Video Games

3 things that suck about Half Life 2: Episode Two

Valve’s Orange Box was released yesterday and I was happily running Half Life 2: Epsiode Two after 10 minutes of decrypting the data since I’d already preloaded the data files (kudos to Valve for rolling out the whole download in one shot unlike the cascaded rollout with Episode One). I have a few quibbles with some features which I’ll state here, but I’ll give my full review after I’ve played through the whole thing. (here’s my review of Half Life 2: Episode One if you haven’t already read it)

I maxed out all the graphical and audio settings and prepared to jump right into the action. I was surprised to see a preliminary recap play immediately without any loading screens. It’s a prerendered video. I hate video. The resolution is super sharp but I can still tell. It feels even more out of place because this is the first time I can recall in the Half Life universe that the camera has left the first person view. The story recap isn’t really necessary since Episode One was so short. Bad vibes from the get go.

Skipping over the awe I felt from the incredible graphics and spectacular scenery, a second frustration popped up before long. I was given a taste of Steam’s new achievement system, akin to Xbox Live’s, while playing the fantastic Team Fortress 2 (the only multiplayer shooter I’ve enjoyed since Quake 1). After completing an arbitrary “achievement” in Episode Two I’m shown a cutesypoo little icon on a small popup at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen telling me I’ve unlocked this achievement. This absolutely sucks. Playing this game is enough of an achievement. I don’t give a shit that I’ve earned a turkey baster award for squishing 30 insects. This totally sucks me out of the game and for a universe as rich as Half Life this is the ultimate crime. I can find no way to turn off these alerts. I’m tempted to play the game poorly to avoid them. Very, very disappointing.

The last straw yesterday was when the game crashed. The Source engine is known for a few idiosyncrasies such as the screen freezing and audio looping for a couple of seconds when entering an area with new texture assets, but it’s incredibly rare that the game will actually crash to the desktop. Rarer still, everything became completely unresponsive, even to ctrl-alt-del and atrl-alt-esc. Since I couldn’t see what I was doing I had to use the force, pressing Windows-R to open a run dialog, typing “cmd[enter]” to open a command window, press alt-enter to make it fullscreen, and type “exit[enter]” to return me to the desktop where a crash dialog had been obscured behind the frozen Half Life window with an OK button to dismiss it.

This is like a gaggle of teenagers talking on cell phones during a movie. I was completely turned off by this point. I started playing Portal and didn’t stop for 3.5 hours.

By brian

About Brian Damage:

Who is Brian really?
I live in Toronto, Canada, and work for an IT firm. That's about as much real-world info I'm comfortable divulging here. What you read on my blog is the real Brian, but, for the sake of freedom of speech, I feel most comfortable leaving a gulf between my cyberspace and meatspace personae.

Who is Brian at work?
My ridiculous job title is "Marketing Specialist" since I wear so many hats at work. I'm a technical writer, a specialist in enterprise search technologies, an electronic forms designer, a newsletter author, system administrator... but I'm in the Marketing department so for the time being I'm stuck with this inauspicious title.

Who is Brian at play?

Who is Brian

7 replies on “3 things that suck about Half Life 2: Episode Two”

E2 does suck!!! They have way too much annoying interaction with “Alyx” and the other characters. Just when the game play starts getting good, you walk into some canned scene where you’re not really playing at all.

I now really enjoy Episode 2. I’ve played it 2 or 3 times through. I actually wish there were more sections with talking and less with fighting – I’m really itching to learn what happens in the story! Getting story out of Valve is like pulling alligator teeth!

The game is now nice and stable. I think I just had some trouble on launch day because the game hadn’t been patched yet. I’m really amazed at how long the Source engine has lasted!

I agree, the achievements suck me out of the game, they should just remain on Xbox but there you go.
The video at the start was an instant turn off, I will be very disappointed if they continue with this, Half Life is all about being in complete control, all the time and experiencing the environment in a way unique to anyone else, they need to realise that we don’t need a recap, we don’t need this icing on the cake to keep us playing the game as it already blows everything else out of the water.

My only problem with episode 2 was the textures, for 2007 they looked sub-par quality to me.

Comments are closed.