Half Life 2 Episode 1 EP7: Episode Won

By Shamus Posted Friday Feb 20, 2015

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 103 comments


Link (YouTube)

And so it ends.

For the record, I actually like all the constant encouragement and praise from Alyx. Although maybe I’m just unskilled and emotionally needy. It is a little jarring when you hear the comments close together, but during the course of a normal game (as opposed to sprinting through the content the way we do) they feel more like a pat on the head from the game designer and less like Alyx going all fangirl on you.

I really wish we’d get more shooters like this.

I played Wolfenstein: The New Order last year. It felt like they were aiming for Half-Life 2 in terms of gameplay, but didn’t quite nail it. It’s got quiet. It’s got combat. It’s got areas where you can wander around and listen to people talk, or get on with your job. It’s got a novelty weapon that works as either weapon or tool. It has run-and-run style combat instead of stop-and-pop. You gun down fascist humanoids in prisons, ruins, and bases. It’s not Half-Life, but I think it tried.

Josh just finished the game and was somewhat less delighted. I haven’t got the whole story from him. (It might end up as a segment on next week’s Diecast. It’s also on the short list of consideration for Spoiler Warning. We’ll see.)

Still, there’s nothing quite like Half-Life, and nobody seems to be making more. Sadface.

EDIT via Josh: So no, despite how funny it turned out, the episode was NOT supposed to end with Rutskarn singing out the apocalypse. There was actually another five minutes that were cut off in the initial video because of an encoding error that someoneI won’t name any names, but it begins with J and ends with “Why are my pants on fire?” didn’t check for before falling asleep in a drunken stupor.

The embedded video has been updated with the fixed and complete version of the episode. Sorry about that.

 

Footnotes:

[1] I won’t name any names, but it begins with J and ends with “Why are my pants on fire?”



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103 thoughts on “Half Life 2 Episode 1 EP7: Episode Won

  1. kunedog says:

    For me, the NPC praise didn’t feel too over the top until Ep 2 when it came non-stop from the vortigaunts (Alyx spends most of it absent, injured or unconscious), for the simplest and briefest of tasks.

    It was like Barney’s joke in the teleportation chamber in HL2 about applying your M.I.T. degree by flipping the switch, but played straight.

    1. Tizzy says:

      I never imagined that all of that praise was meant to be taken seriously. The whole conceit of the hero single-handedly overthrowing an oppressive alien regime, the whole basis of the game, is fairly ridiculous, and I always thought this was a way for the devs to poke fun at the player, but also at themselves.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Also,if you assume that vorts are doing the same thing as gman and just placing you at the right time in the right place,freeman is just a pawn and everything he does was predetermined by their equations,so they are just messing with you,praising you for successfully running their maze.

      2. ehlijen says:

        It absolutely is fun poking. There are two comments in particular when the vortipanion lauds Freeman’s misfortune of falling into pits and climbing back out as ‘great exploration drive’ or something like that.

        1. Jokerman says:

          That sounds like something Glados would say.

        2. Richard says:

          “No pit is complete without a Freeman coming out of it.”

          At least, I think that’s the one you mean.

          1. ehlijen says:

            That’s one. I could have sworn there was another if you fall into a pit trap under some supplies that goes something like ‘the freeman leaves no hole unexplored’.

            1. Nyctef says:

              I remember that one! I literally spent a good five minutes laughing before I could carry on playing the game. It was such a perfectly-timed comment after a trope-filled sequence

      3. guy says:

        I’m pretty sure the Vorts are making fun of Gordon with some of their comments. I mean, all their lines have the exact same delivery, but some of them are written like they’re sarcastic.

    2. Isaac says:

      The vortigaunts praise Freeman so much because he freed their entire race from slavery at the end of HL1.

      1. Alex says:

        Plus, they’re aliens. If they don’t quite have the nuance of human interaction down to the point where their genuine appreciation for Gordon’s actions feels genuine, you can hardly blame them.

    3. Bropocalypse says:

      The Vortigaunts are actually wholly malicious, their praise is so constant that Gordon will either be annoyed to death or become so confident that he’ll die. They play the long game.

  2. GGANate says:

    You guys thinking about doing the Thief reboot? Plenty to critique there. What a weird game.

    1. Nicholas Hayes says:

      It’s unlikely, as they’ve said on the podcast that they very quickly run out of things to say about it other than that it is bad

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        But its bad in so many different ways.Therell be a lot of crap to be dumped on that one.

      2. MrGuy says:

        I’d love them to do the third Thief game, both because there’s a lot to like about the game, and because I think the idea of Reginald Cuthbert playing a Thief game is An Idea Whose Time Has Come.

  3. Jokerman says:

    That ended rather abruptly.

    1. Jeremiah says:

      Rutskarn’s singing broke the recording.

      1. kunedog says:

        Looks like something went wrong with the encoding in the uploaded Youtube file and it got cut off. The rest is here:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ

        1. Kizer says:

          Ah, thanks! I appreciate that!

        2. Gruhunchously says:

          The discussion over the end credits took an interesting turn. I’m going to have take some time to think over the implications of it all, but it was still really fascinating and unexpected. Also, you’re a horrible person :)

        3. ehlijen says:

          Well played

        4. Jokerman says:

          Oh… thanks for that.

        5. Josh says:

          So it turns out there was an encoding error that (hilariously) cut the video off right on the Citadel blowing up and Rutskarn singing. Given that Shamus actually posted the episode, I think he thought I did this intentionally; I did not.

          I’ve uploaded a fixed version with the ~4.5 minutes of additional ending footage and edited the embed code in the post to point to that one.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            So you basically gave us an extended ending dlc?

            1. MichaelGC says:

              Day One DLC, at that! For shame…

              Anyway, I think I prefer kunedog’s Alternate Ending DLC. Shamus’ music style seems to have gone in an interesting direction. Not sure about the new hairdo, though.

              1. The Specktre says:

                I didn’t actually realize what Rutskarn was trying to sing until after I saw the alternate ending. xP

                1. Dragomok says:

                  To me it sounded rather like Robo’s theme from Chrono Trigger. Then again these two songs are surprisingly similar. Case in point.

          2. The Specktre says:

            Yay! For a while there, I was wondering why the episode cut where it did.

          3. All it does is try to explain away an ending the fans didn’t like instead of actually fixing the problems with the ending. “The viewers just couldn’t handle the Star Child singing,” said the lead developer, “they all just want happy endings full of butt jokes and puns,” but that’s not it at all. We can handle awful singing. There was just no buildup or reason for him to be singing in the first place. Also, it didn’t wrap up the relationships we’ve been seeing over the course of Spoiler Warning. There was no reprise of the famous “ludonarrative dissonance” conversations or even a recognition of the favorite “stop shooting me” plot thread. Their decision to kill off Mumbles so she wouldn’t have a part in the finale is further proof the writers of this thing had no idea what they were doing and had no idea what Spoiler Warning was about.

            1. How can you critique such a perfect ending? We’ve gone from Josh trolling his commentators to the video software itself trolling all of us.

              (Also, rotfl at your comment, seriously hysterical).

            2. Daemian Lucifer says:

              You just dont get it.This whole season was about cycles.

            3. MrGuy says:

              Rutskarn only exists in the imagination of an autistic child.

          4. Shamus says:

            I totally thought it was deliberate. I didn’t remember the proper end of the conversation, so I just figured you cut it there as a joke. Or as an act of mercy.

            1. crossbrainedfool says:

              Oh come on now. This is Josh we’re talking about.

  4. Tizzy says:

    I didn’t think the combine’s attitude at the end needed much explaining. Old orders, new orders? They would still be the same, no? And their masters would gladly sacrifice all of them for petty revenge.

  5. Disc says:

    I don’t know which game you were playing or if you just forgot or w/e, but the sole reason the Combine is so aggressive is because of the message/data Alyx stole from the Citadel and the main reason they’re bringing all their might upon the train station is because you got caught on camera in the earlier episode. I know it’s not printed in large, friendly letters on the side of the gravity gun, but you being chased and getting detected was always kinda implied by earlier events in the game and dialogue snippets.

    1. guy says:

      I just figured they were simultaneously trying to transport as many troops out of the city as they could before the explosion and simultaneously trying to keep the resistance from escaping.

    2. silver Harloe says:

      Aye. I don’t think they noticed or cared about the refugees on the train. The combine was coming over that hill because of what info Gordon and Alyx have.

  6. Dev Chand says:

    Would you mind trying a session of Hitman: Absolution? On one hand, I think the disguise system would make for some interesting moments if the crew decides to sneak and shoot around. On the other hand, the story is really bad and the game has many issues with regards to the level design, promoting some mechanics over others, and arbitrary setups. Besides, I would like to hear Chris critique a Hitman game, especially if he can make some interesting observations while comparing it to other Hitman games.

    1. I’d be up for a sequel to Hitmas! It was highly entertaining (but I think was pre-Chris).

      1. I’d love to hear him trying to offer the occasional serious-ish bit of commentary while Rutz’s stealth skills come into play yet again. :)

    2. MichaelGC says:

      I believe Adam Ampersand-Quot DeCamp is planning to stream a blind playthrough of Hitman:Absolution in March, which may help scratch that itch if they go for something else:

      https://twitter.com/Rutskarn/status/568534085921947648

      Tends to be 14:00 PST on a Thursday, connexions & real life & whatnot permitting. (Or I guess 14:00 PDT from next month. Which translates to [some other time] in [your location here].)

      PS Utterly irrelevant, but I just today noticed Shamus’ search box button, and am still fighting off fits of the giggles. Thanks for the laugh!

  7. There is nothing quite like Half-Life, but I was somewhat surprised last year to play the PS4 Killzone and get the feeling that someone has taken the arc of a HL game, the desire to mix up what you’re doing and change the scenery, and then turned the encounter combat into something straight out of F.E.A.R. Although it requires familiarity with console FPS controls, I felt like it was made by a team who may have been leaning far more on their PC FPS knowledge than aiming to make a standard console corridor shooter.

    I’m not saying everyone who likes HL should grab that game (it plays on the ideas of HL pacing, it doesn’t try to emulate the HL progression) if they’ve got a PS4 (the critical response was really broad for a start so lots of people clearly hated it). But as a $10 bargain-bin title it is quite easy to check out for yourself at this point. If anyone is curious, I expanded upon this at the time.

    1. The Specktre says:

      Kind of wish I had a Playstation so I could give it a look, but oh well.

  8. Samyo says:

    RE: Gordon’s helmet
    When you’re first getting the HEV suit (it might be another time close to this, I forget) someone mentions that the helmet for your suit is missing, you can see this when it’s in the charging station. Unless he found another helmet later, all the art where he’s not wearing a helmet, is canon.

    1. Benjamin Hilton says:

      Right Right but it’s also kind of implied that you need a helmet to survive in Xen.

      Not to mention I always took the fig leaf justification for breathing underwater using suit power to be that the suit was pumping in oxygen for a short time, which only makes sense if there is a helmet.

      1. Soylent Dave says:

        AND Gordon has a Heads-up Display (complete with zoom function) & hears the suit constantly giving him status updates, which quite heavily implies a helmet.

        (or the HUD is projected via his glasses & he’s wearing an in-ear earpiece (because it’s not in any of the artwork), but y’know. Occam’s.)

        1. Matt Downie says:

          My theory: there’s a retractable mouth-piece feeding you filtered air when you need it. He takes it out when posing for photographs. He keeps it in normally, in case of sudden poison gas attacks. This makes it impossible for him to talk.

          1. Soylent Dave says:

            Maybe he’s got augmetic gill implants – which of course run off an external power supply (like his HEV suit), because this is science fiction not MAGIC.

            They would naturally have some side-effects – being rendered mute is a small price to pay for the ability to breathe underwater for a few seconds at a time, after all.

            And that puts Half-Life in the same universe as Deus Ex, which I’m sure someone has written fanfiction about already.

        2. Joseph P. Tallylicker says:

          Google glasses. Gordon’s a hipster.

  9. Tuskin says:

    that ended abruptly

    Was it suppose to end at 25 minutes or is that a youtube error?

    In responce to the post, I think Wolfenstein TNO would make an excellent season.

  10. Ledel says:

    That final strider fight felt a little like they were trying to recreate the fight you had with the strider in HL2 in the destroyed building. Where you would run from safe spot to safe spot while the strider re-positioned itself to get a better angle on you. At least in the original fight you could destroy the cam-bot to give yourself a second or two of rest from the fight and move forward, here it was just a straight up war of attrition to try to get to the end where your could finally kill the strider.

    I’m very much looking forward to the next season and whatever game you all choose.

  11. Dev Null says:

    Still, there's nothing quite like Half-Life, and nobody seems to be making more. Sadface.

    I’m sure there has, by now, been more written about Half Life 3 than Duke Nukem Whatever, but I’ve often thought that perhaps Valve stopped making Half Lifes because they couldn’t come up with anything as good. I wish they’d make me another one, or make me something completely new but in the same vein, but if they can’t and realise it, it puts them a fair lump in front of the umpteen-zillion garbage-sequel factories out there. No shame in in recognising when you’re out of creative juice.

    1. Thomas says:

      There’s so many intelligent people at Valve though. I find it bizarre that you can take the brightest creative people in a country, give them unlimited freedom on their projects (and basically an unconstrained budget) and no-one wants to make anything original.

      I literally have no understanding of what’s going on in their company. Last time I made these comments, I assumed that Dota 2 was at least a new take on the old gamr. I hadn’t realised that the base game was a slavish remake of the original DotA ability for ability.

      Their last _semi_ original IP was released 8 years ago now. And you can make a strong argument that they haven’t actually originated a game idea from inside Valve since the original Half Life

      1. Dirigible says:

        Dota 2 was like an amped-up version of Counter-strike or Garry’s mod – they scout the creator and then make a professional version of whatever caught their eye in the first place – in D2’s case, they hired IceFrog and brought Dota 2 out of the Warcraft 3 engine.

        1. Chauzuvoy says:

          Portal was similar. They grabbed a team out of Digipen that made Narbacular Drop as a senior project.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I find it bizarre that you can take the brightest creative people in a country, give them unlimited freedom on their projects (and basically an unconstrained budget) and no-one wants to make anything original.

        Why is that bizarre?Do you think modders are dumb and uncreative,and that given a chance they wouldnt want to remake their favorite game into something even better rather than trying to think of something new?Why wouldnt valve employees enjoy making dota 2 if a bunch of them like that sort of games?

        I mean,have you seen how enthusiastic the firaxis guys were to get their hands on xcom?

        1. Thomas says:

          I didn’t say it was bizarre that they made content every now and then based off other people’s ideas.

          I said it was bizarre that they _never_ make games based off their own ideas. Sure Firaxis want to work on XCom, but surely they also want to work on their own games every now and then?

          No Valve employee has ever had an idea for an IP that they were passionate enough about to bring to fruition, since Half Life 1. That’s bizarre right?

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Um,wasnt portal their most recent original idea?

            Besides,originality is overrated.If the final product is good,it doesnt matter if it was an original idea or not.

            1. Lisa says:

              I thought Portal was another one originated outside the company. Ah, it started with Nabacular Drop.

              Hmm. While trying to find references, I came across this oddity: Portal: Origins. No idea how real it is, but it’s an interesting … crossover? Mashup? Thingy?

    2. silver Harloe says:

      I think they’re waiting for someone to have some inspiration about what to do in the next half-life. They could merely sequelize the story with the latest source engine, but that would be disappointing and feel dated. They missed their window to just tack on ep3 and call it a day. Now they need a break-through of some kind: new physics, impressive AI, or new mechanics… or it will just be more of the same, and no answer to cover-based shooters.

      1. Lame Duck says:

        I figured they’ve just been struggling really hard with how to fit the Portal gun into the game.

      2. Ivan says:

        I still fell like the obvious answer is to add in the portal gun. Using that to solve puzzles and using that in a combat situation are two different things. The lack of emancipation grills to force you to reset your portals could be problematic but I don’t think it’s unsolvable. Maybe say that the device is sensitive to sunspot activity and then you could regularity disrupt it. But then there are other problems like where do you let the player place portals, but I don’t think it’s unsolvable. Also you can never show the player the moon… or maybe show it to them during the finale and suck all the combine into space :P.

        1. Lilith Novale says:

          I’ve played through Half-life 2 with the portal gun. Unfortunately, it’s nowhere near as fun as it sounds.

          For the most part, it doesn’t really fit in – placing portals is really hard to do while in the middle of combat, and you can only really use them to achieve trick shots.

          In addition to this, the levels just become completely broken when you get a portal gun, because the level designer never accounted for the player just portaling up on top of a building and then portaling over to the level exit.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            But that is a game that was not designed for such a tool.Its different when a game is designed with a specific tool in mind.

      3. Jarppi says:

        I think they have been working on a new engine for a few years. I doubt that creativity is the issue. We know that after The Orange Box they halted all game development for a moment and gave the employees a change to try out different ideas. It is not clear what was the state of Ep3 after that point but we did get the Portal 2 a some years later.

        I don’t know other people saw it but at that point it was clear for me that we wouldn’t hear about HL3 before they released a new engine (aka. Source 2). This was due to fact that even if Portal 2 didn’t look bad at all, the age of Source begun to take its toll. Levels were short and there were loading screens every few minutes. Another thing that was aging at that point was the current console generation of the moment (X360 & PS3). Therefore I think was possible at the moment to make some reasonable assumptions:
        1) Somewhere around the time Portal 2 got released, Valve started to develop a new engine.
        2) Because the current console generation was aging, this new engine would come to next gen.
        3) Because at that time we didn’t have info about next gen, we would’t (for NDA reasons) hear about the new engine before we would hear about the new consoles. 4) Because we wouldn’t hear about the new engine before the new conseles, we wouldn’t hear about HL3 before the new consoles neither. This is based on an assumption that Valve doesn’t want to release its former (or current, pick whichever you want) flagship title to be released on a platform that limits its potential.

        So I think now would be a good time to place the bets. The new console generation has been out for a while and we know practically for sure that Source 2 is on its way and that at least some activity is going on with Half Life 3. Personally I would say that Source 2 will be released or at least officially confirmed during this year. When it cames to HL3, I’m not so sure. I don’t think it will be released this year (next, maybe?) but I wouldn’t be suprised if we heard about it before the end of the year.

        1. The Specktre says:

          Personally, I’d say we’d be very lucky if we hear anything about a new engine this year.

          1. Jarppi says:

            Sure about it? Me neither. I am basing my assumption on a fact that Valve is going to give a presentation “glNext: The Future of High Performance Graphics” on GDC this year [1]. It would make sense to demonstrate new tech with new engine. Also remember that Dota 2 is going to get a “major improvement” to its engine during the first half of 2015 [2], and that Dota 2 tools already run on some work-in-progress version of Source 2 [3]. Not that any of this confirms anything but it strongly suggests that Source 2 is soon-ish in shape to be officially announced.

            [1] http://schedule.gdconf.com/session/glnext-the-future-of-high-performance-graphics-presented-by-valve

            [2] http://blog.dota2.com/2014/12/future-changes-frostivus/

            [3] http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/08/07/its-valve-time-source-2-now-powering-dota-2-tools/

          2. Dirigible says:

            I’ve heard rumours about it in the Dota scene, I don’t know where to find it but they mentioned that they were doing less for holiday events because they were aiming for a mid-year Source 2 release, which included porting Dota 2 over to it.

        2. I figured they’re saving HL3 for whenever they make a big push for the Steambox, making the must-have game a part of the must-have console.

    3. Matt Downie says:

      My theory: they’re trying to make an awesome new game engine that everyone will want to use, and to make Half-Life 3 a perfect demonstration of how good their new game engine is.

      This is proving difficult.

      1. Nyctef says:

        This makes sense — IIRC they’re moving Dota2 over to “Source 2” for a similar reason

  12. Neko says:

    If “The Transmission” is represented by the lightning effect going through the portal, then, wow – that’s a big message. I mean, I’m assuming it’s not morse code or semaphore like Ruts suggests, it looks like a more fancy “data burst” or light or energy or something like that. Many terabytes. Given that they had to open an interdimensional rift that would destroy the citadel to send it, it must be pretty important.

    So I guess the Combine really wanted all that Earth porn.

    1. guy says:

      It’s also possible that the message itself is pretty small and the transmission is simply very energetic because it needs to be comprehensible on the other side of the dimensional boundary.

      1. Neko says:

        But earlier, when things were fully-functional, Breen was able to Skype with an Advisor in full HD. So, I don’t get it – they clearly have sufficient technology to send things more efficiently.

        1. McNutcase says:

          There’s nothing to say that wasn’t entirely local. Remember, there are Advisors on Earth, in the Citadel.

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Earlier,the citadel was whole,with all of its equipment intact.It could very well be that the whole citadel is just a huge dumping ground for all this excess energy from every transmission.

          Another theory is xen.In hl1,xen is used as a portal station,a world between worlds.If xen is used in hl2 as means of transmitting the package,it could be that in episode 1 the message is going out directly,without being relayed through xen,which would require more energy.

    2. lethal_guitar says:

      The “Transmission” is actually explained (well, sort of) in Ep. 2. It's some kind of code for creating a portal to the Combine's world. The Citadel's explosion created a new (soon-to-be) portal, and the final goal of Ep. 2 was to fire the rocket and close this portal to prevent the Combine from sending reinforcements to Earth. So I guess what we see here at the end of Ep. 1 is not really the transmission itself, but this powerful energy discharge/explosion/whatever phenomenon is a side-effect of initiating the portal creation.

      Alyx and Gordon having intercepted this transmission and bringing it to the rebel base at the end of Ep. 2 was what enabled Dr. Magnussen to actually finish his rocket and successfully close the portal, IIRC

  13. WILL says:

    I am hijacking this perfectly normal thread to suggest playing EYE : Divine Cybermancy.

    It’s short, and you couldn’t possibly run out of things to say as it is 100% weird.

    1. The Specktre says:

      That game must be what an acid trip feels like, and I love it.

      +1 to this idea.

  14. Congrats Josh for giving me WoW healer rage flashbacks.

    “COME BACK YOU STUPID TANK AND LET ME HEAL YOU!
    No, it’s your own damn fault you died! You run faster than me and don’t ever stop moving so I can’t keep up, well, YOU WILL DIE!”

    Note to self: never heal Josh. Laugh at antics, be highly amused, but do not heal.

  15. guy says:

    You know, when Chris asks why the Combine are attacking and not trying to leave, I had assumed that they were trying to leave. After all, they’re trying to take and hold the train station. Now, they evacuate the advisors by air, but they only have so many aircraft. And with the antlions swarming around the city, they can’t evacuate on foot. The rail network is the only way most of their infantry can reasonably escape the city in time, same as you. Maybe it’s just that I’m used to ordering tiny men around in strategy games so I tend to infer objectives for mooks.

    Apparently somewhere it was offically announced that Gordon Freeman’s thesis was on a technobabble topic that basically means “teleporting crystals with lasers”. So he does demonstrate mastery in his field of study.

  16. Canthros says:

    I like to think that Gordon’s MIT post doc research mostly involves pushing a block of cheese on a cart.

    1. MrGuy says:

      How could one man have slipped through your force’s fingers time and time again? How is it possible? This is not some agent provocateur or highly trained assassin we are discussing. Gordon Freeman is a theoretical physicist who had hardly earned the distinction of his Ph.D. at the time of the Black Mesa Incident. I have good reason to believe that in the intervening years, he was in a state that precluded further development of covert skills. The man you have consistently failed to slow, let alone capture, is by all standards simply that–an ordinary man. How can you have failed to apprehend him?

  17. Dude says:

    So, for the next game, is it gonna be Transistor or is it gonna be Bastion? (With no commentary because everyone will be listening to the music.)

  18. Tizzy says:

    I don’t know why we’re making fun of Gordon’s graduate Physics classes. How do you think he got so good at solving physics puzzles? Even on Xen, too!

    1. noahpocalypse says:

      Except an introductory mechanics class would be more than sufficient to grasp the principles necessary for these puzzles.

  19. Mr Compassionate says:

    So here’s the best way to sum up Episode 1: Imagine when they escape the citadel on the stalker train it doesn’t crash and it leads out of the city. Nothing changes.

    The only important things happen in the citadel at the start, everything else was piddling about.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Ah,but you save a dozen people.Are you saying that a dozen lives are insignificant?

    2. straymute says:

      The part that get me is that in Half-Life the G-man is basically an excuse to go immediately to the important bits. Like literally the entire story is based around a man being transported to exactly the right times at exactly the right moments to impact history in a certain way. There should be zero filler in these games, because for that inevitable payoff at the end where you finally see the big picture all these bits need to add up to something for the story to make sense.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        But it does add up.If gordon simply appeared in breens office and killed him,thered be no rebellion,earth would still be oppressed.Freeman resparks everything by going through ravenholm and then nova prospekt,showing how the combine and their horrors arent unbeatable.

        1. straymute says:

          Yeah, I get that part. I was talking more about Episode 1 specifically. Like in a normal FPS filler is still bad, but in Half-Life it’s just taken to another level because there is no reason for the G-Man to have Gordon doing things he doesn’t absolutely need to do. It’s like having the writer actually in the story there with you.

          I was also thinking this might be an area where it would’ve been more beneficial for Gordon to actually have a character, then while he was escaping with Alyx and working with the refugees he himself could develop in a way that would be significant later.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Except it wasnt the gman that put you there,but the vortigaunts.And seeing how it took about dozen of them to fight off a single gman,its safe to say that,awesome though they are,they arent good at this thing.So every mistake in episodes 1 and 2 can be said to be due to their inexperience.

          2. ehlijen says:

            As said, the G-man isn’t behind Episodes 1 or 2. But also, I think you’re overthinking this.

            Like Gordon himself, almost all of the Half life story is about creating just enough of a vessel for the player to fill with their own ideas. The G-man’s plan will not be explained, neither City 17 nor Black Mesa will never be officially placed on a map and Gordon will never speak.

            It’s a fine balance act. If you’re too weird and have nothing concrete, you end up with x-files or Lost levels of disappointment. If you have too much explanation, you run the risk of players simply not liking what you write, such as with parts of mass effect.

            But if you hit just the right spot, you can get away with barely writing anything and letting players make up your world for you. That has the advantage that you are far more likely to please more players.

  20. lethal_guitar says:

    The “Transmission” is actually explained (well, sort of) in Ep. 2. It’s some kind of code for creating a portal to the Combine’s world. The Citadel’s explosion created a new (soon-to-be) portal, and the final goal of Ep. 2 was to fire the rocket and close this portal to prevent the Combine from sending reinforcements to Earth. So I guess what we see here at the end of Ep. 1 is not really the transmission itself, but this powerful energy discharge/explosion/whatever phenomenon is a side-effect of initiating the portal creation.

    Alyx and Gordon having intercepted this transmission and bringing it to the rebel base at the end of Ep. 2 was what enabled Dr. Magnussen to actually finish his rocket and successfully close the portal, IIRC

  21. Regarding Half Life’s flow and narrative: It’s still the gold standard for a shooter, and that was driven home to me in a huge way a few days ago.

    I was perusing my Steam library and found I had Crysis 2. I honestly don’t remember ever buying it. I’ve never had it on a wish list, and I hadn’t even played Crysis 1. I decided to take a look at it, having heard all the “but will it run Crysis?” jokes since forever.

    Great Zarquon, I’ve never wanted to have a “press this button to skip this stuff” function so badly before. It also reads off the three cities in a faux sports piece that video games are nearly always trying to blow up instead of “the rest of the world,” so good going New York and California.

    Anyway, the exposition was drawn out crap with little tutorial value, and even when it was telling you stuff you might need to know, it overrode your controls, stopping your avatar from moving, until you fiddled with whatever function it was demanding you try out! I gave up pretty quickly on it and found something more constructive to do. It turned a few minutes of relaxation into frustration.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      By an odd coincidence I had a very similar experience with Crysis 2, also just this week. The tutorial seemed essentially to be structured like so:

      -Prove you can move!
      -Good, now open a thing!
      -Right, now sit there and shut up for 20 minutes whilst we explode stuff.

      I’d have minded less if the game had found some way to communicate: “We’re not going to need you for a while. Put the controller down, sit back & relax. Maybe fire up the wiki to see if you can make sense of this? ‘Cos we sure ain’t ‘splaining any of it!”

      Maybe it all gets explained beautifully well later on, of course. I can live with not knowing the answer to that, I think.

      1. I was so annoyed by the later tutorial stuff, I’d completely forgotten about the whole “advance the cutscene at random intervals” stuff.

        Not that their backstory for the whole thing was terribly compelling. It made me wish for the subtlety of the train ride and Overwatch checkpoint from HL2.

  22. Decius says:

    How about doing a season of This War of Mine?

    1. Joseph P. Tallylicker says:

      I’m not a fan of this war of mine’s combat/stealth mechanics. I literally lost a guy because despite standing in front of a hiding spot and me clicking like a madman on it, he refused to go into hiding, leading to death. It’s a very atmospheric game but past the first 12 or so days it loses its magic, imo.

  23. Lilith Novale says:

    The suit that Gordon wears in hl2 is actually made by Kleiner – in Half-life, you get the Mark IV Hazardous Environment Suit and at the beginning of Half-life 2 you get the Mark V, which Kleiner says he developed himself.

    Also, I don’t think that fight sequence is meant to take that long… I think Josh ended up just making it last a lot longer by going back and forth many more times than he should have with no civilians following him.

    I don’t agree with Shamus about this not being a spectacular ending – I think it’s really spectacular. It’s not “epic”, but it’s a very spectacular sequence.

    As someone who has downloaded a lot of custom portal levels and hl2 mods and stuff – there is a huge amount of good user made content for these games. (If you’re interested, my recommendations are Rexaura for Portal 1, Minerva: Metastasis for Hl2 or Research and Development for Episode 2.)

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