Spoiler Warning Half Life 2 Special EP5: Welcome to Ravenholm

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Sep 6, 2011

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 176 comments

We’re going to spend this week playing Half-Life 2: RAVENHOLM!!!

Link (YouTube)

Here is a link to the Guild Wars 2 Manifesto, which has the guy who posed as the face model for Father Grigori. (He appears around the one minute mark.)

Next week, we begin the new season with (assuming all goes to plan) Assassin’s Creed 2.


From The Archives:

176 thoughts on “Spoiler Warning Half Life 2 Special EP5: Welcome to Ravenholm

  1. Friend of Dragons says:

    Video is private.

  2. Steve-o says:

    I concur!

  3. Demicus says:

    Private video is private.

  4. ccesarano says:

    Next week, we begin the new season with (assuming all goes to plan) Assassin's Creed 2.

    But if Spoiler Warning didn’t cover the first game then how will we know why you’re playing an Italian man?! It’s MADNESS!

    1. Vipermagi says:

      That is where the “spoiler” part comes into play, of course.
      The entire season is a spoiler to two seasons after that, when they play the first.

    2. Rasha says:

      Hey a fairly large chunk of people have no idea why they’re playing an italian AFTER playing the first one. Is there really any difference?

      1. Alexander The 1st says:

        Hey, it has a better summary opening than “You died, we brought you back from the dead, what do you remember of the last plot?” Also, playing as the Italian isn’t explained in the first. Desmond is explained in the first.

        Though to be fair, why not Assassin’s Creed I? Or maybe do it afterwards, in snippets like these ones, since it has no subtitles?

  5. PossiblyInsane says:

    Shamus, leave a post-it note on your computer telling yourself not to post private videos.

  6. Gale says:

    Assassin’s Creed 2, huh? Yeah, I can see that as a season of Spoiler Warning. Plenty of plot weirdness to talk about, opportunities for wacky and inventive murder… Yeah, that’s a pretty good fit.

    But first, the continuing adventures of Reginald Freeman! I like the idea of a Half Life 2 subseason, where you slowly play through the entire game in segments when circumstances arise that prevent you from recording a regular session, or as a breather between seasons.

    1. Scott (Duneyrr) says:

      Yeah, I like this style!
      Yay! It’s fixed! :D

      1. Eärlindor says:

        Seems like a good enough system to me, assuming that’s how they’re actually handling it, of course.

        And I concur, AC2, interesting choice. Should be interesting. Maybe we’ll hear them rant about Ubisoft DRM.

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Plenty of opportunities to break the game, plenty of opportunities for hilarious death… Good times ahead…

    3. BeamSplashX says:

      I’m excited about that. I was going to watch a Let’s Play of AC2 but the only ones I can find have boring players. I need the Spoiler Warning crew’s madness if SomethingAwful isn’t pulling through.

  7. Dys says:

    As I contemplate the idea of Josh playing AC, I am struck by alternating waves of dread and a kind of sick fascination. Will anyone survive?

    Does he know you fail missions if you kill random people?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      And the god damn minstrels and beggars!Arrrrgh!!!!I bet at least once we will get a desinc because Josh lost his patience.

      1. Kale says:

        Should we set up a drinking game rule right now where a drink is taken every time Josh punches a minstrel or beggar?

    2. Narida says:

      Yes, the game does seem contrary to the usual playstyle, the game is pretty harsh if you start murdering everyone…

      1. Raygereio says:

        Whelp, that answers why AC2 was chosen.
        This must be payback from Shamus, Ruts and Mumbles for all of the trolling Josh inflicted upon them in the last season.

    3. swimon1 says:

      Does it do that immediately? In brotherhood you had to kill like 3 I think before you died. Which was a shame because killing civilians was the best part of that game. Try grabbing a fisherman sometime and throw him into the water it just makes a splash, then the writer pouts by telling you “Ezio didn’t kill civilians he was a really cool guy, his morality unquestionable in how he murdered zounds of the closest Rome had to a police force” and then you never see that fisherman again he doesn’t even struggle to stay afloat he’s just gone. Also help me out history people was it common for fishermen to not be able to swim? I mean from what I understand it was common for normal people to not be able to swim, but fishermen? That seems weird.

      1. Raygereio says:

        The AC2 system is the same as AC:Bro’s; kill 3 “innocent” NPC’s in rapid succesion and the game slaps you on the wrist for having the audacity to try and rid yourself of those damned minstrels.

        Also, so far Ezio is the only person in the AC’verse who can sim. Don’t think to hard about it; it’s likely Ubisoft just didn’t want to go through the trouble of creating animations and coding for NPC’s to get out of water.

        1. Vect says:

          For some promotional videos where they answered questions on Brotherhood, they made a joke about how “Guards are lousy swimmers and they wear heavy armor so they stay out of water”. Also, evidently Altair not being able to swim was just The Animus 1.0 being buggy and chances are it’ll change for Revelation.

      2. Lalaland says:

        It was a tradition in parts of Ireland for fishermen to not know how to swim. Tradition, fear of bad luck or a grim desire not to struggle for longer in an era when man overboard was an almost certain death sentence. I’ve heard that is the case in other parts of the world too.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          I know for certain that it was very common for sailors to not know how to swim even in the 18th century. A lot of these guys just signed onto a ship with little to none previous experience and perhaps contrary to what intuition may say the job didn’t require for people to actually get into the water a whole lot, if it was done properly. Supposedly the fact that even pretty close to the shore most of the crew (especially the new, untrustworthy guys) were effectively trapped on the ship unless they managed to commandeer a boat was an extra advantage, some of these guys weren’t so much interested in being sailors but rather on leaving the town/country where they boarded the ship and once they did would leave at the earlier opportunity.

          1. Josh says:

            On the other hand, you’d kind of expect gondoliers to at least be able to swim well enough to get a hold on the side of a nearby canal. It’s not as if the canals are ravaged by rapids or even very slow currents.

  8. TraderRager says:

    Video, y u so private?

  9. Andrew says:

    aaand we’re good to go.

  10. Entropy says:

    Works now for me.

  11. Airsoft says:

    Ohh AC2, i hope you all know alot about it, or else i will find myself shouting at the video :) im sure it will be great.

  12. Sydney says:

    “We make elegant remarks about the artistic–”
    “Check it out, the pants are dead!”

    Cue me inhaling a vitamin pill. Ow.

  13. burningdragoon says:

    AC2? Cool beans. I wonder how everyone feels about the continuing trend of bullshit cliffhangers that I’ve come to despise (hyperbole) an otherwise fun series of games for.

  14. ps238principal says:

    I thought I was done with HL2, until I saw that Ravenholm had an achievement for making it through using only the gravity gun…

    1. krellen says:

      Getting that achievement is almost as frustrating as it is fun. The poison headcrabs and poison headcrab colonies are really nerve-wracking when you only have physics to fight them.

      1. Sydney says:

        Technically you only have physics to fight them with even if you’re using a conventional gun.

        1. HeroOfHyla says:

          Technically technically the guns aren’t physics because they’re just hitscan weapons and don’t actually trace bullet paths. Rockets are physics though.

      2. Shatterer says:

        The poison headcrabs can be killed by simple punting, so they’re not the worst part. From what I can remember the colonies in Ravenholm can be avoided by running.

        I like going through Ravenholm using only the Gravity Gun. There’s only one point where I really want to use a gun: When you wait for the cart and the fast zombies climb up along the pipes. I always peek over the edge and shoot them while they’re climbing. No way they’ll get within melee range of me.

        1. I just jump down to a place where they can’t path to me and wait it out. Or go inside because they can’t open doors.

      3. DGM says:

        Can’t you bring Dog’s Ball to distract them with?

        Come to think of it, I’ve never tried the physics-only Ravenholm run myself. Hmm…

  15. Eruanno says:

    Oooohhh my god, Ravenholm. My one and only playthrough of this was at 2 AM in the morning, and the house was pitch-black. My mum and dad had gone to bed a few hours earlier, and my brother went to bed just as I set foot inside Ravenholm.

    I played through the entire thing, and I was TERRIFIED as I stumbled into bed. However, on the way to the bathroom I stumbled onto something small, hairy and knee-high. Turns out it was the cat brushing up against my leg in the darkness, and it was only through self-control that I kept myself from shouting “HEADCRAB AAAAAAHHH!!!!” (and waking the entire neighborhood).

  16. JPH says:

    I have to say, I didn’t find Ravenholm as amazing as some people did. It was awesome, just like the rest of the game is awesome, but it didn’t really stand out much for me.

    As for what my favorite sequence is, it’s the sequence where you climb across that horribly mangled bridge. I’ve already talked about it on my blog, but it’s really awesome.

    1. Grampy_Bone says:

      My problem with it is, in the greater context of City 17 and the events therein, Ravenholm doesn’t make much sense. It’s very clear that someone on the development team said, “Let’s make a survival horror level!” and they just crammed it in wherever.

      1. ps238principal says:

        I disagree. It may overdo it, but one of the more horrific aspects of HL2 is not only that the Combine has taken over Earth and pretty much enslaved most humans, but the life forms they introduced (head crabs and ant lions) have made whole areas uninhabitable.

        It’s why Nova Prospekt is also a favorite area of mine. You’ve got the Combine baddies, but the things they brought with them are out of their control as well.

        1. krellen says:

          If you wade out into the ocean, you find out they are teeming with the water-grub-fish from HL1, which make a quick meal out of anyone that goes swimming. I thought it was another excellent touch.

          1. Eärlindor says:

            Interesting, I never bothered to check the water. Definitely will take a look.

      2. guy says:

        It’s pretty clear the Combine shelled Ravenholm with headcrab zombies and then had some guys stand around it sniping zombies because it was less bother than actually taking the town.

        Actually, there’s a number of instances where the Combine clearly looked at a zombie infested area and said, “Screw this, just shoot anything that tries to leave”.

        1. Grampy_Bone says:

          But then that begs the question, “Why are there still so many zombies in Ravenhome?” You’ve got Grigori and his traps plus Combine and rebels picking off any that wander out, which is what they all would do. Unless I’m mistaken and Ravenholm was zombified just a day before Gordon gets there.

          There are pretty much only two outcomes to a zombie outbreak: either it is contained and all the zombies are killed or it spreads and destroys everything. There really is no middle ground. Neither scenario supports a scrappy survivor building a gauntlet of zombie-killing physics traps for use by wandering theoretical physicists.

          1. Josh says:

            I don’t recall if it’s ever stated directly in the game, but a common theory about Ravenholm is that they were connected to Black Mesa East (since they’re so close to it anyway and there’s an access shaft heading directly into town connecting the two) and it was harboring refugees that were evacuated via the underground railroad that we managed to fuck up and kill everybody on during the last HL2 special. This would certainly account for the massive population of intact zombies in what was almost certainly an obsolete mining town.

            This may also account for Grigori’s strong connection to the place and its “people,” if he’d been involved in helping the refugees as they arrived before everything went to hell.

          2. guy says:

            Headcrab zombies don’t have terribly much agency. If they don’t see anyone and aren’t being shot at, they pretty much just sit around or wander vaguely. So there’s a lot of zombies in Ravenholm, but not terribly many leaving Ravenholm. Anyway, evidence suggests the Combine abandoned most of Earth’s surface to various Xen lifeforms, hence why NovaProspekt is right next to a billion antlions.

            Occasional zombies wander enough that they leave the town, at which point a combine sniper shoots them right in the head. Much the same happens in City 17 in the Episodes, although of course the numbers in both categories are much larger and there’s a fancy triple-turret setup instead of a sniper.

    2. krellen says:

      I hate the bridge. With seething passion. I generally hate first-person jumping puzzles to start with, and the added vertigo from the bridge (and the instant-death upon failure) makes it probably the most nerve-wracking gaming experience I still subject myself to. If the rest of HL2 wasn’t so good to make up for it, the bridge sequence would likely make it such that I would never play the game again.

      Fortunately, I play on normal difficulty and can pack enough rockets (and am good enough at steering them now) that I at least don’t have to make the trip back with a helicopter trying to kill me. That drove me crazy the first time I played through, before I was good enough with rockets.

      1. It was annoying at first, but every time I play it I use the sprint button. It’s more awesome, and avoids having to care about fancy footwork – as long as I land it (and I’ve never fallen doing so) I’m good.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Isnt there an ammo cache in one of the rooms there?You can just sprint it out without taking too many hits and then just bunker in.

        1. krellen says:

          There’s a rocket crate in the middle of the bridge. You have to get halfway before you get another try.

      3. JPH says:

        What’s interesting is that I’m scared of heights in real life. I’ve gotten better about it, but I used to be completely petrified when walking across bridges or looking down from the tops of buildings.

        But in video games I love heights. It’s a general habit of mine to climb to the highest point I can in many games, particularly platformers.

        1. krellen says:

          I do this regularly in games where I can’t die from falling. BASE jumping in SR2 (and doing it without a ‘chute in CoH) are some of my favourite activities.

          When the fall is fatal, however, I hate it. One twitch of the hand spells doom.

    3. swenson says:

      Agreed. I’ve walked across the Mackinaw Bridge in Michigan (it’s five miles across, but opening it up to walkers is a Labor Day tradition) and it was so cool because it was so similar to the HL2 bridge. Although in real life, obviously I was walking on top of the bridge rather than scurrying along the supports underneath, I was still surprised by how close the HL2 bridge felt to a real one.

      And c’mon, that bridge is just plain beautiful!

  17. Viktor says:

    Shamus, you do realize that you can fire most video game shotguns after loading one bullet, right? That’s usually faster than a normal gun’s reload, and it works well when you’re being overwhelmed.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Its still much slower than two consecutive shots,and works only as a last ditch thing,or against slow enemies.But when being assaulted by numerous fast zombies,youre much better of switching to something else.

      1. Bodyless says:

        As long as its fast enough, you can reload some bullets in between enemies and start shooting again before the next one can harm you. With other guns, the reload time may be to long and you get hit while reloading.
        Especially in L4D, you can reload enough bullets in between shots while keeping the zombies away.

  18. Entropy says:

    Nice ending. “..fortnight to reload” BANG. End.

  19. zob says:

    First of all for anybody who played Resident Evil 2 or 3, Ravenholm seems like a cheap copy. Also forcing players to do something is never a good idea. So intentionally keeping ammo options low to force players to use gravity gun is cheap. Besides I never understood the charm behind holding objects and throwing them.

    1. Bret says:

      You are a sad, strange little man, and you have my pity.


      1. zob says:

        Yeah you win, have a cookie.

    2. krellen says:

      They encourage gravity gun use, but do not force it. If you are good at gunplay, you can easily have full ammo on almost all your weapons upon reaching Ravenholm and can get through it with ammo to spare (if you are bad at gunplay, the gravity gun is more forgiving on error and is probably a better tool anyway).

      There are also more ammo caches than Josh implied, though they are less visible and require more work to get to than in the rest of the game.

    3. Drexer says:

      Oh yes, because the villages of the RE games are so original when compared with previous works of fiction that it’s so simple that Ravenholm can never be a work upon the concept that can ever rise above the concept of a copy…

      On a more serious note, the low ammo distribution around Ravenholm is not a part of forcing the player to use the gravity gun, but an integral part of building an Survival horror experience. An integral part that if I might say the RE games frequently fail at remembering.

      As the main focus point of survival horror is based on the inability of the character to defend itself properly and with 100% certainty, in videogames this is transmitted mainly as the lack of ammo or of a way for the character to properly defend itself. However, as there still needs to be a way for the character to face his enemies, most games have to walk a thin like between having just enough ammo for the enemies and having ammo so as to give the player a chance to miss a shot or two; this is because if you force the player to fall back on his weapon with infinite ammo(most likely a melee one) you’ll either make the weapon too weak and make the player feel like it’s being punished or make it too strong and dispel the sense of fear as the player feels that he will always have a good way out.

      This is where the Gravity Gun comes in excellently. By supplanting the crowbar as an weapon with infinite ammo, it always provides the player with a way to defend himself while not making him feel invincible. The fact that after each shot you have to look around in your environment and get another object to use as a projectile maintains the ever present tension of there being a quest for ammo while still keeping the theoretical limit of ammo at infinity. It’s not a matter of forcing the player to use the Gravity Gun, but giving the player a chance to play with the normal weapons it would be used to while still providing a reliable fallback option that does not destroy the atmosphere of the piece.

    4. Nasikabatrachus says:

      Yeah, I used the gravity gun a lot less than Josh does, and the crowbar and guns much more. And I mostly only used the saw blades and cinder blocks with the gravity gun because they were fun and effective. For the most part–on normal mode–the ammo supply was sufficient to get me through just fine.

  20. Grampy_Bone says:

    Meh, Ravenholm is overrated.

    I mean, its a fun area and all, but it feels so incongruous with the rest of the game. It’s a one-off gimmick level where you are limited to a single weapon and a bunch of developer-placed doodads.

    Come to think of it, that’s pretty much Half-Life 2 in a nutshell. A series of one-off gimmicks that are well-made and fun but not particularly focused or coherent. The game is constantly taking options away from the player in order to force you to do things in a very specific way.

    In the original Half-Life, Black Mesa felt like a real place designed and used by real people, and you had to scavenge for items and supplies. In Half-Life 2 you can always tell you’re in a funhouse made for your amusement by game developers. You’re not using a weapon because you found it on your own, but because they gave it to you.

    1. GiantRaven says:

      ‘designed and used by real people’ is probably the last phrase I would use to describe Black Mesa. Unless all of those people were utterly insane. There are rooms in that facility that make no sense at all.

      1. Oh man I laughed at that too. Just… watch Freeman’s mind, OK?

        1. swenson says:

          The box-crushing room, the one with all the conveyer belts but no doors, the one with the crushers with no purpose…

          1. Bret says:

            Real people with a huge government budget to burn?

            1. Grampy_Bone says:

              Well, the point I’m trying to make is that Black Mesa is a more cohesive environment with a more natural flow. Half-Life 2 switches gears too much and loses focus.

              1. ps238principal says:

                You’re just upset about what happened to the microwave casserole.

  21. The Hokey Pokey says:

    You mention the fast zombie sound, but the sound that really gets to me is the screaming a zombie makes when it’s on fire. The combination of unintelligible screams, “nonono!”s and “help me!”s makes it hard for me to use fire traps. Hearing that sound for the first time made me realize that the host can still feel what is happening to him, which makes the experience even more horrifying.

    1. Eärlindor says:

      This. A hundred times, this.

    2. krellen says:

      For me, it’s the agonized “Whyyyyy?”s that really drive the horror home.

    3. guy says:

      I find the Zombine’s “Necrotics inbound” “Area not secure” “Medic” and “Help me” MUCH creepier. There’s two possibilites:

      1. They’re endlessly repeating their last words, broadcasting them to all combine forces in the area.

      2. The soldiers are still aware enough to be following standard combine communications protocol, unable to comprehend the fact that they’re already dead and trying to alert local overwatch forces to the headcrab threat.

      The fact that they say “grenade” when they do their suicide charges indicates it is probably the second option.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Though combine cant be really considered alive even before being headcrabed.I mean sure,they are partially humans,but they are more machine than men.

        1. ps238principal says:

          Are their minds twisted and evil?

  22. Mike says:

    I’d love to see you guys play through Amnesia!

    1. Vipermagi says:

      Been there done that. It’s a pretty amazing episode.

      1. Mike says:

        oh, awesome, thanks to you and Tohron

    2. Tohron says:

      They actually did a one-off episode for Amnesia – here’s the link: http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=10529

      Highlight: “I’m on it’s head!”

    3. ps238principal says:

      All due respect to Spoiler Warning, this is the best playthrough of Amnesia that ever will exist.

  23. RTBones says:

    AC2…interesting. I admit, I have wanted to play this game since it came out but have refused (even after the patch) because of the DRM associated with. I look forward to watching Reginald doing his thing.

    1. Raygereio says:

      Wait, did you just indicated there was a patch that adressed AC2’s DRM idiocy?

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Well there is a…patch that deals with it*winkwinknudgenudge*

      2. RTBones says:

        As Daemian indicated – the is a patch that “deals with it”, which is to say the constant internet connection requirement goes away. My understanding is that the patch works as follows: you still need internet for the first time run (authentication/activation/MotherMayI) , and at the start of every gaming session (MotherMayI) – but you dont need it for the entire time you play.

        1. Raygereio says:

          Daemian winkwinknudgenudged about the crack, not the patch. Which was – by the way – a wonderfull indicator of just how screwed up AC2’s DRM system was (at least at laucn, without any patches): just install the crack and watch in amazement as AC2’s preformance skyrocketed and your CTD’s were reduced to zero.

          But about the patch: So in essence Ubisoft went from continuous spanking to a slap in the face every couple of minutes. That’s just lovely. You boys stay classy, Ubisoft.

          1. Scott (Duneyrr) says:

            This analogy is appropriate.

          2. RTBones says:

            About the crack – I have to LOL. Totally missed that reference, in part because the patch really is a “OK, we’ll fix it,” nudgenudgewinkwink.

  24. cyber_andyy says:

    The AC series is my favorite series of games. Do it justice. or else.

    Number 1 is also serverly overlooked…

  25. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I still prefer shalebridge cradle.Maybe its because Ive played that one first.And thats despite thief 3 being such a disappointment and half life 2 being such a great game.

    Anyway,I think black headcrabs can kill you if you are between 2 and 10 health,or something.

    1. krellen says:

      The other headcrabs tend not hang out with the poison ones, even in areas (like the mines that are coming up after Ravenholm) where there are many headcrabs congregated. I’m pretty sure they cannot kill you, and Valve seems to have designed it such that you rarely encounter them alongside anything else – yet poison headcrabs still deplete many players of ammo, despite them being (relatively) harmless. I remember a Valve interview/commentary wherein this was stated to be the point of them.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Just checked the wiki,and it seems to be true now,but it wasnt before.

        1. The Hokey Pokey says:

          Just don’t light them on fire. A flaming poison headcrab is an instant kill.

        2. krellen says:

          I never played HL2 before The Orange Box.

      2. swenson says:

        So true. I know, on an intellectual level, that they cannot kill me. They cannot lower my health by a single point in the long run. I could wander around all day long with them jumping at me, and so long as I don’t run into anything else, I’ll be completely fine.

        This does not change the fact that I quite happily will spend an entire clip of AR2 ammo trying to kill a single one of them without any regrets whatsoever. They’re scary!

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Especially if you have arachnophobia.And even though these things dont have 8 legs,they still freak the hell out of me.Unlike many,many other video game spiders that I usually find just adorable(like the ones in warcraft 3,for example).

  26. littlefinger says:

    The fast zombies are my favourite enemy within Ravenholm, and a pain in the ass outside it. It’s just so much fun standing on the rooftops shooting them in midair.

    edit: Like Josh just demonstrated.

  27. Vlad says:

    Holy shit the guy on whose face they modelled Father Grigori and who is now Chief Art Director and NCSoft North America is Romanian and was born in the same city as me!!!!(!)

    Why didn’t I know this?!?!

  28. Dovius says:

    Ah, Assassin’s Creed 2, sounds like fun shall be had. And many desyncs, caused by Ezio Auditore De La Cuftbert

    1. Michael says:

      “Ah, he has a fine set of lungs! What shall we call him?”


      I, too, am looking forward to Ezio ‘LUNGMAN!’ Auditore De La Cuftbert.

  29. rrgg says:

    Assassins 2 Creed huh. Is that a good game?

  30. Chris says:

    Re: Readiators
    You don’t have them anymore in the US? How do you heat your homes?

    Everywhere I’ve lived (I’m Scottish) has used radiators to heat the rooms.

    1. Tse says:

      And they usually are not a single unit. Several identical pieces get assembled on site, which makes them rather easy to install and regulate their size for different room volume.

    2. krellen says:

      Most of the US uses Central Heating via furnaces for heating.

      1. Chuck says:

        The University here in Michigan where I got my BS and am getting my Master’s has radiators in most of the buildings. If they’ve been renovated I don’t think they have them.

        We do have a steam based heating system, though. I think.

        1. Nick says:

          Huh. Here in the UK I’d be surprised not to see radiators in any and all homes at least, and wouldn’t be surprised to see them in offices etc.

          1. Eärlindor says:

            Yeah, I believe the last time I saw a radiator was during my visit to England back in 2010. I’m trying to think where else I’ve seen them, but I’ve seen a few before.

            Ruts has never seen one? 0.o
            Strange one…

            1. Scott (Duneyrr) says:

              Not too strange. I also live in Southern California and have never seen a radiator here (I saw one once in Virginia). There are very few homes here that were built before 1950 and the winters here are mild at worst. The lowest recorded temperature here was −4°C in 1944!

              1. Eärlindor says:

                That’s true, I suppose if you live in a state like California you wouldn’t see radiators much. I did not stop to think about that.

                1. modus0 says:

                  Depends on which part of California.

                  Up here in the Northern portion, it gets cold in the winter (0°F has become common lately), so everyone has some sort of heating in their house. Many even have a fireplace, for when the power goes out.

                  One of the places I lived at had a radiator in each bedroom.

      2. Zukhramm says:

        That’s not really an answer since that’s what we use too, but the heat needs to be moved from the furnace to the rooms somehow and that’s what the radiators are for. So the question remains, how do you heat your rooms?

        1. HeroOfHyla says:

          The air conditioning vents. Or at least that’s how it works in my house. But we don’t have a gas furnace, it’s just an air conditioner that heats as well as cools.

    3. John R. says:

      Are radiators really all that heavy? I’ve picked one up and moved it, and I’m not super-strong. Two ordinary men could move one with no trouble.

  31. Ringwraith says:

    Ah, curses, Assassin’s Creed 2 is a game I have not yet played, so if it is indeed what the next game will be, I’ll have to put off watching that season for a while.
    It’s very annoying because I want to play it, as I really enjoyed the first game, but the horrible DRM on the PC version of the sequel put me off getting it, (and no, them cutting back the DRM isn’t enough, it still requires an internet connection on startup, which is still unacceptable in my eyes). Although I do have a PS3 now, so that solution should be fairly obvious…

    1. Raygereio says:

      Do yourself a favour: pick it up from the bargainbin and just get the crack if you grabbed the PC version.
      Underneath the shitpile that is DRM is an actually pretty decent game.

      1. Ringwraith says:

        I know it’s a really good game, seeing as it improves in pretty much every way from the original, but I absolutely refuse to advocate the DRM in any way by buying the game, so I’ll only buy it if they remove it completely or simply buy it on PS3.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Well if you want to play it on the pc,and still get the moral high ground,buy it for a console,then download a pirate version for the pc.Or buy it second hand.That way you wont support the drm with your money,you will have the legal copy,and you will still be able to play it hassle free.

          1. Ringwraith says:

            I played the first game on 360 originally, so I’m probably not that awfully bothered. Although good luck trying to get a second-hand copy of Assassin’s Creed 2 as due to its online-activation nature stores don’t tend to accept them, although I’ve not trawled eBay I must admit.

        2. Ranneko says:

          Yeah, I am the same.

          I have a copy for PC, but only because Ubisoft sold it to me for $0 due to an issue with their AU online store. After I received a response from their helpdesk that told me that it was a proper promotion.

          Then they sent a passive agressive email to everyone who took advantage because it was no an intended thing.

          It was a lot of fun.

  32. Nick says:

    Ravenholme is where I gave up playing Half Life 2. I’m not sure what it is about the HL games, but I reach a point where either there’s some jumping puzzle or physics thing I’m not getting or (in the case of Ravenholme), no bullets and I can’t continue.

    And from this video I can see why. I had no idea the gravity gun can fire into oncoming enemies without holding something, and I suck badly at using the crowbar so when I ran out of ammo I more or less just died repeatedly.

    That said, I’m not a massive fan of a first-person interface in general (though the Fallout games did it well), so may there’s just a skills barrier there but eh. I got frustrated and did something more engaging.

    Ravenholme was quite atmospheric and fun in a terrifying sort of way though (I gave up after repeated deaths literally a few moments after the end of this video – ran out of shotgun ammo and stuff to throw so got torn apart.

    1. krellen says:

      The gravity gun’s repulsive effect only works on headcrabs. For everything else, you need something to throw.

    2. Eärlindor says:

      This is something I’ve noticed a lot from friends and strangers alike: they always say they quit playing HL2 when they got to Ravenholm. I’m not coming down on anyone, I just find it interesting.

      1. Scott (Duneyrr) says:

        I almost quit at Ravenholm, but that’s because I’m a pansy.
        I played Silent Hill 2 once and quit as soon as I got down to the lake for the first time… yeah, the FIRST time.

        Made it through Ravenholm, though.

        1. Dante says:

          Go watch some LPs of SH2 and then kick yourself for depriving yourself of a wonderful gaming experience. :P

      2. swenson says:

        I considered it, when I got to this part. Eventually I just made myself man up and finish it… in the middle of a very sunny afternoon when I was home alone so I could go across to the other side of the living room to freak out for a while if necessary. Never in all my life was I more glad to see sunlight than when I came out of those accursed mines…

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Did you try it on easy?It does make a lot of difference.Also cheats.Theres no shame in using them to continue the story.

      It may be the years of playing various doom like fps games(the ones where you dong get to cover,just strafe and shoot),but Ive conditioned myself to be a pack rat.Ive reached ravenholm with full ammo,and left above half.The only things I did shoot where the fast zombies.Its a tiring method though,so I dont recommend it.

  33. Jordan says:

    Time to do another cram session to avoid spoilers, as I did with Bioshock once you guys warned us about the Andrew Ryan scene.

    1. swenson says:

      As I recall, there aren’t many major story spoilers in Ravenholm, except perhaps some stuff with Father Grigori near the end of the chapter. So you’ve got a while before you have to worry about major ones.

      1. Simon Buchan says:

        I assume he’s referring to AC2. The early sequences and particularly the very end of AC2 is the only parts you could really spoil, though, perhaps excluding some rather famous characters showing up about 1/3rd of the way through (assuming you never saw the marketing which was glad to give them away).

  34. Irridium says:

    Hate to be off topic and all, but Bill Kunkel just recently passed away.


    If you don’t know who he is, he basically founded game journalism and from 1981 until as recently as a few years ago, he was one of the only people to offer serious commentary and discussion about video game issues.

    Just wanted to let you all know.

    1. Eärlindor says:

      Really? Very interesting. Shame. :/

  35. Ateius says:

    Man, Ravenholm holds the record to this day for “scariest thing in a videogame” for me. In fact, the first time I ran into the fast headcrabs I straight-up stopped playing for like a week.

    Of course, now with Josh murdering his way through it and everyone laughing at his zany antics, it’ll never be scary again. Had a good run though!

    1. I start to think I’m just strange when I hear things like that – I regularly go through Ravenholm as I would any other FPS level and the only time I found it scary is that one time where I shut some fast zombies outside only to have them break through the skylight.
      Now I place boxes where they’re supposed to land to break their navmesh and pick them off at my leisure.

  36. silentStatic says:

    Assassins Creed 2 is an interesting choice – especially considering Shamus’ disdain for “Trial and Error, Do It Again Stupid” gameplay. Granted it is not so bad in Assassins Creed 2 as it is in Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, where the fail conditions got, not to talk about the full synchronization challenges, got obnoxious.

    As a whole the series is a bit bi-polar with its open sprawling sandbox-like cities, Le Parkour maneuvers and fluid animations on one hand, and hand-holding and strict railroading, with no allowance for player choice on the other.

    The series, besides the first one which I didn’t bother to finish, is still quite good however.

    1. Fat Tony says:

      There is no, trail and error, do it again gameplay, games is really easy.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I would disagree.Though I did it pretty much on my first time with a very few reloads,I can see how frustrating it would be for many.

        But,unlike other games that force trying and trying again,assassins creed mostly relies on skill.And thats because of its interesting gameplay that should be more prominent in platformers.

        1. Zekiel says:

          I thought AC2 was a great game (stupid DRM aside) and found 95% of the game very easy. But there were a few challenges with really strict success conditions (basically – “kill X without being seen”) that could get very DIAS.

  37. Factoid says:

    Excellent choice on both Ravenholm and AC2. I think it’s a great game for Spoiler Warning. Lots of good and bad. Lots of technology to comment on. Lots of things to make fun of.

    It also shouldn’t be too long. You can easily burn through that game in about 6-8 hours…though I think I spent more like 30 on it doing all the side quests.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Too bad that the main quest doesnt touch on the more interesting(for me) aspects of the game,like where the apple came from,the origin of man,what happened to altair after the first game,etc.But,if they continue with brotherhood,some if it does get covered.

    2. Zekiel says:

      Crumbs can you really do the main quest in 8 hours? I spent over 40 hours playing (and I didn’t do all the optional quests or find the silly feathers).

      1. Entropy says:

        I beat the game in 24 hours, doing all the sidequests and generally spending a lot of time messing around.

        1. Zekiel says:

          Hmmm. Maybe Steam was lying to me about how long I spent playing. But I thought it always under-estimated rather than over-estimating.

          Or maybe I’m just very slow…

  38. Irridium says:

    Also, it took me 3 years to work up the courage to actually get through Ravenholm.

    Before I just put in the cheat that unlocks all levels, and chose the level after it.

  39. Another_Scott says:

    Assassin's Creed 2?!

    Sweet, I can’t wait for shouts of “stop stabbing me!”

  40. TheAngryMongoose says:

    His weapon is called Annabell. You can spawn it on an NPC in Garrys Mod and nick it off them. It uses the first person model of the shotgun, but it’s a two shot rifle that is stupidly powerful (hint, don’t spawn it on a hostile NPC)

    I’ve always hated the restriction on Magnum ammo, but in my most recent playthrough I’ve noticed it’s like this for ALL guns. The shotgun gives you 6 clips total, the AR2 just 3. I’ll happily chuck away the crossbow, pistol, crowbar and 4 of my 5 grenades for an extra clip of shotgun and magnum ammo.

    Can’t say I agree with you on the AR2. The SMG just feels week after using the AR2, and it’s a good panic weapon.

    Also, YOU CAN KILL HEADCRABS WITH THE GRAVITY GUN!? What!? I knew you could at least annoy antlions with it but…

    I did the Ravenholm Grav-Gun-Run without know that.

    Anyway, fun challenge. Take Dogs pet ball through Ravenholm as your only weapon. It’s easy. It comes back to you :P.

    About shotguns; that’s (the slow reload) has always annoyed me too, but there are two effective measures against them. Making the reload really quick, and letting you shoot immediately half way through a reload. Half life does both. Thus; best shotgun of any game ever.

    1. krellen says:

      I would never trade my crossbow ammo. I’d like to be able to carry 120, not 12, of those super-heated rebars. My absolute favourite weapon.

      1. Irridium says:

        Pinning people to walls will NEVER gets old.


        1. TheAngryMongoose says:

          It’s hard to fine places where the crossbow is practical, and there’s a backdrop against which to pin an enemy, after that first “Targeted Advertising” example shot right after getting the weapon.

        2. Eärlindor says:

          This. I freaking love the crossbow. In my top favorites; the other two (putting aside the Gravity Gun and Crowbar, which are givens) are the Combine Pulse Rifle and the .357 Magnum, which is #1 for me. Everything about that gun is satisfying.

      2. TheAngryMongoose says:

        Eh, I always found a headshot with the revolver to be a more satisfying way of sniping.

      3. ProudCynic says:

        No crossbow in any game I’ve played has ever let me down, from HL2 to DX3. And that includes BioShock’s, despite all the bitching about it that the SW crew did.

        1. Rasha says:

          Exactly the bow was the second most overpowered weapon in the game. Can you guess the first?

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Indeed,half life 2 did put a huge restriction on your inventory.After being able to carry practically a whole arsenal in 1,it feels ridiculous when you can get just 3 clips for most weapons.On the upside though,drops from enemies are much more plentiful.

    3. Bret says:


      It’s a good shotgun. Great shotgun.

      But best?

      That’s gotta be the WSTE-M5.

      Two barrels. One in each hand. One hit kills on most enemies. Continuous fire. Nigh instant reload. Good range. Fire in a vacuum.

      Until you runs out of ammo, there is nothing that can stop you.

  41. Fat Tony says:

    Drink if:Josh dies
    Drink if:”In the original —” is said
    Drink if:Two (or more) hosts talk at once
    Drink if:”STOP —ING ME!” is said
    Drink if:Glitches break the game
    Drink if:The story is stupid
    Drink if:Fanboying/girling occurs
    Drink if:Nerdrage occurs
    Drink if:Rutskarn makes an awkward pass at Mumbles
    Drink if:Rutskarn makes an awkward pass at Josh
    Drink if:Rutskarn makes an awkward pass at Shamus
    Drink if:Mumbles makes an awkward pass at Rutskarn
    Drink if:The (MOTHEFUCKING) Batman is mentioned
    Drink if:A montage occurs
    Drink if:Game crashes

    Drink if:Patrolling the Mohave, almost, makes you wish for a Nuclear winter
    Drink if:A better game is mentioned
    Drink if:The Spoiler Warning crew say so
    Drink if:You have a grenade in your pants

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “Drink if:”STOP “”ING ME!” is said”

      Mr tulip is in the game?

    2. Vect says:

      That would depend on them having played Assassin’s Creed I, which the sequel definitely improves on in gameplay.

  42. Zero T. Katama says:

    Just wanted to say kudos on AC2 being the next game!

    Topical for the video, my favorite self-inflicted HL2 death (of which there are several) happened in Ravenholm. It was where one of the blade traps popped off, and I was using it with the Gravity Gun (was doing an achievement run). Anyway, I fired it, and it somehow rebounded up or straight back, and I distinctly remember saying “Oh Shi-” before it plowed into me.

    Also, the sawblades and I became special friends that run. I remember firing one away and being sad that I couldn’t find it.

  43. swenson says:

    Ah, Ravenholm. Land of a thousand million terrors the first time I played through you. Even now, after many playthroughs, you can still freak me out a bit, especially when you start throwing fast headcrab zombies ON FIRE (the ON FIRE bit is probably my fault, I must admit) and *shudder* poison headcrab zombies at me.

    Funniest Ravenholm death: so those black headcrabs are totally harmless, right? Sure, until you’re standing on a very narrow ledge and you see one jumping for you and you freak out so badly after it hits you once that you accidentally fall off the ledge while firing wildly in the air. CRUNCH.

    “Major fracture detected. User death imminent.”

  44. guy says:

    Poison headcrab cries induce panicked frenzies of shooting from me. Valve finds that reaction to be endlessly amusing. There’s one point in Episode 1 where they deliberately arranged the level so people would make a series of right turns, and when they hit a cross corridor they’d automatically turn right and go to collect the ammun-GETITOFFGETITOFF!

    I’m actually fond of video-game shotguns for precisely the reason Shamus isn’t. I never find myself furiously mashing the left mouse button waiting for the overly-long reload sequence to finish while a zombie is eating my face off. Also, Valve shotguns actually function at range. I was frequently happily surprised to discover that I could totally kill the guy across the room with a single right click.

    The gravity gun is always entertaining. I’m saddened by the news that we won’t be seeing its big brother in episode 3.

    1. DGM says:

      >> “The gravity gun is always entertaining. I'm saddened by the news that we won't be seeing its big brother in episode 3.”

      Wait, where are you getting that from? And by the GG’s big brother, do you mean Dog?

      1. krellen says:

        I’m almost certain guy means the Portal gun.

      2. guy says:

        I’m actually talking about the blue gravity gun. I think it was mentioned in the developer commentaries at some point that designing environments suited to it was just too much work.

  45. Jonathan says:

    I’ve only played through Ravenholm twice. The first time was creepy/whatever enough that I just skipped it on subsequent playthroughs. My second playthrough was after watching the first SW LP of HL2.

    Josh, you get a Magnum partway through Water Hazard. It’s inside one of the Combine bases where you have to go open gates… just inside, sitting on a table. You pick it up, then the door opens and 3 CPs start shooting at you.

    I never end Ravenholm with much ammo left. On my second playthrough, I had a bit left, then I dropped down the mineshaft to that area with a ton of headcrabs and used almost all of the rest of my ammo shooting them.

    I hate fast zombies.

    1. Jonathan says:

      Oh, and as for shotgun reloading… I like my Saiga 12 gauge. 10 rounds per magazine (or 20 if you want to get one of those super expensive and bulky 20-rd drums). Yeah, it’s slower to reload than an AR-15, but I can still reload 10 shells in the time someone with a pump can only do 2 or 3.

  46. GTRichey says:

    AC2 is an interesting choice… maybe it’s not this way in countries with better internet connections but I found that all too frequently the screen just went white because the DRM (I assume anyway). This made me never finish the game… should be an interesting season.

  47. Vect says:

    I’m betting that the Ezio Being Born sequence will give ’em bad Fallout 3 flashbacks…

  48. Johan says:

    For me the scariest part of Ravenholm was… the previous level, when you walk down the corridor and Alyx gets up in your face to say “we don’t go to Ravenholm anymore”
    God damn I was ready for Cthulhu to jump out wearing the skin of my grandmother or something. “Oh, more zombies and headcrabs” was a bit of a letdown, but what else could it be after Alyx’s delivery without even a HINT as to what sort of shit you’d be facing when you got there.

    Also, my favorite video game level in the history of ever is the Versa-Life building in Deus Ex.

  49. Reet says:

    Screed 2? really? That seems like somewhat of an odd choice, not that I’m complaining mind. I’ve played the first and second games and they’re both pretty good except for the original’s monotony and the second’s ridiculous drm. It might be interesting to see how you handle an entire series of a non rpg although you could contest that bioshock wasn’t really an rpg and we can remember how THAT turned out (with lots of rage and broken livers)

  50. KremlinLaptop says:

    Finally I can air a gripe I have with HL2. I know it’s not gun-porn, I know it’s there because it was in the original, but I’m still hugely annoyed by the alternate fire of the shotgun in HL2.

    It appears to be a SPAS-12, yet alternate fire and it… fires both barrels? The lower tube is the magazine! That’s where the ammo goes. THIS MAKES NO SENSE.

    Gravity gun? Sure. Crossbow that fires super-heated rebar? Obviously. Shotgun that doesn’t work quite like the one in real life? MY GOD WHAT HAVE THEY DONE.

  51. Phoenix says:

    So, I have this question:

    Why does stone-old HL2 look so much better in many aspects than, for example, my beloved FO:NV? I mean, it features a beautiful flashlight (compare that to that rotten Pipboy-light, especially using a darker nights mod…), nice faces, breathtaking levels, and runs smoothly with all video features set to max on a modern day PC.

    I’m depressed…

  52. Brandon says:

    Shamus, a boiler and radiative heat system is a relatively cheap and efficient means of heating a building, especially larger buildings. The problem is that most homes or buildings old enough to have the classic radiator also have little to no insulation, old windows, and no means to retain the hear they produce. If you had a gas or electric furnace in those homes your energy bills would be even more through the roof.

    My wife lived in an old home for a while when she was doing an internship which had radiators, and a lot of the old homes around here in Cleveland, OH have radiators. Many college dorms use a concealed radiator system where hot water pipes run through a bit of the wall and the heat comes up through a vent.

  53. Varriety says:

    Ravenholm stopped being scary around the time I killed the 3rd zombie clone. It was tense, yes, in the sense that I was waiting for fast zombies to climb up those drain pipes, but not scary. Romero-style zombies (which headcrab zombies are, regardless of the root cause of their zombie-ness) just aren’t scary unless there are DOZENS of them, and the most I remember fighting at once was maybe 10. Traditional zombies are scary when you get a bunch of em together, and give the player very limited ammo. In HL2, they somewhat limit ammo, and give you a gravity gun, which can throw those conveniently placed hacksaws around, completely negating any worries about ammo.

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