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Valve's Half Life 2

Updated on December 30, 2014

Half-Life 2. Yes, by far, the best game I've ever played. True, there are other games out there that have much better or higher graphics quality and some who have better game play and some with more weapons. But the story is completely different. Metaphorically, if you were to compare the gap that the Half-Life 2 story has with other games on a compass, it would be as far as East is from the West. You're in the South, I'm in the North. Valve Corporation did a superb job. It was even awarded the Game of the Decade Award in the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards, for crying out loud. What more do you want?

The story follows after the Resonance Cascade in the previous game and after Gordon killed the Nihilanth and closed the portal between Xen and Earth, the Combine saw this temporary fluctuation in the space time continuum and attacked Earth. After only 7 hours, the Earth was badly beaten and a so called Dr. Wallace Breen ended this by managing Earth's surrender, thus giving him absolute control over the Transhuman Overwatch. Consequently, all inhabitants on Earth suffered from the Combine's baleful influence and atrocities. The G-Man sees this and sends Gordon to see the Combine are brought to their knees.

Additionally, this is the first game ever to feature realistic-scaled models. I mean to say that humans, guns, vehicles, houses and buildings are as approximate to real life scaling as possible. An example of what I mean is if you look at or play it's predecessor, Half-Life, which came out in 1998, the characters are as tall as SUV's and doors. In 2004, however, that all changed. In fact, Half-Life 2 was such a game changer that before it came out, graphics weren't as good and proportions and scale weren't even worth mentioning. And another thing is that it was the first game to feature mouths, eyeballs and facial expressions to match the mood of the current situation. It featured also a revolutionary graphics engine that, at the time it came out in 2004, was so revolutionary, all game developers and companies turned head-over-heels to create their own graphics engine as good as Valve's Source engine. I even heard rumors that some developers tried to steal the Source engine and "reverse-engineer" it, if such a thing were possible with software, to no avail

Cover Art featuring the series' protagonist, Gordon Freeman
Cover Art featuring the series' protagonist, Gordon Freeman | Source

Now, let me tell you how I got my first taste of this breathtaking, sublime and delightful game.

It all started back in senior high school in November 2008. It was a friend's laptop which he somehow managed to sneak out of something I referred to as a "temporary confiscation box" where all electronic gadgets were to be surrendered before the class started. During our afternoon break, which was a spectacular 1 hour, I caught him playing it after I'd returned from the canteen. And he so graciously let me play.

The first map I ever played was Chapter 6, "We Don't Go To Ravenholm!" And my, oh, my was it glorious. At first, he said something about the mouse being "too slow" and "laggish" As I was an experienced FPS player, it was a simple adjustment in the Settings box and I was blasting away. He was so impressed about me changing the mouse sensitivity of the game that he let me play on until the time was nigh to re-place it back into the Temporary Confiscation Box. And whilst I played, great merciful heavens! I'd never seen such high definition graphics on a game before. And the physics engine was supremely sublime! In-game explosions matched and replicated what real-life explosions would do! The blood was so fantastically majestic that when you shot a zombie with the SPAS-12 shotgun, you knew with absolute certainty that it was the epitome of death, destruction and finality.

Another realistic piece of kit the game features is the advanced technology side. If you look at the first game's intro, you'll find that Gordon is a Theoretical Physicist. And the first game features some of it, majority being in Xen. But the second game takes it a whole step further. Sure, the first game features the Tau Cannon and the Gluon Gun. But they are powered by dangerous and hazardous materials such as Uranium-235. The Tau Cannon used in HL2 has unlimited ammunition and is non-hazardous. Sadly, though, it is only seen in Chapter 7, "Highway 17". But before entering Ravenholm, you'll be surprised to find a technological piece of kit formally called the Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator or Gravity Gun for short.

If you search Wikipedia for Zero Point Energy, it's what the nickname suggests. Zero Point Energy is Gravity. By the way, it's also called Quantum Vacuum Zero-Point Energy. From Wikipedia, "it is the lowest possible energy that a Quantum Mechanical physical system may have; it is the energy of its ground state." (Please go to Wikipedia to find more information on Zero-Point Energy)

World of Longplays PC Longplay of Half-Life 2 Part 1 of 5

Another technological advancement is the use of the Combine's "Pulse Rifle" or the Overwatch Standard Issue Pulse Rifle, abbreviated OSIPR. This gun is, in itself, technologically advanced because it uses bullets from something called Dark Energy. Aside from shooting Dark-Energy Pulses, it also shoots a Dark-Energy Energy Ball capable of killing anyone, and I mean killing anyone, with a single magnificent shot. That includes the Combine's Hunter (I shall review the Hunter in Half-Life 2: Episode 2 as it is seen only in Episode 2).

This Dark Energy is astonishingly stupendous yet absolutely dangerous. Again, from Wikipedia, "it is an unknown form of energy which permeates all of space and tends to accelerate the expansion of the Universe." It's also been rumored to comprise 85% of the known Universe. It is, however, invisible and undetectable. It does not interact with light or gravity. The only way it can be detected is if, by chance, you see a bright star behind this Dark Energy. For some odd reason that science cannot explain, light bends through DE even though it doesn't interact with light at all.

And how the Combine can manipulate Dark Energy is beyond anyone, even the game's developers, Valve Corporation. But, theoretically, it should be treated with the utmost care if you get the chance to manipulate it in the lab.

City 17's town square with the formidable Citadel in the background
City 17's town square with the formidable Citadel in the background | Source

Did you notice the Combine? They are the main antagonists of the game and it's succeeding episodes. From Half-Life Wikia, "It is the title of an immense and powerful inter-dimensional organization, composed of a massive variety of both allied and enslaved species. The goal of the Combine is to build an inter-dimensional Empire known as the Universal Union and dominate the Multiverse." The Combine appears to be a caste system because of the use of an absolute monarchy structure. This absolute monarchy is run by powerful creatures such as the Shu'ulathoi or Advisors. Once an order is given, Combine soldiers must obey or are either terminated or sent to another world.

Game
Year released
Units sold
Half-Life
1998
approx. 10,000,000
Half-LIfe Opposing Force
1999
1,100,000
Half-Life Blue Shift
2001
800,000
Half-Life 2
2004
12-15 million
Half-Life 2 Episode One
2006
approx. 2,000,000
Half-Life 2 Episode Two
2007
N/A, probably 2,000,000

So, again, we come to our last leg of chit chat and it's time to summarize the game. Or attempt to summarize.

This game has the best story of any game I've ever played. This game is revolutionary because it had many new features like an advanced graphics engine, advanced physics engine and rag doll effects. It features real-life scales and proportions. It features large amounts of facial and body movements and ergonomics. It features highly advanced sciences like Zero-Point Energy and Dark-Enery. It was called the game of the decade.

And yes, if I get the chance to purchase Half-Life 2 and any of it's succeeding Episodes, make no mistake, it shall be so.

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