A whole bunch of Half Life 2:Episode One Reviews

Please wait...

This article was written on an older version of FileFront / GameFront

Formatting may be lacking as a result. If this article is un-readable please report it so that we may fix it.


Published by Alex84 14 years ago , last updated 2 years ago
Gamespot, Gamespy, GamesRadar, ShackNews and TechGage have all posted detailed first impressions of the newly released episode one. Here are some snippets from each: Gamespot
There's a wonderful new team dynamic at work in Episode One, thanks to the fact that Alyx battles alongside you throughout most of the episode. After playing on your own throughout Half-Life and Half-Life 2, it's refreshing to have a companion by your side, and Valve takes advantage of this by throwing you into situations where you must rely on teamwork to survive. Alyx is a capable assistant (perhaps almost too capable, since it's pretty tough to kill her off, and she seemingly has unlimited ammo), and she's often the difference between victory and defeat in many encounters, as she'll cover your back while you're busy trying to sort out the puzzle. Alyx introduces a new team dynamic for Half-Life, such as when you have to illuminate her targets for her in the dark. Spending so much time with Alyx has other upsides, as well. The flirtation between Alyx and Gordon continues even further, and while it's a bit strange that it's such a one-sided relationship (thanks to Gordon, again, never uttering a single word), you still get a feeling of warmth and affection. There's lots of humor, as well, as Episode One features some sharp and witty dialogue uttered by Alyx and other familiar faces. Barney and Alyx's robotic Dog are back, as well as Eli Vance (Alyx's father) and the ever-hilarious Dr. Kleiner. Valve's impressive facial animation is still incredible, and you really get the sense that you're interacting with believable characters in the game. Of course, it also helps that the voice acting remains top-notch. Robert Guillaume, Michelle Forbes, Merle Dandridge (Alyx), and the original voice cast remain the same.
To read the full Gamespot review please click here. Gamespy
Episode One starts off exactly where Half-Life 2 ended: with you (as scientist / killing machine Gordon Freeman) atop an exploding Citadel, with your sidekick, the spunky Alyx Vance, about to be toast. Without spoiling things, let's just say that Alyx is kept out of harm's way, and the two of you are quickly reunited outside at the base of a smoking Citadel. After establishing an uplink with old friends Dr. Kleiner and Alyx's father Eli (once again voiced by Robert Guillaume), you discover the Citadel is about to go kerplooey, and in order to give yourself, Alyx and countless other citizens more time to escape City 17, you'll have to go back in to try and delay the meltdown. There's a good deal of exposition at the start of Episode One, as characters are quickly reintroduced and tasks are laid out before you. The intro includes a reappearance by Dog (Alyx's pet robot), who makes your re-entry into the Citadel a memorable one. Once inside, you and Alyx spend a lot of time exploring the deteriorating monolith, giving you a chance to get reacquainted with the gravity gun. Before long, you'll be flinging around Combine soldiers just like the good ol' days. As you work your way to the Citadel's central reactor core, you're confronted with a healthy dose of puzzles, which start out simple enough but require more imagination to solve as you proceed.
To read the full Gamespy review please click here. Games Radar
We spent a lot of time thinking about how you and Alyx could interact in ways that felt very natural and made sense, and at the same time were fairly deep," lead designer Robin Walker explains. Trying to interact with characters with that sort of command-control, acting as if they were an RTS unit, was unnatural and sort of frustrating. It's the wrong direction to go in - it's like the cutscene of artificial intelligence, adds Newell. We've developed the AI in Alyx's character enough that you can trust her, and depend on her, during the game. We've reached that point where putting a player into this co-op situation is fun and new, not frustrating and, like, 'I'm doomed now!' Alyx has a really good understanding of what you and her are trying to achieve,points out Walker. She makes really good tactical decisions. She's aware of what you're up to and she takes a lot of cues from you - if you flip over an Antlion with the grav gun, she's aware that it's causing problems and she'll take it out before anything else.
To read the full GamesRadar review please click here. Shack News
In Half-Life and, to a slightly lesser degree, Half-Life 2, the bulk of gameplay is tackled alone, but it's not just that; the games have a deliberate feeling of isolation and desperation brought on by the excellent pacing and sense that a lot of things really are going wrong and, well, you better hurry it up and get to wherever it is you're going and killing whatever it is that needs to be killed so that whatever it is that's going wrong will end up fixed. That kind of strong but ambiguous sense of purpose and direction is a common theme in the Half-Life universe, and is largely explored by way of Gordon's crucial but still unexplained relationship with the mysterious G-Man. Episode One, though, begins to imply a loss of control on the part of the G-Man--and Alyx is there to give Gordon's puzzle-solving and rampaging a more direct sense of purpose. Previously in Half-Life games, you'd get to a puzzle section, figure it out, think "Well, it's lucky that all these useful components were right here," then continue on to the next firefight or puzzle, perhaps noticing how convenient it is that everything always seems to fall into place for Gordon. This time around, though, it doesn't feel quite so deliberately engineered, which fits the game's theme of loss of control. Alyx is there to vocalize reactions, which sometimes give you hints on how you might proceed, and which sometimes echo the thoughts you're having. She'll often become frustrated at having to take a long detour, just like you probably are, but those human reactions in a sense remove a lot of the "deus ex machina" feeling of the games; when the game itself has this character that usually feels the same way you do about what's going on, the whole thing somehow feels more believable. Furthermore, she'll sometimes help you out with puzzles or, more frequently, back you up with firepower while you figure out how to proceed. Some players may miss the isolation of the other Half-Life games, which allows them to be paced more at the player's will, but this is definitely a well implemented gameplay change.
To read the full ShackNews review please click here. TechGage
When Steam was originally introduced in 2002, I don't think anybody knew exactly what to expect from it. I personally understood that it would be a content delivery system for Valves products, but since then, it has become much more. Games like Rag Doll Kung Fu, Darwinia, Red Orchestra and even Earth 2160 have also found their home there. There will be a total of three episodes, with the finale due in late 2007. Each one will retail for $19.95US, and should prove between 4 and 6 hours long. There are questions about the value of such a game, because 5 hours of gameplay for $20 seems like a lot. In the end, it really comes down to action, and how much you have enjoyed the experience. Many people played Half-Life 2 more than once, so obviously that game proved to be of great value, even though it retailed for $60. After playing through on Normal, I can say that most players will take between 4 and 5 hours to beat the game. I never played on easy, but I wouldn't expect it to decrease the overall time. What episodic delivery gives the player though, is an exciting new addition to expect occasionally. Ritual has also jumped on this bandwagon with their SiN sequel. That game spans not 3, but 9 full episodes. That's a long time to play a game in order to get the entire story. Aftermaths' 3 episodes seems much more logical from a players perspective. Have you ever played an expansion pack to a game, but find out nothing has really changed gameplay wise or graphics wise? Each episode is completely stand-alone here. You will not even need the original HL2 in order to play EP1 or any future additions. What this means to the game developer, is that they can have a fresh palette to work with. To keep up with the times, the graphics may be kicked up a notch, or various gameplay methods can be implemented. Episode 1 will not offer major graphic upgrades, but it will feature HDR (first introduced with the Lost Coast demo).
To read the full TechGage review please click here.
Comments on this Article

There are no comments yet. Be the first!