First off, I'd like to thank the executives who thought it would be a good idea to release Halo 2 and Half-Life 2 within a week of each other. Some of us have "real" jobs which require us to be away from our consoles/PC's for up to 10 hours a day. This frustration is compounded when you get instant messages at work from your hardware editor talking about how he took the afternoon off to play a game and how awesome it is and how you suck because you didn’t do the same. I can forgive John for rubbing it in though since he is the one who hooked me up with one of the ATI coupons for a free copy of the game.
Saying that I've been looking forward to Half-Life 2 would be an understatement. Like 96% of the PC FPS crowd, I was huge fan of the original so when the sequel was announced I was giddy like R. Kelly at a Girl Scout convention. Sure, I had questions about the relevance of the game after all of the delays, I even wrote an article
about the subject.
By now, we know the saga of the game. A surprise announcement before the 2003 E3 show and the announced release date of September 30th, 2003 came and went. Then the leak of the source code, and further delays while Valve finished up and polished the game. Luckily, those who had the afore mentioned coupons or pre-ordered the game through Valve’s online distribution system, Steam, were allowed to get a taste of the game through the multiplayer component, Counterstrike: Source. All this did whet the appetite for fans about the upcoming release date of November 16th.
November 16th finally rolled around and my copy of the game was unlocked. For some reason, my cognitive mind forgot about the release of the game due to a cold. But on the morning of the release, a weird thing happened. My subconscious (inner Gordon?) actually woke me up early for work, tearing me away from Angelina Jolie Dream #120 (this is the one where I come downstairs to find her playing Halo 2 naked). With over two hours to get to work, my mind compelled me to skip going into work early and just log into the computer to get a jump on e-mail for the day. As soon as I hit the power button, the switch flipped and I realized what was now waiting for me on my hard drive. Luckily, I was able to pry myself away from the computer a half hour later but it wasn’t easy as Half-Life 2
is easily as good if not better than the original.
The game takes place an undetermined number of years after the events of the first game. You start the game off on a train headed into the mysterious City 17. A city under the control of the Combine and headed by Dr. Bleen. Dr. Bleen was the administrator of the Black Mesa project from the first game and he’s now the overlord of the city. The city has an eastern European flavor but you’re never really told where the city is. It’s ruled with an iron fist and Combine soldiers are everywhere keeping the people under tight control. Early on in the game, as you’re exploring the city, you’re forced to pick up garbage by one of the carbine soldiers. This does two things. One, it introduces players to the physics engine in the game while promoting the story of the game. This is just the first of such perfect moments in the game.
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