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Half-Life II [old review found]

 
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 5:49 am     Post subject: Half-Life II [old review found] Reply with quote

Found an ol'review I wrote for another defunct FrenchAW site in my backups, now yeah, can post it here


Half-Life 2 - PC version
Half-life 2 - The lost coast -PC

*******************************
Publisher : Sierra Entertainment Inc.
Developer : Valve Corporation.
Released : 2004
Platform : PC, XBox.
*****************************

Here I sit then, finished HL2. Big smartass as I am, I volunteered myself to write a review about it. You would think that a man over his 50 would know better, but no, I hope someday I will get some intelligence in my skull. But as promise, I will play this game and review it.
Don't expect that I will fill this review with AAAAAAAAAAA's and OOOOOOOOOOOO's and OMG it's beautifull. No. Sorry, the game isn't good enough for that kind of behaviour.
Announced as the 'Nec Plus Ultra', the best you can get on gaming, pffffff, big deal. You can indeed interact with some of your surroundings, you can do things with some of the object you find on your way, you can open some windows, you can open some doors, break trough some wooden fences, that's the key word here , some, far from all. Most things are NOT movable, MOST windows you can't open, MOST doors you can't open. Far from the so called total interacting with your environement. Liberty of movement ? Forget it, you will follow the predefinied narrow storyline, the guidance is overwhelming in this HL sequel. At some point I was so disgusted by all that guidance I fired a RPG right in Alyx face, result? Nothing. Nothing at all, the storyline continued as nothing happened. Fire all kind of weapons on your rebel friends, throw all you want at their heads, try to crush them with some barrel or console using your gravity gun, nothing. No one will fire back at you, you will not be kicked out of the game.
The game says : "go from A to C passing by B", and here you go, from A to C passing by B, period. Try it out if you want, try to change something in let's say the Black Mesa level, try to destroy something or kill someone that isn't scripted in this game, no can do. This whole game through you can only acting as allowed, destroy something that is allowed or serves a purpose to go further with the game, far from the announced total interaction. Go back some levels ? Forget it. Even in the same chapitre you can't go back, there is always a one way jump, a door who will block you, debris put in your way. Even the route you have to follow is sometimes extremely narrow, no scouting around allowed. Only in some town levels you will have a kind of movement freedom, but still restricted.
What? What? What you say? It's also a XBox game and this is inherent on those kind of games ? O, let's see, let me take my box in hand, the box says : PC GAME, I don't care if the XBox has those kind of restrictions, if I want a XBox game I will buy a XBox, not a PC. If that's the explanation, put on the box :XBox game with only enough adaption to run on PC, but buyer don't expect a full pc game. I have seen and played games on PC who are 10 years old and had more freedom of movement and better environnement interacting, hell, even in Wing Commander I had more liberty of movement, and it's from 1990.

Is it a bad game then? No, it certainly isn't a bad game, even a pretty good one.
The cutscenes are really good, the facial expressions pretty. Ingame sound is really neat. The levels are well designed and some levels are great to play. The puzzles are always solvable, most have a logical structure what gives a pleasant gameplay, you will not have to search endless to solve them.
Graphically it is one of the best, certainly if your PC can handle the highest resolutions. The controls are good, once you have used the setup facility and changed them to fit your finger settings.
The weapons are really good, the first one you will aquire is again the eternal crowbar, good ol'Barney will give it to you. Afterwards you will get the other arms or by killing someone or getting them from the rebels. Sometimes they will give you heavy weapons expecting that you will go in battle with them and help them out.
The AI is not the best I have seen, but it is far from bad. No flagrant mistakes. But again: not the best I have seen in a game.
The enemies are varied, from the combine guards to some headcrabs, yes they are also back in the picture. Some new enemies also, and tough ones. If you are able to conquer the heavy machineguns shielded by force fields you can use them at your own profit, doing some real damage with those. At some stages you will have to conquer those, or you won't survive.
Several vehicles are usable, and has to be used to go further in this HL2, an airboat, and a scout car, some kind of dune buggy. The airboat is steering a bit strangely, you can't capsize it, how daring your jumps are, and you will have to learn jumping with this one. The scout car is fast, equiped with a turbo to speed things up if neccesary. Contrary the airboat this scout car is easely turned over, you will have to use the gravity gun many times to get it back on his four wheels.
The enemies go down in different poses, not that kind of repeated positions, not a pile of hundred identical corpses. If you shoot the corpses with your guns they do some movement, you even can can aim at their limbs to change the position of those.

The story, not much story as usual, not expected anyway. It's a first person shooter, not a movie or a book.
You are of course Gordon Freeman, the gentle G-men is calling you back out of the ... the ... suspension ... cryo sleep ... now, he is calling you back in action. The world is some 10 years further, and ruled by the combine, a species who raids on evolued worlds and plunders them. The malicious Dr. Green is acting as their human representant, aided by the combine forces. The rebellion tries to counter those combine and fights a battle for freedom. Not going very well this rebellion, so they are in urge of a helping hand. Nothing better than a third graded scientist for this, yes you understand it, Gordon Freeman.
You are dropped in a moving train, heading towards City 17, have a nice day and enjoy your visit.
Luckely for you Barney (still bad-shaved) is infiltrated in the combine forces and intercepts you before you screw things up as usual. From then on you will have to make your way trying hard to survive all kinds of life threatning menaces. One some point you will aquire the "bug beat', and the nasty bugs will become your allies, whole swarms of them will help you in battle against the combine guards.

Enough, I will not write a walkthrough or a whole book, if you are interested , get the game and enjoy it, make your way through all the chapters and the levels composing them. Action guaranteed, blood and guts, a pile of corpses in you trail. That's why we play a FPS, isn't it ? Lovely indeed.

Time to set the score on this game, will it leave a everlasting impression as some old games I have played? No, and no again. It's good but not excellent. Good but not good enough for that. Will I ever replay this game ? Maybe, but it is not certain. I even doubt it.

Multiplay mode is deathmatch, kill eachother on different maps, sometimes custom ones. If you like this mode you will love the HL2 deathmatch.
You can also go on deathmatch in team.

Half-life 2 - The lost coast -PC
Shortly said: an extreem limited exhibition of what the game engine can accomplish. You will need a good PC to enjoy fully the graphics.
No quote needed for this as it really isn't a game.

My personal quote for HL2 PC version is B

==========================================================
Remains one thing to mention: STEAM
If you buy this game, you buy a crippled game. You can't play it. You need a internet connection, you will have to download a whole bucket worth of files to get on the way. You will need to create an account or you can't play it. You will need a CD key. If you buy this game second hand and the CDkey is used before you are in shit. No account, no download, no activation.
You will need a good , fast internet connection, if you are on dial-up modem you will need days to download the missing bytes for all the games and demos on this DVD. If someone hacks your account on STEAM you will not be able to connect anymore or get upgrades. This sucks. This sucks even greatly.
I pay for a full game, not a crippled one.
When I buy a car, the seller better don't say: "here you have it, get the engine yourself, it is not delivered with this car".
If I want to reinstall the game I have to reconnect at STEAM.
I can't play multi without going through STEAM.
If I try to play HL2 directly offline on my PC without running STEAM i get:" ERROR 108: the local steam service is not running."
That means I am not allowed to run any game on this DVD without running STEAM.
The day STEAM will go down (and it WILL, remember Sierra online?) you are screwed big.
When I aquire a game I expect a full game, not a half one, even if it is a half-life.
Another behaviour I dislike, when installing STEAM starts up with windows, I know it can be avoid, but I would really apreciate if they didn't do so, if every game I install puts an icon in my system tray it will be filled up with useless non needed crap running on the background and soon I will need to set the tray quadruple size to sort things out. I would apreciate if they ASK if I want this STEAM to start up with windows.
My personal quote for the games on the HL2 DVD taken in consideration this STEAM politics can only be F.
===========================================================
Remains another thing to mention yes, yes, I know......
Fragmentation of your HD. Yes, when you have deinstalled HL2, reinstalled it, you will get a lot of fragmentation on your HD, no defragmentation will help : it stays fragmentated. The problems are mostly (but not only) on the big *.gfc files, who are approximately from 13 MB to up 1 GB in size. Also *.WAD files up to 36 MB will not defragment. The list of files that will NOT defragment is long. This also means that the fragmentation of your HD will spread further on, slowing up your system. You will stay with a fragmented HD t'll you completely deinstall this stuff. And no, no third party (non-MS) defragmentation program can help.
Shame I can't go lower than F.....
===========================================================

System requirements ( source: STEAM help)
=================================
Minimum System Configuration
* 1.2 GHz Processor
* 256MB RAM
* DirectX 7 capable graphics card ***
* Windows 2000/XP/ME/98
* Mouse
* Keyboard
* Internet Connection**
* CD or DVD rom drive (retail version only) *
Preferred System Configuration
* 2.4 GHz Processor
* 512MB RAM
* DirectX 9 capable graphics card
* Windows 2000/XP/ME/98
* Mouse
* Keyboard
* Internet Connection**
* CD or DVD rom drive (retail version only) *
* NOTES:
1. The Retail Collector's edition requires a DVD CDRom reader.
2. CDRom and DVDRom Drives used to install the Retail Versions must be compatible with Sony SecuROM.
3. The Retail CDRom/DVDRom is required to be in the CDRom/DVDRom Drive to play the games.
4. All Retail box offers require an internet connection to install and authenticate.
5. ** Once the game has been installed and authenticated, the game can be played offline (without an internet connection).
6. *** You must have DirectX 9c installed even with older cards
7. A complete installation of all games and game tools require at least 9GB of available diskspace (not including DOD:Source). This does not include any custom content (maps, models, etc).
=================================

*EDIT: found my old screenies:
Welcome in our improved world


Get a shave Barney


Lovely Alyx comes to your rescue


Another old friend


We will talk again when I get some heavy gear mister !!


Aha, something to move fast


Jealous of my airboat


The story of my life: low ammo, low health and a big flying thing


A lovely ride awaits you .... I want my mummy


Bugs want my buggy


Driving, aiming and shooting, all together, no wonder i'm gone in a turnover exercise.


Hehehehehe, out of my way mister, speed is your friend here


Finaly getting some serious stuff


The dark cellars are filled with the combine guards


Low health, big flying bugs, the Citadel.
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