Rarely does a game offer such variety in game play. The pacing is near perfect with few lagging moments or unbalanced levels.
One of the greatest marvels is the way Valve have integrated physics in to the game play. Barrels are joy to behold there are few things better than blowing away a squad of combine troops with a couple of shots on a near by barrel (and believe me, there are ALOT of barrels!) sending troops scattering, and wood and glass shattering into fragments. All materials react as they should - glass shatters and wood splinters into fragments. Empty barrels, crates and bodys float while heavier objects sink. The physics are integrated in to the (Half Life esque) puzzles, so you really have to think about using the world around you, lifting, breaking and weighing objects to navigate the various contraptions.
These puzzles are useful tools in getting you used to the interactive nature of the gameworld and really utilizing the power of the Havok based physics engine. This does lead me into one minor criticism, in that while the puzzles are generally fun they do seem to break with the flow of the game, almost as if a programmer has looked down from above and said: "yes we need a puzzle here.. here and here.." This doesnt detract too much from the game, but they could have been more smoothly integrated I am thinking of the Airboat level in particular here. I cannot mention the physics without commenting on what I have to say is possibly the best weapon ever invented in video gaming history the Gravity Gun. For those of you who have had your head in the clouds, or have not been able to enjoy the greatness of this weapon yet, the Gravity gun allows you to manipulate objects within the game world. Never before have you been able to utilize physics toward your own evil ways like this. I laughed out loud the first time I managed to pick up and fire back a grenade thrown at me by a squad of combine troops scattering them through the air.
You aren't here for pleasure, it's all business baby. A grave problem facing the common citizen's of City 17 is this ever-growing Combine, which is in the center of the city and expanding constantly, eventually to the point where it will basically "eat" the whole city.
You have been placed in this City 17 to help a resistance movement to overthrow the Combine and Dr. Breen in his citadel, pictured below.
That's the general gist of the story, so now let's get down to the nitty-gritty fun stuff, the gameplay.
One of the greatest expectations of Half-Life 2 (essential to become the victor of the Doom 3 vs Half-Life 2 battle), was that the gameplay was supposed to be unprecedented and more real than ever. With the E3 trailers released a little while ago, we became very aware of the new Havok physics engine. Does this new physics engine live up to the hype, is it realistic, and is it actually useful in the game? In short, yes.
The Havok physics engine is one of the most important key elements in Half-Life 2, and is one of the most obvious improvements Half-Life 2 has over other FPS games. What does this mean ? Objects if Half-Life 2 react the way they would in real life. Picking up objects is not a new thing in First Person Shooters, in fact in many games before you were able to pick up objects.
However, when you throw an object in this game, it'll fly through the air like it should, and hit the ground like it should. Wooden objects float, metal barrels do not, unless those barrels are plastic and filled with air. When you drop a crate off from a rooftop, it'll break into pieces (if high enough), and you can pick up each individual piece
Physics in action with enough persuasion, even cars have wings!
A box upon hitting shallow water will break into separate pieces, all which you can interact with.
Half-Life 2 - The review The moment where the entire graphics industry was waiting on is here, last week after a delay or 200 one of the biggest titles in the history of PC games was released by Valve, Half-Life 2. Gameplay that should be extraordinary, sound that'll make you drool and a first time graphics experience that'll make the choice between doing the 'thing' or playing this game a difficult one.
Gordon Freeman is back!