Half-Life 2: Episode 2 Review

Let’s open with this analogy: Halo is to consoles as Half-Life is to PC. While there have been crossover platforms between the two franchises, they’ve both laid solid foundations on their respective platform. With that said, while Half-Life 2 was a seminal release in PC history, the first and most importantly the second episode properly serve as the continuation are excellent games.

While the 4-6 hour Episode 2 campaign is little on the lacking department, it’s included in the robust and snazzy Orange Box with 4 other games. Episode 2 — in fact any second title in any trilogy — is very important because it establishes the emotion and is usually heavy in the story. Trust me, there’s a lot of emotion in Episode 2. It’s chock full of material that never leaves you sitting around or bored.

Remember the somewhat lame buggy driving experience that took hours to complete in Half-Life 2? Well, there is a driving sequence in Episode 2, but thankfully Valve added a little side-project that takes place during the sequence; look for hidden weapons caches. These additions, along with achievements, make Episode 2 a worthwhile purchase.

I’m going to naturally assume you know the events that took place in Episode 1. If you don’t, give yourself a wedgie because you deserve it. The plot takes place literally seconds after Episode 1; your train wrecks and you are dumped in the woods far away from your allies. Alyx naturally joins you during your quest but also you get to meet and get rather friendly with an allied Vortigaunt. Let me say this about the Vortigaunts, they were evil in Half-Life, neat in Half-Life 2/Episode 1 but are absolutely adorable in Episode 2; this is coming from a guy. Thanks to the emotion Episode 2 builds, you’ll feel plenty of compassion for your Vortigaunt friend.

The Source engine got a few new flairs, such as cinematic physics (big houses explode in an awesome fashion), motion blur, improved facial and body animations, self-shadows and general visual improvements. Audio is, like usual, 100% awesome and top-notch.

While Episode 2 has a bunch of fun things, there are some aspects that are getting repetitive, such as the weapons. You won’t find anything new in the weapons department other than something new to fling around with your gravity gun. But thankfully, Valve buttered us up with some new enemies, such as the Hunter (think like a mini-strider), a new antlion that annoyingly spits acid at you and a few new combine soldiers (basically different colored ones).

I have to say, the final major combat sequence in Episode 2 was insanely thrilling, no matter how many times I played it. It’s rather epic on a minor scale, since it’s only in a enclosed area. But the action never waned and there are plenty of thrills to be had. Unfortunately, like I originally alluded too, the game will only last for 4-6 hours. There’s a commentary mode, which still has the cardboard-sounding voice acting, but offers a lot in behind the game’s development.

To sum it up, the emotion, presentation, story and overall action-packed gameplay cements Episode 2 as an excellent addition in the Half-Life 2 series and PC gaming in general. While playing Episode 2, I never felt detached or alienated from the game. I have to say, it’s strange to finally be able to play Episode 2. It’s damn enjoyable.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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