Orange Box: What order to play?

All of the Orange Box games are well worth playing - every single one of them. The Half-life games are some of the best games available. This includes #1, which doesn’t come on the disc. TF2 and Poral are great additions to the package. Play them all.

Play Half-Life 2 until you get fatigue, and then try out TF2 or Portal, and then go back to Half-Life 2 when you get bored with that. And play HL2->EP1->EP2 in that order.

I’ve seen numerous people who didn’t care for Episode 1 love Episode 2, including some saying that it’s the best Half Life product yet released.

Yeah, I know exactly what you mean about Episode 1. Like when those uber-combine soldiers are crossing the bridge and running toward you, and all you’ve got is a gravity gun, and they’ve given you no debris to work with. Come on! You know that something will happen to those guys before they get to you, since you can’t fight back!

But at least it doesn’t sound like they descended into Half Life: Opposing Force territory yet. The guys at Gearbox seemed determined to expose all the flaws in the Half Life engine, including saddling you with NPCs that repeatedly said the same three phrases over and over and over every 5 seconds until you wanted to shoot them yourself. And even more stupid linear sequences like getting stuck in a room full of acid where the acid level starts rising and you have no escape. Cue the falling platform that makes a makeshift bridge at the last second so you can escape.

At least from what I hear about Episode 2, the NPCs don’t repeat themselves incessantly. Making smart-aleck remarks about the linear game design at least sounds a lot better than NPCs reinforcing every few seconds that they are brain-dead.

You watch a boring and uninteresting cutscene where the NPCs very specifically spell out what you have to do – which you already figured out before the cutscene even started…

Yeah, this really turned me off on HL2… haven’t bothered with either episode.

I’m wondering, did they retain the mechanic where Gordon still free roams during cutscenes? I seemed to recall in HL2 the equivalant to cutscenes was simply huge dialog expositions between a handful of NPC’s standing around in a circle at some destination that was supposed to be pivotal to the story.

The thing is, nothing ever happened during these moments… so invariably you’d just fuck around, try to crowbar them in the face, push shit off tables, etc… it’s funny because it seems designed to provide dramatic edge, something to bring you into the story… but as far as “cut scenes” go they don’t communicate anything besides tedious dialog. To advanced players, they are little more than stopgaps between set designs and serve only to slow you down and waste your time.

Look at the scenes in Gears and Halo, control is taken away and the avatar is plunged into some chaotic moment in time. A huge battle that is larger than those you are allowed to play, very overly cinematic angles and animation, a big ass space ship tearing away from some big ass explosion, etc… I simply don’t recall anything like that in the HL series - well, except maybe the end with the Citadel crashing down, and even then I don’t recall any details. Did they change much of that in EP2?

Maybe HL2 is set in the future of Idiocracy, where intelligence has been bred out of the population. Only you, a traveller from the past, can save them from themselves. Maybe imagining your sidekicks as being of very low IQ will help you get through it. “Gatorade: it’s what plants crave!”

Or maybe you’re all a bunch of jaded dimwits who need to do something other than play shooters for a while. Or maybe you need to play bad shooters, just to bring you back to reality. I have a copy of Mortyr or one of Techland’s magnus opuses around here somewhere…

Don’t tell me Charles is the new Bob?

I’ve been trying to play through HL2 since I bought the Orange Box for TF2 and Portal, but it’s difficult to stay interested. There’s been hardly any coherent story so far. The game begins as you apparently teleport into a train somehow and it comes clear from NPC dialog they you’ve been missing somewhere, but still nobody seems to question where you were and why and how you returned. Also, the NPCs seem to assume that Gordon already knows everything about the Combine and all world events despite being missing. They never tell him anything about what has happened. And Gordon being the mute he is is apparently unable to ask anyone why the hell Earth is crawling with headcrabs and vortigons and whatnot.

Ravenholm was nicely athmospheric and the gravity gun was a nice change, but other than that, the actual shooting parts have been very basic and uninteresting. The weapons feel weak. You can empty half a pistol clip into a Combine guard (while he doesn’t even flinch) in the harder difficulty levels and even in the easiest level, they can survive two direct head shots. I’m tempted to play the whole game in the easiest level just so that the weapons would at least have some punch.

The level design is blatantly linear. It doesn’t help that they try to mask this with maze-like layouts and dozens of fake, locked doors and each map seems to become a hunt for some elusive piece of ladder or hole in a fence so that you can continue onwards in the corridor.

HL1 worked because the setting supported corridor levels and the scripted sequences were a lot more imaginative (or maybe it’s just my memory). Also, there was a lot less NPC interaction, most of which is rather bad in HL2.

Is there some sort of flashlight mod I can get for Ep1?

“We really need to talk to Dr. Kleiner about getting a new battery for that flashlight.”

There should be a design rule, that says no doors that you can’t open.

Seriously. I have a magical portable pocket that can hold 10 weapons. I have grenades, shotguns, missile launchers, automatic weapon. But if a door is locked, that’s it! Sorry!

Why doesn’t anyone give me one of those magic sparky-keys that opens all the combine doors, the one Alyx carries around?

Oh, and another thing I really dislike in HL2 are the loading pauses in the middle of areas. There should really be some sort of streaming support in the engine, or they should at least try to segment the areas differently to mitigate it.

Yeah, HL2 would be way better if you had to wander around for hours opening all the doors to find out which ones were relevant.


Yeah, HL2 would be way better if there were no doors in the entire world except he ones you could go in. After all, it’s not like buildings have a lot of doors in them.

Or, maybe, just maybe, HL2 would be a better game if there was more than a single hallway to be used.

As long as there are hundreds of doors I have to open.

You go ahead and enjoy your well-honed brain-free experience. I won’t stop you. Just don’t expect me to like it.

I guess picking a corridor is the height of choice-driven gameplay. Can I assume that AC is going to feature tons of quality door-opening, brain-requiring gameplay? I’m not sure I can handle that.

Seriously. I have a magical portable pocket that can hold 10 weapons. I have grenades, shotguns, missile launchers, automatic weapon. But if a door is locked, that’s it! Sorry!

You’re really setting yourself up for abuse on AC, Charles. The first time someone is confronted with a situation where they can’t do what they logically want to, this will all come back in spades. Heh.

I want the option to kill anyone who talks to me in the game since I’m carrying a blade. And I want the game to react to that properly and not force me to reload. Make it so!