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Published on June 21st, 2008 | by simeon

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Half-Life 2 Episode 1

Picking up at the end of the phenomenly successful Half Life 2, the first in a series of episodic sequels has arrived. Available via retailers or direct download at www.steam.com Half Life 2 Episode 1 has arrived.

The game continues the story of Gordon Freeman, a former scientist at the ultra secret Black Mesa facility who battles against all manner of enemies and traps after a lab accident opened a dimensional gateway in the original game.

In Half Life 2, Gordon battled an evil group called The Combine in a Eastern European like city named City 17 which culminated in a final confrontation inside a massive citadel.

For the new adventure, Gordon and his sidekick Alyx must find a way to stabilize the core of the Citadel in order to allow themselves and other survivors time to escape the city before a devastating explosion engulfs everything in its path.

Along the way, Alyx and Gordon uncover some information that the Combine does not want them to have and soon has them running for their lives from everything the Combine can throw at them in order to protect the secret.

The usual suspects ranging from zombies, headcrabs, Combine Solidiers, antlions, and other suprises await Gordon and Alyx as they battle to escape the city and protect their newly obtained information that can change everything.

The action is intense and there are some decent puzzles in the game that will keep fans attention without having them to frustrated. The game does not introduce any new weapons but there is a new enemy unit to content with, a Combine/Zombie hybrid dubbed a “Zombine” by Alyx. The Zombine is a very tough unit with a bad habit of producing explosives and tossing them at you, especially in tight spaces.

What really impressed me about the game was how quickly it drags you in as in no time, you are caught up in the action and deeply engrossed in the story. This bodes well for future episodes of the series as the designers clearly understand that in installment gaming, the players want to get right to the action and do not want to be bogged down playing catchup.

Graphically the game shines as the facial detail of the characters as well as the surface textures are dazzling and add the immersion factor of the game. The audio portion of the game is strong as the bullet and concussion effects truly stand out for gamers with a surround sound system. The voice acting in the game is also very good and infuses the characters with a humanity that is often lacking in game characters.

The only issue I had with the game was that once I arrived at the rousing finale to the first episode, I realized I now have to wait several months for the next chapter.

5 stars out of 5


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