I was never that enthused about Half-Life 2; I still think it’s a pale, overwrought shadow of the game Half-Life was.
But after playing Episode 1, which at least held my attention, I am surprised how little enthusiasm I have for Episode 2 after loading it up.
I start with no weapons. Again.
I get the novelty, sorry, I mean gravity gun and have to soldier on with that a bit. Physics Combat 101. Lucky for us someone left all these explosive propane tanks lying around near enemies.
sit through several tedious, plodding Alyx cutscenes. I tell you, I’m beginning to think she’s in love with Gordon Freeman! This level of community theater level machinima just grates on me now.
Alyx is down. Good thing that Vortigon was around to save her, eh?
I get doled out new weapons as I progress in extremely transparent, gamey fashion. Oh look! A pistol! A secret area with the six-shooter!
I encounter a “new” enemy that spits venom. Wow, it’s an insect. Impressive. Underground insect burrows, too. Who knew?
So, evidently I have to prevent a “superportal” from forming. Yawn.
God, it’s all so BORING.
Can anyone really tell me what the fuck the story is in HL2? How the heck does this relate to Black Mesa-- which at least made as much sense as the average X-Files episode. I’m completely lost in all the mumbo-jumbo. And frankly I don’t even care any more.
I want Team Fortress 2 and Portal. But I want to show my disrespect to Valve’s oppressive narrative techniques - especially because they are only techniques, they don’t actually tell a coherent, comprehensible story. They don’t narrate with their powerful narration! Half-Life had just the right pitch of “things you won’t understand” combined with “research lab tears hole in universe and aliens spill out”, although it did come adrift at the end. HL2 and Ep1 are just sequences of cool events - it’s plot without story.
As far as I remember, when HL2 starts the aliens (called the combine) from HL1 have taken control of earth, although I don’t believe the reason they did so was ever explained. During HL2 you escape from the combine, meet up with the resistance, break one of them out of prison and destroy the combine central commend (the citadel). Ep1 is just escaping from the citadel before its reactor blows up killing everything anywhere near it.
Edit: I agree with the plot without a story comment but then again I would argue you could make this criticism about virtually any game.
HL2 was okay, but I thought it was a disappointing follow-up to HL1, for pretty much the reasons you say. But there are a lot of single player mods out there. I wonder if any of them focusses on keeping the game more or less the same but improving the story? Something like the Phantom Edits for Star Wars?
In Half-Life you also fought against the Vortignauts or whatever their name is and in HL2 they suddenly address you as “The Freeman” and hail you as saviour.
I heard that at least this part is revealed in Episode 2 (why they changed their mind).
Episode 1 was like a quickie:
Fast, easy but not really satisfying…
Story (what story) was forgettable. Hope Episode 2 is better in that regard since I’m a sucker for good stories.
I don’t think any of your points are wrong, but I’ve been enjoying each of the Episodes far more than I enjoyed HL2, which had a lot of long stretches that feel like prototypes for the focus of the episodes (the Dune Buggy ride, the assistant AI). The Episodes each feel like HL2 refined to me, where as HL2 proper is what felt warmed over to me… even at the time, and a lot more in retrospect.
However, I too am geting pretty damn weary of the artificial weapons removal stuff. Half-Life 1 did it once, and while it was hailed as revolutionary then, there’s nothing more stultifying to a player’s feel of progress. At least start me with a shotgun or something. The gravity gun seemed fresh three years ago, but I’ve pretty much done everything with it I want to do with it at this point.
Incidentally, thanks, Valve, for finally eliminating the retarded link between your sprinting “energy” and your flashlight. No universe explanation, but I’m not going to complain: that was an idiotic design decision from the get go.
In HL1 the Vortignauts (?) were slaves to the combine force. You went to zen and killed the big floating baby thing which in turn freed the vortignauts. Now, you are the freeman… freeman… freeeemaaann GORDON!
As much as the very end of Half-Life is a bit poor (the expositional bit with the G-man, I mean), I actually enjoyed the Xen? Zen? bits, because I was playing them from three 'til five in the morning, feeling somewhat discombobulated. When Nihilanth finally appeared, I felt like I was in an old Level 9 adventure, The Price of Magic:
It was mentioned in HL2. The Vortigaunts had quite a few lines of dialogue if you kept spamming the use key on them. They told you how they were slaves in HL1 and after you closed the Xen portal, they were freed.
Oh cool didn’t know that.
I was too annoyed about the fact that 70% of the game I had to run like a pussy to take much notice of those guys besides when they showed me how to use the ant-lions and put the gun on my buggy.
Thanks for the heads up.