We meet Uriah the Vortigaunt. Unlike all the other Vorts, he has a real name. He wears clothing.
Next we have a battle to kick the Combine out of the complex. It’s not clear at first if they somehow know about the rocket, or if they are just invading the place on general principles. It’s a pretty conventional battle. The only notable part is that we get to deal damage to an advisor for the first time. I’m not sure if the bullets truly hurt it or merely annoyed it, but in either case it flees before we can give it the beating it so richly deserves.
Eli and Gordon are left alone for a moment, and he makes reference to “Our mutual friend” – the mysterious G-man. This is the first time in the series that anyone else seems to be aware of him. Eli seems ready to divulge more, but Dr. Magnusson barges in before he can tell us anything useful. Once again we walk away from a conversation without learning any of the key answers for which we’ve waited so long.
Speculation: While Valve hasn’t confirmed anything, pretty much everyone expects that at least part of the next game will take place in Antarctica. I think the technology Eli fears is the portal gun, and I think we’ll get to use it for a section of the game, after which we’ll be obliged to destroy it.
In a previous post someone suggested (although I can’t find the comment now) that the G-Man may end up being a sort of “good” guy, or at least an ally. He’s evil, but his purposes seem to go against the Combine. He’s saved Gordon. He saved Alyx. By doing so he’s also saved humanity. He certainly didn’t do this for humanitarian purposes. Why he’s doing it remains a mystery, but he’s clearly a being driven by pragmatic self-interest, not avarice and cruelty like the Combine. Some people have speculated that the “final” confrontation of the series will be between Gordon on the G-Man in some form, but my guess is that the G-Man will continue to nudge Gordon along until the end, and then slip away in his magic doorway once the fight is over and the Combine is defeated.
Dr. Magnusson reveals that the Combine is sending striders at the complex for the express purpose of taking out the rocket. Ok, so they do somehow know about the rocket. It’s not clear how the Combine – now cut off from their homeworld, deprived of their primary base of operations and set adrift in the wilderness – have managed to secure that information. I suppose we can assume the telepathic advisors discerned this with their mental powers. Or something.
The final set piece is huge and ambitious. We must fight waves of striders in a huge outdoor area, and must prevent any of them from getting close enough to the base to destroy the rocket silo. Towards this end, Dr. Magnusson presents us with “The Magnusphere”, a stickybomb which we can pick up with the gravity gun, place on the back of our car, drive out to a strider, and then use the gravity gun to shoot the Magnusphere at the body of a strider. Assuming we don’t miss, the sphere will stick to the surface of the beast, and then we just need to switch to some other weapon and shoot the Magnusphere to detonate it, thus destroying the strider. Oh yeah: Kill all the escorting hunters first, or they will shoot the Magnusphere out of the air before it gets near the strider.
Let us agree that this is the most inelegant and convoluted method of dispatching an enemy you could hope to come up with. I guess I wouldn’t mind so much if I didn’t see NPCs dashing around with rocket launchers, which can do the job easier, faster, and with less hassle, as well as the fact that they are effective against all foes, not just striders.
Ignoring the fact that Dr. Magnusson seems to be making life hard for us on purpose, this makes for a very interesting fight. It’s quite frantic, and there is a powerful sense of tension as the striders blast the outlying buildings on the way to the silo, shrinking the area you have in which to operate, and increasing the distance you have to drive to get a new Magnusphere. It’s one of those situations where failure makes things harder and success makes things easier (Valve usually goes for the opposite) and the result is some truly chaotic, heart-pounding conflict.
Bad and Wrong Music Lessons
A music lesson for people who know nothing about music, from someone who barely knows anything about music.
Bethesda felt the need to jam a morality system into Fallout 3, and they blew it. Good and evil make no sense and the moral compass points sideways.
Lost Laughs in Leisure Suit Larry
Why was this classic adventure game so funny in the 80's, and why did it stop being funny?
Silent Hill Origins
Here is a long look at a game that tries to live up to a big legacy and fails hilariously.
The Best of 2011
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2011.