Genre: First Person Shooter
Year: 2006
Developed by: Valve
Published by: Valve
Platforms: PC, XBOX 360, PS3, Mac
Feeling Like: Advancing

I already violated my rule!

I just said a few entries ago that I would merge expansions and DLCs into a single entry. Half-Life 2, and Half-Life 2: Episode Two are both on the 500, shouldn’t they all just be considered as one?

I don’t know why they count as different entities, but I’ve already made my bed so I have to lie in it. I’m not re-ordering the list again. I already had a difficult time figuring out which “new” games to put on here. If I had gotten this project done within a few years, I wouldn’t have a problem but the pace of doing an entry every two days is psychotic. I don’t know what I’m averaging, but it’s way lower than that.

I wrote about Half-Life previously and had it way lower down the list than it deserves. It’s an all-timer, one of the most influential and eye-opening games ever. I just played it too late and by then, Half-Life 2 had completely leapfrogged it in every way.

So, a messy entry and that makes sense for something with a title like Half Life 2: Episode One. I won’t go over the fundamentals about why Half-Life 2 is fucking amazing, or how the gravity gun is one of the best weapons in gaming, or how the physics were revolutionary, or how the world building is peerless or how thrilling it is, or how great some of the characters are. That doesn’t leave much, but I’ll give it a whirl.

It’s an episodic DLC that came out a few years after the original game. Fans were rabid, and they were promised three DLC episodes. You hear that, Valve? THREE. Not TWO. Does Half-Life: Alyx count?

Ug, forget it. This is what happens when you win – what incentive is there to release games on a regular basis when you have a trillion dollars thanks to Steam? (I love Steam).

I liked how short it was, I’m always a fan of shorter games. There are too many games to play these days and since I’m a weebo dummy, I get hooked into Japanese RPGs which can take anywhere from 35 to 100 hours to complete. A bite-sized, tight experience is a welcomed sight and this was a terrific, contained experience.

Shooting still feels incredible, the UI is blissfully uncluttered, the immersion is fantastic since cut-scenes happen right in front of you. I love the big robot Dog, I love how clean and yet how dirty the game looks. It’s a nigh flawless package, if they ever announce Half Life 3 you will hear about it no matter what internet sphere you frequent. The series is that good.

It’s the least of the Half-Life 2 games, but compared to the million games out there, it’s still near the top of the heap. I’m envious of those who get to play all three iterations of Half-Life 2 for the first time. I guarantee they haven’t aged poorly. Valve typically doesn’t put in the effort unless they know a game is going to be an industry leader both in technology and entertainment value.

The scenario isn’t as varied as I’d like and due to the limited narrative scope, you’re sort of stuck playing one similar area, but those are just minor gripes. Half-Life 2: Episode One is a fantastic snack of a game and I’m oh so tempted to replay it every time I think about it.

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