Friday, September 16, 2011

Half Life 2: (Episode 1, 2, Lost Cost, Mission Improbable)

While Half Life 2 (my review) has a moderately self contained story and is a full game, the end of it does not end the Half Life 2 story arc. From the onset three episodes were planed that would take place immediately after the events of Half Life 2 and would theoretically provide some sort of stable situation regarding the Combine and the resistance. Simply named Episode 1 (2006), Episode 2 (2007), and Episode 3 (unreleased, and long delayed), this series rivals the original Half Life 2 game in quality in many aspects; And together with the non-cannon short game Lost Coast, and dare I suggest, non-official (but with a similar quality) Mission Improbably mod, you get the entire Half Life 2 universe.

What I really liked about the two episodes was that they were not at all afraid to try something new. They are filled completely with short, interesting, and unique situations and quite possibly better then the much longer Half Life 2; whether you are exploring a huge complex antlion burrow, defending against waves of Mawmen in complete darkness, or lobbing bombs onto striders, it is just terrifically unique and well worth playing. And one tiny, but very much appreciated, improvement made in Episode 2 is the separating of the flashlight from the suits main power and a improved battery for the flashlight.

Your partner, Alyx Vance, sniping through the window in Episode 1.
A tiny section of the beautiful antlion nest in Episode 2.

Lost Coast is a short tech demo/single level Half Life 2 game. While you play Gordon Freeman and you are playing in the Half Life 2 world the story's events are not considered canonical as far as I can tell, and there is really no timeline that could include them and make sense. Lost Coast takes place completely on some cliffy coast, where you must travel up the cliff face and explore the monastery on the top, shutting down the Combine headcrab artillery. Its decent, nothing special compared to the rest of the Half Life 2 collection.

While you never get to go to this town, across the water, it is almost
always visible and plays an important part in the plot.

There is just one more Half Life 2 game I want to talk about, and I believe it is the only other game of note that features Gordon Freeman set within the Half Life 2 universe. Mission Improbable is a three episode (only the first two are currently released) Half Life 2: Episode 2 mod with a completely new story. While the gameplay of this mod is actually very well done, it is the visuals that impressed me the most. It looks absolutely amazing; By far the best to be seen in the entire collection of Half Life games. With huge open spaces where you can see for miles and actually go there, the graphics are simply fantastic. Add to that great solid gameplay and interesting situations and puzzles and you get a game that is every-bit as good as the other, official, Half Life 2 games mentioned here.

No comments:

Post a Comment