Saturday, August 27, 2011

Half Life 2 Episode One

Half-Life 2 Episode One
Developer: Valve
Publisher: Valve
First Person Shooter - PC
HD Backup
1 player
Orange Box

I never quite understood why Half-Life 2 Episode One is a follow-up to Half-Life 2. The naming convention sounds like it'd be a prequel, but it's actually a direct sequel. Semantics aside, I'm torn.

The game has no surprises. If you've played through Half-Life 2, you know exactly what to expect. The story unfolds in the exact same real-time manner. The enemies are the exact same ones you previously fought. You have the same weapons. And the kicker.... Ep 1 has you in pretty much the exact situations as HL2. I would actually say the game structure is like playing HL2 in reverse. To that end, Ep 1 is the worst kind of sequel. Uninspired. Treads no new ground. Needless existence. As much as I hated HL2, Episode One is an even worse sequel.

But that being said... had Half Life 2 never existed, Episode One would be pretty decent. One could say that Ep 1 is a streamlined version. The pacing is faster. And it removes the awful awful vehicular segments of the previous game. In a lot of ways, it's what Half-Life 2 SHOULD have been.

Thus I'm mixed. I thought Half-Life 2 was probably the worst game I've ever played. In an absolute sense, I think Half-Life 2 Episode One plays a lot tighter and removes the stuff that really made the original drag on. But as a sequel, it's the worst kind. It doesn't try to achieve anything other than more of the same. And even in that regard, it fails because there's no new situations, only a re-presenting what already was.

In the end, I'm not really sure what to think. OK on its own merits, but is the perfect example of what NOT to do in a sequel. Here's hoping that Episode Two will actually push the series forward.