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Half-Life 2

Score: 99%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: VU Games
Developer: Valve
Media: CD/5
Players: 1 (2 - 16 Online)
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Action/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

“The greatest looking game of all time” is just one of the many phrases I can think of that sum up the stunning visuals of Half-Life 2. The amount of detail in every environment is simply amazing, from the peeling wallpaper to the rubble that remains piled on the ground in a state of destruction. The textures in the game have such high detail that you may find yourself wondering how this could be possible in a video game. And when you see the water effects that are ever-present throughout HL2, you may want to hold your hand under your chin to keep your jaw from dropping.

On the audio side, HL2 doesn’t stray from its roots at all. The voice acting in Half-Life 2 may be some of the best ever in a video game to date. This helps drive the story in every way possible, and playing again as Gordon Freeman sucks you into the world created in front of you. Music and sound fx are of premium quality as well, showing that no element was overlooked when creating this impressive game.

In fact, it is because of the amazing sounds and visuals presented that Half-Life 2 suffers its only two real downfalls. First is that textures are noticeably repeating, especially at a distance. Second is that the many checkpoint loading screens take a very long time to complete. At these checkpoints, your game will be saved in case you die. But it is also at these checkpoints that the game will have to load the next section of details into memory, which causes extremely long load times. At this point, a player can actually feel detached from the game. Fortunately, taking a few steps into the next section of the environment will again make you feel like you really are Gordon Freeman.


The new standard in high-end video games has arrived, and its name is Half-Life 2. Building upon the incredible and ground-breaking gameplay of the original, HL2 takes the unrealities of Black Mesa and makes it incredibly believable. Even though alien species have taken over, the genius developers at Valve have created a universe that acts completely like our own, including the use of gravity.

Much of what makes Half-Life 2 the most incredible game ever revolves solely around the new physics engine. Since characters can interact with nearly everything in their environment, physics plays an important role in the world of Half-Life 2. An example has our hero using gravity as an asset in order to solve puzzles by picking up and placing objects onto other objects to trigger events, or even to create make-shift stairs for reaching higher places.

In fact, it’s not just Gordon Freeman that will interact with the many objects throughout these lush environments. The enemy will also use these items to its advantage. Not only will creatures use objects to hide behind, but with each step, you’ll also have to be wary of flying projectiles that these aliens hurl at you from all directions. It is because of this that the artificial intelligence (A.I.) in HL2 stands above the rest. Any way you spin it, the entire game centralizes around interacting with the environment in many, many ways. Is it any wonder that the game’s Gravity Gun is quite possibly the coolest weapon ever? With it you can pick up objects too heavy for Gordon to lift on his own, and these objects can then be either placed, or catapulted toward unsuspecting enemies.

Half-Life 2 sets a new era in gaming because of its unique position on first-person shooters. Most FPS games focus on one type or gameplay, either single- or multiplayer. This is not the case with HL2. With this game, you get the best of both worlds, and I really do mean the best. The single-player game will have fans roaring with anticipation, and the multiplayer modes will have online fanatics rejoicing. And as with the first game, Half-Life 2 will eventually sport an onslaught of MODs of both types of game, which means this game will be here to stay for many years to come.


Half-Life 2’s A.I. is very clever, and as such, can make certain situations quite difficult. Add this to the outstanding lighting of levels, and you can be assured that trying to track down baddies by way of flashlight can be quite tricky and fun. At some points in the game, you’ll be overwhelmed with hordes of creatures that all seem to attack at once. You can be certain that restarting from the last save point will happen somewhat regularly as you proceed throughout the game. Just don’t forget to save often because the game will create temporary auto-saves that replace the old one. This can cause problems if you lose health and backtrack through a checkpoint. And let me tell you, it’s not hard to forget to save, because it’s easy to get caught up in the great gameplay of Half-Life 2.

Game Mechanics:

The controls of Half-Life 2 are that of every current FPS on the market, utilizing the keyboard/mouse combination, with the WASD keys for movement. In fact, all of the main movement and hot-keys are at your fingertips, as you can easily turn your flashlight on/off with the F key, and switch back and forth to the Gravity Gun with the G key. In all, controlling Gordon Freeman through this second adventure is very smooth, even while on driving missions.

For fans of the original Half-Life, or fans of the FPS genre in general, this game is a must-have. And for those who haven’t experienced the original, you owe it to yourself to pick up Half-Life 2. If you want to see the future of gaming, look no further. Because of its amazing graphics and incredible gameplay, Half-Life 2 can easily be considered the greatest game ever created. The long wait is over, and it was well worth every second.

-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

Minimum System Requirements:

1.2 GHz Processor (2.4 GHz recommended), 256MB RAM (512MB recommended), DirectX 7 level graphics card (DirectX 9 recommended), Windows 2000/XP/Me/98, 4.5 GB of available Hard Drive Space, Mouse, Keyboard, Internet connection required

NOTE: To play Half-Life 2, even offline, you will be required to authenticate your copy of the game online.


Test System:

AMD Athlon 2700+ CPU, Windows XP Pro SP2, 1GB (2x 512MB) PC3200 DDR400 RAM, ATI All-In-Wonder 9700 Pro 8x AGP Video Card, NVIDIA nForce MCP Audio, DirectX 9.0c, 16x DVD-ROM used as main 32x CD-ROM, Sony DRU-500A DVD±R/RW, 6 USB ports, Cable Modem Hi-Speed Internet Connection

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated