reviewed on PC
Escape from City 17
The game starts the very instant Half Life 2 leaves off as the core of the citadel is about to go nova. The introduction cinematic explains how Gordon and Alyx manage to escape certain death with the supernatural powers of some old and very special friends. As Gorgon comes too and the player gains control, you are greeted by the comforting whines and beeps of DOG as he digs Gordon from under the rubble and as always Alyx is nearby, and thankfully she was wise enough to bring your gravity gun with her.
After happy reunions, the situation becomes dire as you learn the repercussions of your former victory over the Combine. The citadel, that now stands falling apart on itself, will go critical at any moment and turn what is left of City 17 and all who still reside in the city into a huge smoking crater. Now the race is on to escape from City 17!
The lovely Alyx Vance
From the very first chapter of Episode One, the lovely Alyx is by your side. She is your best chance to survive and sometimes she is the only reason you survive. The sweet Alyx ushers in a new era of sidekick AI with actually being able to take care of herself and act rationally to her surroundings. She brings an impressive array of skills to the adventure that will help you both make it out of City 17 in one piece.
Aside of being a better shot then Gordon, she is more than capable of going into minor melee combat to knock down or knock back her foes. The sight of her kicking something to the ground and putting a few rounds into it drives the message home that she isn't playing around. She can open just about any lock, reprogram roller mines to work for you and will save Gordon's hide more than once along the way.
Expectations for the first expansion were extremely high after the success of Half Life 2. It wasn't a surprise to find the exceptional quality carried over into Episode One. Overall gameplay was exciting and the player is thrown into the action immediately. The action truly picks up right where it left off and only slows down for storyline segments and the occasional puzzle. Speaking of puzzles, the good old jump puzzles are back. There are not many to navigate, but players need to keep there eyes open when stuck at a dead end or lost. Typically there is a vent or pipe that can be crawled through or jumped on that was overlooked.
Overall difficulty was a bit surprising though. Episode One proved harder than the original at times due to the nature of your environment and severe lack of ammunition. With a few segments that could have come out of Dawn of the Dead and Starship Troopers, the handful of pistol ammo that you were saving for a rainy day doesn't last very long. The gravity gun will become the weapon of choice for majority of the earlier chapters.
Episode One uses the standard FPS setup common to the genre, nothing new. Response of the character is sharp and accurate which makes the jump puzzles a little easier to deal with and weapons still have that special 'feel' about them. There is just something special about mowing down Combine troopers with a Plasma Rifle.
No Pros and Cons at this time