With the recent Half-Life: Alyx announcement reviving the series, it's a good excuse to revisit some of the older games, so... Boot up any Half-life game then post some comments about it!
I decided to play Half-Life 2 last night. I think I'm going to mainly skip around using the developer console to warp to chapters. It's nice that you can also skip to later checkpoints within a chapter if you want to play it mostly straight but a certain gameplay section begins to drag.
It seems like warping around automatically gives you the proper weapons for that chapter too, which is nice. The guns still feel great to use. Maybe it's just me, but the game seems to guide you into a comfortable groove of automatics against the Combine enemies and pistol+shotgun against the zombies and other alien vermin.
Another thought I had were about those long "in control, POV cutscenes" during story moments. HL2 has always made me wonder about the merits and downsides of that approach, mostly because I wish HL2's cutscenes were much snappier on replays. I'm literally bouncing off the walls once I get impatient with a scene. On this playthrough it also immediately made me realize how much a "directed" cutscene can add via the use of cuts and controlled camera angles. The cast of HL2 is still charming for sure, but coming straight off of some modern games it was a nice reminder how good we've got it now.
I almost fooled myself into thinking that HL2's cutscenes represented a dusty, old method before I realized these cutscenes haven't dissappeared at all. I seem to not mind (or even notice) them in modern games either! I guess it's just that the animation & motion capture on NPCs has become more detailed, which is enough to avoid feeling like the scene is grinding the game to a halt? I don't know. Also, the boundary between NPC AI and NPC cutscene behavior has gotten way fuzzier in modern games. At some point it just becomes 1-2 unique animations and voicelines; something so brief it doesn't constitute a "cutscene". Even for longer instances, it's actually weird how little I concsiously notice "in control cutscenes" today. Perhaps the use of audio logs and 'in-ear dialogue' for modern games is another factor.