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Old 28-Oct-2004, 11:22   #1
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A review of HL2 by Lord_Anubis

Review by Lord_Anubis i got of some p2p forum .

Okay, people asked for it, here is my own unbiased review about HL2:

[note, there are NO spoilers in here, I made sure of that]

Half Life 2 review - unbiased

With HL2 gone gold, and many magazines having written their own review about it (some of them biased, some of them not), and with me having played the gold master myself in the office of the games mag I work for, I tohught that it is time for me to write my own review.

Compared to some magazines I was not bought by Valve and I was not offered sex for writing this text in a certain way. I have written this review in a non-biased way, comparing HL2 also with other fps-games of recent times. Due to office regulations I was not allowed to take any screenshots home with me, so I won't add any yet.



-- So here it is, Half Life 2, it took a long time to get my hands on this game, after all what happened I am impressed to see it this year at all. Nevermind, off to installation.

The gold master laready has the working installer, simple, straigtforward, the Key is entered and off I go to play it.



The setup is quickly configured, graphics are set, some key-bindigns do not seem to save however. Nevermind, I think and exit the game and enter them manually in the config. Yes, not much has changed. Sound it set up and off I go to start the game.

City 17 looks very lively, humans walking around, talking, arguing or just sitting at the corner, some reading, even a beggar is there, babbling to himself it seems. I walk closer, but he does not seem to see me. With the first steps you notice one thing: Valve did a good job in trying to keep the "feeling" for the character's movements as close to HL1 as possible, it is very easy to find your way around. But this "free environment" I was promised by Valve is missing, I can only go so far until there is a wall, a fence or a cliff. I jump on everything, I crawl my way around...no, I cannot go where I would like to go.

Example for a later level: In one level I see a half fallen in building where I just shot some soldiers off. I see in my scope that there is something up there, something that blinks with a green light. I want it, I don't know what it is, but I want it NOW. So I run to the building, two or three blocks down....damn, I can't see a way to it, rubble it blocking my way. But I don't give up that easily and turn around and try from another side. And another side. Finally I jump onto a ledge and try to jump my way to it. Hm, no way to see. I think "Maybe I have to go there later on?" and continue playing....the building never was planned for the gamer to invade, whatever the green blinking thing was, it is nothing but a trick to annoy me.

That issue aside I continue playing around in the first level, thinking that it can only get better. I walk around the corner and see a patrol kicking a person on the floor. I come closer and they stop, one turns around and tells me to leave. For a test I just stand there and watch him. I do not move forward, I do not move backward. He still stands there and tells me to leave over and over again, his hand on the weapon, showing me that he means business. I wait. By now a normaly person would have been very pissed off and shot me. Not him, he looks at me, tells me to leave, that is it. A poorly scripted event? A one-off thing? I keeps my hopes high and continue down the way and to the other people who have to wait in a line for a test.

Okay, so far I am content with the controls, very easy to understand, not too many keys ot use, all is good. Next stop: the graphics.

HL2's envorinment looks stunning, the texture quality and the details are very nicely made, and the same goes for the people, objects and creatures in the game. You immediately feel as if you were there yourself. The shadows also fall nicely onto objects and walls, well, mostly, there are some glitches as usual, when the person sits down or leans over for example, but that is not really a problem. Now to the effects: the graphical effects are good, explosions look as good as in Doom3 or Far Cry for example, and Valve even though of a smoke trail of falling objects. Very good! The lightning and laser effects look however too "sterile", not that they can be any dirty, just that they seems to not belong there at times. A few more layers of colour would have done wonders there.

I close my eyes for a moment and listen to the sound and the music. Well, music does exist on HL2, but it is mainly in the background and just adds a bit to the normal gameplay, just when somethign big happens the music increases and gets faster. Compared to Doom 3 however it is far too uninteresting (well, they had no Jesper Kid/NIN to work on that, did they?). The weapon sounds and voices however are top-notch, as you can expect from today's games. If you thought that Doom3 and Far Cry did a good job with that then look no further, cause HL2 is on the same good level, however exploding sounds are still a bit dry and could have needed a make-over.

Example: in one later level there is a tower's basement being levelled by an alien, and as you can see there must have been some explosives in the tower (okay, who would do that, I mean, who would leave them there, they are just too inviting for an alien to smash, that is why you never find any explosives at my house, well, not in the basement). The explosion is nice, however the sound of the explosion reminds me of a toy cracker exploding, "flupp, brzzzz, bang (small bang)". The tower falls in, but again the sound could have been much more "massive", I mean, did you ever see a tower in real life crashing? It is deafening, in the game it is more like a bang, not even as loud as the explosion.

I evade the world of sound and start the game anew, for a final test. The story-line and the gameplay. [I will not give out any spoilers, I promise.]
So there I am in City17, sent here by the buy from HL1, I am supposed to meet someone and find something out (it is of course a bit more detailed, but I am not saying what exactly). So, off I go. On the way I see these patrols, annoying me, shouting at the people, telling them to cooperate or suffer the consequences. Well, they really oculd have said "shut up or die", its the same thing. Anyway, I move along, following one scripted event to the next. Sometimes I want to do things differently, like for example running along a corridor and quickly hiding behind a wall before the patrols stop me, but the game just does not want that. It wants you to run exactly there and there and so the patrols found me, even though I was hiding LONG before they even arrived in the corridor. A bit frustrating at times.

Example: in a later level I am supposed to give cover fire for another person, so I throw a grenade and kill some of the patrols, and I keep throwing a grenade and even a lit barrel of oil up there where the enemies are hiding. If anyone was to survie that one he surely should be dead from one or two following shots. Nothing moves, and so we run along. BANG, BANG BANG! There are the same patrols there, some burning and firing at us. I shoot, I throw another grenade, I empty another clip. No, they still shoot. Some of them stopped burning. The still fire. It is then that I realize that they cannot be killed, and that we have to run along and just evade them. "Silly", I think.

Okay, these scripted events aside, let's look at the AI. How do the people react, how do the partols react? How do the aliens react? Well, just like in HL1, with exception to the people and scientists, they are not standing there any more, they can also run away now. All in all there is no real AI there, they shoot, they move a bit, they shoot, they throw a grenade or kick it back to you.

Example: I am in a fairly early level, and I have just eliminated a squad of enemies, the last one is having a hard time hitting me and I try to push him back to the house I have to enter anyway. Okay, there he is, stuck in the entrance and I finish him off. I walk in to the house and there are 3 more enemies waiting for me, firing at me once I entered the building. Now here I am wondering, if HL2 is supposed to have a good AI, why did he not run into the building and hid together with his mates and waited for me there? Or why did his mates just wait inside the building? Did they think "OOOh, one of ours gets shot out there, we better wait, as we leave our men behind"?

I remember Valve saying that at times you get help from others and that you should do your best to keep them alive to gain from their help against enemies. Well, that is not really relevant at times.

Example: I just found some people with weapons who are pinned down by an enemy squad. So I take out my gun and quickly shoot the enemy, and the guys follow me along the street. Their shooting skillsare far from average and every 50th bullet or so acutally hits something. They die quite quickly, simply because I wanted to see them in action without me helping. I reload the savegame and try again, this time helping them as good as I can. Almost all of them survive. But soon after they just leave me to go on another path as me. I reload the savegame again and let them die in the first attack, I even "help" with a grenade that accidentally was thrown too short and into my own people. I move along by myself. I found it easier to contine now, not only because they were gnerally loud but also because they did not stop my movements by just standing exactly there where I wanted to go.

So far, neither the very basic story nor the gameplay have convinced me, so I look into some of the features of the HL2 engine, the engine that took so long to get done. One of the most used parts of the eninge is -no doubt- the ragdoll physics. Enemies fall and fly and die like in UT2003, they fall, their limbs wiggle around, hang over a ledge, they lie in very awkward positions on the stairs... all in all nicely made. Objects fall "naturally" and fly away from explosions or hits the way it is in real life. Looking around the same thing has been done so often already, UT2k3, Far Cry, Doom3, Painkiller....nothing really new, where in my eyes Painkiller still has the best engine of them all. I stop playing and look at my notes.

All in all, Half Life 2 is not really that what Valve promised us so long ago. The graphics are very well made, no doubt about that, if I had to choose between Doom 3 and HL2 I would in fact go for Doom 3 as the engine is a bit better and fast in drawing different lighting on the environments and characters. The sounds and music are very good as well, the sound effects are on the level of Far Cry and good to hear. The voices are spoken from very good performers and are generally almost perfect. What annoyed me the most was the fact that there are some scripted events that are really unfair or not foreseeable for the player and thereby cause a couple of reloads of an earlier savegame to complete the level/mission/whatever you call it. Also, some events are purely for stalling the player to have a much longer game-experience, simply because some of them drag along for ages, even though they are nicley made you cannot forward them if you are in a hurry for example to finish a review. The AI is average, enemies come, enemies shoot, enemies die or win or so.


So, my verdict:


Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 8/10
Music: 6/10
Controls 8/10
Gameplay: 5/10
Storyline: 4/10
------------------
Overall: 6/10



Test system:
AMD Athlon 64 3200+
1GB RAM
Radeon 9700 Pro @ ATI drivers 4.10
DX 9.c

Lord_Anubis

Makes you wonder now doesn`t it ....
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 11:38   #2
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That doesnt sound unbiased to me - it sounds like a miserable git who thinks Painkiller is a better game?!?!? Hmmm.... he doesnt mention the physics much either!

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Old 28-Oct-2004, 11:42   #3
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An interesting review, I can't help but feel a bit gutted now really. Let's just hope I end up thinking you're full of shit
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 11:45   #4
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He liked Painkiller and D3.. so i'm amazed he's worrying about storylines..

Still, i think a game that's been so eagerly anticipated almost invariably will fail to live up to its expectations, as they're going to be set very high indeed.
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 11:52   #5
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He says the engine is not as good as Painkiller which having played Painkiller and CS Source I can say is bollocks. Also he raves about the music in Doom3 which I thought was pretty dull and run of the mill, in fact I barely noticed it.

Storyline and gameplay Ill have to wait and see until my "free" copy arrives via steam

Is this guy the tea boy for a magazine?
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 11:53   #6
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I (as a games player) do not really care about "phsyics" and "AI", I care about how the game plays. Those elements I just mentioned add to the overall gaming experience. I'll be interested to see how good HL2 is as a game. We've all seen the engine and it's not all that clever, nothing new really.
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 11:55   #7
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Original HL music was great.
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While I was doing that, you know, all the kissing on the honey lips, it burned like fire, and it reminded me of cheap melting plastic. The kind that makes little clouds of white vapour gas and when it catches on fire, makes those little... little strings of black smoke with little ashes attached to them.

That's how it was, kissing honey lips.
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 11:59   #8
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D3 had a storyline? OMG, I'm sending my copy back, it must be faulty

Im not at all convinced by that review tbh, as said above its a D3/PK fan, if hes a professional reviewer he probably just lost his job for warezing games. Ill reserve judgment until the game is unlocked and I can play it for myself. I don't care about the views of a few people, if I like it and they don't, whats the problem?
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 12:01   #9
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Where's it say that he warez'd a game?
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 12:03   #10
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Ah, ok, he claims to work for a gaming mag .. my mistake, didn't read that bit
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 12:05   #11
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Delete this thread immediately. I do not want to read bad reviews!!
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 12:11   #12
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too late!!

*zaps Bilbo with the white light thingee from Men In Black
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 12:14   #13
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interesting stuff - although there do seem to be a number of 'flaws' i'll have to see what they are like for myself before i can really comment properly.
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 12:15   #14
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This poorly written "review" isnt going to stop many people getting this game.
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 12:16   #15
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He sounds a bit dodgy :F
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While I was doing that, you know, all the kissing on the honey lips, it burned like fire, and it reminded me of cheap melting plastic. The kind that makes little clouds of white vapour gas and when it catches on fire, makes those little... little strings of black smoke with little ashes attached to them.

That's how it was, kissing honey lips.
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 12:17   #16
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Anyone that calls themselves Lord Anubis is clearly a bellend.
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 12:17   #17
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You all sound very much in denial

The review doesnt sound too dodgy, if that it is his actual opinion. Lets just hope he knows nothing and works for a shitty little magazine nobody cares about.
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 12:18   #18
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Whereas people walking around calling themselves "the funkmaster" are to be trusted with omnipotential power.
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While I was doing that, you know, all the kissing on the honey lips, it burned like fire, and it reminded me of cheap melting plastic. The kind that makes little clouds of white vapour gas and when it catches on fire, makes those little... little strings of black smoke with little ashes attached to them.

That's how it was, kissing honey lips.
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 12:19   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mef
You all sound very much in denial

The review doesnt sound too dodgy, if that it is his actual opinion. Lets just hope he knows nothing and works for a shitty little magazine nobody cares about.
I haven't even wanked over the videos
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While I was doing that, you know, all the kissing on the honey lips, it burned like fire, and it reminded me of cheap melting plastic. The kind that makes little clouds of white vapour gas and when it catches on fire, makes those little... little strings of black smoke with little ashes attached to them.

That's how it was, kissing honey lips.
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 12:20   #20
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Why are you telling me this?
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 12:21   #21
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For future reference.
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While I was doing that, you know, all the kissing on the honey lips, it burned like fire, and it reminded me of cheap melting plastic. The kind that makes little clouds of white vapour gas and when it catches on fire, makes those little... little strings of black smoke with little ashes attached to them.

That's how it was, kissing honey lips.
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 12:22   #22
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I won't be referencing what you just told me.
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 12:23   #23
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He doesn't say Painkiller is the best game, he says ge prefers the engine.
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 12:31   #24
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Did anyone say otherwise ? MegaDaisy inferred it, however they should be penalised for over use of punctuation marks !?!?!!!?!?!?!?!....///...;;;:
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 13:41   #25
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Over use of punctuation marks is an important part of typing stuff on the web isnt it????!!!! ........

Maybe not

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Old 28-Oct-2004, 13:55   #26
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Painkiller is once of the better PC games of recent times BUT the engine isn't especially amazing.

His review sounds fair enough but I REALLY doubt that the shocking Doom 3 will be better
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 14:19   #27
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Not good ;/
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 14:20   #28
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It must be more exciting that Doom3.. ooh another room, i wonder what's going to happen here..oh another pentagram, we'll i've not tired of the last 300..

And i was only poking fun about the punctuation, you use it as much as you like
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 14:22   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the funkmaster
Original HL music was great.
Yes it was, despite the nasty skips in it. Were they intentional or a problem at the factory, perhaps?
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Old 28-Oct-2004, 14:27   #30
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Most of my faith in Valve has sort of 'gone' in the past year of so due to multiple reasons.

Quite frankly if someone says the storyline isn't fantastic I'm inclined to believe them.

However, every individuals opinion is totally unique and there are a lot of different viewpoints to come from. For example, this reviewer has certain engine tastes, probably entered the game with giant expectations, etc, etc.

I may get it and love it, pretty sure I will.

Just a lack of faith.
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