Hold Up or Let Down?: Half-Life 2



  • 'Hold Up or Let Down?' is a thread series that aims to discuss whether games that's are somewhat universally loved, and if they would still have an impact on people who have never played it before.

    So let's discuss: Half-Life 2



  • I play HL2 every other year or so and I think it still holds up. I haven't seen many games that have (successfully) made physics such an integral part of their game, while still managing to be a pretty spectacular game in their genre. Despite the fact that it is quite linear and technically very cutscene heavy, the freedom of being in control (almost) all of the time is still neat as well.

    IMHO still one of the most finely crafted FPS games ever.



  • I played it for the first time maybe five years ago or so and while it didn't blow me out of the water, I certainly had a good time. That intro is extremely claustrophobic (in a good way), the overall combat is fun (especially with the gravity gun), and there's a reason Ravenholm is a thing of legends. There's a little too many sections driving around in the boat for my tastes, but I'd say it holds up very well - especially when compared to other FPS games released around the same time.



  • I think it's a pretty good game.

    There's a very precise design philosophy behind it, and a lot of attention given to the world in ways that haven't been too far surpassed since (in terms of clarity, not scope). It's a very finely tuned game, that, at the time, was really mindblowing on a technical level. I still respect it for being a shooter that doesn't feel the need to be a roller coaster. Much of the action is encountered on your own terms, and that player-in-control approach to pacing is really nice. I think particularly of Ravenholm, Highway 17 and the Sand Pits, which can be encountered as quickly or as slowly as you'd like.

    Still, I think the first Half Life is a more interesting game. More groundbreaking for its time, more elastic and demanding of its player. And as far as HL2 being appreciated by players today... maybe? It depends almost entirely on how many post-HL2 shooters they've played, because so much of that game's design has become FPS cliche at this point. I think overall most people will find something to enjoy in it; it does a lot of things, most of them really well.



  • @ringedwithtile said:

    Still, I think the first Half Life is a more interesting game. More groundbreaking for its time, more elastic and demanding of its player.

    Pretty much this. 2 doesn't feel bad to play today, but there was that period where it was pretty overrated, mostly for the way it handled cutscenes, and many didn't realize how heavily it leaned on 1 for the parts they loved about it. Also, 2 having the game spliced into episodes and never finished doesn't help it in the longrun.



  • I'll say that it holds up. It just does so many things correctly and connects it all with seamless, groundbreaking no cutscene presentation. The story doesn't feel intrusive, yet it also feels driven by the story.

    The ways each of the levels connect and how it is designed makes me feel like i'm traversing no man's land, places that hasn't been touched by many, places that challenge my will. There's so many moments where i question the need for Gordon's journey; why do i have to do this impossible task? Will it be worth it? Can Earth be saved? Everywhere you go, there's enemies that want you dead, and yet there's not much that gives you hope. Rarely there's allies helping you, and rarely there's a sight to behold, it's just a big, dead wasteland. There's a sense of hopelessness that holds me back, accentuated not only by the things i mention above but also things like the ambient sounds of wind which makes the loneliness of it all feels more palpable. I honestly feel that this kind of feeling hasn't been replicated to this degree yet in any FPS game i played.

    I definitely disagree with people who say it's overrated. It's hard to play now, yes, but that's because most games after HL2 take inspiration from it, and it makes those games better. I'll say this is a good thing, it's a sign of improvement after all.



  • It's still at the top of its game. There are a number of FPS that challenge it, those being Doom 2, Quake 1, 2 or 3, the original Half Life, Dark Forces 2, Unreal and Duke Nukem, but there's been nothing since that holds a candle.