On the way to an anticitizen safehouse, Alyx and I entered a huge rickety barn. At the other end stood a young rebel soldier carrying a rocket launcher, but she didn’t stand for long. A hail of vulcan rounds angled from the sky through her chest, shattering the floor beneath her and sending her lifeless body flailing to the concrete basement floor. I ran at top speed right for the hole, descending bullets demolishing the ceiling behind and floor below me, and leaped in. Grabbing the loaded rocket launcher I took aim skyward, but the crickety warbling of its propellers was the only trace of the elusive gunship. I ran up a set of stairs and stopped to scan the air when the floor below me dissolved, my torso taking several hits on my way back down to the basement.
So I raced back up the stairs and ran around like a recently decapitated pullet while the gunship perforated and shredded the ceiling. I fired off three of my laser-guided rockets; two sailed into the sky while the third unleashed its terrible payload in my face, splintering a nearby column and sending huge chunks of the roof down on me. My fourth hit home, but the reeling gunship was only getting warmed up.
I made a beeline for the box of rockets upstairs but the floor had been reduced to little more than a skeleton. I tripped through. Several attempts to bound across to the ammunition failed, but I finally made it when I steadied my nerves and negotiated the beams more slowly. With no armour and about half strength I parked myself next to the ammunition cache, firing rocket after rocket at what was left of the roof, and succeeded in slowly but gradually revealing more of the exhaust-smeared sky. With the gunship almost always in sight now, I took careful aim, uttered a whispered plea, and let a rocket fly. It hit ANOTHER pillar in front of me, teetering and toppling right on me, leaving me all but deceased. But I wasn’t about to buy the farm – not such a rocket-pocked one at least.
Surrounded in a hail of searing lead I took aim once more and let loose. My aim was true.
The gunship spiralled to the ground. I emitted a huge sigh of relief, watching it spray wild patterns of smoke on its way down, but breathed it right back in as it barrelled toward me. I turned and ran, desperately negotiating the wood-littered floor, steering for the nearest hole to the basement. I heard an enormous ROAR and ducked instinctively as the gunship sputtered inches above my head on the way to the floor barely before me, showering me in fire, smoke, and sparks. It skidded and settled limply on the beams before me. I was breathless for a good 3 seconds.
And then Alyx and I simultaneously said “Wow!”
I remained breathless while she qualified her exclamation with “Jesus, Gordon! You’re a real terror!”
Check back for my full review of Half Life 2: Episode One pending my second play-through. If you happen to be waiting for my say-so to buy this expansion, STOP WAITING AND BUY IT NOW!!