Half-Life 2 Episode One Review

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After purchasing and installing the Half-Life 2 Holiday 2006 pack I bought at EBGames this week, I immediately played through and beat Half-Life 2 the same day (the first time I’ve ever beat an entire FPS in a day :p ). However, that was just to get me back up to speed on City 17 and the Combine. The next day, I began playing Half-Life 2 Episode One, the official first episodic expansion to the game. Because Valve decided to go the episodic route, there is considerably less gameplay in Episode One then there is in Half-Life 2, but in the end, it comes out feeling tighter, more refined and way more fun. All in all, Episode One is the single best gameplay experience I’ve ever come across, regardless of genre or platform.

For each episode, Valve has decided to focus on a gameplay aspect in order to improve on it as much as possible. For Episode One, that was NPC AI and interaction. As their test subject, they decided to use Alyx, your sidekick. Consequently, you spend most of the game with her, fighting by her side. I think that in any other game, this level of NPC teamwork would drive players insane, but because of the dramatic improvements to the AI, it feels very natural. Alyx doesn’t get in the way, she isn’t obtrusive and she speaks and acts much like a normal person. There are some places where working with her is a great experience, like when you’re in an underground tunnel, with the lights out. Alyx can’t shoot at any of the enemies unless you shine your flashlight on them. There’s another scene where she mans a sniper rifle, helping you out with a good number of zombies. All of this results in a codependence with Alyx that other games (including Half-Life 2) don’t achieve particularly well.

-Like, fuck. This game is fucking good!

A.V. Club review of Half-Life 2: Episode One


Written by Kumaran Vijayan

December 21, 2006 at 3:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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