Half-Life 2: Episode 1 Reader Review
Good things come in small packages they say... and they were bloody right here, even if the package was just a little too small for my liking.
To get the ball a-rolling
Episode One does essentially start when Half Life 2 ends, beginning with an almost traditional cutscene followed by the lovingly done valve way of from the perspective scenes. Things get moving fairly quickly, you are given time to get used to being back in Gordons skin again. You start your adventure in the Citadel, well just outside but its quickly apprent thats your next port of call, so think HL2 but in reverse, all the special stuff about the citidel in HL2 is here, and you are only allowed your grav gun for the first portion, be that a plus or minus depending on how you feel about it.
The first chapter at somepoints is like a first person adventure really, with problem solving and big fancy area's to navigate. Alyx is mostly by your side, but usually requires you do open the way forward, but not mundanely so, it never feels like your working for her benefit, but both of you, and thats important.
Alyx. Truth be told, i hated the girl in HL2, she just got in the way and moaned while being almost utterly useless, but now the girl has fully redeemed herself. She has all the gun know how you do, and she doesnt mind showing it, and she stays out of your way while covering your back, which is pretty good. She cant die though, so at times it is tempting to draw a load of bad guys her way and just pick them off her, i think maybe if she took too much damage she should be disabled somehow, but mostly its her looking out for you, and she does a good job, sept the few occasions when you bump into her and end up getting pushed about, the physics need alittle work with actors unfortunatly. Some points do feel like a partnership though, where she relies on you for vision in a certain area, or you need her to keep you alive while you acomplish a task, and it works quite well, there are no solopistic moments here for gordon.
The measure of fun
Episodic content, its a big debate. I clocked this in 3 hours and 30 mins dead on, and i didnt rush particularly, infact the game pushes you forward to the next piece of the action, and boy, there is alot of action here. Zombies, crabs and soldiers come at you from all sides almost all the time, then chuck in some antlions for good measure, everything from HL2 has be jammed in this rather small container, and that is a good thing.
Truth be told, there isnt anything new, hardly any new resources, and a new zombie. But all the scenario's present in HL2 are here (minus vehicles, yay), but mixed together beautfully, its like they took everything they allready had and expertly crafted a ton of great set pieces. The mood changes alot and you never get bored with what you are doing, and there is an urgency with everything. They have also realised the potential of the baddies they have got, now zombies are in large groups, often fighting the combine who are really after you, and in force.
Thats both a plus and a minus, plus because it has the big units after you, like gunships, those tank things and striders, but the wow factor for them isnt really there, if you have done HL2 you know, and have killed all these before, and you know what its like being chased down by one while fighting soldiers. But there are some good new idea's. One stage involves you and your sidekick toting shotguns blasting through a hospital, you both never stop moving and blast everything in your way, its like Hard Boiled but with out the slow mo, you have some pumping music and you feel badass as you both mow everything in your path.
What you see and hear isnt really anything new, its HL2 really, and its Source, so you know the physics, you may know the HDR (which looks awesome mind) and you know the sound, nothing will really make you raise both eyebrows, but its all familiar to you, so its almost comfortable.
The problem here is the length definitly, it is shorter than Sin: Emergence but is far sweeter. The action in here is better than anything you'll find in HL2 and set out fantastically, never moving to far away from a convention but not sticking to it. The whole game is one wild ride, the story is fairly light (its more of a journey with some questions than a true story) and ends before you want it too, but in the right place for a trilogy. The thing Episode One brings in intense action that is insanely fun, but again, you may be put off by the relativly short length but know this, there isnt really a game that has crammed this much fun into this much space before.
8 / 10