The joys of having your own website include the ability to rate games which are quite old. The fact then that Half Life 2 is still the best looking game I have played despite releasing 4 years ago shows testament to the work that Valve did on the game. The graphics really are something special with this game allowing you to get completely immersed in this world from the moment you start the thing up until the moment when you finish a good 15 hours later (albeit not in one sitting).
You play Gordon Freeman a physicist turned hired hand who has to help a rebel force destroy an evil empire, so far so everything else. What this game does differently is have perfect controls, a realistic believable environment and a story that will make you weep at times as your team are destroyed around you. They live and die depending on how well you do, if you do badly they will fight for you but don’t expect them to survive for a long time on their own.
The game is divided into episodes and is very linear, but it is linear in a way where you still feel like you are exploring. The world is huge and luckily the vehicle controls are tight. The game also features some very hard battles against foes, no boss battles as such just realistic numbers games as you take on 20 foes at a time or three of the horrifying striders pictured below. You want to win the battles because you feel like you are making a difference to the war effort. You want your team mates to survive so they can bail you out of a tight spot. But as is always the case team AI is not so good I might go so far as to say awful. Certainly they can fight alongside you but they also constantly get in your way. By the time you have heard “Sorry Mr Freeman” thirty times you will want to shoot them… but you can’t because there is no friendly fire in the game. Also some of the puzzles are tricky because it is solely down to finding some tiny and insignificant looking ledge which you can jump on to to get over an object. You can spend half an hour walking around looking for an exit when it’s been staring you in the face the whole time.
Overall though half life 2 is one of the best games I have ever played, the personalities of the characters and the story are enough to make this game worthwhile but chuck in the best first person shooter controls I have used and the best weapons ever designed and you have more than enough for your money’s worth. A few minor foibles do not detract from the brilliance on display here, doesn’t quite beat Metal Gear Solid for me though.