episode One is a memorable romp through the Half-Life 2 universe, with gameplay that's even more satisfying than that of Half-Life 2. The only downside is that, due to its episodic nature, it's over far too soon.
There's a new team dynamic at work in Episode One, thanks to the fact that Alyx battles alongside you throughout most of the episode. After playing on your own throughout Half-Life 2, it's refreshing to have a companion by your side, and Valve takes advantage of this by throwing you into situations where you must rely on teamwork to survive. Alyx is a capable assistant, and she's often the difference between victory and defeat in many encounters, as she'll cover your back while you're busy trying to sort out puzzles or reload your weapon during combat.
Half-Life has always been a mix of combat and puzzle-solving, but the formula feels honed to a razor's edge in Episode One, as Valve seems to have designed content that's geared toward Half-Life veterans. The puzzles and battles seem even more complex and challenging. In fact, the best encounters in the game require a mix of puzzle-solving and combat as you desperately fight to stay alive long enough to figure out what you need to do next.
Episode One features clever and witty dialogue uttered by Alyx and other familiar faces. Barney and Alyx's robotic sidekick 'Dog' are back, as well as Eli Vance (Alyx's father) and the ever-hilarious Dr. Kleiner. Valve's impressive facial animation is still incredible, and you really get the sense that you're interacting with believable characters in the game.
Your arsenal of weapons remain unchanged. The versatile gravity gun gets heavy use through the episode, and it's invaluable to solving the many environmental puzzles in the game, but other than that, you're packing the same assortment of pistols, rifles, and grenades as before. It's also worth noting that there are no vehicle sequences in Episode One. As most of the game content is tailored towards urban combat.
The Combine troops do seem to have some new abilities, such as the ability to rappel down buildings right in front of you. The only new opponent is the zombine, a Combine zombie, and these guys quickly become your first target when they appear on the scene, thanks to the fact that their favored tactic is to charge towards you with a live grenade.
The only major drawback about Episode One is that it's over far too quickly. There are only four to six hours of gameplay, and veteran first-person shooter fans will definitely find themselves wanting more. But since this game is only an add-on to an already successful franchise the price of the game will reflect this (at only a third of the cost of most other games you also get a third of the content).
The only thing truly new in Episode One is the single-player storyline. Before you know it, you've escaped from City 17, the credits are rolling, and you're left wanting more.