The Half Life series has never really disappointed gamers, from the first release in 1998 to the most recent Half Life 2: Episode 2 in 2007, the games have all been extremely well made, with a lot of replay value and enjoyment in them. Today we’ll look at Half Life 2, the second main instalment in the franchise, if you haven’t played Half Life before, then I would recommend you take a look at our first Flashback Feature on the original Half Life.
Firstly, there was quite a wait for Half Life 2, releasing six years after Half Life on 16th November, 2004, but it was definitely worth the wait, becoming one of the highest rated games of all time. For example, Half Life 2 received a 9.7/10 from IGN.com, and a 96% from Metacritic, and being referred to by PC Gamer as one of the best PC games of all time. Since the initial release on PC and the Xbox, Half Life 2 has been released on Android, Linux, Mac OS, IBM PC compatible, PS3 and Xbox 360. Designed by Mark Laidlaw and used to show off Valve’s new Source Engine, the game was heavily praised for it’s sounds, animation, physics, AI, graphics and gameplay. Also, the game was the first to feature online product activation, as it was developed alongside Valve’s Steam Software, which is now one of the most popular online game platforms.
The story, much like in Half Life, would probably seem bizarre and stupid, if it wasn’t so well done, there is also a lot of backstory you need to understand to get the full picture of Half Life 2’s story and events. After the resonance cascade, portal storms occur frequently, as Xen Wildlife keep teleporting to earth, as repercussions of the resonance cascade and the incident at Black Mesa, which has since been destroyed by a Nuclear Detonation. 10 years after the resonance cascade triggered in the first Half Life, an interdimensional empire colloquially named the Combine, notice the events on earth, due to them being the ones who drove species like the Vortigaunts into Xen in the first place. Using their advanced technology, they pass through a portal and manage to shut down all of earth’s defences in the 7-hour war. Massive structures that became known as the Citadels, we’re dropped through portals by the Combine, and became the centres of the new Combine controlled cities. Dr Wallace Breen, the former administrator at Black Mesa manages to negotiated with the Combine on behalf of the United Nations, and is rewarded by the Combine as Administrator of Earth, based in City 17, where most of the games events happen, which is a now Combine-controlled city presumed to be somewhere in Eastern Europe. The Combine have also put up a suppression field, preventing Human reproduction, so the Human race can slowly be wiped out without direct force. Some people are also taken and turned into soldiers or metropolice, who mirror something you’d see in a police state.
Well, that was the very lengthy and complicated Half Life 2 backstory, I may have rambled on a bit to be honest. Anyway, I won’t give away the game’s storyline itself, as I recommend that you play it for yourself, you won’t be disappointed. Not only does the game have a fantastic story, it also holds up very well today, despite being designed and developed from 1999-2004, and also leaked online during the developmental process, the game looks and plays amazingly. The graphics still hold up very well, much more so than the original game. The gameplay is especially made fun by the weapons and characters, characters such as Dr Isaac Kliener and Alyx Vance, who at one point gives you one of the most iconic and yet bizarre weapons in gaming history, the gravity gun. You have no idea how much fun it is to pick up a random object and fling it at your enemies.
Well, so that was Half Life 2, it is definitely one of the best games of all time, with a lot of different settings, weapons, enemies and characters, it’s very hard to get bored of it. I do recommend that anyone who owns The Orange Box or a Steam account to buy and/or play the game, it really is worth it.