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Review: The Orange Box - PC

by Nick Haywood on 20 October 2007, 08:58

Tags: The Orange Box, Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA), PC, Xbox 360, FPS

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The return of the Free-man and so much more

I hardly need to go into any great detail about Half Life as any PC gamer will have at least heard of it if not played it. And the successor to that groundbreaking game, Half Life 2 received even more praise than that heaped on the original. In fact, even if you haven’t played Half Life 2, it’s a safe bet you’ve dabbled in Counter Strike, the online team shooter using the Half Life engine, or the updated Source engine that powers Half Life 2.

Since the launch of Half Life 2, which also saw the launch of the ‘love it or hate it’ digital content delivery system, Steam, Valve have released two further additions to the series. Lost Coast was essentially a technical demo to show off HDR lighting and a few other visual improvements. But the first proper addition to the series was also the first instalment in Valves episodic content concept. So Episode One, whilst not being a full blown release, was, in playing time, around a quarter of the length of the original Half Life 2 and covered events following on from the end of that game.

There’s been mucho speculation about episodic content, SiN being another game that will come in parts, and a lot of it has been off the ‘tin foil hat’ theorizing over forcing gamers to use Steam. But, setting aside reservations over Steam, one valid concern was the ‘nickel and diming’ charging for future games. In short, Valve had to come up with something worth buying.

And so, when it hit the shelves, (and Steam a week earlier), I for one was quietly pleased that Valve had gone for a gaming bundle that represents superb value for Half Life 2 virgins… but for us Black Mesa/City 17 veterans, is it such a good deal?

Read on.