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So Who Likes antlions? And I mean really likes antlions, enough to lớn marry one. If this sounds lượt thích you, & you"d marry an antlion, then you"ll love the first section of Episode Two.If you"re lượt thích anybody toàn thân else, & had had enough of the limitless, hive-minded cannon fodder by the end of Half-Life 2, then you won"t. Valve have sầu decided khổng lồ have sầu the mute Gordon Freeman spelunk a giant antlion cave, full of not just antlions, but a new sort of antlion. A wholly more annoying sort of antlion which vomits acid on you, not unlượt thích the original game"s bullsquids. It"s not an entirely bad section of the game, but it whiffs of Xen, and leaves you feeling deflated - especially after the stunning intro showing off the Source engine"s newfound ability khổng lồ explode really large things.

For the game to be touted as taking a new direction towards grand, open vistas & rolling, beforested hills, only to send you almost immediately down a mine shaft, is disappointing. To have you fighting old enemies and arbitrarily picking up all your old weapons (which you somehow lost again, & were somehow scattered along the first level again), well, it feels lượt thích we"re retreading old ground, fighting fights we fought in Half-Life 2 and Episode One. The polish is beginning to lớn dull, & with minimal plot progression throughout the whole game, the appeal of episodic instalments of Half-Life 2 is waning.

One more paragraph of moaning before I start lớn explain the 82% at the end of the nhận xét. Take Far Cry"s beach, Oblivion"s sewer exit, Half-Life 2s town square - each of these are moments in which the visual spectacle of a large area impresses the player. Episode Two just doesn"t seem khổng lồ have that single moment of impact, despite having the perfect environment for it. The Source engine, despite a whole host of tweaks and upgrades, occasionally looks tired (especially indoors), and it"s becoming harder và harder lớn avoid a seen-it-all-before sense of cynicism. An expansion is still an expansion, even if you Call it an episode - và there"s not much expansion happening here.

But Wait

That said, I should mention that this is still Half-Life 2, & Half-Life 2 is incurably fantastic. This episode will undoubtedly over up in your collection anyway (rendering moot this entire review), being tied lớn both Team Fortress 2 and Portal (reviewed elsewhere in this issue), & it does pichồng up after the antlion caves. Gordon & Alyx find themselves en route to White Forest, the last homely house this side of City 17, & temporary residence of all of our old scientist pals. Kleiner and Vance are working on a method of sending Alyx"s code (the one she stole from the exploding Citadel) in order khổng lồ cthua trận the super-portal above the ruined thành phố & prsự kiện Combine reinforcements from arriving.

With them is a new Black Mesa alumnus, Dr. Magnusson, whose hard-nosed attitude, ego-driven personality, & innate dislượt thích & thinly veiled jealousy of Gordon Freeman provides the best lines in the episode. The addition of the abrasive sầu character adds a nice sense of balance to lớn the cast which was becoming a bit too Super Best Frikết thúc Scientists", as well as injecting some humour inkhổng lồ proceedings. Watching how characters look at you with a sense of apologetic despair as Magnusson derides you is what Valve"s facial animation giải pháp công nghệ was built for. And who could"ve sầu predicted we"d finally capture an expression of reluctant gratitude in a collection of emotionless polygons?

Help, I Need Somebody

It"s a lessened sense of camaraderie than in Episode One. as there"s no feeling of impending doom (whereas in the previous instalment you were inside the soon-to-be-exploding Citadel), but companions continue to be extremely useful - if not in a practical sense then in some atmospheric, social sense. It might be stretching Gordon"s bleak muteness to lớn breaking point but it"s refreshing, & informative (given our host"s dislượt thích of soliloquies), khổng lồ have Alyx narrating next to you too.

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On the road lớn White City you"ll come across the face of Episode Two - the hunter. Tripedal killing machines, carrying that distinctly cyber-organic Combine style, they take some beating before they finally fall down. You"ll meet them in a variet/of situations - while under siege in a house, or during later sections where they accompany their older, ganglier brothers, the striders. The muscle oto, which is in your possession for the majority of the game, can be used khổng lồ great effect here: with enough velothành phố you"ll snap their legs và send their funny faces slamming into lớn the bonnet with a sickening thud & a terrified whimper. Their own needles stiông chồng into lớn surfaces shortly before exploding, giving you that one crucial moment lớn dodge away. It"s easily the coolest enemy ever to have graced the Half-Life universe - not counting that giant crab with the ball-saông chồng.

Free Range

The closing sections of the episode, which will take you about seven hours to lớn reach, present something that many were expecting to feature throughout - a truly open area, with no specific route khổng lồ take. True, the rest of the game is a shade lesslinear than levels of old, but this final arena allows you lớn take part in a colossal battle between rebels & striders, who are being accompanied by squads of hunters. You"ve got to lớn locate these striders, pick up a Strider Buster, take care of the hunters (ideally by driving over them, but miss and crash và they"ll be all over you with their spikes & lean, muscular bodies), before finally gravity gunning the sticky bomb onlớn the stridor"s toàn thân. Then it takes a single shot lớn blow the thing lớn gloopy shreds. It"s one of the greatest parts of the Half-Life saga so far, and there"s more to lớn it than I"d care lớn ruin for you right now.

Unforeseen Consequences

The mysteries of "that bloke in the suit who keeps following you also begin khổng lồ unravel ever so slightly in Episode Two (something that pleases me immensely), but at the same time more questions are created than answered. Links khổng lồ Portal are made (similarly, liên kết to Half-Life are made in Portal), và then followed by imaginary ellipses & question marks. Main characters constantly get interrupted as they try to reveal plot secrets too; what we wouldn"t give for an "Excuse me Alyx, can"t you see we were in the middle of a conversation? button. Honestly.

If Episode Two was meant khổng lồ recapture our imaginations and make us fall madly in love with the Half-Life universe again after a frankly brand-damaging hiatus, it"s failed. If it was meant to lớn extover the experience of Half-Life 2 and Episode One with a bit more of the same good stuff, then it"s quite naturally succeeded. I can"t overstate that Episode Two contains some of the series" greademo moments, và that it"s still every bit as charming as its predecessors, but it"s so similar to lớn Half-Life 2 that despite what Valve sầu might believe sầu, we"re really left wanting something a bit fresher. If Valve sầu are going lớn go down this route of episodic gaming (something that seems increasingly unlikely) we need snappier releases & far stronger plotlines too. Episode Three won"t have sầu TF2 and Portal to keep it afloat.

Saying that. Episode Two ends, unexpectedly, with one of Half-Life"s most thrilling scenes, setting up wonderfully for the next act which promises lớn be a good "un. Let"s just hope we won"t have sầu khổng lồ wait another year and a half lớn play it.