Half-Life 2 - The review

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Page 5 - Graphics & Sound

Graphics and Sound

Review 1 : Mike Review 2 : Matt
Your first steps into into City 17 are breathtaking.

The source engine provides a gritty realism that surpasses (marginally) even Doom 3s "Super-real" prowess. While maybe not as visually spectacular as Doom 3, HL2s lighting seems a lot more "natural". Let me put it like this, Doom 3s lighting can seem like someone has inserted a laser light show onto Mars making it almost too spectacular, where as HL2s lighting is just "accepted" by the eye as lights reflect, and create shadows with precision, streaming through windows with an unnerving realism.

Water effects too are something else, and are a real treat, reflecting everything happening in the game would.

Simply put, the graphics in HL2 are breathtaking. The character models are truly amazing, and the background environments are pretty good looking also. Its not just the raw engine/quality of graphics that is great in HL2, its the design and creativity that went into making them.

The bad guys/monsters do not look boring in HL2, they look and move like the real deal. If you remember the original "zombie" in Half-Life 1, this should look a little familiar to you.

The great new graphics engine is not only limited to outlandish, scary creatures, it also makes the tactical scenarios VERY realistic.

Copyright 2004 - Guru3D.comWater effects are impressive.

The shader effects are excellent, and there is none of that plastic effect that was apparent in Far Cry. Character models are treated to a level of detail not previously seen. HL2s emotion engine is a joy to see in motion; particularly the first time you meet the beautiful Alyx and boy, when she gets angry you know it too, just look at her face! This shows the importance of facial expression in sucking the Player into the HL2 world. Voice acting is superb, and the interaction between the NPCs is almost flawless. I remember the first time I entered Dr Kleiners Lab, and was amazed by the interactivity between Alyx, Barney and the good Doctor himself. With interaction like this it brings a level of almost cinematic believability to the game - who needs cut scenes anyway?

Copyright 2004 - Guru3D.com
This is Alyx

The sound is equally fulfilling. Metal clunked and scraped, wood snapped and cracked, and explosions are something else. The quality of the sound mixing is phenomenal. With each channel of my Logitech Z680 speakers being crisp clear and well placed, I was easily able to pick out gunshots and environmental effects from their correct position, further absorbing me into the gameworld. The way sound interacts with weapons is great as well. Shoot metal or glass, and its an aural delight, which your ears readily accept, each weapon sounds unique and perfectly weighted to give you the feeling of having something lethal in your hands.

Performance. You really cannot do this engine justice until you see it in full flow, which brings me onto performance. The majority of my time playing this game over the last few days has been spent on a Geforce 6800GT. Any thoughts that people may have had that the 6800s would take any kind of noticeable hit with Half-Life 2 they want to rethink and fast!

Copyright 2004 - Guru3D.com

The incredible graphics help make scary monsters actually scary!


Sadly the best part of the graphics in this game, which is the actual movement of the characters, cannot be shown in just pictures, you actually have to experience this game to see its true beauty. The quality of graphics between Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 is debatable, however I believe its safe to say that the variety and creative design of these graphics is much better in Half-Life 2. Even the character interaction is truly breathtaking in Half-Life 2. The characters with whom you speak with exhibit a great deal of emotion and expression. Take for instance your counterpart Alyx.

It was reported in E3 that the characters in this game have over 40 different muscles in their face, and when you talk to characters such as Alyx, this is very evident.

I can also say that these graphics rendered better than graphics in Doom 3, especially the huge outdoor environments (Half-Life 2 has many of these, while Doom 3 has practically none). Therefore it is in my opinion that Half-Life 2 has the best looking and "feeling" graphics of the day, and if you buy games just based on eye candy, believe me...there is plenty of it in Half-Life 2.

When I first played Half-Life 2, I wasn't even thinking that sound would be such a big deal, I was more concerned about other aspects of gameplay and the graphics. But after playing Half-Life 2 for awhile, I can say that the sound in HL2 is truly awesome. Gunshots sound like actual gunshots. Explosions sound like actual explosions. The sound is wonderful in convincing the player that they are actually their in the game. If you play Half-Life 2, make sure you play it on a nice audio system with lots of bass, or just some really good headphones. The sound was much better than I expected, and this statement comes from a person who is very critical of anything that comes into the ears.

On top of combat/ambient sounds sounding top notch, the voice acting is very good. Although their is a very small amount of cheesy voice acting, I really appreciated most of what I heard coming from player's mouths. Also, the content of what was being said was usually worth listening to. Although it is not necesarry really to listen to people to complete the game, it really makes the game more fun and complete to interact with random people. Overall the sound quality of the voice/combat/environment is very powerful and helps set the mood the game is trying to give us.

One of the most important things in a FPS is the intelligence of the enemies you are fighting. No one wants to play a game where every single creature of the same type does the exact same thing every single time.

We want to play a game that allows our enemies to calculate how to kick your butt the best depending on the situation and environment, effectively making the gameplay as varied and challenging as possible. When enemies act on intelligence and strategy, and not just pre-scripted scenarios, we are given a game that is fun and entertaining, not dull and boring.

HL2 exhibits these qualities, and much like its predecessor, its AI is top notch. You know a game's AI is top notch when you save a game, fight some guys, die, reload, and every single time you try again the enemies probably try a different tactic. Be it from throwing a grenade, rushing to where you are standing, or just camping out the door way (yes people, not only can lamer newbie's camp, but also the computer can use such tactics now).

Don't be surprised if an enemy decides to put something in front of a door, then sits in a corner and shoots at you while you are frustrated at the fact you cannot gain entry to the room. This presents a game that is not only challenging, but a game that is truly replayable due to the variance in enemy tactics, and how you can handle them.

Copyright 2004 - Guru3D.com
The Detail of facial models is astounding.


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