Spoiler Warning: Half-Life 2: Hot Fuzz

By Shamus
on Jul 21, 2011
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

141 comments


Link (YouTube)

In this episode we mention SoldierHawke, who is currently doing a blind run of Half-Life 2. You should check it out. It’s pretty rare to find people who can go into this game truly “blind”. Much of it has been spoiled in discussions, comics, memes, and songs. To have gone seven years without having any of the major plot elements being spoiled is quite an accomplishment.

We also mention Concerned, the Half-Life 2 webcomic.

So, the proper order of things is:

Step 1) Get the game.

Step 2) Play the game.

Step 3) Read the webcomic.

Step 4) Play the subsequent episodes.

Step 5) Watch the let’s plays, listen to the developer commentary, listen to the soundtrack, play through the game on all the difficulty levels or with various self-imposed restrictions, play the mods, play co-op, try to find all the secret areas, mess around with cheats, go for all the achievements.

Step 6) Join the everlasting flame war against the heretics who refuse to acknowledge the purity and goodness of the series and fail to revere it as the very zenith first-person shootery. Remember, you can’t enjoy the game properly until you convert everyone else, everywhere on the internet, to our way of thinking.

Steps 7-one million) Join the rest of us in the eternal and hopeless wait for Half-Life 3. Welcome to purgatory, dumbass.

Enjoy!

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From the Archives:

  1. Kell says:

    I’m on step 7, though I kinda skipped most of step 6 :/

    I watched SoldierHawke’s playthrough vids yesterday, and am looking forward to the next one ( c’mon SH, it’s been, like, 5 days already!!!!!! ). It’s a great vindication of many of the aspects of the game people praise because of how similar peoples’ enjoyment of them are even when they know nothing of the game beforehand. Also, it’s cute when she uses the crouch key to cower :P

  2. qwksndmonster says:

    I found my way to Concerned from both Shamus and Yahtzee. On his old old website (fullyramblomatic), Yahtzee mentioned Concerned, and at some point on TwentySided, Shamus linked the Concerned comic making fun of the flashlight/sprint function in HL2. If you haven’t read it, FOR GOD SAKES READ IT. It’s too good.

    OT: Still loving the change of pace from this week’s videos.

  3. ccesarano says:

    Dammit Shamus, now I’m going to be reading a comic instead of getting work done (even when I’m slacking from ACTUAL work by opening Google Docs and working on blog posts).

    You’re not helping!

  4. WILL says:

    You missed step 2.5. It’s the part where you watch all the Half-life : Full-life consequences videos.

  5. theLameBrain says:

    Meh. I’d rather play Halo or Gears of War.

    (kidding!) ;-P

    http://lparchive.org/Half-Life-2/

  6. Derp says:

    Skipped step three, currently on step four, but was slightly spoiled. Already feeling the eternal dread of steps 7+. Help me.

  7. Roll-a-Die says:

    Since you mentioned Origin, it looks like they are going to be running SW:TOR through it.

    http://www.swtor.com/news/news-article/20110721

    Also $150 dollars for a collectors editions?!

    • Irridium says:

      You should see the prices for Europe.

      Way to offer competitive prices EA!

      • Mathias says:

        The worst part? I know someone who’ll be rushing out to get that collector’s edition. What’s worse is, it’ll probably be more expensive if I buy it retail (buying a fresh retail game in Denmark is about 110 dollars, yes, you just read that right).

    • decius says:

      Wait, “Exclusive Collector’s Edition Store: Unique in-game store with a dynamic array of items to assist you from your humble beginnings through your journey to become a galactic legend.”

      Putting content behind THREE paywalls is just not cool. Implying that it is balance-breaking is worse.

  8. X2-Eliah says:

    Actually it’s a real shame Mumbles isn’t in this, as she definitely could say a lot of good reasons why HL2 soundtrack is epic.

    Did I mention HL2 has an epic soundtrack? Cos it sure is amazing. Love it.

    • NonEuclideanCat says:

      Yes, yes, and yes. HL2 soundtrack is amazing all across the board. I really hope they got Kelly Bailey to compose for Episode 3 before he left.

      • Simon says:

        I like the one that goes:

        dundundun dun dundun, dundun, dundundun dundundun dun dundun dundun duuuuuuun

        Rinse and repeat.

        Seriously though, the soundtrack is quite cool.

  9. Entropy says:

    I dunno, EA is no longer the devil of gaming it used to be. See also, Activision. Bob Kotick.

    • Irridium says:

      EA hasn’t really changed much. Activision’s on par with them as well, it’s just that what Kotick says every now and then seems to put them more in the spotlight.

  10. Ateius says:

    Oh man, that first headcrab zombie. I carefully inched my way down that dark passage. There’s a corpse; okay, creepy. But I’m sure there must be some ammo or somethAUGH WHAT IS THAT *empties all ammo from recently-acquired SMG, flees back down the tunnel, never goes back*

  11. retas14 says:

    Im kind of at step 7 cause the game is so good and the first time i played half-life was like, ok i dont know it looks good time will tell… ten hours later, THIS IS AWESOME!!! So yeah im kind of waiting for half-life3 now, and its so long :(

  12. burningdragoon says:

    >.>

    <.<

    I'm at Step 0. Haven't played it and know very little about overall (or at least I'm not entirely aware of how much I know). Not that I don't want to, just never really hit my radar when it was new and I'm not huge fan of FPS in the first place. Also, being primarily a console person didn't help either.

    Guess I'll just keep blaspheming away

    • Bubble181 says:

      I’m a pure PC player, and I know next to nothing about HL2 either. I literally didn’t know it didn’t take place in Black Mesa until just last episode’s text.
      I liked Half Life, but other games got in the way of HL2 for a while, and by the time I had time to play, the hype was soooo big, I sort of didn’t want to anymore.

      • Sumanai says:

        Oh, the hype. I wasn’t really interested in a FPS when Half-life 2 came out, but when the hype got revved up? I really didn’t want to touch it with a ten foot pole. Only reason why I have played it, and Episode 1, is because I bought the Orange box for Portal and Team Fortress 2. But mainly for Portal.

  13. Alan says:

    Step 1) Get the game – Done, got the orange box
    Step 2) Play the game – Partly done, I borrowed a friend’s computer to start, but didn’t manage to finish.

    I take issue with Shamus’s comment at 11:20 that this game will run on any semi modern computer. My computer is about 2-3 years old, and is a mid range from that era, and eaily meets the specifications for RAM, processor and HD, but suffers from a thing called ‘onboard graphics’ which don’t have the right kladmolisherkuds to run a lot of things – pixel shaders possibly?

    Step 3) Read the webcomic – done. I actually did that before I played the game.

    Step 4) Play the subsequent episodes – see above ;-(

    Step 5) Watch the let’s plays – working on it

    Step 6) -not really one for jihads, sorry.

    Steps 7-one million) I think that valve is tracking my steam account to see when I have completed the game, and then they will release episode 3. Still, until then we can all enjoy the vapourware jokes. Now the Duke has come (Pun intended), if episode 3 were to come out, what would we make fun of then?

        • Alexander The 1st says:

          Don’t throw out the newborn Skyrim with the buggy Bathesda water. <_<

          OT: Next Vapourware game – A good 3D Sonic game. Or…hmm…Star Wars: The Old Republic?

          • Chuck says:

            TOR will have to come out soon-or at least on a definite schedule- to make up for ending Star Wars Galaxies.

            Besides it’s all ready available for pre-order, though that might not mean much.

            • Sumanai says:

              Isn’t it dated for next Christmas? I know I have a friend who got into the stress test (officially called something else), and I don’t think it’s going to take a full year after something like that.

              Also: I wouldn’t have drawn attention to the spelling, but it wasn’t the first time I’ve ran into it and wondered what’s going on.

              • Chuck says:

                Oh that’s what that was about. I fail at spelling and taking a hint.

                to be fair to Bethesda, I was in DC a few weeks ago, and was surprised by how much the subways looked like they did in Fallout 3.

                Really, their was even ghouls and destroyed train cars everywhere :) (I kid.)

          • Michael says:

            “Don’t throw out the newborn Skyrim with the buggy Bathesda water.”

            I laughed, then I cringed. Then I laughed again.

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Shamus,dont you mean half life 2 episode 3?

    And Josh,why are you wasting ammo on the barnacles?Nobody does that.

  15. Wintermood says:

    Josh: Is it inappropriate to expect a “Now i have a machine gun! Ho Ho Ho” reference these days? :)

    Origin: I think you have to give it a chance. I think EA could pull it off and don’t make it a mess like Steam Launch.

  16. Fede says:

    I’m really liking these episodes with Half life 2. Is there a possibility for a spoiler warning season dedicated to half life 2, maybe after new vegas?

  17. Eärlindor says:

    My first Half-Life experience (and awareness of Valve) was playing The Orange Box one or two years after it came out. I was sold. I have joined all you dumb-asses in Purgatory. :)

    • Chuck says:

      I came late to the party, only getting Steam because it was required for Empire: Total War. I didn’t like the idea at first, but I like it now, mostly for TF2, and the achievements help boost my fragile sense of self worth.

  18. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Hearing all this about first being introduced to orange box and such,makes me feel so smug.Ive played the original when it came out,and it was the best shooter ever even then.It was creepy,story driven,and with no cut scenes.It was a long wait for the sequel,and it more than delivered.

  19. Jabrwock says:

    3, 4, 6, 7, 1 (via the Steam summer sale) and as soon as I get my new iMac and load up bootcamp, 2.

    Seems silly to buy it when I can’t yet play it. But the deals were just too good to pass up. :) Soon… sooooooon.

    Just redoing #3 right now, thanks Shamus for reminding me of Concerned. I will now cease doing any meaningful work today and spend the rest of the day giggling.

    I love Concerned’s notes as well. It seems insane to do Breen’s speeches by crafting a whole special room for his character to monologue in, and then use game engine video camera abilities to “broadcast” that to the screen object. Just thinking up that setup… wow. That blows my mind as much as the pixel shaders they used for those wavy glass doors…

    • Simon Buchan says:

      It’s not that weird – feeding in a video file to the video card is actually more complicated than rendering another scene. Also, the wavy glass doors are complete cheats: because transparent stuff has to be drawen after opaque stuff (at least when it’s in front of it), when you draw each pixel for the glass you can offset where to read the background from. One of my pet peeves with engines is when objects *in front* of refracting surfaces get refracted as well – which is pretty common.

  20. Atarlost says:

    Am I the only one that though “Tucker’s Metrocops” when they were bombing you from the ceiling?

  21. Someone says:

    I don’t think HL2’s Combine announcer voice is actually Ellen McLain (aka “the voice of GLaDOS”). I may be wrong but I think she came to work with Valve afterwards, during Portal development. She did voice the Combine announcer in the Episodes, but the HL2 one was probably done by a different voice actor. I remember the two versions sounding slightly different too.

  22. The Hokey Pokey says:

    I don’t understand why you hate on GTA 4 so much. You guys have several interesting things to say, but sometimes you are a little unreasonable. For instance, there is only one mission where you have to kill people before Vlad (Jamaican Heat) and they start shooting at you first. Vlad is the first murder that is even a little premeditated, and it is a big deal because it gets Niko in trouble with the mob. The consequences of that rash action is what drives the rest of the story.

    I think you should try finishing the game. The bank robbery mission is only hard if you aren’t prepared for it or you’re trying to speed run. By the time you get there you should have plenty of weapons to survive through the subway and the skills to escape a three star wanted level (or Kiki’s special ability).

    • Shamus says:

      I was ready. Full armor. Health. Weapons. But I had a four-star wanted level and I couldn’t shake it. Came close a few times, but a cop always popped in at the last moment.

      Do I want to play the ENTIRE HALF HOUR MISSION again? I do not. Easy or not, I have better things to do with my time than re-play huge blocks of the game.

      And the biker gang mission is a poster child for everything wrong with the series:

      http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=2622

      Saint’s Row 2 for life.

      • X2-Eliah says:

        SR2? You’ve got to be joking o.O The only game that looks worse, has more glitches, has completely bollocks plot that nobody cares about, AND runs worse than gta4 all together.. No. No. Nobody can like SR2, unless they played the console version which wasn’t violated in a new york alleyway.

        • Shamus says:

          I did play the console version. Yes, I am aware that the PC version is an abomination and that developer Volition should be made to atone for it in human blood.

          Rutskarn actually did an LP with the PC version. A multiplayer LP. Crimey.

          • X2-Eliah says:

            Yeah, I watched it. Noted how the game was, effectively, awful at actually remaining playable. Also basically required Jibar to get naked to maintain some amusement.

            And ofc I played it myself. On a pc. Crimey indeed.
            Let’s put it this way – even all the issues about plot/design/worldbuilding (actually, yeah, SR2 had the most awful grey colourless world, which is really bad if the game is a sandbox) aside, SR2 is still to date the only pc game where I had to intentionally back-throttle my CPU to run at EXACT frequency of Xbox 360’s processor to maintain an acceptable framerate. GTA4 at least gets better with better hardware, SR2 gets worse with any hardware that’s not to spec with the xbox.

            Your pet hate is drm.. well, mine is a bland, unfounded world + inexcusable porting problems. I can forgive gta 4 for the colours-drain-in-rain, and for the extra performance overhead. I can’t forgive SR2 for its persistent, 100%-always colourless world and simply unplayable porting.

            • Bubble181 says:

              To be fair, I bought GTA4 in a Steam sale last year, installed it, played….15 minutes? And chucked it. The combination of Steam and Games for Windows Live AND Securom was a horror; the horrible controls on a PC made it worse. Thanks, but no thanks. A game that I can’t play, I don’t need to play…

            • acronix says:

              I`m quite sure Shamus exposed a comparison between Saint`s Row 2 and GTA4 and why he prefered the former and not the later. I suck at putting links on this comments, unfortunately, so I`m afraid someone else will have to do their typing magic to put it right after this comment in another comment so you all can click on that comment`s link to the get to Shamus comment`s about this two games we are commenting.

              …sorry, I`m sleepy…

      • The Hokey Pokey says:

        You mean the game entirely devoted to cut scene stupidity? The game where two unarmed mooks kidnap and drug a man with infinite ammo and a mutant healing factor? The game where you clearly shoot a man to death, and a few seconds later he appears unscathed? The game that forces you to sword fight people who have much more training than you, even though you have enough guns to supply a small army stashed in your pants? The game where if you win that sword fight, the cut scene afterwards reveals that you actually lost? The game where in many activities (especially Insurance Fraud) success and failure are based on factors you can’t control? The game where the only motivation the main character expresses is “I own this city?”

        Sure, if that’s what you want.

        • Shamus says:

          Nice response: “Your opinion is wrong. But you’re entitled to it.”

          It’s cool if you like GTA 4, but the game pissed me off more than it entertained. SR2 is a train wreck of goofyness and stupidity. But I had fun playing it.

          • WILL says:

            This. When an awful game doesn’t take itself seriously it can get away with a lot.

            • StranaMente says:

              Yes, this.
              Saint’s Row 2 is pure fun, even more so if compared to gta 4.
              Realism my hat. I don’t want my cusin call every half hour to go and play bowling.
              SR2 doesn’t take itself seriously and gets away with anything. Not only, the more it does, the more is entitled to do.
              If you accept you can go around naked and score points for that, you can do anything.

              • The Hokey Pokey says:

                Also, for the record you can turn the friend calls off at any time. I believe it’s in your phone under Options>Sleep Mode.

                • kanodin says:

                  You could turn them off?! I was willing to look past the Do it again stupid and incredible amounts of brown and the terrible driving controls but what killed GTA IV for me was knowing that if I ever did start having fun then suddenly Jacob would call up and tell me it was time play pool or we wouldn’t be friends anymore and you could turn that off? There are no words, that would be appropriate, to describe how I feel about this.

                • burningdragoon says:

                  I’m pretty sure that resets whenever you decide to do a mission though. It’s been a while though, so maybe not.

                • acronix says:

                  Or telling them “Not now, you damn innoportune piece of cardboard!”.

                  What put me off GTA was its gameplay, scripted events and false instructions. “Shoot the biker before he flees!” but then it just happens the biker is immune to damage so you can get to an ultimate showdown of ultimate destiny. “Follow him closely!” and then a cab is scripted to just cross the street at max speed at the right moment when you yourself are passing, giving you only fractions of a second to avoid it, and you better avoid it if you don`t want to restart the mission.

          • The Hokey Pokey says:

            I have no issue with you liking or disliking any particular game, but sometimes it seems like you go beyond reasonable criticism and become a vitriol machine. The article you linked to for example; I remember reading that and wondering why you got so angry at what I saw as a small detail. If the biker went down like any other biker the mission would be too easy and wouldn’t be worth doing, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember that scripted car.

            It is disappointing to me that a half hour of game play is enough to spoil the entire experience for you. I’d personally recommend giving the game another chance, because I think you are missing a lot by not finishing it. Go ahead and use cheats to get through frustrating parts, and maybe you will get more enjoyment out of it.

            • Rutskarn says:

              The point is that it’s not half an hour of experience, per se. It’s the SAME half hour over and over again, whenever you fail, with most of that half hour being tedious wandering around.

              I got further than that mission, but not much. I get to a mission that has a lot of driving around to get to a mission that I’m going to fail at least once because I don’t know where the best cover is, or where I’m going to get ambushed, or even exactly what the game wants me to do, and I decide I’ve got things I’d rather be doing that virtually commuting to my own death multiple times over the course of an hour.

              The story is good. I want to know what happens. The mission structure is a joke.

            • Sumanai says:

              Wasn’t GTA4 telling Shamus to shoot at the biker? If he’s immune, isn’t that actively lying to the player, during tutorial, and making it harder (in a bad way) for no reason? You might not be seeing the problem because it went well for you, not because it’s a minor complaint. Also what Rutskarn said, which is doing the same thing over and over again because you listened to the game is very annoying.

              And even then, it’s the small details that tend to make or break the experience.

              • acronix says:

                A friend of mine did that section a dozen times before following my advice about not shooting him. The problem arose when there were other chases where the same instructions were barked at us from the game. Should we shoot him, or not? Will we end up at an ultimate showdown of ultimate destiny after we have emptied all our clips on them, forcing us to restart the mission and conserve ammo? Or maybe we`ll conserve ammo but once he reaches his destination we`ll lose, forcing us to repeat the mission and shoot him? Will the game throw cabs at us at the worst possible moments? Should we focus on avoiding those, or killing the target as fast as we can, risking in both cases the mission`s success?

                In all that the choices are binary, but there`s no way to predict what the developer had in mind. Does he wants us to shoot the biker this time, or not? By the time you find out, you are likely to have restarted the mission a couple of times.

                • Sumanai says:

                  The sad thing is, those are exactly the type of things which lead into games saying what you’re supposed to do instead of making you figure it out. And then they lie to you.

          • Chris says:

            I found Saint’s Row 2 (played on the PC, got it through Steam “for free” when getting Dawn of War 2) to be buggy and have a stupid plot, but it had enough fun and silliness that I’d rather go back to it than GTAIV any day.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      I hate that game for(a very petty)reason of having a fake serbian accent.Its not like there arent a bunch of serbs in the usa who wouldve done it,and for probably even less money.I usually dont mind fake accents,but the voice of niko is really irritating.

      • kanodin says:

        As I recall weren’t they trying to be intentionally vague with where Niko was from, ergo couldn’t it just be that what sounds like a bad Serbian accent to you is just them trying to make it sound generic?

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          But it doesnt sound like a bad serbian accent.Nor crotian,bosnian,or any other ex yugoslavian accent.It sounds like a bad russian or bad ukranian.It doesnt sound generic,it just sounds bad.And I usually dont mind bad russian accent,they make me laugh,but his voice…its just wrong.

    • NeilD says:

      I tried playing it a few months ago, and didn’t get anywhere near that far. I enjoyed GTA 3, but I found the main characters in 4 so intensely unlikeable that after a few hours I found I didn’t want to spend any more time with them, and nothing in the gameplay was enjoyable enough to overcome that.

    • Someone says:

      My main issue with GTA4 (and all the other ones, for that matter), one which I suspect a lot of people might share, is that gameplay and story of these games exist in two separate dimensions. You keep going back and forth between them: driving from mission to mission in the “overworld”, watching cutscenes and then going back to the gameplay dimension to do the shooty bits; but they never act as a whole. Case in point: you watch a bunch of mission cutscenes where Niko the Character worries about emotional and ethical difficulties inherent in his line of work and then you go to the overworld and meet Niko the Player, who crashes helicopters into skyscrapers and blows up pigeons with an RPG as a part of his morning routine.

      • Sagretti says:

        I think it’s the biggest problem with GTA IV. I enjoy the story and the world, but I find the “wackiness” terribly distracting when placed against the rather harsh, serious story. Even the comedy relief characters turn out pretty dark or pretty dead, depending, and not in a humorous way.

        It’s one of the reasons I really enjoyed Mafia II (at least until the excessive, bland driving drove me away for a while). The game world felt consistent with the story they were telling, and not an excuse to slip in a million bad puns about sex. Idiotic random Playboys scattered around being the major exception.

        • Someone says:

          I think that’s why Saints Row 2 and San Andreas succeeded. Those games didn’t take themselves too seriously and still managed to tell interesting and even somewhat dramatic stories. Especially Saints Row 2, which knew what sort of behavior to expect from the player and made the character an appropriately insane sociopath to accommodate it.

  23. Hallc says:

    There is another Co-op mod for the Source Engine called Obsidian Conflict. I used to play quite a bit of Synergy before it went onto Steam and it seemed to have gotten worse during the port, Obsidian Conflict is the better option at least in my opinion. It even supports Half Life Source in co-op too.

    http://obsidianconflict.net/

  24. Nasikabatrachus says:

    It’s interesting that you guys haven’t mentioned Half-Life 1 much. I watched the first three videos of a playthrough last night and my immediate reaction was holy crap, this game is awesome. I especially love the way the developers manage to make the Half-Life world seem so freaking huge.

    Also, somewhere in those steps there needs to be Step X) Watch “Half Life: Full Life Consequences”. Just… wow.

  25. Hitch says:

    You forgot the steps “???” and “Profit.”

  26. Herrsunk says:

    While I enjoy the commentary… the game audio was overpowering for this episode, as well as the previous two. It just makes the chatter “behind the game” incoherent. Like getting a SUPER LOUD AD while watching a movie at normal volume but instead of once a quarter hour its every time something happens*. I’m just saying.

    I don’t find the Fallout audio overpowering, you can hear most conversations between the hosts, so I guess it’s the whole “recording-new-game-settings-what-is-going-on” coming into play. Then again; this might have been the last episode so my complaint is moot.

    *gunfights

  27. Hitch says:

    I love this. “This is a game we really like. We have nothing bad to say about it. But since this is Spoiler Warning, we’ll have side conversations about every other game and game company just so we can get our complaining in.”

  28. Marlowe says:

    Extended discussion of a game other than the one you are playing: I raise a glass to you all.

    Also: only Rutskarn & Shamus would attempt to roleplay the protagonist of a Grand Theft Auto game.

  29. WILL says:

    I’ve got a serious suggestion for the next game – Metro 2033. It has a very good balance of story and combat for a game that seems based mostly on combat at first.

    It’s also a really, really good story and I’d love to see it get the SW treatment – not enough people really thought about/got to see its plot.

    • Keeshhound says:

      Isn’t Metro 2033 a horror-esque game though? I don’t really want to think about putting a horror game through Josh’s playstyle…

      Also, for those who are curious, the steam achievements say that 13.8% of players have earned the “submissive(throw the can in the trash)” achievement, and 9.2 have the “defiant(throw it at the guard)” achievement.

    • Pete says:

      Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

      Metro 2033 is, along with Singularity, firmly on my list of “wasted potential games”. In the case of Metro its the stealth sections with enemies covered in throwing-knife reflecting props and omnipresent AI, the last shop in the game being halfway in, the idiotic filter system, and the GOD DAMM AMOEBA SECTION RAGE

      But besides all that the game is so fun I replayed the whole thing twice.

  30. TSED says:

    The problem with Half Life 2 is that Valve is a company that tells stories through ambience.

    As in, if you like looking at the scenery and paying attention to detail, it’s great for you.

    I’m not one of those people. I ignore the scenery. I give it a quick once-over to see if any vital details are there, and then just let it sit in the background. For me, Half-Life 2 is a dull, empty game. I’m aware of how much attention to detail they paid, but I AM AN OBLIVIOUS PERSON. I like my stories delivered through the mediums of (stage) actions and dialogue. Half Life 2 is a long, empty slog through long, empty corridors. The game mechanics don’t particularly impress me, as they are trying to add to the ambience which is NOT piercing my skull.

    I didn’t even finish HL2. I got a few hours in, went “eh, I’m going to do something else now,” and then never had a desire to start it back up. From what I remember, there were tons of bad things to say about the game. For example, don’t you guys complain about brown a lot? Because the whole time I played, I was surrounded by a sea of brown. Maybe that goes away, but it was really tedious.

    Ignoring the flaws in something you truly love is not an intellectually honest critique. You need to explain why it’s wonderful despite these flaws, and yes, EVERYTHING has flaws.

    I’m also willing to engage in a debate over how ambient scenery is one of the few things that video games can do better than any other medium, by the way. I acknowledge that fact, I just don’t think that it’s as important as other people obviously do.

    THAT’S RIGHT. Bring it, #6ers.

    • TGN says:

      I really couldn’t get into the story of Half Life 2 either, it just annoyed me with the degree to which it blatantly abused the silent protagonist to avoid actually giving details.

      I understand that the point of not giving the protagonist any lines is that you can imagine a personality for them yourself, and with someone like Link from The Legend of Zelda I have no problem with this. With Freeman however I couldn’t escape the conclusion that whatever he’s saying, it obviously doesn’t include things like “Who are we fighting?”, “Why?” or “Do you people have any kind of plan? At all?”. The other characters seemed well-written enough, and in another story I may well have grown to like them, but since I didn’t care about the world they were in or the vaguely-defined goals they were trying to accomplish I just couldn’t care about the characters themselves.

    • Mormegil says:

      The adoration of Half Life 2 is something I’ve never understood. There’s lots of good stuff in there but there’s also the physics puzzles for the sake of it segments and the boat and car sequences that subjectively take about 4 billion years to complete. Ravensholm is fantastic though.

      Equally, I never understood the derision for Doom 3 – it’s not a great game but I found it to be a competent shooter at worst.

      They’re two games that I remember as coming out about the same time that my opinions always seemed out of whack with everyone else, one not as bad as it’s made out to be, one that isn’t the masterpiece that it’s remembered as.

    • xuberfail says:

      It’s more grey than brown… And theres also plenty of yellow and red. Even blue!

    • WILL says:

      Part of why I can’t stand HL2 is how they obsess about very simple design decisions as if they were genius.

      I think the SW crew talked 5 minutes about turning a corner and seeing the citadel. This is not revolutionary or mind blowing – it’s game design 101. Even Halo 1 did this back in 2001. Their level design is also just one big railroad, with some parts having frankly badly placed important ladders. I got lost constantly trying to find some hidden passage on multiple instances, because it was tucked away in a corner.

      Not to mention they kill the game’s pacing multiple times with random puzzles in between chase scenes, some truly awful squad mechanics and repetitive puzzles… this felt more like a tech demo to me.

      Gotta agree about the brown as well – this is not a very colourful game at first, and even then the enemy design is just weird. Enemies don’t seem to mesh together very well. But then again, my problem with the art design is pretty much all based on taste.

      And Valve pushed the silent protagonist thing to the point where it’s a nuisance and just makes the game feel ridiculous – everyone acts like Gordon should be able to speak, and if he could you could answer some very basic questions. Shadow of the Colossus/Ico did vague storytelling well. HL2 just felt lazy to me.

      [/hate]

      • Even says:

        I think you got the showing the citadel part wrong here. The point was, that it’s a great way of introducing an important plot element, which in this case happens to be the heart of all the evil in the plot. It’s nigh-impossible to ignore it. There was one game with the dev commentary (could have been either of the Half-Life 2 Episodes, I don’t remember anymore) where they said that in playtesting they had difficulties to get people to look up in order to notice something they wanted the player to see. So they’ve developed their games ever since with the goal to make sure that the player will make note of things, “subtly but efficiently”. That’s not something every game company out there does very well.

        An out of place ladder like that is simply just bad level design, and something you’d be likely to not see in more recent Valve games, given their ridiculous amount of playtesting. That is not to say they wouldn’t have any oversights, but personally anyway, it’s been very minimal.

      • Shamus says:

        ” it’s game design 101.”

        And if more games did it, the HL2 would be an average game. But the things we’re talking about are things we don’t get from other games.

        • WILL says:

          IMO, Half-Life 2 IS an average game nowadays – plenty of things it does (and sometimes innovated) is done just as commonly in games these days, especially things like guiding the player.

          Gravity-gun? Ripped off everywhere nowadays.
          Vistas/Important scenes in the distance? Common in games since before HL2.
          Not to mention AAA titles have just as much attention to detail, if not more than HL2, mostly due to bigger budgets and less graphical limitations.
          Introducing enemies (like HL2 did with the chopper) is usually done pretty well too, sometimes even better (see any enemy in Bioshock, even FEAR).

          There are awful games that ignore these basic steps, obviously, but these are far less common than you seem to think. Not telling the player everything is less common, yes, but it’s not necessary.

          I don’t think I’m going to convince you any time soon, we’re pretty much saying complete opposite things.

          • Sumanai says:

            “Not to mention AAA titles have just as much attention to detail, if not more than HL2, mostly due to bigger budgets and less graphical limitations.”

            You’re not making any sense there. Better potential graphics doesn’t mean there will be more attention to detail, except from the artist’s point of view. Bigger budget can result in many other things than that. Higher maximum texture resolution, higher character/environment model complexity, longer gameplay, more gameplay mechanics, more voice acting, more variety (in characters/environment/weapons/etc.), higher quality cutscenes. All of those can drain a big budget and leave nothing for polishing the details.

            Yes, they do polish triple-A games, but neither of those are a guarantee that they end up more polished than Half-life 2. Or was the Fallout 3 (for instance) not a triple-A game? And if so, why?

            Note that I don’t think Half-life 2 is all that special. I have no interest in playing it again, and don’t see a reason to do so anytime soon.

            • WILL says:

              I’m thinking Uncharted 2 levels of detail – the amount of detail they can add isn’t limited by hardware so technically more attention to detail is possible (it’s not that common). Bigger budgets mean more time spent on actually adding these details.

              Of course for every “Uncharted 2” you get a quick and dirty Fallout 3 where making sure every scene is perfect wasn’t the focus of the game. The money/time doesn’t all go to the same place in every project.

    • krellen says:

      On behalf of the explorers and observant (who are the minority), thanks for making most games suck for us. By pandering to mass-appeal rather than the unique strengths of video games (and you’re right, ambient scenery is the one thing video games do far better than any other existing medium) we are retarding the development of the entire industry.

      • TSED says:

        I disagree on “the one thing.”

        My favourite games are RPGs, and they REALLY don’t pander to me any more. I mean genuine, complicated, nuts-and-bolts RPGs. I don’t like the aesthetics they use in Japan, but I’ve found more and more that I am doing nothing but playing Japanese games. Disgaea, for Pete’s sake even Pokemon is more complicated than any western RPG I’ve played in the past 5 years. And Pokemon’s on a DS!

        And marketed* to kids!

        Give me things to manipulate. You can’t even DO that in any other medium (unlike ambience), but video games aren’t doing that any more, either. There are tons of games that add ambience AND interesting gameplay / dialogue / etc., so I don’t see why HL2 gets such a big round of applause for it. FallOut 3 – while awful in most respects – even got ambience down better than HL2.

        In short, my issue isn’t with HL2. I think that gaming is a huge medium and should reach to everyone with their myriads of different tastes. I never once said that HL2 should not be played, or should not be enjoyed. I take issue with the people who go about and tout it like it’s a pixellated, slightly outdated Jesus. Frig, I got better ambience out of playing the new expansions for EverQuest – an MMO that was 5 years old when HL2 was released. And unlike HL2, I could play EQ and have FUN. I’m getting off-topic, the point is, I am really rather sick of HL2 jihadists.

        *Pokemon is marketed to kids in North America. I have no idea how it is marketed in other places, but given the actual complexity of the thing, I don’t think they expect a market in Japan composed solely of 5 year old kids. If you sit down and look at the game design behind pokemon, it’s actually quite amazing. There are a few things I take issue with, and most of those are legacy problems that they’ll never be able to shed because of its roots as a gameboy game. Still, every time they make a major new release, it’s a HUGE step forwards. Compare Pokemon White/Black’s complexity to R/B’s. And balance. And blahblahblah I like pokemon better than HL2 and I am a 23 year old male.

        • krellen says:

          What parts of FO3 ambience did you think were brilliant?

          • TSED says:

            The creeping around and hiding behind shattered remnants of the bygone society as something – you have no idea what, but you can hear it moving – edges closer, and you only have a dozen shots left with your holdout pistol, and so on and so forth.

            The trick was to know how to break the game, and intentionally avoid those things. That’s what I did, at least.

            • krellen says:

              I really cannot understand how anyone had experiences even remotely like this in FO3. New Vegas can come somewhat closer with hardcore mode, but it still fails to ever come anything close to survival, let alone horror. The engine just cannot accomplish it.

              Maybe I just break the game by sneaking, exploring, and being intensely aware of my surroundings, like I would be in a real wasteland situation.

  31. Spammy says:

    It will run on any computer? Okay, my computer is seven years old and wasn’t top of the line when new and hasn’t gotten any faster. Make Half Life 2 run on my computer.

    No really. =( I want to be able to run games on this computer that I didn’t buy from GoG. And despite what all the already-technically-inclined nerds that I’ve talked to about this have said, I *DON’T* feel confident enough to open up my computer and replace stuff and it *WON’T* be as simple for me as it is for you.

    • Simon Buchan says:

      If it’s 7 years old, you won’t find anything that would fit in it. At this point, getting a new box and plugging your monitor, keyboard and mouse is the cheap way to go, for maybe $400? More is better, but anything that lists an ATI/AMD or nVidia video card is enough for most modern games, depending on settings.

    • Sumanai says:

      “And despite what all the already-technically-inclined nerds that I’ve talked to about this have said, I *DON’T* feel confident enough to open up my computer and replace stuff and it *WON’T* be as simple for me as it is for you.”

      But all you’ve got do is… okay I’ll shut up. As Simon said, if you can afford it, a completely new box is most likely the best way to “updating” it.

  32. There is no developer commentary. I would know. As I said, I’m looseley considered to be in the process of making one.

    Unless you meant “read Raising the Bar” in which case, yes.

    That said I have completed all those steps, I even have the half Life 2 done quick speedrun downloaded.

  33. MrGamer says:

    You guys should do a one off episode of Deus Ex.

  34. Skeletor says:

    That part where those guys fire down at you while you are in water between two pipes before moving through the pipe to the outside is where i quit. Those guys took all of my health but 1 point, then the game autosaved. when i exited the pipe i got shot and died instantly. So i respawned and i still only had one point of health so i died instantly and so on and so forth untill i grabbed the Orange Box and took it back to the store because i wasn’t really enjoying it anyway. So i really don’t like this game because it both wasn’t fun and it totally screwed me.

  35. Venalitor says:

    I got splattered by the train my first time through for taunting some combine.

  36. Noble Bear says:

    Now that you guys are doing:

    1. A game I’ve actually gotten to play
    2. Have your whole format-youtube-thing sorted out

    I am thoroughly enjoying this.

    HL2 was the game that finally sold me on FPS, before this, I found the gameplay of the genre frustrating and the settings uninteresting.

    If I were to wish anything for this game, i’d be to have more plot or story. none of the NPCs really seem to arc and there’s no over arcing structure to the narrative; a brilliant first act is just followed by a lot of “Go here, do this” and “Hurry up, Dr Freeman”

    Still all that said, i love Dr Breen he really does make the immersion for me and this game is in my personal top 5.

  37. Jokerman89 says:

    Great episodes, You guys should just do a full half life 2 run – this was great – best since fallout 3.

    Also like ruts said…it was the fact vlad has so many connections that freaks out niko and roman, not killing – its established pretty early (plus in the first trailers) that Niko has killed a bunch of people in the war – even his words on the first in game kill are “i promised i wouldnt kill anyone here” which pretty much imply he cant go anywhere without a murder or 3

  38. SoldierHawk says:

    I am so unbelievably happy right now!

    Course it’s probably gonna take me another two years to finish the dang game so I can go listen to what you SAID about me of course, but that’s hardly your fault. ;-)

    The major way I stayed unspoiled wasn’t by avoiding the memes et al, but in just not *caring* about them. I wrote Half Life (and its sequels) off as ‘[just] an FPS.’ Since I had not the slightest interest in the genre I paid no attention to the game, and any references to it or about it went in one ear and out the other. Now that I have an active interest in the game and am actively avoiding spoilers, it’s actually quite a lot harder. (Mostly because almost all people, through no fault of their own, can’t imagine someone still trying to stay unspoiled.)

  39. Icyn says:

    I’ve got one gift key for HL2 still sitting on my steam account in case someone doesn’t have the game yet and is inspired to try. I’d be more than happy to gift it to someone. My steam id is Icyn, so just send a message amd we’ll get you playing.

    (Hopefully this isn’t against Shamus’ comment policies, but if it is, I apologise in advance.)

  40. Vect says:

    The way they portray G-Man… Is that how they see House?

    House is more like “Alright Courier, you’re working for me now because you’re presumably not a fucking moron and I’m obviously a supergenius. Anyways-WHAT ARE YOU DOING DON’T GO THERE ARGH GERMS MY GREATEST WEAKNESS!”

  41. Jonathan says:

    I always went for ammo conservation.
    You can kill barnacles in 1-2 hits with the crowbar pretty safely.

  42. […] when I played the game before. When they pointed out the flawless introduction to the Barnacle in their third episode, that blew my mind. If id Software designed this game, the camera would have been wrestled from the […]

  43. […] I should also mention that two of my internet idols, Shamus Young and Rutskarn, mentioned me in their own HL2 LP! I cannot tell you how amazing and flattering this is. Of course, I’ll have two wait like two years til I’m done with the game to actually hear what they SAID (for fear of spoilers), but it’s still awesome! Also, they linked to my YouTube account! YAY! If you’d like to see the bit in question, it’s here. […]

  44. xXDarkWolfXx says:

    I loved SR2 loads more than GTA4.I spent the minimum amount of time on the story and even less on the multiplayer but Saints Row 2 i played till the disc broke. Iv already pre-ordered the sequel Saints Row The Third collectors edition

  45. […] remember, I chose it because of Shamus Young. Now he doesn’t know me really (though he once mentioned me in a video and I may or may not have squealed like a little girl when it happened), and I certainly […]

3 Trackbacks

  1. By Half-Life 2: The Bridge Scene « Ninja Game Den on July 25, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    […] when I played the game before. When they pointed out the flawless introduction to the Barnacle in their third episode, that blew my mind. If id Software designed this game, the camera would have been wrestled from the […]

  2. […] I should also mention that two of my internet idols, Shamus Young and Rutskarn, mentioned me in their own HL2 LP! I cannot tell you how amazing and flattering this is. Of course, I’ll have two wait like two years til I’m done with the game to actually hear what they SAID (for fear of spoilers), but it’s still awesome! Also, they linked to my YouTube account! YAY! If you’d like to see the bit in question, it’s here. […]

  3. By Why do I play Half-Life? | The Hawk Nest on January 23, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    […] remember, I chose it because of Shamus Young. Now he doesn’t know me really (though he once mentioned me in a video and I may or may not have squealed like a little girl when it happened), and I certainly […]

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