Does Half Life 2 Hold up?

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The_Scrivener:
For a group that decries that graphics don't make a game, there are a lot of people in this thread using Half-Life 2's graphics as a reason it doesn't hold up.

The funny thing is, HL2's graphics aren't that bad. They're not like in Quake 1, where you can count the polygons without running out of fingers and can count the colors without running out of thumbs. HL2 isn't quite as advanced as the current gen, but it's easily good enough to be immersive.

0takuMetalhead:
snip

I personally refuse to believe they rushed anything when there is so much deatil to the world. I keep discovering new things on my everynew playthrough that adds to both world and gameplay.

The Madman:

Which isn't to say there's not room for improvement, not by any stretch, I just really wish people would stop equating exposition to story as though the only good way to make a 'story' is through a dozen pages of scripted NPC banter explaining a minimum of three generations backstory with the mandatory half-dozen plot twists and a few sob story thrown in for good measure. You can have a good story with all those, they're not necessary, it's just what we've gotten used to equating with 'good' in the gaming industry.

The problem I have is there's exposition out the ass, but it's in service of plot beats which are variation on "you need to go into the next room and flip a switch". Then there's no power, so you have to fight your way down to the basement to turn the power on. Only a key component is missing so you have to journey to a neighboring town and fight some guys to get it. Then on your way back, the bridge blows up and you have to fight your way out of a canyon. Then you flip the switch and the scientists give you another objective where everything that can go wrong does go wrong.

The plot of the games is nothing more than crisis management and there's often a character explaining your given task in endless detail as you're frequently locked in a room with two guys who go on and on about how bad it would be if you don't flip that switch.

And this is largely effective, but beyond "being evil" I have no idea what the motivations of any of the bad guys are. The game doesn't seem to be building to a proper climax with each installment simply ending in the middle of a suitably massive crisis. Four games in and we still don't have the first clue as to what G-Man is up to or if there's anything more to the invasion than simple conquest.

Yes, the telling of the back story largely through the environment is impressive. It's a great trick, but it's in service of a fairly plot-less story which merely sees our hero lurch from one crisis to another without much in the way of resolution. Defeating Breen is much a meaningless act, his death isn't even the climax of the HL2. He was simply a rather talkative switch that needed to be turned off before they serve up a really big crisis for a cliffhanger. Said cliffhanger being resolved in the least satisfying way in Episode One, showing just how shoddy the plot construction truly is.

I loved HL2 when it came out, but the lack of anything resembling plot development in the two sequels has all but killed my interest in the series. More stuff will happen, Freeman will have to sort it, and I will be no closer to understanding the motivations of the invading aliens, G-Man, or even my own avatar.

I bought it on the day it was released - I was underwhelmed then and my opinion hasn't changed over time.

The gameplay wasn't anything special. I found the flow of the game was interrupted rather than complimented by having to stop every few minutes to complete a contrived little physics puzzle... and I say 'puzzle' but it was usually variation on a see-saw theme.

The driving sections were awful and oscillated between boring me to tears and frustrating me - example: when my dune buggy clipped on thin air and spin wildly out of control as I drove down a tunnel through a loading screen. Now disoriented after spinning and unsure of which way I should be going (there was light at both ends of the tunnel) I ended up driving straight back into another loading screen.

The 1984 aesthetic was quite well done, in fact the claustrophobic atmosphere was probably my favourite thing about the whole game. The story itself though, in general was dull at best and full of little plot holes.

And I agree with the OP about the gunplay - none of the weapons save for the rocket launcher felt like that had any force or impact at all. It didn't 'feel' like the shotgun had any more kick to it than the pistol or SMG.

Anyway; didn't like HL2 then, don't like it now. HL Source though? There's a game worth playing.

Here we go again.

It holds up in the sense that it defined how FPS games of its era were designed and played. As a game on its own merits it's alright. The shooting feels like a bridge between old school and modern shooters as do the levels. The story telling is pretty good for an fps although the scripted sequences feel like glorified cutscenes. I guess if I could sum it up in one sentence its influence holds up far more than the game itself (not that its bad just not the solid gold bar people make it out to be).

As a warning to everyone who is hearing the praise for Half Life 2. Don't go into it thinking its some sort of religious experience. You've probably experienced the game's effects in other shooters. Also if your experience is with modern shooters then it will be a different kind of game for you.

I think so. I recently played it for the first time and loved it

TheBestPieEver:
NO I AM NOT COMPLAINING ABOUT THE GRAPHICS AND I AM ONLY ON THE 3RD CHAPTER OF THE GAME

So... for various reasons I never played half life 2 when it came out, nor any of the episodes that followed in its wake. I dropped out of PC gaming in 2002 and I didn't have any money from 2005-2008 because I escaped from home. When I finally picked up The Orange Box I only had time to play the amazing Portal, the jewel that everyone was talking about.

Yesterday I bought the Orange Box again to finally get myself into half-life. However, so far I haven't enjoyed much of it. I liked the dude that gave speeches through a giant-ass screen when I arrived at City 17 but other than that the game has been actually pretty boring. The gunplay's not all that good and when I used a mounted machine gun I didn't got any satisfaction from the raw power of it (It's physics were actually pretty shitty). The characters that I was told were incredibly charming are actually pretty bland except for the scientist dude and his pet monster. And all of the weapons are generic guns, way less satisfying to use than their counterparts in other games. Finally I got to a section where I had to turn a valve(HAH) to release some water into the room and then I got stuck and went off to blow some shit up in Just Cause 2. That's not a problem, I will certainly go back and find the answer to the puzzle of the room but my question is... is it worth it? Is Half life 2 all that great today or is it just remembered fondly because it was the king in its time?

This just in: not everyone likes everything.

I played HL2 many years after its' release and I enjoyed it. In fact I don't have a doubt in my mind that I would still enjoy it despite playing it through 2 and a half times.

The pacing and the fact that you need to think about how to approach certain segments makes it better than shooters like Halo or COD in my opinion. If you were bored in the cutscenes there were even opportunites to mess around with equipment and stuff littered around.

i bought the HL pack trusting my fellow gamers who told me it was an amazing game.

...long story short, i was very disappointed. i thought the game was terribly amateur-ish. i'm not going to go into detail because i've replied to way too many HL topics but the game just feels lazy and clumsy. The combat sucks, the AI is stupidly easy and the game's world feels like a complete mess of different ideas shoved into one game. with some levels being focused in horror and than another or boating and another on blazing guns and soldiers.

i'm getting really tired of developers trying to shove every demographic into their game. it makes for a messy experience that no one can get fully into. i liked the horror levels but everything else sucked because i don't like every thing that's out there. it just didn't feel consistent at all.

and i'm just talking general stuff here, don't get me started on the gameplay. it's frustratingly annoying and the game constantly had me restarting levels because of stupid reasons or bugs that broke the level. F*** Valve and Valve's fanboys. The only game that was any good from them was Portal.

DoPo:

corneth:
god, what's up with this site and hating half-life 2?

I think you get a badge for it. I suppose the badge is just not finished yet because I don't see it in anybody's profile, I dunno, it seems the most logical thing.

That's because it's a secret badge. One that comes with an invite to the super secret "High Society of Haters Club".

It's a prestigious, if rather pretentious, club. A club wherein members sit around in a lounge in their high-back leather chairs, sipping tea or coffee laced with non-alcoholic brandy, laughing wryly at the "lowly commoners and their overrated (insert famous game title here)", all the while trying not to drop their monocles into their cups and not look too obvious as they bend over to smell their own farts.

I got my badge a few months ago by secretly starting my own "Half-Life sucks" and "Call of Duty is the bane of humanity" threads. The club members were skeptical at first, but I eventually won them over. Especially when I lamented on how Valve is not only the least creative but also the most dangerous and greedy develo...sorry, publisher...in the industry today. Oh, and that RPGs are the only "true" video game.

It was all a ruse, of course. My infiltration of the club now complete, the plan to strike can finally be set in motion.

Are the torches and spray-paint cans ready?

Vigormortis:
A club wherein members sit around in a lounge in their high-back leather chairs, sipping tea or coffee laced with non-alcoholic brandy, laughing wryly at the "lowly commoners and their overrated (insert famous game title here)", all the while trying not to drop their monocles into their cups and not look too obvious as they bend over to smell their own farts.

I think I should correct you there.

"A club wherein members sit around in a lounge in their high-back leather chairs, sipping tea or coffee laced with non-alcoholic brandy, laughing wryly at the "lowly commoners and their overrated (Half Life 2)", all the while trying not to drop their monocles into their cups and not look too obvious as they bend over to smell their own farts."

It's always Half Life 2. If they threw a variety of games under the microscope these threads might actually be interesting. Just for once I'd like to see someone post a "Chrono Trigger sucks" thread. Just for a bit of variety.

Bad Jim:

I think I should correct you there.

"A club wherein members sit around in a lounge in their high-back leather chairs, sipping tea or coffee laced with non-alcoholic brandy, laughing wryly at the "lowly commoners and their overrated (Half Life 2)", all the while trying not to drop their monocles into their cups and not look too obvious as they bend over to smell their own farts."

It's always Half Life 2. If they threw a variety of games under the microscope these threads might actually be interesting. Just for once I'd like to see someone post a "Chrono Trigger sucks" thread. Just for a bit of variety.

To be fair, I originally typed Half-Life 2 in the same location, but realized that, though Half-Life 2 gets an inordinate amount of "hate" threads, there are still a few other, key games/series that receive similar "hate". And, often from the same people.

So, in the interest of fairness, I couldn't discount all of the Halo, Call of Duty, Dead Space, and other "hate" threads we see; even if far more infrequently.

I played HL2 on PC when it was released and couldn't understand the fuss. The facial animation and physics were good for that time, but the internet had only just stopped going on about how great tech does not make a great game (following the release of Doom 3) so it was weird to see the same hive mind raving about HL2 because of its tech. The actual gameplay was, for me, the worst part of HL2. It was scripted-to-death. It felt like watching a movie rather than playing a game. But apparently people love that, and scripted-to-death shooters became the norm and are still going strong nine years later. That's a ball that HL2 started rolling almost single handedly, which ought to put into perspective the comparison that you're making.

MichiganMuscle77:
Why can't we just all agree that Half-Life 2 is a beautiful example of a video game of the year 2004 and stop trying to degrade it just because video game quality has *gasp* progressed in the last 9 years?

I *think* I played Half Life 2... It's the one with the outdoor environments? I turned it off after about an hour. Too boring. In 1995/1996, I was building my own Doom WADs and Duke BUILD maps. HL bored me to tears. Seriously. Call me an FPS hipster, but I just wasn't interested.

I never got it on release but remember watching a friend play it on his at the time top of the range PC and I was amazed and hugely disappointed by the graphics at the same time some of it looked so awesome and other parts were just terrible ok over exaggeration there but I thought they were bad in places as in seeming flat and pasted on typical PC graphics basically that has only recently started to change.

When I personally played it a few years later I found it very inconsistent some parts were great fun especially near the end with the gravity gun but most of it was dull or passable, not a lot stayed with me from the game and to be honest I was glad when it was over.

I dont think it has aged to badly though I mean its not that old really but the gameplay already felt quite old when I played it especially the first half of the game it reminded me of really old (ok older) games like Doom oddly in the way it felt even though they are very different the end felt a lot more modern and smooth with better design overall.

If you liked it back then you will probably like it now it didnt hold up to the hype though and even if it was the best game ever I think it would have still come short of it such was the ridiculousness of it at the time.

The impression I got when playing was it took to long to develop they started old school and gradually revamped the design as you progressed or I suppose I could say it lacked cohesion like a mild case of Duke Nukem forever it felt like it had all these wouldnt it be cool moments and usually coming short.

Zeh Don:
There are a few ways to "look" at Half-life 2, however in my opinion it stands up in all of them - feel free to disagree.

In terms of First Person Story telling, Half-life 2 remains the champion. It's story is less told through lazy cut scenes and more through the world and incidental details present therein. The lack of children and pets, the deep philosophical ramblings that bombard the citizens, even the furnishings in the houses tell a story better than some pathetic shock-value opener. The trips to Ravenholm and Nova Prospect towards the middle of the game dip the world in a dark and terrifying vibe that supplants most full fledged Horror titles because it doesn't SAY anything. It just puts the details in the world and lets them speak for themselves.

In terms of Gun Play, Half-life 2 isn't as visceral as it's modern day counter parts, however the moment-to-moment gameplay is still well ahead of basically everyone in the industry save for perhaps Halo. The A.I. drives the scenario based combat, meaning it reacts to the player and allows them to employ wildcard strategies that the A.I. adapts to. Most modern shooters all but ignore A.I. in favour of scripted battles - Half-life 2 weaves it's scripting amongst the on-the-fly scenarios. The first real battle against the Combine drop ship on the freeway, the fierce firefights through the City during the game's final chapters, and even the moment-to-moment use of the gravity gun allow for a more varied and immersive experience.

Lastly, it's setting is incredible, though lacking the awe of something akin to Bioshock's Rapture. It's eschews the realism of the modern shooters, leaving behind your glocks and M14s for more inventive and "fun" firearms. Instead of simply killing "The Non-Americans" as is the norm for the industry today, you're fighting monsters and alien soldiers, not because they "Hate Freedom for [reasons]" but because they're simply trying to wipe out humanity, turning them into zombie soldiers for their army. It's escapism, pure and simple - and for the dreamer in me, it wins out over the endlessly boring Military Shooters of today.

All my opinions, of course.

Gah, what this is telling me is that Monolith got screwed over by Valve's hype machine not once, but twice XD

Half joking here, but Shogo: Mobile Armor Division came out around the same time as Unreal and the original
Half Life, did a lot (though admittedly not all) of what Half Life is famous for, did it extremely well, and then proceeded to sell so few copies that both expansions were cancelled, let alone the sequel.

Fast forward now to 2004: Half Life 2 comes out. So does F.E.A.R.. Solid Half Life-style storytelling[1], absolutely amazing gunplay, a sci-fi/horror plot (so not a modern military shooter) and Havok physics. Read: it matches or exceeds HL2's feature set outside of two areas, those being the driving sections (did anyone like those?) and the level design, which was kind of boring, but that had more to do with the writers than the mappers. The main thing I wanted to say here, though, is that game had absolutely friggin' amazing gunplay. Best Shotgun this side of Doom 2, and the other guns were no slouches, either.

As for HL2 itself, I think it holds up as a solid shooter, even today. Just don't go in expecting a choir of angels to suddenly appear in front of you -- no game could possibly stand up to the kind of hype that thing has at this point.

Edit: Side note, I think this thread is a big sign of how and why the current console generation has overstayed its welcome. I know the consoles didn't start coming out until 2005, but the PC games of 2004 were where then-next-gen graphics started showing up for the first time. 2004 was nine years ago. Given an average console life span of five years, this would be like a fan of PS1 JRPGs circa 1999 asking how the original Final Fantasy on the NES held up compared to FFVII, VIII, and IX, and expecting to get an answer somewhere in a range from "it's good but not as good" to "it's still the best JRPG ever made."

[1] Personally I'd rather have a cutscene, the whole "sit in a room while two other people talk" routine doesn't do much for me.

Half-Life 2 is better than most games released nowadays, even being overrated. It's graphics are still bearable, and it's fun, clever and doesn't treat the player like an idiot and hold your hand. You do feel a bit excluded since Gordon never talks or directly interacts with anyone except during scripted moments.

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