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Half-Life 2 (Windows)

94
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.2
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
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Description

Following the period of instability caused by the events described in Half-Life, an interdimensional organization known as the Combine invades the Earth, defeating the human forces in the Seven Hour War. A Combine Citadel is erected in City 17, a town in Eastern Europe reminiscent of World War II ghettos. Dr. Wallace Breen, a human scientist, rules the city on behalf of his new masters. An energy field prevents humans from procreating, and no new children are born. Earth is turning into a grim, oppressive police state.

Meanwhile, Gordon Freeman, the man who was at the center of the events that took place shortly before the rise of the Combine, awakens from his stasis and is inserted into a train to City 17 by the mysterious G-man. Gordon is soon brought into a resistance group, and makes a seemingly futile attempt to bring down the Combine and liberate the Earth.

Half-Life 2 is a linear first-person shooter with light puzzle-solving elements and many setpieces, similar to its predecessor in concept. The player guides Gordon Freeman through the City 17 and the wilderness that surrounds it. On his way, he'll encounter a few friendly characters, but also fight dangerous foes. The game features a realistic physics system: Gordon can pick up objects and toss them freely, and many of the puzzles are physics-based - for example, at one point the player has to weigh down a seesaw with bricks at one end to turn it into a ramp.

Gordon's enemies, apart from alien wildlife which found its way to Earth, are mainly Combine forces, which utilize a variety of firearms, gadgets and vehicles. Policemen and foot soldiers work along with helicopters, gunships and gigantic walking machines to hunt him down. To defend himself, Gordon has a range of weapons available: from the iconic crowbar for close-quarter fighting, through pistols and rifles, up to grenades and a rocket launcher. One of the most notable weapons is the gravity gun, with which Gordon can pick up objects, hold them in the gun's anti-gravity field, then hurl them at the enemy with great force.

Setpieces in the game include co-ordinated assaults on enemy bases, fighting gigantic boss enemies, bringing down aircrafts with the rocket launcher, and others. A few levels require the player to navigate buggy-type vehicles. Some of the more exotic stages involve the player summoning an army of antlions to unleash on unsuspecting foes.

Included with the game is Counter-Strike: Source, a version of Counter-Strike made with the new Source engine which powers Half-Life 2, and Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, an online multiplayer game featuring the same physics and weapons as the single player game.

Screenshots

Half-Life 2 Windows City 17 at sunset
Half-Life 2 Windows An intuitive environmental puzzle: place some heavy objects on the plank to balance it. This will allow you to jump to the other side
Half-Life 2 Windows Move carefully, there are headcrabs hiding in the many wrecks.
Half-Life 2 Windows Three little zombies... aren't they cute?

Alternate Titles

  • "戰慄時空2" -- Chinese spelling (traditional)
  • "半条命2" -- Chinese spelling (simplified)
  • "λ²" -- Common abbreviation
  • "HL2" -- Abbreviated title
  • "Bantiao Ming 2" -- Chinese title
  • "하프라이프 2" -- Korean spelling

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

Who needs a serious relationship if you can have a great one-night-stand? אולג 小奥 (168743) 4.29 Stars4.29 Stars4.29 Stars4.29 Stars4.29 Stars
Super-Gordon vs Dr Breen Lumpi (197) 4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars
Incredible Movie-like Gameplay well worth overlooking the flaws. Dwango (292) 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars
Fun, and innovative on a small scale, but not the "greatest game of all time" as some would have you believe. Tibes80 (1495) 3.86 Stars3.86 Stars3.86 Stars3.86 Stars3.86 Stars
Not just a game, an experience Matt Neuteboom (941) 4.86 Stars4.86 Stars4.86 Stars4.86 Stars4.86 Stars
A thoroughly immersive, plot-centric game (no spoilers). null-geodesic (235) 4.86 Stars4.86 Stars4.86 Stars4.86 Stars4.86 Stars
The half life of Half-Life turned out to be about seven years Peta Michalek (9) 3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars
Outrageously overrated Sebastian Cardoso (45) 2.29 Stars2.29 Stars2.29 Stars2.29 Stars2.29 Stars
"The Right Person In The Wrong Place Can Make All The Difference" MasterMegid (897) 4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars
Light and fun FPS game Melody (119) 4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars

The Press Says

Miasto Gier Nov 23, 2004 10 out of 10 100
Game Chronicles Jan 14, 2005 9.9 out of 10 99
ComputerGames.ro Nov 30, 2004 95 out of 100 95
Pelit Nov, 2007 94 out of 100 94
GamingTrend 2004 567 out of 600 94
CD-Action Aug, 2004 9.33 out of 10 93
GameSpot Nov 15, 2004 9.2 out of 10 92
Cheat Code Central 2004 4.5 out of 5 90
Jeuxvideo.com Nov 17, 2004 18 out of 20 90
Gaming since 198x Nov 12, 2007 3 out of 5 60

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Trivia

1001 Video Games

Half-Life 2 appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Characters

Almost all the characters in Half-Life 2 are modelled after a real person's appearance:
  • Barney's face in the game was provided by Valve's CEO Scott Lynch.
  • Alyx Vance is modelled after American actress and television host Jamil Giovanni Mullen.
  • Eli Vance's is based on Larry "The Count" Heard, a local man holding a sign indicating that he was looking for work. Valve found him on the corner of Highway 520 and 148th Avenue in Redmond and hired him as a model.
  • The G-Man's Half-Life 2 model is based on Frank Sheldon, an Alexander Technique practitioner. He was originally slated to be the model for Dr. Breen.

City 17

City 17, the main location of Half-Life 2, strongly resembles Eastern European and Soviet cities of the communist era; the architecture style of suburb districts is nearly identical to what can be see (even until now) in East Berlin, Prague, Moscow, etc. However, there is also more direct evidence to the "Soviet" nature of City 17; several times some Russian words can be spotted. For example, during the mud skipper chase there are large gates with the words ПОРТ written above; "порт" is Russian for "port" (pronounced roughly the same way as the English word).

Closed captions

Valve designed Half Life 2 with closed captioning for the deaf. Sounds are bracketed. Each character has a color assigned to their dialogue.

Cut levels

According to the book Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar, the original storyline spanned four in-game days instead of just three. Among the parts cut are an antlion cave, a train ride through a dried out sea bed, a ship called the "Borealis", the underwater "Kraken Base", a Combine weather control station, a chapter set in arctic regions and a skyscraper. Many of these places show up in pre-release screenshots and press material.

Some parts were recycled for existing Half-Life 2 chapters, many others are making a comeback in the Half-Life 2 episodes.

Distribution

The PC version of Half-Life 2 was the last game that Sierra distributed for Valve at retail. Electronic Arts was quick to scoop up the retail deal, but their Steam digital distribution service remains independent.

As a result of a settlement in a lawsuit between Valve and VU Games, VU Games ceases distribution of retail packaged versions of Valve's games (including Half-Life 2), effective August 31, 2005.

Engine

Despite the complex graphics, including ragdoll physics and pixel shaders, the Source engine was designed to support cards that offer only DirectX 6 hardware support. The original Source engine code would run by using the software emulation encoded in the DirectX 9 library. That means that the game can be run even with an Intel 846g card or a Nvidia TNT chipset. To give some perspective, The TNT chipset was introduced in 1997.

According to John Carmack himself, "there are still bits of early Quake code in Half Life 2".

German version

There are changes in some German versions:
  • Blood from humans (including Gordon Freeman) and blood which is part of the level design was coloured grey
  • Almost all enemies disappear instantly after being killed. This is not true for a level near the end where the corpses are necessary to proceed.
  • The cries of burning zombies were toned down
  • In the original version enemies get dragged with the buggy for a short time after driving over them. In the German version the buggy just drives through them.
A detailed list of changes can be found on schnittberichte.com (German).

G-Man

G-Man can been spotted in a few places throughout the game, as he is watching over Gordon or walking around.

Hydra

An enemy that was shown in early previews known as the hydra, which was a blue tentacle, was cut out of the final game. The developers said that it was good to watch, but when it came to kill you, you would just see a blue blur and you would be dead. They didn't think it would be fun to fight against.

Macintosh version

In September of 2007 Valve's Gabe Newell was interviewed by gaming website Kikizo's Adam Doree about the then shortly to be released Orange Box, asking, among other things, about the potential for a Macintosh release. Newell responded by saying that though they had been in conversations with Apple regarding the possibility "they seem to think that they want to do gaming, but there's never any follow through on any of the things they say they're going to do. That makes it hard to be excited about doing games for their platforms." Thus, there wouldn't be a Macintosh version of Half-Life 2.

A month later, in October, Tuncer Deniz, a Macintosh developer and owner of the news site Inside Mac Games, posted on his blog that while Newell's complaints likely weren't without justification, the actual reason for the lack of a Macintosh port was due to "Valve's insistence that anyone who wanted to port Half-Life 2 to the Mac had to advance $1 million to Valve. That's right, that's $1,000,000. That might be peanuts to someone like Valve, but no Mac publisher in their right mind would have given Valve that kind of money just for the rights to publish Half-Life 2 for the Mac."

A Macintosh version was finally released in 2010 when Steam, Valve's digital distribution platform, was introduced for Macintosh.

Menu

The background picture of the main menu changes based on what chapter you are at when you last saved.

Multiplayer

Counter-Strike: Source was the only multiplayer mode available at the release. Two weeks later, on November 30, 2004, Valve released the regular multiplayer mode (Deathmatch) through Steam, their online content distribution system.

Piñata

Several news sources first reported Half-Life 2 entering gold status, quoting an unnamed source within the development team. The source revealed the existence of a piñata doll (a traditional South American custom of a doll stuffed with sweets and toys for children to break) which was broken to celebrate HL2's official completion.

It was later revealed that this "piñata" was in fact a full-scaled Scanner model (the flying machines that take pictures of suspects in-game) and it was broken using a crowbar.

Rating

Even though the initial release of Half-Life 2 as part of The Orange Box compilation received a PEGI rating of 16+, the stand-alone release received an initial rating of 18+.

References

Dr. Kleiner's pet headcrab Lamarr is actually named after Hedy Lamarr (November 9, 1913 – January 19, 2000, born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler), an Austrian-Jewish naturalized American actress and communications technology innovator.

References to the game

Half-Life 2 was parodied in an episode of "Die Redaktion" (The Editorial Team), a monthly comedy video produced by the German gaming magazine GameStar. It was published on the DVD of issue 05/2006.

Source code theft

Sometime in September 2003 Valve's network - including Gabe Newell's own computer - was compromised by a hacker and the worst case scenario soon unfolded. The entire Half-Life 2 source code was released on October 4 and only 3 days later a playable version of the game surfaced. FBI was brought into the case, and Gabe Newell also posted a message on a Half-Life 2 forum, asking the community to help them find the hacker.

Months went by without any substantial progress, when finally on February 15 the hacker sent an e-mail to Gabe Newell, expressing both his compliments on Valve's work so far and his somewhat dodgy statement that he never had any intention to hurt Valve. Gabe Newell and the hacker, known as "Da Guy" from Germany corresponded over the next period of time, and came to the agreement that since Da Guy had been smart enough to compromise Valve's security, he deserved a job. Soon, a job interview was setup. This was of course a trick. FBI agents would be waiting for the German when he arrived. However, when the German government heard about the scheme they denied such activities, and instead they arrested him themselves.

Da Guy, aka Axel G now faces charges for compromising Valve as well as several other computer related crimes.

Special Editions

3 different Half-Life 2 packages are available:
  • Half-Life 2 Bronze includes the game and Counter-Strike: Source.
  • Half-Life 2 Silver includes the game, Counter-Strike: Source, Day of Defeat: Source and Valve's back catalog available on Steam at the time.
  • Half-Life 2 Gold includes the game, Counter-Strike: Source, Day of Defeat: Source, Valve's back catalog available on Steam at the time, 3 HL2 posters, HL2 hat, HL2 soundtrack, HL2 sticker, City 17 postcard, Prima's HL2 strategy guide, special collector's box and a chance to win a trip to Valve.

Vortigaunts

The Vortigaunts are voiced by Louis Gossett, Jr. It is mentioned in Raising the Bar that Gossett was chosen partially due to his role as the alien in the film Enemy Mine.

Awards

  • 4Players
    • 2004 – PC Game of the Year
    • 2004 – Best PC Action Game of the Year
    • 2004 – Best PC Direction of the Year
    • 2004 – Best PC Graphics of the Year
    • 2004 – Best PC Successor of the Year
  • Computer Games Magazine
    • March 2005 - #4 Game of the Year 2004
  • Computer Gaming World
    • March 2005 (Issue #249) – Best Music of the Year
    • March 2005 (Issue #249) – NPC of the Year (for Dog)
  • GameSpy
    • 2004 – #2 Game of the Year
    • 2004 – PC Game of the Year
    • 2004 – PC Action Game of the Year
    • 2004 – PC Game of the Year (Readers' Vote)
    • 2004 – PC Action Game of the Year (Readers' Vote)
    • 2004 - Best Graphics of the Year (PC)
    • 2004 - Best Character of the Year (PC) (for Dog)
    • 2005 – #7 Game of the Year
    • 2005 – Xbox Game of the Year
    • 2005 – Xbox Game of the Year (Readers' Vote)
    • 2005 – Xbox Shooter of the Year
    • 2005 – PC Mod of the Year (for Garry's Mod)
    • 2005 - The "It Shoulda Been on Xbox 360 Award" (Xbox)
    • 2011 – #10 Top PC Game of the 2000s
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • February 2005 - Best PC Game in 2004
    • February 2005 - Best PC Game in 2004
    • Issue 03/2005 - Most Annoying Copy Protection in 2004
  • Golden Joystick Awards
    • 2004 - Runner-up for "Most Wanted Game For Xmas"
    • 2005 - PC Game of the Year
  • PC Gamer
    • April 2005 - #4 in the "50 Best Games of All Time" list
    • It was the first game to tie PC Gamer's 98% rating of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, previously their highest rated game ever
  • PC Powerplay (Germany)
    • Issue 02/2006 - Best Game in 2005
    • Issue 02/2006 - #1 Action Game in 2005
Information also contributed by Agent 5, Apogee IV, B14ck W01f, Indra was here, James Isaac, LepricahnsGold, Lumpi, Mark Ennis, Mark Papadakis, PCGamer77, piltdown man, Scott Monster, Silverblade, Unicorn Lynx, VVP and Zack Green.

Related Web Sites

  • Half-Life 2 Hints (This question and answer type solution guides you through the steps gradually, giving only as much information as you need before the final answers are provided.)
  • Official Half-Life 2 Website (Official game website, with information about the game, media and links to the Steam website.)
  • The Boy Who Stole Half-Life 2 (article about the game's source code theft, on Eurogamer.net (21st February 2011))
  • The Final Hours of Half-Life 2 (Gamespot's extensive article about the production process of Half-Life 2.)
Zack Green (1015) added Half-Life 2 (Windows) on Nov 15, 2004
Other platforms contributed by GTramp (32229), Sciere (249839), DarkDante (3710) and Zeppin (8355)