May 20, 2015

Half-Life 2: Episode One (Content Guide)

Intro: Hi everyone! After some deliberation, and a whole lot of soul-searching, I made huge list of important games to review. Since the Half-Life series is so famous, I've decided to start with the two episodes Valve produced and infamously abandoned after promising Episode Three.

Without further adieu, here's my CG of my Half-Life 2: Episode One. Happy gaming!

Reviewed By: KVR (Head Writer)

Verdict: Teenage Gamers* (For Gory Violence and Moderate Language

*Word of Caution. Read Conclusion.

Content Guide:

Potential Emotional Triggers:

--The Zombies may be upsetting due to them back half-dead human beings who moan and cry, as if they are aware of their fate and desperately want an end to the cruel situation. (6)


Mild Moderate Heavy Intense Explicit X-Rated

--Players combat Zombies during the game; the Zombies moan and scream as they walks towards you, sounding like they're crying out for help. When shooting/hitting Zombies, blood splatters, they scream in pain, and collapse when killed. Zombies can also be split in half by certain weapons, their torsos separating from their legs, and sometimes crawling after the player in a last ditch attempt at combat. (8)

-They can also be set on fire, which causes them to scream horribly and loudly for about 10 seconds before becoming charred, bloody, and finally collapsing. Human enemies are also set on fire, grunting a couple of time before finally collapsing.

--Players can fire shotguns, rifles and pistols at enemies; blood splatters, staining the environment, and cries of pain are heard. Alien enemies splatter yellow goo when killed, and some of them explode into limbs and heads with a huge splatter of goo when killed. (7)

-Players can use "cross-bows" which fire bolts, pinning an enemy to a wall/object with a spray of blood and cry of pain.

-Players can also use "roller-mines", which are spherical devices that impact creatures and send an electrical surge through them, knocking the victim across the environment.

--Players can use explosive weapons against enemies, such as grenades, projectiles and combustible barrels; explosions are heard, deafening the player, and sending enemies flying, with a splatter of blood and cries of pain heard. Select alien enemies explode into goo when near explosions. (7)

-The "Zombines", military versions of the Zombies, arm grenades and run towards your character, blowing themselves up in the process with a spray of blood. No gore, however.

--We see several corpses of fallen humans and zombies, stained with blood and missing limbs and heads, gore and puddles of blood shown. Some of the corpses are burned to a black and bloody crisp, disturbingly revealing the bloody skulls of said corpses. (7)

--Players combat airships at several points, firing missiles at them, explosions shown, before the ship comes crashing down with a series of explosions and wreckage flying as it finally explodes on the ground. (6)

--Players can also use a crowbar to strike enemies, splattering blood and cries of pain are heard. Aliens emit yellow goo when hit. (6)

Storyline Violence:

--A tower explodes, destroying an entire city and swarming the surrounding area with the explosion as the screen shakes and everything goes white. Very intense. (7)

--Players can use a device to pick and throw enemies, who scream and jitter with electricity surging through their bodies. Players can also fire energy balls at them, which cause them to dissolve into sparks. (7)

--There are several sequences where explosions go off, fitting in with the "imminent collapse" theme of the game. Wreckage is shown lots of times during the game, directly affecting the player or falling in the background as part of the scenery. (6)

Context of Violence: Shock Value, Atmospheric


Mild Moderate Heavy Intense Explicit X-Rated

--On a broadcast, a man talks about how a "suppression field" prevented embryos from fully forming, effectively rendering people sterile. The suppression field has since been deactivated, so the man encourages people to do "their part for the survival of our species". Your companion asks: "Is he telling everyone to...get busy?" (5)

--When going through a dangerous environment, your female companion jokingly inquires about your hazard suit, asking if you "got room for two in there?" (3)

Context of Sex/Nudity: References


Mild Moderate Heavy Intense Explicit X-Rated

Semi-Frequent Uses of S**t, B**ch, B**t**d, C**p, H**l, and D**n.

-God and Jesus' names are used in vain.

Context of Language: Realism

Spiritual Content: 

Mild Moderate Heavy Intense Explicit X-Rated

--The Vortigaunts, a race of intelligent humanoid beings, are shown performing some kind of strange ritual where they clasp their hands together and move them in a circular motion in front of them, all whilst chanting and humming indecipherably. (5)

Context of Spiritual Content: Supernatural Beings


Mild Moderate Heavy Intense Explicit X-Rated

--We see several empty bottles of alcohol littering environments. (3)

Context of Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco Usage: Atmospheric

Gross Stuff/Gore:

--The Zombies' appearance is very gruesome, with their abdomen split open to reveal their lungs and innards, their white shirts soaked in blood and part of their jeans stained as well. (8)

-The Fast Zombies' appearance is even more gruesome, with the person basically being a skeleton with flesh and muscle still attached, but all skin has been torn off, including that of their face, exposing their bloody skulls.

--The "Barnacles" are grotesque creatures hanging from the ceiling, comprised of a fleshy mass and yellow mouth. When shot and killed, they regurgitate yellow goo and bones. (8)

--The "Stalkers" are human beings who've been extensively modified, their forearms and legs having been removed and replaced with metallic stumps. The appearance of Stalkers are not unlike those of concentration camp victims in the holocaust, with the skeletal and "desperate" appearance playing a huge part in the design of the creature. (7)

Scary Stuff/Intense Scenes:

--In a protracted sequence, players have to fight Zombies in a mostly dark environment, save for their flashlight, while waiting for an elevator to arrive. This sequence is intense and scary because of it's unpredictability. (7)

--After a vehicle crashing, we see several Stalkers screaming at the player and pinning his companion down. This scene is rather sudden and intense. (5)


Abysmal Sketchy Average Good Heroic

Players fight against several aliens and mindless human enemies. The morality is very straightforward, with no moral complexity whatsoever. You are the hero. End of story.

Morality Type: Black and White


Half-Life 2 Episode One contains several scenes of gory violence. The acts of gore are detailed and gruesome. Several zombified humans make an appearance, mutilated and bloody. Combat is highlighted with intensity, but never focused on in extreme detail.

The game contains moderately strong language, peppering dialogue here and there. Two mild sexual references, empty liquor bottles, and a scene of strange ritualistic chanting are also to be noted.

KVR Gaming has given Half-Life 2: Episode One a Teenage Gamers rating for Gory Violence and Moderate Language. Below is an explanation...

KVR Notes: What sets Half-Life 2 and its expansions apart from other games, is that the violence is used as a necessary force and isn't shown for pure shock value. Sure, seeing a zombie for the first time might be a bit shocking, but it's never highlighted in a sensational, "lip-licking" manner.

Enemies and zombies can be cut in half and set on fire, the latter action resulting in much horrific screaming. However, the act of violence is over relatively quickly and not focused on in detail. Additionally, most of the goriest acts are directed towards non-humans/zombies, which makes it significantly less impactful.

Clearly, the developers chose not to sensationalise violence and portrayed it as a "way of surviving". The violence is gory, but not to an extreme level. It's also shown in an indirect way, by not soaking us with blood and gore, but by choosing to use violence only when necessary.

While deciding upon which verdict to give the game, I initially settled with Caution Advised. However, upon further deliberation, I changed the rating down a notch to Teenage Gamers. Reason being:

The T rating is given to games which feature some moderately intense violence, but don't surpass a certain level of realism and detail, particularly in portraying cruelty, suggestive situations, and strong language. Half-Life 2: Episode One doesn't exceed that level, making it suitable for a teenage audience.

Parents may question the decision based on the gore listed above, but as noted, most of the strongest acts of violence are directed towards Zombies and aliens, with the humans getting off a little easier in the violence department.

Episode One also lacks the base game's horror elements, and features much less blood-soaked environments, saved for the level "Low-Life", which features the aforementioned Zombies.

I advise caution in your purchasing decision, however, as the game contains some gory violence with the potential to upset sensitive gamers. Proceed at your own risk.

Verdict: 14+
For Gory Violence

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