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May 29, 2015

Half-Life 2: Episode Two (Review of Game)


Two plus two equals four. Half-Life 4 confirmed!

Wait.

Release Date: October 2007

Developer/Publisher: Valve Corporation

Platforms: Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, OS X, Linux

Genre: First-Person Shooter


Review of Game:

Look ma, no hands!

After a couple of expected delays, Half-Life 2: Episode Two arrived in the second half of 2007 to critical acclaim, topping Episode One to provide fans with a thrilling instalment that ended on a heart-wrenching cliffhanger...which still hasn't been resolved.

Starting off with a noticeably faster pace than Episode One, Episode Two is a bit less driven by a need to escape, and more by the simple goal of reaching a destination. (White Forest.) The fast pace quickly tapers off, however, following a rather halting moment early in the storyline.

The player is quickly thrown into a chaotic situation, which leads to the player being delayed in their quest to reach White Forest, instead having to travel through tunnels filled with Zombies and insect-like aliens.

This doesn't hinder the storyline, however. I'll refrain from spoilers, but the winding storyline serves a good purpose, and deepens the player's quest to reach White Forest. Once you've arrived, and have to face the antagonist, you're far more invested in the storyline than ever before.

"The level design is noticeably more open than the last."
The level design is noticeably more open than the last, giving us a greater sense of freedom this time around, especially evident near the end. 

Valve even incorporated some dark humour into Episode Two, most pertinently in the mining tunnels with the Zombies. The player's Vortigaunt companion in this sequence also offers some bemusing statements about the player's actions and the world around them.

With all of these aspects taken into account, combined with the traditional Half-Life gameplay, make for a great experience from beginning to end. It's far more impactful than Episode One, and in most respects, Half-Life 2 itself.

Matter of fact, Episode Two would be even more fun, challenging, and brain-wracking than Half-Life 2, if not for its short length and rather devastating cliffhanger. For those who don't know, Episode Two ends on a really high note, which still hasn't been resolved thanks to Valve's decision to delay Episode Three indefinitely. 

Understandably, many fans (myself included) are frustrated with the ending provided to us, and hope that maybe one day the Half-Life saga will get the conclusion it deserves. Episode Two was great, but at the end of the day, it's only the second instalment in a trilogy.

The lack of Episode Three has created an even deeper void where the ending should've been. Playing this in retrospect, knowing that Episode Three won't be coming out soon, makes the ending that much more crushing. News of a potential cancellation have been circling the internet, and whilst most of them are false, it's a bit hard not to think that maybe Valve has abandoned Half-Life right at the apex of the series.

And that, my friends, is something even sadder than the most devastating moments in this stellar (potentially final) outing in the Half-Life series.

Quality Verdict: Great (B+)

Hindered by the lack of a solid conclusion, Episode Two manages to hit a homerun regardless of it's unfortunate ending. Filled with thrilling and challenging sequences from start to finish, Episode Two is still more than worth playing after all this time.

Outro:

Don't worry honey. They'll make Episode Three eventually...

And that's it! At least you didn't have to wait a decade for this review, ha! You get the joke? Because Valve has been taking more than a decade to make Half-Life 3? Because it's been frustrating the heck out of fans and making us all sad because we'll possibly never see the conclusion to one of the greatest video game series' of all time?

...Good heavens, this post just got depressing.

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