by Kevin, reviewed on
Best Deal Ever?
The Orange Box from Valve Software is possibly one of the best deals in gaming history. Five games for the price of one: Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episodes One and Episode Two, the puzzle game Portal and Team Fortress 2. There hasn't been any tinkering with the already released games, but the compilation does add one new feature: Achievements. Also available on the PC version, this should improve the games' longevity. Sounds great right? But is the package worth the price? Read as I review each game in the box individually to find out.
I'm going to start the review with the game that after almost 3 years is still praised for being ahead of its time, some going as far as calling it the best game ever created.
One of the things that makes Half-Life 2 so fantastic, is the physics engine. While it is certainly not the first game to use physics, it was probably the first to have the physics play a major role in the gameplay mechanics. The Havok engine is seamlessly integrated into Valve's new Source Engine. Many of the puzzles in the game involve using the physical properties of objects, such as weight and buoyancy to get to the next area. One such puzzle involves placing plastic barrels under a structure to lift it out of the water and create a ramp for your buggy.
The game is highly immersive and achieves this by never taking you out of the scene. Similar to the original Half-Life, the player sees everything through the eyes of the game's silent protagonist, Dr. Gordon Freeman. There are no cutscenes and the player only loses control of Freeman a few times and even then only briefly. This can sometimes makes the story difficult to tell, but Valve does a good job of working around it.
The game's sound is excellent as well. The voice actors for every character are superb and far more talented than those in most other games. Every weapon and usable item has its own unique sound. Variety in music is a little hard to find but something new appears whenever anything major is about to ensue. The game's graphics are wonderful, but are slightly dated by today's standards. The only major flaw with the game is its length. You will complete it in about 10 hours. An action game at its heart, Half Life 2 has quite a bit of run-and-gun gameplay. Valve's decision to intersperse the action with plenty of puzzles and a few driving segments has turned this game into a must-have for any serious gamer.
No Pros and Cons at this time