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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Half-Life 2, Episode 1, Second Impressions

It must be the manchurian child inside of me, but once this game put a gun back into my hands everything seemed to get a little better. Oddly once there were things to shoot at - all the jumping puzzles went away.

Not that the AI is any improved. OK, sure, at this point the game is all head crabs and zomboids - so you can chalk that up to character development. But even the Combine soldiers insist on complete stupidity. At one point all I did to gun down a flock of them was kneel, point at a single point, and keep firing. Not exactly the stuff of modern warfare there.

It's interesting that the designers went the KillZone route - making Alyx essentially invincible with unlimited rounds. Oh sure, she'll complain and sometimes quip about how she's running out of rounds - but that girl has cheat code all over her. Not that I think this is a bad decision - it's definately better than having to reload a hundred times because she failed to dodge that grenade. The flipside is that sometimes it's better to just get out of the way and let Little Girl Rambo go to town.

And yeah, I still hate the grav gun. At least twice I was stuck fussing with the thing in situations where a crowbar would work twice as well. At point I even hit my head with a flying crate just by trying to open the one next to it. Oh sure, it's funny to kill a heavily armed soldier with a chair ... but not long term funny, if you get my drift.

Still, there are moments when you're reminded just how smart and creative Valve can be. When Alyx makes spooky noises in the dark and then says "Gotchya!" when you shine your light on her? Brilliant. Like crazy idiot savant brilliant.

Speaking of Alyx, let us all tip our hat to Merle Dandridge. Merle is the voice of Alyx and by proxy - Gordon as well. Let's summarize that, actually, Merle is the voice of Episode One. She is providing the background, the narration, the jokes, the insight - the whole ball of wax. Without her work, and the work of the writers behind her words, Episode One would a silent, confusing and potentially sad little game.

Also, she was in Rent as Joanne. Which, you know, like rocks. For the geek set, she was also in an episode of Angel (as Lucy Shepard).

At this point I'm willing to rate Episode One as potentially better than Half-Life 2 (Epsisode Zero?) but not as good as Half-Life (Episode Negative One?) - but I still have a ways through the game.

1 comment:

GregT said...

AND she (intermittently) blogs.