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Review: Half Life 2 - Xbox

by Steven Williamson on 13 December 2005, 12:34

Tags: Half Life 2, Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA), PC, Xbox, FPS

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Good Game, Gordon!

Your first major task will be to escape from the authorities. At this point you have no weapon and must rely on your wits to evade the imposing guards.This eases you into the game nicely and enables you to use your Y (interact button) to good effect as you move crates on top of each other to climb through a small window. The A.I is superb, and even in the initial sequence guards will take pot-shots at you as you scramble across the rooftops searching for refuge from the baying mob.

The action hots up after the lengthy 'Training section' and Gordon comes to grips with the infamous head crabs, zombies and many other creatures(featured in the original) in an adrenaline fuelled, pulse pounding mission to save Earth. Although the game is seen entirely through the eyes of Mr.Freeman you will occasionally meet up with allies to fight together as one strong unit.

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The movement of your character translates well from the PC to Xbox version. Press Y to interact with objects, people or to climb up ladders. Your character's actions are reactions are smooth and consistent throughout with a learning curve that enables you to effortlessly master those necessary skills to stay alive.

Vehicles also play their part in the relentless action, use an airboat to maneuver through canal tunnels and jump in the seat of a dune buggy to get to Nova Prospekt. During the use of vehicles the Xbox version experiences minor slowdown but not enough to ruin the non-stop encounters. The vehicle sections of the game are a lot of fun, the dune buggy comes equipped with a Gauss gun and the airboat can be armed with a Combine weapon from a downed helicopter. Be careful not to go rushing in guns blazing, because inevitably you will get killed. It's better to find a safe route or use the surroundings to your advantage, duck behind cover or find a safe haven to hide from the onslaught. Crouching and jumping will become and important part of your character's movements.

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HL2 isn't all about shooting though. The game is broken up by a series of puzzles such as turning a lever into a ramp by placing blocks on one end. These tasks never become repetitive and provide a refreshing change to the shooting frenzy that ensues around every corner.

The graphics are on a par with any previous Xbox game,with well-textured layers, shimmering sci-fi labs and superb character models. From the rundown areas to the Police state city the graphics are consistently immaculate.The physics engine is also superb. Just try hitting an exploding barrel, sit back and watch the fireworks as the barrels erupt in a dazzling visual display. Almost everything is interactive, pick up litter from the ground and throw it in the face of a guard - but get ready to run!

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The sound of the game compliments the graphical excellence. Weapons have a great sound, voices echo around the city to great effect and the music adds to the tension.

The true beauty of the game however lies in the captivating storyline. Through a series of cut scenes and character interactions the story is accurately paced, clear and ultimately necessary. These scenes are never an intrusion but are a welcome addition to a game that almost becomes a believable reality. The cut scenes play out in real time allowing you to wander around if you wish, exploring the environment.The character acting is exquisite and adds credibility to the narrative.