Spoiler Warning Half Life 2 Episode 9: Highway 17, Abridged

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Oct 26, 2011

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 100 comments

Link (YouTube)

We’re back to our journey through Half-Life 2.

Once again I would like to stress how willing I am to pay for a “remastered” version of this game that removes the loading screens. Throw in some high-def textures and a scene where Greedo shoots first, and boom! Instant cash. Valve, I’m expressing my willingness to have my nostalgia exploited for your material gain. Think it over, ok?

I’d be curious to see how this sequence would look if we could actually see from one end of the bridge to the other. I’m sure the fog is there for polygon control, which is no longer an issue now that we’re living in the future. Having said that, it’s possible that being able to see from one end to the other would make it less mysterious. There’s something haunting about being adrift in that fog. Removing the fog might make the bridge seem even more massive and imposing, but it might also make it more boring.


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100 thoughts on “Spoiler Warning Half Life 2 Episode 9: Highway 17, Abridged

  1. X2-Eliah says:

    Weeeeeeee I love this. Good call guys :)

    That is all.

  2. Tobias says:

    I love how josh rushes through the mines. When I first go to that place, I thought this was what you were supposed to do.
    But when I tried, the mine disrupted my steering, and I fell of the cliff.

    I didn’t like the bridge in the beginning, because I saved every few seconds, as I was afraid of falling.
    Then some time in, I started to enjoy it.

    I wonder who greedo would be in this example?

  3. Some Jackass says:

    Bunch of us made a drinking game out of the bridge sequence.

    How many times can you make it accross with the airship shooting you?

    Hilerity ensued

  4. Meredith says:

    I’ll have to watch the video later, but I feel compelled to share the story of the time I painstakingly crossed the bridge, killed all the guys, unplugged the thing, filled up my suit, and left without pushing the button. I think I got halfway across the bridge on the way back before realising something was wrong.

    If Valve is going to update the game I’d like to request they do something about the ladders. Does anyone else have trouble getting off them most of the time?

    1. Klay F. says:

      If you’re having trouble getting off a ladder, its most likely because you aren’t using the “use” key (default “e”). I used to have problems with that too until I discovered that the “use” key unglued me from said ladders.

      1. Meredith says:

        I never would have thought of that. I’ll have to try it next time. Thanks. :)

      2. PAK says:

        I’ve been sitting here slack-jawed for several minutes. I…really? That would work? I cannot fathom the hours I sunk into this game and the episodes without ever learning that. So much frustration that could have been avoided…

    2. Eärlindor says:

      I feel compelled to share the story of the time I painstakingly crossed the bridge, killed all the guys, unplugged the thing, filled up my suit, and left without pushing the button.

      I did the exact same thing. >.<!

      1. tengokujin says:

        Sounds about right.

  5. KremlinLaptop says:

    For a nostalgia exploiting re-release with retcons I would like the buggy swapped out for the charger. That’s about it. I don’t know what it is that makes me love the charger and dislike the buggy, but there is something.

    1. Tse says:

      It’s the exact opposite for me, I like the buggy and dislike the charger.

      1. SolkaTruesilver says:

        May I know what vehicule you refer to when you talk about the “Charger”?

        The Muscle Car of Ep2, maybe?

        1. Entropy says:

          You are correct. I’m not a huge fan of it myself. I feel all defenseless without any guns at all.

        2. KremlinLaptop says:

          Aye, the muscle car. It’s based on a ’69 Dodge Charger thus… I call it the Charger.

  6. Simon says:

    Swedish fuel dispensers at 4:08 in the video. Strange thing to suddenly find in the eastern-European country of HL2.

    1. MrWhales says:

      City 17 is in Eastern Europe. The Baltic Café signs that decorate the city and many of the signs are in Cyrillic. Although, I never thought Sweden was in E.E.. but if that is what it is, that is what it is.

    2. Even says:

      I recall seeing gas pumps with the very same text when playing Operation Flashpoint: Resistance, which was set on the Nogova island, which if I recall was part of an imaginary island group which where somewhat based culturally off of some Eastern European countries (the protagonist was even named Victor Troska, not a particularly Swedish name), hence the accents and all, and I was wondering the same thing. I wish I had a pic of them.

      I wonder if there’s a connection there.

  7. Friend of Dragons says:

    For me, the fog gave it almost a Myst feel in places, what with you wandering across this long-defunct superstructure with the terrain shrouded in mist around you.

  8. webrunner says:

    It’s possible to skip the bridge if you punt the car over the field, and then stack stuff to get over yourself. I saw a video of it way back when HL2 was new.

    1. JPH says:

      But… But why would you want to?

      1. webrunner says:

        I dunno. Fraid of heights? Want to see if you can do it? For shits and giggles? Because the crimson hyperbeast commands you to?

        1. Viktor says:

          I HATED using the rocket launcher. Hate. Anything to avoid that is worthwhile.

          1. MichaelG says:

            But, but… then how would you handle the battle on the rooftop against all the striders?

            1. X2-Eliah says:

              He probably hated the striders more.

              1. Viktor says:

                An enemy where you only have one way to fight it, with my least favorite weapon being vital, where you are generally confined to one location, changing the game from tactical combat to cover-based shooter? Yeah, I’m not a Strider fan.

              2. Rick C says:

                The strider/hunter battle at the end of Episode 2 is hands down the worst part of the entire game, including HL1.

  9. Joe says:

    I have to say Highway 17 is one of the rare points on which I find I disagree with you, Shamus. I love this section of the game (though I agree that it would be so much better without all the load points.) I think the fog is also there because the area, while large, isn’t that big. If you could see from one end to the other it would feel smaller, and I like that it feels HUGE.

    The only thing I feel like bringing up is that the shotgun combines were added to the game in Episode 2 and then sort of retconned into Half Life 2 afterwards during an update.

    Valve has done this before, most notably when they changed the ending of Portal in light of Portal 2’s development, and the addition of the radio-prop based hidden stuff.

    1. McNutcase says:

      That sounds wrong. I’m sure I was getting shot at by shotgun Combine soldiers in 2004, and I didn’t even play anything on Steam between 2004 and 2011. Somewhere, I have the strategy guide for Half-Life 2, and I’m pretty sure I remember it mentioning that some of the soldiers have shotguns.

      1. Drexer says:

        I’m gonna have to agree with Nutcase here(hehe :P). Would the battle at Nova Prospekt even work without shotgun combine?

        1. Joe says:

          I’m going by the information on the Combine Overwiki, and everyone knows Wikis never lie.

          Shotgun Soldiers appear throughout Half-Life 2 and its episodes in the console versions of The Orange Box, but originally only appeared in Episode Two on PC. As of the May 26, 2010 updates, Shotgun Soldiers appear in Half-Life 2 and Episode One on PCs as well as consoles. This also adds red goggle-wearing Nova Prospekt guards to the PC version of Half-Life 2. In Xbox version of Half-Life 2 there are no Shotgun Soldiers because the game latest update was released before The Orange Box release.

          I distinctly remember the new red-eyed Shotgun guys standing out to me when I got Episode 2. They may have been mentioned int he commentary track, too (but may not have.)

    2. Dnaloiram says:

      I don’t think they retconned shotgun soldiers period, I think they just made the eyes orange. I’m probably wrong on this, though.

  10. Eärlindor says:

    Once again I would like to stress how willing I am to pay for a “remastered” version of this game that removes the loading screens. Throw in some high-def textures and a scene where Greedo shoots first, and boom! Instant cash. Valve, I expressing my willingness to have my nostalgia exploited for your material gain. Think it over, ok?

    I find it funny when you have fans who ask and ask for a remastered version of their favorite games. HL2 here, for example, and how long have FF fans been asking for a FFVII remake?
    You’d think that more people would pick up on the fact that there is money to be made here. 343 Industries is doing it for the tenth anniversary of the first Halo game. It’s kinda funny to me that old Halo fans are getting their remake while FFVII fans are still asking (and hasn’t FFVII been around longer?).

    Are there other cases of remade games that I’ve missed?

    1. cyranor says:

      Well lucasarts remad the first two Monkey Island games for their anniversaries. But the game I want to see remade the most is the old starwars space sims like tie fighter, x-wing et al. They could be so awesome! Instead lucasarts seems to be content making crappy star wars games.

      1. Eärlindor says:

        Haha! Y’know? I don’t understand the mind(s) of LucasArts. I really don’t.

        I think there’s a lot they could do that they don’t.

      2. zob says:

        There is a strange belief in the gaming industry that space sims won’t sell. I really don’t know if they are right about that or not.

        1. X2-Eliah says:

          Let’s see how X:Rebirth does. I think it’s atm the only soon-to-be-released-not-vapourware space sim in the works.

          1. Irridium says:

            I’m willing to bet that Space-Sims aren’t selling mainly because nobody’s making them.

            Well, Egosoft is making them. And they’re the only damn ones.

            If there’s a large enough market for competing train simulators, I’m pretty sure there’s a market for multiple space-sims. Of course, all many want are AAA games and aren’t willing to put money towards anything that can’t sell in the AAA market because there is no room for mid-budgeted games only simple iPhone/indie games and huge AAA games despite the fact that mid-budgeted games are basically Paradox Interactive’s whole business strategy and really successful because quite a few publishers are stupid and short-sighted and also dumb.

            Sorry, went off a bit there. Well not really sorry. Sorry I dumped it here. Well… kind of sorry, at least.

          2. Bubble181 says:

            I’m a fan of spacce sims, but the X series never clicked for me. Too simmy, not space actiony enough. I completely understand other people feeling dfferently – my brother’s always been more of a “original X Wing” player, I was more Rogue Squadron on PC (we never got any sequels :P). Anyway, I’d love to support the genre, but I really can’t throw money on X:rebirth.

    2. That guy says:

      MDK 2 just got an HD rerelease.

      1. Eärlindor says:

        Well, yeah, there are stuff like the HD releases, but I’m talking about remastered editions, such as to the extinct that Shamus here wants with HL2, what FF fans want with FFVII, and what 343i is doing with Halo: CE Anniversary.

        Oh wait, isn’t someone doing a remastered version of the old N64 Goldeneye are something?

        1. Eärlindor says:

          D’oh! That was suppose to be “Extent.”

        2. JPH says:

          There’s a free Source mod called Goldeneye: Source. It’s basically the entire multiplayer portion of Goldeneye lovingly remade in the Source engine, with the added modern perks of online multiplayer, achievements, and ragdoll physics.

          Pretty fun stuff.

          I think there was also a remake of Goldeneye by a “real” studio recently, but that was reportedly not very good.

    3. Lintman says:

      I’d LOVE to see a remade version of Planescape: Torment. Of course, though, it’d have to be an FPS now, because of the state and federal laws against top-down games.

      1. Simulated Knave says:

        And even if it wasn’t, it’d need to be 3D. No one can appreciate beautifully hand-drawn graphics. Ever.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          And sex scenes.It has to have a bunch of sex scenes.And the ending needs to be reworked,because you have to have a happy ending.

          1. Harry says:

            I know you guys are joking, but I still feel like someone just punched me in the soul.

            1. Zekiel says:

              If it helps ease your pain, be comforted by the fact that the chances of PST ever being remade (commercially at least) are exactly equal to zero.

          2. Zekiel says:

            Cut out 80% of the words too – people don’t want to read that much dialogue!

            And while you’re at it, I’m not sure people can relate to a scarred amnesiac immortal – better make him a rugged white male.

            I think we have a winning idea…

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Read?Pffft!Make all that crap read by the janitorial staff and we have a fully voiced game.

    4. Tobias says:

      There is “Black Mesa Source”. The Half life remake. It is one of the most likely candidates to surpass Duke Forever in development time.
      Some games got remade like this, in the process of porting them to newer systems. Like “King of Dragon Pass”-> KoDP v2 or Starcontrol 2->The Ur-Quan Masters.

      Also, basically every not storybased game sequel is a remake. Unless it is BETRAYAL.

    5. JPH says:

      Beyond Good & Evil is getting a remake, apparently.

      Ignoring the fact that what Beyond Good & Evil fans really want is a god damn sequel.

  11. Airsoftslayer93 says:

    No mention of the Twentymine one year anniversary?

    1. Vipermagi says:

      He probably forgot all about us :(

  12. Hitch says:

    I have no idea how Josh plays when he’s not recording, but I’ve come to accept that “doing it wrong” is his standard operating procedure for Spoiler Warning.

    That seems to be one of the strengths of Half Life 2. The game doesn’t just break and refuse to let you continue when you do it wrong and at the same time you can’t really trivialize the content by simply going around the obstacles they put in.

    1. swenson says:

      One of the things I love most about HL2. Several times when replaying the games (or watching someone else play it) I’ll do a double-take and go “…really? That was how I was supposed to do it?”

      I think that’s one of the reasons that HL2, despite being an extremely linear game (games, really; the episodes are not all that different in this regard), still feels much freer than many other games. It allows you to solve problems in a myriad of different ways, with no particular way necessarily being “right”. For example, using the turrets in Nova Prospekt. To survive those sections, you generally do have to use the turrets. But the game doesn’t tell you where to put them or where to put yourself, even, you have the freedom to place them where you like and use whatever strategy fits you best.

      The wide variety of weapons helps with this too, I guess, particularly in antlion sections.

  13. Eärlindor says:

    I love Highway 17. It’s one of my favorite sections in HL2. Love the bridge, love the train the comes over your head. That was one of those moments where I stopped dead in my tracks and thought, “Oh crap,” and I did not move until the train had passed. My heart was pounding the whole time I was on that bridge. Harrowing like you say, but a great moment.

    I do disagree about the fog though. I really think it adds atmosphere.

    1. swenson says:

      Completely the same experience here. I loved that bridge (love it twice as much now that I’ve walked across the Mackinaw Bridge, which is surprisingly similar in many ways, although much longer than the HL2 bridge) even though it scared me to death. And the train? Terrifying, the way the bridge shakes around!

      1. Eärlindor says:

        I’ve driven across Mackinaw bridge, but never walked it. Very nice.

  14. noahpocalypse says:

    Is “I expressing my willingness” a genuine typo, or was it on purpose? Seems like it could be either.

  15. NonEuclideanCat says:

    On my most recent playthrough I actually parked the buggy on the railroad tracks up on the bridge, just because. I had kind of an “oh shit” moment when I got to the underside and the bridge started shaking and a trail whistle went overhead.

    I found the buggy by the houses when I got back.

    1. swenson says:

      Haha, I was wondering in the video what would happen in that case!

  16. Sekundaari says:

    Treat your shield like your own child – as opposed to treating your own child like a shield. That’s another game.

    1. That guy says:

      Specifically, Dwarf Fortress.

    2. lupus_amens says:

      Gotta love them Dorfs…

  17. Lupis42 says:

    Give Josh some credit… he showed his superior skill by his mastery of the difficulty selection. If the AI was really good, it would have turned up the difficulty when he wasn’t looking.

  18. Michael says:

    I don’t understand why some people think Josh’s playing style is down to lack of skill. I’m in awe of his ability to set off explosives in his own face and somehow still win the battle. NO ONE else could survive under such conditions!*

    I’m glad we’re getting to see some more of HL2. It would’ve been a shame if you guys had only ever covered the opening stages.

    * Unless, of course, they were playing on Easy. But why would you do that?

    1. noahpocalypse says:

      I survived a facial explosion on Normal/Medium. I had full health before the ‘splosion. Not so afterwards.*

      And don’t forget that damage is decreased when you have lower health. I’m not sure if that applies when it’s one piece of damage and not several little bits of damage, though.

      *I just had a mental image of Gordon Freeman’s face covered in soot, the tips of his hair glowing with sparks, his glasses barely on his face, and his eyes wide open. Hilarious. The next picture for Spoiler Warning credits, methinks?

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I think I survived an explosion or two on the hardest setting as well.Though not with so much health like Josh.

  19. Abnaxis says:

    I find it funny that Shamus is asking for a re-make of Half-Life 2 while we are still waiting on Episode 3. When a fan is calling for a remake of the first part of a trilogy before the third part comes out, that says something about the series…

    1. rayen020 says:

      well not so much the series itself as the development cycle and wait for the next part of the series.

      1. silver Harloe says:

        Oh, yes. HL2ep3 should come with a deluxe edition HL2 that merges HL2,HL2ep1,HL2ep2,HL2ep3 into one big seamless experience with fewer loading breaks. I’d pay real money for that – like a lot more than I’d pay for HL2ep3 alone.

        1. Will says:

          Maybe that’s why it’s taking so long.

        2. X2-Eliah says:

          Do people honestly even care about ep3 anymore? I mean, it’s been what, few years now, all for some 4-5 hours of basic fps gameplay on an old engine on a story that had it’s conclusion at the end of the original game… What’s the big deal?

          1. Shamus says:

            * Old engine? I can’t imagine a scenario where the age of the codebase will impact my enjoyment.
            * Moreover, it still looks fantastic.
            * More importantly: Subsequent games (Left 4 Dead, Portal 2) have shown that they’re likely revamping the engine.
            * Basic FPS gameplay? You can call Star Wars or Back to the Future a “basic adventure movie”, which does not change the fact that they are beloved classics.
            * The story had it’s conclusion? Maybe. But since then they’ve begun telling MORE story, and EP2 left on a bit of a cliffhanger.
            * Whats the big deal? I dunno. Maybe people had fun with the earlier games and would like more fun?

            Keep in mind what the alternatives are: Prey. Quake 4. Homefront. Resistance. Bulletstorm. I’ve played all of these, and they didn’t hold a candle to the HL series.

            1. X2-Eliah says:

              Well, okay, those points can be argued. Even admitting all that, there remains the fact that people are obsessed about a small bit of dlc – with ~5 hour playtime – that has been ‘in development’ for n years now. You cannot say with a straight face that the more heated reactions in regard to ep3 are normal/natural.

  20. Lintman says:

    “Once again I would like to stress how willing I am to pay for a “remastered” version of this game that removes the loading screens. Throw in some high-def textures and a scene where Greedo shoots first, and boom! Instant cash.”


  21. RTBones says:

    Well, one thing is certain – you can certainly hear the difference in the tone of the Spoiler Warning crew. Everybody likes this game. Everybody has played it. And you can still make fun of Josh’s game play. (For the record, shields are for absorbing hits, not protecting for the life of the play through.) :)

    The other interesting thing about the HL2 jaunt – everybody stayed focused on talking about the game in one form or another. Makes a nice change (even though I’d still like to see the end of AC2.)

  22. decius says:

    I like taking out the chocks from behind the wheel of the combine truck/generator, then letting it slide backwards.

    Because the first time, I didn’t realize that the gravity gun would work on things it couldn’t pick up, despite having learned that lesson when it was taught to me the first and second time…

    1. tengokujin says:

      This. I did this. :3

  23. Irridium says:

    Thanks a lot Rutskarn. Now I have MiracleOfSound’s Second Chance song stuck in my head. AGAIN.

    1. Rutskarn says:


      1. Rutskarn says:


        1. Sumanani says:

          That sounds like a line from a song titled “Ragdoll Blues”.

    2. James says:

      ahh but don’t you love it when people “Dropshot Blopshot, automatic Dropshot”

      oh yea and Fuck Second Chance. i don’t even play CoD anymore (god is it boaring) but i still hate Second Chance.

      I’m not sure a HD remake of HL2 would be as good as the original, removing the loading times could probably be done with a patch, but there is something about the graphics, especially the texture pack that makes it look better then ALL modern shooters. photo-realism, has made FPS, a dull looking genre. i think this is why HL2 looks soo good, and why MC, with its 16×16 textures looks at least IMO a lot better then a lot of games, though the 16×16 would not really work anywhere else. after all Aesthetics are infinitely more important then graphical prowess, and i dont think you could capture well the style of HL2 with a HD texture pack.

      and ill hand in my nerd card here, i have yet to finish HL2, yea sue me, im up to the fight against two strides and well yea i cant get past it atm, screw them.

  24. Destrustor says:

    Awww, no Mumbles this week, ’tis sad.
    I actually thought for a second that AC2 had been abandoned or dumped or something and I didn’t quite know how to feel about that. Then again, half-life! Yay!
    See, that’s what I think is missing from the AC2 spoiler warnings; this passion. You all care about this game and are showing it. It’s neat.

    And Rutskarn, I’m actually pretty sure the crossbow’s bolts fly perfectly straight, or it would make for a poor sniper rifle stand-in.

    1. James says:

      They dip slightly at long range, and Shamus is right on that hill josh fell of at the start is where the crossbow is, if you snipe the guy on the billboard you get a ‘cheive. its a great reaction weapon, like turn corner AGH Shotgun Combine “Twunk” dead.

    2. swenson says:

      Don’t be silly, there were three Mumbles this week! Wasn’t that enough for you?

      1. Sumanani says:

        Well, two Mumbles and one Mumble.

  25. Jonathan says:

    So why does Josh keep pulling out a grenade to run with?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Because both grenades and the rocket launcher are bound to “5”,and I think Josh has something against pressing “Q” to draw his last used weapon.

  26. Daemian Lucifer says:

    One thing I love about the shields in half life is that if you get damaged while falling,your shields remain the same.It always bugged me when I fall down and my bullet protecting vest/helmet gets damaged.

  27. Robyrt says:

    I appear to be the only one who hated this section. Let me count the ways:

    1. Oh, a rocket chest. Guess that ruined the suspense I had about what was going to be in the next room. And it’s not like this gunship requires any different tactics than the other ones before or after, so I’m not learning anything or being put in a unique situation.

    2. Where is the sniper rifle? The crossbow is a cool weapon, but I’m supposed to think they sent a guy up on the billboard without a scope on his gun?

    3. The little “town” doesn’t look interesting, even from afar. It is cool that you can see it in the distance, but I’m still seeing the same three houses that are inexplicably right next to each other on the edge of a cliff. If I were building that house, I would at least put big windows on the side with the view.

    4. I remember spending upwards of 20 minutes trying to assemble the objects in the room where you are assaulted from above so I could jump up to the second story. (Yes, it is possible, although your jumping tends to push everything out of position, making it super annoying to retry.) Seeing that there is a ladder outside on the railing makes me feel pretty foolish.

    5. The buggy is super finicky and the driving controls are awful. Taking damage when I run into anything, in a game without regenerating health, just adds insult to injury.

    6. FPS jumping puzzles combined with Half-Life’s temperamental ladders and vertiginous speeds are bad news.

  28. Eruanno says:

    AUGH, the bridge! I’m slightly afraid of heights. This is usually not a big problem. BUT THIS BRIDGE. I was sweating like mad at every single jump over this bridge. Not to mention the gunship chasing you, the sound of wind in your ears… OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD HELP HELP HELP

  29. Christophomicus says:

    Shamus, have you seen Cinematic Mod? It’s a sort of HD upgrade for HL2; I downloaded it a year ago and it runs great and updates the game pretty nicely.

    1. Mr Jack says:

      Just had a look at the mod, and it improves the environments quite a bit, but I dislike the changes made to the character models. The faces have been completely changed, what they did to Alyx is beyond parody.

      1. somebodys_kid says:

        There are options to not use the HD models…I personally use every HD model EXCEPT Alex. And a couple of releases back (v9 maybe), there was a non sexed up HD Alex model which was quite good.

        1. Mr Jack says:

          That’s not so bad then. it would be too strange for me now to play it with anything other than the original faces, it would feel like they were actors playing the characters. I know that is really strange, but it wouldn’t be the same.

  30. Johan says:

    You know, on the bridge with the force field I never ever saw the wires, I just knew this was the only way to go, so I must be going the right way.

  31. NonEuclideanCat says:

    Thanks for the hairbrush.

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