Much to my disliking, I was unable to finish Half-Life 2 due to an annoying switch glitch, and had to move on to the next adventure in the series in a non-traditional manner, with large gaps jumped and story bits left behind. Upon starting Half-Life 2: Episode One, I was pretty confused plot-wise and spent the first hour or so trying to piece everything back together, much like Gordon and Alyx were doing in-game.
However, I think that was my favorite aspect of this bite-sized experience. Not that it was straighter, stronger, and had less driving sequences, but that it paired Gordon and Alyx together for nearly the whole time, and she’s one of the better AI companions I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Her dialogue is believable and delivered emotionally, and it made going forward a less lonesome affair. Plus, y’know…appropriately punny jokes. A digital woman after my own heart. Gameplay still involves shooting enemies until they fall down and solving some light puzzles, mostly involving the Gravity Gun. It’s all very polished, much like in the former Half-Life 2, but just condensed into a nicer-sized package, perfect for running through in a single afternoon.
I think it took me about four hours to complete Half-Life 2: Episode One, and those four hours were amazingly strong, save for a tiring elevator sequence that saw me trying and trying and trying over again to not let falling debris crush Alyx and Gordon to death. Eventually I solved it, but man–it took a handful of attempts. Otherwise, it’s generally clear where to go and what to do next, something I’ve struggled with in Valve’s games up to this point.
At some point, I’ll give Half-Life 2: Episode Two a spin. And maybe even see if I can get past that broken switch in the larger, original game. Maybe. I dunno. I really don’t want to play the majority of that game again, naming the driving sequences and shooting down those attack choppers. Seeing as the Internet is constantly salivating over any and every slip about Half-Life 2: Episode Three/Half-Life 3, of which are constantly turning out to be red herrings, I’m in no rush.
Also, this is the final videogame I completed in 2011, bringing the total number to thirty-eight. Not too shabby, I guess.