For those who don’t already know, I absolutely adore the Half-Life universe, and I believe whole-heartedly that Half-Life 2 is the best game I’ve ever played (though titles like The Legend of Zelda, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and System Shock 2 are close runners up). You may recall that I also really liked Half-Life 2: Episode One (looking back on my review of that particular title, I can say that two of my three bad points, “Too Expensive?” and “Stuttering,” are no longer valid in my book; my judgment was clouded on the former and updates have corrected the latter). So what is it that draws me so closely to this gaming franchise? In a word: storytelling. I’ll be posting more on this particular topic soon, but suffice it to say that few games (if any) have affected me as deeply as the Half-Life series.
Episode Two is most definitely the Empire Strikes Back of this series. In my review of Episode One, I speculated that this might be the case, and it turns out that that theory was right. Be warned that this episode is very dark. It has been known since the release of Episode One that a primary character is killed through the course of events, and that is indeed the case. I’ll say no more except that the particular moment is the heaviest blow I’ve ever experienced in a game. My upcoming post on the use of storytelling will delve a little deeper into this (without spoilers, of course).
I have played through Episode Two twice, and I’m nearly halfway through my third play-through, this time with the always entertaining developer’s commentary turned on. As such, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of the game, and so I present to you the following thoughts.
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