They should have titled this “The Cutscene Chapter”. Deprived of the ability to communicate, there isn’t much for Gordon to do in this part of the game except push the button and listen to people talk. The rocket launch goes off flawlessly, the portal energy is negated, and Earth is saved. Yay for the good guys!
And yet, this is the darkest chapter in the entire story thus far. As Alyx prepares to fly the two of us to Antarctica, Eli takes the player aside. He praises our victories and says, “I couldn’t be more proud of you if you were my own son.” These are moving words and they hit home for me. I’ve always admired Eli, and this was a touching thing for him to say. He also promises more answers when we get back. This was a great moment, but in a more cynical sense it was the writers, twisting the knife.
Going all the way back to the original Half-Life, this is the first game that ends with Gordon still awake.
Another disturbing thing to note here is that during your final conversation with Eli, he insists that “The Borealis must be destroyed, no matter the cost.” At this moment, Alyx walks around the corner and the conversation ends. Maybe I’m just shellshocked from the ending, but I can’t help worrying that perhaps this was a bit of foreshadowing, and that Alyx will die in Episode Three. I can’t imagine them killing her off, but then I couldn’t imagine them killing off Eli, either.
The writers have been very stingy with information so far, and I have this nagging worry that the series will end without answering our major questions about the G-man, his employer, the combine, the advisors, and why Barney doesn’t change out of that metrocop outfit. Maybe there aren’t any answers, and it’s all a bunch of mysterious mumbo-jumbo to serve as an excuse to move from one firefight to the next. Or maybe they are saving all the revelations for the final chapter, so that they can deliver them in one massive dramatic payload. The ending will determine if Half-Life 2 was merely a fun ride, or a great journey.
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