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May 27, 2015

Half-Life 2: Episode Two (Content Guide)




Intro: As promised (against my better judgement, as we tend change our review schedule a la Valve with game releases), here's my Content Guide for Episode Two.

Noticeably more brutal than it's predecessor, this game requires careful reading for fans of the series. Without further goodbye...sorry, adieu, here's our Content Guide for Half-Life 2: Episode Two.

Reviewed By: KVR (Head Writer)

Verdict: Caution Advised (For Brutal Scenes of Violence)

Strongest Content: Violence

Recommended Age: 16+



Content Guide:

Potential Emotional Triggers:

--The content listed under Storyline Violence may be of concern to sensitive gamers, as the scenes in question are rather shocking and sudden. Additionally, the nature of the Zombies, half-dude humans desperately looking for relief from their cruel fate, may upset. (6)


Violence:

Mild Moderate Heavy Intense Explicit X-Rated

--Players combat zombies during the game; the zombies moan and scream as they waddle towards you. When fighting them, 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, blood spraying, and they start crawling after the player. (8)

-They can also be set on fire, which causes them to scream horribly and loudly for about 10 seconds before become 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 blood when killed, and some of them explode into limbs and heads with a huge splatter of goo when killed. (7)

-Players can also fire bolts from crossbows, which pin enemies to the environment with a spray of blood and a cry of pain.

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

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

--We see several corpses of fallen humans, zombies, and enemies, 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. Some of the Zombies' corpses are cut in half, with large splatters of blood and meaty gore shown inside the amputation area. (7)

-In some tunnels, we see entire caves smeared in blood all over, with skeletons of human beings being consumed by larvae.

--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)

--Players combat several "Striders" during the game, which are large tripedal creatures with small torsos, which fire lasers at you, destroying the surrounding environment with a surge of electricity and explosions shown.

Players are able to kill them by throwing a bomb at their torsos and detonating it, causing their torsos to explode into lots of blue and yellow goo, leaving just the legs, which fall to the ground. (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)

Storyline Violence:

--In a protracted sequence, a man is pinned up against a wall as a creature sticks it tongue out, flips him around, and penetrates his neck with said tongue, blood spraying out and a loud CRUNCH heard as the man's body goes limp. (8)

-The corpse of a man is picked up by the same kind of creature; it sticks its tongue out and penetrates him in the neck, a crunch heard and lots of blood graphically sprays out from the punctured jugular, splattering all over the place. A geyser of blood sprays out as the creature removes its tongue, who then proceeds to telepathically snap the man's spine in two, a sickening crack heard as both halves of his body twist around in opposite directions. 

--A character is stabbed through the torso by a creature, blood spraying out and a groan/scream heard from the character. They fall unconscious, and we see blood seeping through their jacket. (7)

--A robot engages in combat with a Strider, slapping them and tearing a piece of flesh from their torso, pink blood spraying, and then removing their brain, a large stream of blood spraying out with wet sound effects heard as the whole creature collapses. (7)

Context of Violence: Shock Value, Dark Comedy, Justified (Some scenes involving Zombies are played for laughs, particularly during the player's travel through the mines. The rest of the violence is portrayed realistically, and justified given its context. A few of the listed acts of violence, however, are done purely for shock value.)

Sex/Nudity:

Mild Moderate Heavy Intense Explicit X-Rated

--A woman makes a remark about her and a man being a "good team". Her father jokes that they should do their part "for the survival of the human species", and jokes that his daughter shouldn't blame him for wanting "grandkids". (5)

Context of Sex/Nudity: Undefined

Language:

Mild Moderate Heavy Intense Explicit X-Rated

Uses of S**t, P**s, B**ch, B**t**d, C**p, H**l, D**n,

-God and Jesus' names are used in vain.

Context of Language: Realism

Spiritual Content: 

Mild Moderate Heavy Intense Explicit X-Rated

--(Possible Spoilers) A group of aliens rub their hands together and hum in a deep voice, healing an injured character on a table. The character is telepathically lifted as we see an x-ray of their injury being healed. The aliens mention that they are weaving the injured character's soul together with another character, possibly as some kind of mind-meld or "spiritual" marriage. (6)

Context of Spiritual Content: Fantasy

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking:

Mild Moderate Heavy Intense Explicit X-Rated

--We see several empty liqour bottles during the game. (2)

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 disgusting fleshy masses with holes for mouths, hanging from ceilings and snagging creatures below, eating them whole with goo/blood spraying. When shot and killed, they expose their yellow stomachs (with thorns) and vomit lots of goo. (8)

--We see large larvae in nests, who can be crushed with a huge spray of goo and a CRUNCH sound effect. (6)

Scary Stuff/Intense Scenes:

--In a long sequence, players traverse through a tunnel filled with large insects, as a particularly large creature chases after you through the tunnels. This sequence is highly intense, as the creature is millimetres away from you at one point and stops just short of your face once you reach safety. (7)

--The silhouette of a man appears on a couple of monitors with a droning sound effect. This scene comes rather suddenly and might be a bit of a jump scare. (6)

Emotional Scenes:

--The death of a major character is highly emotional and might come as a shock to fans of the series. The scene where it happens is especially heartbreaking. (6)

Dialogue/Miscellaneous:

--One scene contains a corpse with a shotgun next to it, implying the person in question committed suicide. Your alien companion says something about an "eternity's repose" bringing "peaceful thoughts". (6)

Morality:

Abysmal Sketchy Average Good Heroic

Players fight against Zombies and mindless cyborg humans. Most of the violence is self-defence, so the game is pretty much black-and-white when it comes to morality.

Morality Type: Black and White

Conclusion:

Possibly the most brutal entry in the Half-Life series, Episode Two contains hard-hitting scenes of violence, and an overall "brutal" nature.

The Half-Life series contains a few shocking scenes of violence, but Half-Life 2 noticeably averted it, treating it as just a "way of living" in its apocalyptic environment. Even Ravenholm, its most shocking sequence, is treated with a certain "casualness" not found in other games.

Episode Two, however, makes its violence more "cinematic", with camera angles lingering on violent acts, with droning sounds and screams making for a horrific display. This is especially notable for the pieces of content listed under Storyline Violence.

While shocking, these scenes are infrequent and don't take up the entire game. As such, a Mature Gamers Only rating has been avoided. But the scenes listed, along with how important they are in the storyline, make this unsuitable for a Teenage audience.

Half-Life 2: Episode Two has been rated Caution Advised for Brutal Scenes of Violence.

KVR Notes: Episode Two retains the moderate language of Episode One, and has a scene of strong spirituality, mixed in with a few sci-fi elements. The Zombies are still grotesque, but not any more than the main game.

The game also features some rather intense scenes, especially in an underground tunnel sequence where the player has to run from a large insect-like alien.

Verdict: 16+

For Brutal Scenes of Violence

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