Have You Played… Half-Life 2?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Okay, now we’re nearly 300 deep into these recommendations we’re clearly getting a little obscure, a little desperate, but it’s still possible that a few people will have played this oddity. Half-Life 2 came out in 2004, but as there’s been no Half-Life 3 in the eleven years since one can only assume it didn’t sell well.

I recently replayed through Half-Life 2, because I find that games as totemic in our memories can often become distorted. Is it really one of the best games ever? Does it still stand up as the best FPS of all time? Surely that can’t really be true?

It turns out it can, although it’s hard to know how much is due to the slow, miserable demise of the genre over the decade-plus since. It’s still an absolutely essential game to play, and while it seems impossible that someone might not, here’s yet another appeal to suggest you do. It’s £7 on Steam, but you can be sure it’ll drop to almost nothing in the forthcoming Holiday Sale.

125 Comments

  1. clockworkrat says:

    My favourite shotgun in any game ever.

    • Orillion says:

      It felt really good to use, but you didn’t get a whole lot of bullets for it in reserve.

    • Fiatil says:

      I’m so happy to find out I’m not alone. That shotgun in deathmatch resulted in some of the most fun I’ve had in a multiplayer FPS.

      • kalzekdor says:

        Guns… in deathmatch? You must be one of those hackers who spawns stuff from the single-player story in DM maps. Well, joke’s on you, as despite the rampancy of gun wielding hackers, me and my trusty crowbar routinely topped the scoreboard in this timeless First Person Smasher. As it was meant to be.

        • kalzekdor says:

          Now that I’m thinking about it, I can still clearly recall the breakdown of the relative utility of Crowbar v. Stun Baton.

          The Stun Baton did 40 damage, and had a stable attack speed. The Crowbar did 25 damage, and had a “Miss” speed and a “Hit” speed. The recovery time from a Miss was roughly as long as the Stun Baton attack.

          Also, due to how damage reduction from Armor is calculated, it’s better to have multiple small hits than one big hit. Damage reduction is the same whether you have 1 Armor, or 100. (80% reduction in health damage.) For example, against someone with 100/100, it takes 8 Crowbar attacks (200 total damage) to kill them, but 6 Stun Baton hits (240 total damage, 12 is wasted on Health overkill, 28 is wasted on Armor overkill). That’s because, after 3 Stun Baton hits, they would be at 76/4, but then the fourth hit will only do 8 health and 4 armor damage.

          The Stun Baton was good for hit and run tactics, though, as it’s higher per strike damage means that, with proper timing, the enemy has less opportunity to fight back. Sneak up on someone, hit with a Stun Baton once or twice, run away, repeat. Compare with the crowbar, where the optimal strategy is to scream into the mic as loud as possible, then hold down W and Mouse1 until everything stops moving.

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      phuzz says:

      I used to enjoy going into the console and setting the number of pellets the shotgun fired from seven up to about 400 or so (sk_plr_num_shotgun_pellets 400), so that every shot turned into a tide of destruction that smashed every enemy and physics object into the far wall.

  2. MiniMatt says:

    It’s £7 on Steam, but you can be sure it’ll drop to almost nothing in the forthcoming Holiday Sale.

    When did this one get queued up in the CMS? :)

    £1.74 btw.

  3. Rao Dao Zao says:

    I haven’t! I played HL1 and thought it kind of sucked so, uh, no inclination to play the sequel.

  4. Pazguato says:

    I think the problem Valve has with Half Life 3 is how to make a game that can redefine first person shooter again as HL1 and HL2 did it. They did it two times, but that not means it’s an easy thing to do. Now, that Ken Levine is steping away from linear narrative.

    • Nucas says:

      they definitely did, *one* time. half-life really blazed a trail in so many ways. environmental storytelling; total immersion with seamless level loads and no “missions”; first-rate AI; an innovative UI; skeletal animation and primitive lip sync, the first of its kind; etc.

      half-life 2 is not a step forward. the environments were wide and open (for 2004), and a huge portion of its gameplay is built around the havok physics engine. perhaps it was innovative in a way back then, but it feels really stale today. AI was also a huge step back.

      i replayed the series for the first time in 10 or so years last month and was struck by how poorly HL2 had aged. there have been 2 or 3 leaks over the years about how HL3 is being worked on by a skeleton crew – and some youtubers back in july got to a valve employee who said it was being deliberately stymied by management after they saw the “backlash” that “struck” mass effect 3 and they’re afraid of fucking up their steam money train.

      but maybe it’s for the best. after replaying 2 i really think the world has left half-life behind.

      • Pazguato says:

        “but maybe it’s for the best. after replaying 2 i really think the world has left half-life behind.”

        Well argued. FPS is a genre that doesn’t age well.

      • Sinjun says:

        No, they did it two times. “It feels stale today” is not a valid criticism of an 11 year old game. At the time, the physics puzzles were revolutionary.

        • Clavus says:

          The physics engine and facial animation (+character performance) were HL2’s big technical selling points.

        • Nucas says:

          we’ll have to agree to disagree there. i think time has lent clarity to how shallow half-life 2’s gameplay is, as it all ultimate revolves around the same buoyancy/weight-and-levers gameplay. it hinges on, essentially, a gimmick. half-life 1 hasn’t aged at all because it was excellent in so many fundamental areas of game design.

    • Hedgeclipper says:

      Given the way shooters have gone a fresh coat and new plot on HL2 might just about be enough. Look at the reception the recent Wolfenstien got.

      • Pazguato says:

        Yes, maybe would be enough, but with Valve we always have great expectations.

    • TheTingler says:

      Nope, they haven’t screwed themselves that way, they screwed themselves by not releasing Episode III. With Half-Life 2 they were free to tell a brand new story with only a little connection to HL1, but with the next game they have to continue on from a cliffhanger years after it was relevant. They should’ve just done a quick, good Episode III to end the Half-Life 2 story and leave Half-Life 3 to tell a fresh one (if they wanted to do it at all).

      By this point, they can’t do either. If they don’t resolve that cliffhanger their fans will hate them, and if they DO continue on from Episode II it’ll put off anyone who hasn’t played through all of the Half-Life 2 story. They can’t win, and deciding not to go through with Episode III has hurt them badly. So that’s why we’ll never get another Half-Life.

    • goettel says:

      I hate to be that guy, but I can’t see this “redefine” going anywhere else than VR. And I’m not just talking getting the basics right, but really incorporating it: having to look behind you for certain stalking mobs, seeing things like NPC’s turning to look at you and follow you with their eyes, unscripted, offering Hydra/STEM support, VR-in-VR puzzles and mindfucks, adding ambience to the world, like insects bussing, distant conversations. The works.

  5. Petethegoat says:

    Not one of the best Source engine games, to be honest.

    Actually, thinking about it, it might be one of the worst?? I’m sure there’s some utter bollocks source games that I’ve forgotten, but…

    • Nucas says:

      half life 2 hasn’t aged the best but “worst source engine game” is a stretch. tactical intervention? the beginner’s guide? eye: divine cybermancy? postal 3?

      • Petethegoat says:

        EYE is definitely a matter of whether you prefer polish over good feeling weapons and fun movement, but the others are fair enough.

        But for me at least, HL2 in no way beats out Dark Messiah, Vampire, SIN, CSGO, Zeno Clash, etc.
        And honestly I probably had more fun dicking about in Tactical Intervention than in HL2, but I’ll begrudgingly accept that it was pretty bad. :)

        • Nucas says:

          oh man, i forgot all about sin. one playthrough was all i needed after the heartbreak of ritual’s dissolution. they were really expert game makers.

      • gabrielonuris says:

        Ehrm… I actually find E.Y.E a better source game than HL2; the weapons feel much better and funnier to shoot with.

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      Oakreef says:

      You’ve definitely forgotten Revelations 2012

    • smeghamr says:

      I’d love to write a comment shunning you all about utterly retardedly wrong most of you are about an FPS that completely redefined every single modern FPS you play nowadays. But what is the point? You deserve to stew in your own self-satisfactory idiocy.

      • Nucas says:

        well, thanks man. being right feels pretty good. i guess i’ll let your continue seething in indignant anger.

      • zxcasdqwecat says:

        A lot of posts are perfectly fine but yeah holy shit.

      • Petethegoat says:

        But we’re talking about Half-Life 2, not the original.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        Retardedly wrong. The way in which you are wrong is retarded. Hmm. Anyway, no-one should be allowed to use that word in comments, including me.

  6. mavrik says:

    Hrmf, I’m going to be a blasphemer here and say that HL2 actually disappointed me in some aspects. Since it loved the Crichton style story of HL1 (modern-time military base being invaded the aliens), the Scifi blandness of HL2 world grated on me. Masked Combine stormtroopers had far less personality than marines from HL1, the environments were a repeat of run-down ruins, run-down sewers, run-down ruins etc. all the way to the Citadel. All that was compounded by rather boring weapons which packed was less punch than HL1 set of weaponry.

    Actually the whole story felt out of place – Combine felt totally tacked onto the events of the first story and I had a strong feeling that HL1 wasn’t really meant to be expanded or continued. It felt like they were trying hard to rewrite history and failed at it.

    Having said that… gameplay wise HL2 had some really brilliant moments and deserves to stand as one of the best FPSes in gaming history. Some pieces worked extremely well and if I ignore the blandness of environments it was really fun to play. Gravity gun stands as a huge innovation in history of gaming, physics based puzzles were new and interesting at the time and the game is very fun to play most of the time. Just not as much as HL1 was.

    I hope HL3 will be a step forward, even though it seems that lately Valve isn’t capable of really delivering a finished product. Their no-management structure seems to be taking a toll – after all in the time we’re waiting for Episode 3, The Witcher 3 was built from ground up.

    • Nucas says:

      there have been a number of leaks over the years relating to half-life 3 being developed by a group of 10 or less people. i doubt it will ever see the light of day unfortunately.

  7. Risingson says:

    I did, with its two chapters, I enjoyed it inmensely, and I don’t want to play it again.

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    yhancik says:

    Actually barely. As excited as I initially was, something bored me off rather quickly. I’m not sure what.

    I remember though, that when I played STALKER a couple of years later, some things about HL2 become more clear to me. While stalkers had their own life, combines often felt like they had been placed there for the sole reason of being an obstacle in what seemed like a one-way corridor. And their only purpose in life was to stand there waiting for The Gordon Freeman to come and shoot them down. And fair enough, a lot of games do that. I guess I was just looking for a different kind of experience at that time.

  9. gbrading says:

    It’s still my favourite game of all-time so far, and what I regard as the “best game” besides Tetris. I’d like to think that the reason we haven’t seen Ricochet 2 (I don’t refer to it by it’s other name) is because Valve are trying their hardest to make Ricochet 2 as big a sea change as Half-Life 2 was. No evidence to say that’s the case, but I still live in hope in seeing a sequel some time in the first half of this century.

  10. 321 says:

    ” It’s £7 on Steam,”

    You keep using this bizzare curency as if it’s supossed to mean something to the world at large. Dollars or euros would be more apropriate for the 7 billion people from Earth that don’t use that or know what it means.

    • geisler says:

      Do you even Brit bro?

    • Thurgret says:

      I’m not sure if you’re just joking or what, but the pound sterling’s the fourth most traded currency on the foreign exchange market, after the US Dollar, Euro and Japanese Yen. It’s not that obscure.

      • 321 says:

        Of course i’m (half) joking, but by what margin is it the fourth? Almost nonexistent by dollar/euro. Which are international curencies that everyone knows. The way some sites, probably british just throw the english pound left and right as if it’s supposed to mean something to someone, has gotten pretty annoying for me over the years. You know most your audience is foreign, yet you use domestic currency. Some people use indian ruppes or norwegian crowns like its THE world curency. The fock am i supposed to know about those? And yes, even the english pound, since it means completely nothing next to dollars/euros, i have to look it up every now and then to see whatever the fock 12 pounds means or 35 or 43. Now if only sites with (majority)international audiences would use THE international curency, it would be so awesome

        • sabby says:

          Rps is a uk based blog. It makes complete sense that £/gbp would make sense to the majority of its readers.

          There are plenty of US based gaming sites out there, if you have a problem go and moan on their comment sections.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Just as soon as you adopt the metric system, good buddy. ;)

          • Jediben says:

            Why shouldn’t the strongest currency be used as the common denominator? Next time your crap Euro or 5th rate dollar exceeds the value of the English Pound, we’ll talk.

          • Tuor says:

            Them there’s fightin’ words! You’ll take my foot and pound mass over my dead body! And there ain’t no way I’m goin’ with none of that sissy “Celsius” business, with only 100 measly degrees between freezin’ and boilin’ (like my blood is doin’ this very moment!).

            Thank you kindly, but this here American is gonna stick with what works, and that ain’t no metric system, no sir!

          • Universal Quitter says:

            Smileys aside, we use metric for all kinds of things. For how warlike everyone seems to think Americans are, does anyone realize the US military is 100% metric?

            Same with NASA and bottles of s̶u̶g̶a̶r̶y̶ ̶p̶o̶i̶s̶o̶n̶ soda.

          • bonuswavepilot says:

            My car gets 15 rods to the hog’s head, and that’s the way I like it!

        • Ron Peppers says:

          So in all those agonising years of desperate, hair-pulling woe you’ve never once googled it and found £x1.5=$?

          You could prolly even manage it on your fingers bruv, give it a whirl.

        • Universal Quitter says:

          Don’t try to reason from your own personal experiences like that. This is the internet. As Americans, we are automatically wrong and should be trying harder to meet everyone else halfway.

          Someday, this will be China’s job, but until that happens, we have a duty to be the world’s punchline.

          • Drumclem says:

            Man, that was brilliant. Mind if I frame this post of yours and put it somewhere in my house? :)

          • bonuswavepilot says:

            I dunno dude, as far as the metric thing goes, it’s pretty much the whole world one way, and you guys the other. (Both are utterly arbitrary, of course, but if you’re going to invent a series of measurements having them all based on powers of ten is a hell of a lot easier to remember & convert than 12 of this to that, or 28 or those to the other thing).

    • Risingson says:

      Well, this site is so full of references to the UK (meaning: London) living that it feels as local as the next door Cottage Chicken.

    • rabbit says:

      i think you’re making a seeping hemorrhoid out of a mole hill. the website’s based in the UK. it’s refreshing for those of us based here to see things for once referenced at the prices at which we will find them.

    • TheTingler says:

      RPS is a site staffed exclusively by British writers. Now you know how it feels to be a non-American going to pretty much every site on the internet.

    • unsane says:

      Wtf is a “dollar”? An “euro”? It’s called kroner. £7 is 77 kroner.*

      *yeah, I’m havin a laff

  11. Lord_Mordja says:

    Half Life 2 did two things better than any game before or after it.

    1)Variety: just about every level plays differently or introduces a new gimmick; physics puzzles, antlions, basic squad commands, etc. And yes, I’m one of those maniacs who loved the driving sections.

    2)Momentum: Half Life 2 (and it’s predecessor, of course) drops you into its world and just keeps going. Everything you do moves you forward across one singular location, City 17. That’s something too many shooters have lost after COD blew up. They have you globe trotting from spectacle to spectacle with only menus in between levels telling you why you’re headed to the other side of the planet and it just feels disjointed.

  12. MikoSquiz says:

    The gimmicks and amazing first-person cinematic graphics haven’t aged very well (apart from the grav gun, which is still fun), and once you’re past them you’re left with mostly a very narrow one-way corridor full of bland and perfunctory manshooting and rather dull puzzles. It’s not great.

    This is, after all, the game that invented the Call of Duty manshoot as we know it today: Progress down a corridor (possibly sometimes disguised as something other than a literal corridor, but functionally a corridor nonetheless), shoot some guys placed in the corridor, watch a non-interactive segment, repeat. And it’s not the best in that genre by a long shot.

    • aoanla says:

      Sadly, I think I have to agree: Half-Life 2 was mostly fantastic when I first played it (although, even then, it had janky bits – the driving section wasn’t the best, and I found the section being harried by an invincible helicopter frustrating), but both times I’ve re-played it, I’ve found it compared a little less well with the best of modern games at the time. (And it’s increasingly obviously linear, despite the excellent dressing Valve did around this – compared even to its sequel Episodes, everything is a little more obviously “directing” you.)

    • dkfgo says:

      CoD came before though. I dont think comparing CoD and Half life is fair to any of the franchises, they each had their own thing going, and definitelly, no CoD game plays like any Half Life, not even the earlier CoD games. People argue that Half Life is a “corridor shooter”, but thats only true in the sense that if you stretch your definition enough every shooter is a “corridor shooter”.

      • MikoSquiz says:

        Call of Duty wasn’t in the style of modern Call of Duty at the time, though. The missions were, relatively speaking, wide open and full of interesting choices. It was only after Half-Life 2’s massive success that they glommed onto its style of “walk down this narrowly proscribed path and watch our canned animations”.

        • dkfgo says:

          Open and full of interesting choices, huh? Are we really talking about Call of Duty? I wonder how much time has been since you played these games.

        • Nucas says:

          you might want to pull up a video of COD1 on youtube friend, since you seem to have forgotten what its gameplay was like. also, proscribe means forbid.

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    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    Oh my god yes I have. This is probably the one game I have completed more times than any other. I love this game so so sooooo much. Making combines flatline is one of the great joys in my life.

  14. Kefren says:

    No point in HL3 until they finish HL2. I got to the end of it and it wasn’t a proper game ending, it was just like a mid-game scene. Even the extra episodes didn’t finish its story.

    Half Life 2 wrapped up without explaining everything or having a satisfactory conclusion. I was left with unanswered questions which I’d have got answers to if I had a character who wasn’t a mute. I was really really disappointed by the game ending (as I was with Crysis), just leaving me feeling it was incomplete and a lot of build up to disappointment. It’s one of the reasons why I prefer Half Life 1. It felt more complete to me. I survived an outbreak of aliens and killed the apparent mastermind behind it, which seemed to have been sending forces against us. The rest of the world was normal, I was congratulated, and hired by a mysterious Man In Black. It felt well rounded. Whereas with HL2 I had no idea – for the whole game! – whether this was a planet-wide disaster or just located in one area; I had no idea where I was (looked like Eastern Europe, people spoke American); I had no idea what had happened – and at the end of the game all of that still applied. Also I fought someone who was obviously not the ultimate enemy, yet the game just ended there. It felt unsatisfying and confusing to me. After all the hype I expected more of the followup. Gordon Freeman went right down in my estimation. He finds himself in a messed-up city, and never thinks to ask if it is just one city controlled by aliens, or the whole world? I assumed that would be answered at some point – I finished the game and still hadn’t been told. I was mentally begging the idiot to ask some questions.

    • MattM says:

      I think a lot of the HL2 backstory was communicated through developer interviews during previews and with promotional videos and they forgot to put this stuff into the actual game. I didn’t really get who the combine were on my first play-though of the main game, but if you pay attention to all of the environmental details then you can put it together.
      I think it was a poor decision to hinge the players understanding of the main plot on them stopping to read old newspapers in-game or seeking out extra-game material.
      That said, I loved the game when I first played it and still think its one of the all time best FPSs.

      • MattM says:

        Although failing to finish the story in either the main game or the episodes does significantly hurt the game.

  15. Troubletcat says:

    I’m inclined to say that anybody who doesn’t love both HL1 and HL2 and list them somewhere in their top games of all time must be 12 and their opinion therefore a sliver irrelevant to the adult world.

    But that’s a bit dismissive, isn’t it, and surely the games, with their immaculate pacing and level design (still today) and their conceptual redefinition of what the shooter genre could even be (at the time – although too few modern games live up to their promise) stand up on their own. Stand up to more intense scrutiny. Absolutely I think.

    All the same, if you don’t love HL and HL2 you’re probably up way past your bedtime, you have school tomorrow little one!

    • Hedgeclipper says:

      When I was young we didn’t have school on Christmas day.

      • MattM says:

        I don’t care if the school is closed tomorrow, you just go stand outside the doors for 8 hours.

    • rabbit says:

      you’re right, that is dismissive.

  16. int says:

    Day of release in 2004, I was pre-loading HL2 on a small client for storing Valve games. People didn’t really like the client then, many people said it was shit. But now… they like it.

    • Emeraude says:

      No we don’t. Still haven’t played the game on any machine I own because of it.

      • int says:

        Okay then. Some of them now like it. But not you grumpy, I’ll exclude you.

        • Emeraude says:

          You put th finger right on it; it’s the exclusive nature we don’t like.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            And the DRM. And the bloat. And the shite customer service. And the fact that it’s a near monopoly.

            While I do use Steam I really fucking wish I didn’t have to and I’ll buy a game elsewhere if I can.

            Hell, even Origin is less intrusive.

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            Ericusson says:

            Steam has become so unobtrusive and so practical I now, as an old man, kinda buy all my games through them.

            Money is not an issue for the small differences in price, the lack of AA games I buy and my old age compared to some other places. Their store is a indie games heaven.

            I do tinker with my computer as when I was young. The thing starts online, offline whenever I want. Customer support reimbursed me in 24 hours all the games I did not like every time I asked.

            Patches, mods, everything is managed. The DRM debate is old. There are now DRMs everywhere though not as intrusive as what some plans had been at first. But then again Palladium hardware base DRMs were a political fantasy.

            Also I got old and stop worrying about the bomb and learnt to love it. Leaving fighting windmills to your men and Don Quichote.

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            Ericusson says:

            … “do NOT tinker … anymore”

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            Ericusson says:

            Young men … Ahhhhh runs away hits a wall passes out

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            Ericusson says:

            “Young men” not “your men” … Ahhhhh runs away hits a wall passes out

          • bonuswavepilot says:

            A huge proportion of my games are installed through Steam – for the most part it seems to do its job well, but I must admit to trepidation about the possibility of just losing access to my whole library if something goes badly awry at Valve, or I somehow offend the wrong person and get banned.

    • Jediben says:

      2004 I had already been playing around with the leaked build. Couldn’t actually believe that I had it or that it promised to be so good.

    • PseudoKnight says:

      I liked Steam in 2004. A lot. I knew what it meant for games. Back then you had to download patches through awful sites like FilePlanet. Steam was a god-send. I think people who didn’t buy into the idea of digital services back then ended up buying the physical copy of Half-Life 2, which had more problems than the downloadable version which I bought and other physical copies at the time. So it just reinforced their opinion. Its day one popularity just killed the infant service, which wasn’t unusual at the time for any online games.

      It did have some annoying issues, but they were far better than the alternative — totally worth it.

  17. waltC says:

    “Half-Life 2 came out in 2004, but as there’s been no Half-Life 3 in the eleven years since one can only assume it didn’t sell well.”

    Hopefully, this is either a joke or sarcasm or both…;) HL2 put Valve and Newell on the map and was the foundation for the creation of Steam. It was a runaway success, and at its release there was nothing remotely like it available anywhere. It still to this day looks better than many recent titles. If you are someone who hasn’t played this gem–well, let’s just say you’ve a fair bit of ground to cover before someone might accuse you of being a “gamer.” HL2 is light years ahead of Doom/Quake, etc., and actually has a nice story as well.

    • Enkidum says:

      It’s entirely possible there’s a joke in there somewhere.

    • rabbit says:

      wow.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      I feel I am about to fall into a kind of mise en abyme of sarcasm. Help.

      • waltC says:

        Amazing, the perception one finds in the strangest places. (Joke, sarcasm, both or neither?) Lol…Merry Christmas!

  18. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Played it once though several years to late and thought it quite overhyped. Would have been better if I played it at launch I guess.
    Gravity gun was a neat toy so yeah and game also had tripods.
    The water level was just too long also the one where you walk along some road. Plus that Matrix meets War of the Worlds-like story made no sense in HL1 and continues in HL2

  19. Premium User Badge

    kregg says:

    I remember playing and completing Half Life 2 at the time and just not enjoying it – just having the feeling of “oh thank god that’s over)”.

    In general, I just found it really slow and boring – the only thing I can remember about it was about right in the middle of the game there was this town inhabited by zombies, and you’d get a saw blade which you’d manipulate with the gravity gun and you’d cut zombies in half. That was fun, but that’s the only fun thing I remember from it.

    I felt the physics were neat from a “nice, a game can do this point of view”, but then I did my nth puzzle in the game and I just grew weary of the physics engine. And any bit which involved a vehicle can just go away. I can’t even remember what happens in the story apart from something something oppression.

    Maybe it was because Half Life left such a strong dent in my memory with the opening of it (not the credits which goes on for absolutely ages) that I was expecting HL2 to follow a similar but improved pattern.

    • JellyfishGreen says:

      In general, I just found it really slow and boring – the only thing I can remember about it was about right in the middle of the game there was this town inhabited by zombies, and you’d get a saw blade which you’d manipulate with the gravity gun and you’d cut zombies in half. That was fun, but that’s the only fun thing I remember from it.

      Oh my, Ravensburger is the bit I played on the PS2 demo disk. I liked it but never got the full game. I was toying with the idea of getting it on Steam after reading this article, but now you say I’ve played the best bit already…

  20. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Nope, never played. Growing up with macs around, I never got to play Valve games and later on never felt the need to try them out (barring Portal 1 and 2). But I got to play Bungie’s early games, so that’s a plus.

  21. Gwog says:

    HL2 and the two episodes are some of my favorite gaming memories. Super fun, great characters, innovative things like the gravity gun, looked amazing, and the world building was incredible.

    I’m still so fucking mad and resentful that they totally abandoned the series and just let that narrative die unfinished. I’ll never buy another valve game, never buy anything else from steam, and regret the stuff I bought from steam in the past.

  22. BooleanBob says:

    I mean, it’s a fun roller coaster from set piece to set piece. “Now about that beer I owe ya” is one of my favourite moments in gaming. The oppressive atmosphere of City 17 is great, but it doesn’t hold up once you’re on the run, and that makes for an unfavorable comparison with the original, where the environs you edge through are claustrophobic, dark, seemingly endless – the dread and threat of Black Mesa really sticks to you.

    In Half Life 2 your momentum kind of carries you out of the world even as you blast your way through it; you’re the icon, the action movie star. I didn’t really inhabit that world like I did in the first.

    I just never felt like I was there, y’know?

    • Premium User Badge

      Phasma Felis says:

      I think it was the opposite for me. Most shooters allow you to traverse the environment at your leisure, and that brings out the cracks–you can poke into all the corners and get comfortable, focus on how linear the levels are, on how the enormous army that wants you dead doesn’t actually hunt you down but politely waits for you to arrive at each little group.

      HL2’s pursuit sections turn that on its head. Being actively hunted reminds you that you are not in control here no matter how much ammo you have, it keeps you from getting comfortable, and at its best it fosters the illusion that you really are in a great sprawling city and the alley you chose to dash down is just one of many ways you could have fled.

  23. Sinjun says:

    How I tire of the comments that always come up when HL2 is brought up. “It’s actually not that great” “It hasn’t aged well” “It wasn’t as revolutionary as people say” “The shooting sucks”

    Blah blah blah.

    • TheTingler says:

      Sadly I agree with the “it wasn’t as revolutionary as people say” because I can’t name another FPS that felt like it or did what HL2 did as well.

  24. Jeroen D Stout says:

    The lack of love for HL² in this comment thread has just broken my heart a tiny bit. :,(

    • dkfgo says:

      Thats mostly from people that played it in 2009 at best, when they bought the Orange Box, I doubt anyone that calls Half-Life 2 shallow played it when it was a new game.

  25. Zekiel says:

    Still love this game. Its still what I think of as the most videoy-gamey videogame – sort of like the archetype of a videogame… It’s marvel – some great environmental design, some great fun, memorable characters, minimalist storytelling, a great sense of pacing, lots of variety, the Gravity Gun…

    Also this game shows Valve’s excellence in drawing the player’s attention to what is important without the use of grabbing the camera away from you, having another character tell you about it, flashing up on-screen button prompts etc… designers could learn a lot from this game. Shame they haven’t.

  26. Darth Gangrel says:

    Half-Life 2 is one of those games that are only fun to play with mods. Unmodded, it’s quite boring and the weapons (except for the gravity gun) are limited and with little ammo. With Smod however, it’s a whole new game. I uninstalled Half-Life 2 several years ago after it just seemed to sit there, doing nothing useful, just taking up space. I rarely do that with games that old, since they don’t need that many GB’s required to install, or of that kind (I have FPS games with almost limitless replayability). I’m sure it still has glorious mods I haven’t played yet, but I’m tired of that game.

    Same thing about Doom 3, but even with the Perfected Mod, the corridor running gets tedious after a while, it’s just delayed a bit compared to the unmodded version.

  27. Det. Bullock says:

    Still one of the best FPSes I’ve ever played, no matter how many people like to say it’s “aged badly”, you want “aged badly”? Try to play Wizardry VI, I say.

    • Risingson says:

      In a canon where any kind of frustration in a game is seen as something to erradicate in a gametopia devoid of challenges, Wizardry VI is very fun as a suggestion.

  28. Noam Beefheart says:

    Overrated.

    • gunny1993 says:

      Whilst the game is linear and a lot of the levels are too long leading too occasional poor pacing, the use of set pieces, environmental changes to enemy design, use and diversity are what make this game have the impact that it has had over the years.

      When I see people say “Overrated” all I can think of is comparing it to people who find Citizen Kane boring; sure it is, but if you actually look at the film for what it did in terms of cinematography it’s impossible not to fall in love with it.

      My guess would be that the people who call HL2 overrated are ones who played most FPS games since it was released before they played HL2, and hence, have seen the effects before the cause. I’m the same with LOTR, because I read many high fantasy books before LOTR, by the time I came to read it I considered it inelegant and trite, which it only is because I’ve seen what it spawned.

      • rossy says:

        Or maybe the people that call HL2 overrated are those that played games before HL2 and were dissapointed by the lacking level design of it? I also can’t understand people who say that the pacing is good in HL2.

    • Sinjun says:

      Shitposting like this fits at hellholes like NeoGAF. Not here.

  29. Artificial says:

    My favourite game of all time. It’s probably my most played single player game. No game, for me, matches the atmosphere created in Half Life 2. So many things all tied in to together to give it such a great feeling.

  30. Mario Figueiredo says:

    – An FPS game with an atmosphere and an intricate story. One of the last, with just Bioshock keeping up to it.
    – Completely took the world by surprise in 2004. Took its developer company to the stratosphere and it was the killer app that put Steam on the map.
    – Recognized almost immediately as one of the best games of all times, which it still maintains today, 11 years later. Has more GOTY awards than any other game in existence.
    – Introduced important lighting new tech as well as advancements in physics and modelling.
    – Introduced Developer Commentary, which no other game since cared for.

    And some ignorant fools here call it overrated, or not that good. There’s having an opinion and there’s having the wrong opinion. This game exists above and beyond personal preferences. One doesn’t call The Odyssey a bad book, even if they don’t like it.

  31. rexx.sabotage says:

    Nope. Still haven’t. This game is talked about so much there really is no need at this point. I know the story, the references and all the in-jokes without even even so much as swinging s crowbar.

    • zxcasdqwecat says:

      So true:D but I still bought the whole series, for cheap, just to play research & development.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      But… hearing about it isn’t the same as playing it. Right?

      • rexx.sabotage says:

        I dare say, “it’s better”?

        ‘don’t meet your heroes’ and all that.

  32. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    “Does it still stand up as the best FPS of all time?”

    Considering this very site ranked it the 6th best FPS of all time just a month or two ago, I’d say probably not?

  33. GWOP says:

    HL2 overrated? Oh my god, hipsters and children about! RPS readership has gone to the dogs.

    *shakes fists*

  34. dodawoxo says:

    It had the most satisfactory physics of any game I know.

    I wish newer games had more complex and abundant physics.

  35. Geebs says:

    HL2 is one of the best-paced and most satisfying shooters I have ever played. I unequivocally love every bit of it, even the “boring” parts. Even the much-derided Sand Traps blew my mind at the time (the floor is lava but I can do something about that – and it’s something I’ve never done in a game before!).

    Having already played the first two Haloes I wasn’t that impressed with HL2’s combat A.I., but everything else was the most spectacularly perfect use of the horsepower available in a PC at the time.

  36. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    HL2 was grand. Everything from the pacing, the atmosphere, the level design, the characters and, oh man, the Gravity gun. It was spectacular. It was every bit as groundbreaking and influential as HL1. It’s true that it’s kind of too late now to just finish the episodic story left by EP2 with more of the same, but I’m not sure what they could do at this point that would live up to the impossible expectations that have built up over the years. Fairly sure a VR-only HL3 is not what I want though as moving through a (large) space is kind of a key element of the series, plus I don’t know how you could continue this universe and not have Portals in it given established connections between games.

  37. Immobile Piper says:

    Recently replayed this one. Not as good as the first one, but that’s a high bar for any game. I really like the writing, set pieces, those delightful red barrels and even the vehicular sequences. And there’s a nice selection of guns even if the act of shooting those guns has been done better elsewhere.

    A wonderful shooty fighty romp.