Half-Life 2 PC Game Five Disks w Box Valve Classic!
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In many ways, creating a sequel to Half-Life is an unenviable task. After all, the goal is to craft not just any ordinary game, but an improvement to a title that is widely considered to be the high water mark for first person shooters. Fortunately, Valve does not disappoint on their sophomore effort. Half-Life 2 picks up exactly where its predecessor leaves off, with gamers stepping once more into Gordon Freeman's HVAC suit as he awakes at some indeterminate time in the future, now apparently in the employ of the mysterious G-Man. Humanity has been sold out to alien forces, and your job is to escape their thrall and lead the resistance to victory. HL2's key successes are in a few critical areas, the first of which is the new physics & graphics engine, called Source. People and objects fall, fly, tip over, float, and break in an extraordinarily realistic fashion, and in-game puzzles often require you to use simple applications of physics to progress. Second, an elaborate facial structure system coupled with excellent voice acting make for some of the most believably human NPCs in gaming history. This is no small thing; you will find yourself actually caring about the characters who surround you, even those that are normally regarded as cannon fodder. Third, the level design exhibits a subtle brilliance, which frequently fools you into feeling like you're making your way through an organic environment and not a forced linear path. These elements combine to form one of the most truly immersive experiences ever captured on a PC. Overall, Half-Life 2 is a smashing success, every bit worthy of the prestige and respect that the franchise has been awarded. This is absolutely a game that every computer gaming enthusiast is going to want to have in their collection. System requirements: Windows, 700 MHz processor, 128 MB RAM, DirectX 6.0 compatible graphics card/accelerator. Half-Life 2 is, simply put, the best single-player shooter ever released for the PC. It does so many things right in so many ways that it might be possible to write a thesis on the topic of Half-Life 2 compared to other single player shooters. What Valve has created is simply a masterpiece -- a work of art in the genre. Not only does it engage the mind with mysterious happenings, vagaries, and mostly intelligent dialogue, but also captures the senses with a superb visual style made possible by brilliant technology. And once the initial shock of it all wears off and it becomes possible to peel back the polished layers of sight and sound, there is an excellent shooter here. Half-Life 2 doesn't do anything particularly new; it doesn't really innovate in many ways. But what it does is set a new height for all other designers of first-person shooters to reach. The system that I played the game on had these specs: ASUS P4C800-E dlx motherboard, Intel P4 3.2GHz CPU, 2.0GB DDR400 dual-channel RAM, Radeon 9800PRO 128MB video, Creative Audigy 2 ZS sound, Western Digital 160GB SATA HD. That said, at 1280 resolution, the game ran flawlessly, even in the most extreme environments with tons of geometry and lots of objects moving around, both with and without AI. The Source engine is an impressive piece of software from the outside looking in. There's a large chance my brain would melt like Velveeta in a microwave should someone try to explain its inner workings. What's particularly impressive about the game running so well is that it does so without compromising any part of gameplay or design. Environments are complex, colorful, and highly detailed; AI is certainly impressive in that NPCs work as teams, flank, react to sound and movement, and then engage with lifelike aggression. Last time we left Gordon Freeman, the unlikely scientist-hero from the first Half-Life, he was traveling. Yes, just traveling. The mystery was where he was traveling to and why all of the incidents at Black Mesa had happened. Half-Life 2 begins with Gordon arriving via train with the G-Man teasing his mind with sickly whispers of warning. The last stop of the arriving train is City 17, a bastion of the alien Combine forces, yet another mystery themselves. For the rest of the story, you'll have to play the game yourself. This frightening vision of the future is only made stronger by a stunning visual style that manages to express artistic vision while coming as close to reality as I've seen in my decades of playing video games. One of the most stunning moments comes with the first steps out from the train station and into the city proper. It's the wild realization of a fantastic dream. The Combine citadel looms on the horizon as a testament to their power, authority, and technological capabilities. It's both impressive and oppressive at the same time, serving its purpose with more presence than an army of a Combine soldiers and Striders ever could. Light plays a significant role in the beauty of Half-Life 2, not only because of its quality, but because of the way that it tracks the passage of time. Each passing level brings the sun down a bit more until you're encased in an eerie canopy of unease at just the right moment in the game. The brighter points allow for the exquisite detail of the textures found everywhere in the game to become more apparent while the colors of the city and contrasting nature of the combine soldiers and citadel keeps them strikingly outside of the norm and easily identifiable as enemy. There are some moments where the visuals won't knock your socks off, but those moments usually happen in the dark. On the more personal side of the visuals sit the lifelike characters found everywhere in Half-Life 2. Much of the life comes from the very human animations for running, climbing, jumping, reacting to pain, and so on. Gone are the days of Half-Life's chunky animation sets. Doubtless many of you have already seen the fluidity of motion in Counter-Strike: Source, the multiplayer portion of Half-Life 2 already released to those who pre-ordered over Steam, but even that game is hard to compare. Scripted sequences that serve as cut-scenes (though they don't ever really "cut" per se -- the game never leaves the perspective of Gordon Freeman) bring out the true human touch of the animations. Alyx's (the female lead) special animations for these scenes in particular have a soft and careful quality about them that makes her character deeper and stronger than it would have been otherwise. When you consider the facial quality and animation of these main characters along with the rest, it's easy to see how far past any other character models Valve has gone. During these story-telling scenes, you'll catch yourself moving in as close as possible to stare at the realistic models. You can almost see the pores in their skin and the life force behind their eyes if you let your imagination run, especially when they start talking and the excellent voice acting and lip synching brings their countenances to life. Some of the credit for the enjoyment of the visuals is certainly due to the interface, which very closely resembles that of the original. The only things on screen are those that have to be there. Health, suit power, and ammunition are the only permanent visuals and are shoved far enough out of the way so as not to block the view. Occasionally pick-ups will flash on the right and auxiliary power, if being used, on the left. Valve didn't want the interface to distract you from the experience of the game, and they did a good job with providing information while making you still feel like you're in the body of Gordon Freeman. In terms of battle, it's quickly understandable how absolutely excitingly gloriously entertaining this really is. When Gordon breaks out the gravity gun, it's all about using the environment to your advantage. If an enemy hides behind a car, flip it over on top of him. If ammo is in short supply simply use the gravity gun to pick up and fling deadly objects at enemies, including exploding barrels, saw blades, and more. Block entrances to doorways with bookcases and tables. Use metal objects as bullet shields. The varieties of options that open to you are immense and only limited by your style of play and creativity. I encourage everyone who plays this game to experiment heavily with this wonderful device. It's totally rad. RAD I say! But the physics aren't simply used as a combat tool; puzzles that require problem solving using the physics engine are a great part of the gameplay. Figuring out how to manipulate objects in the game world to progress using what essentially are real-world rules of physics is a hell of a lot more fun than the jumping puzzles plaguing the first game. Don't get me wrong, there are some jumping puzzles, but Half-Life 2's jumping puzzles have a major difference. They're much, much easier. I think I fell to my death once in the entire game simply because of operator error. Most jumping puzzles in the game actually have a "safety net" underneath that will only damage instead of kill. Better yet, some of these puzzles require even more use of the physics to complete safely. In any case, there aren't a ton of the more cerebral physics-based puzzles, but the ones that are there are interesting. If anything, I wish there had been more of these puzzles to mull over along the way.Box, instruction sheet, 5 disks.0-7849-1896-1
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