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Half-Life 2

aka: Bantiao Ming 2, HL2, Hλlf-Life², λ²
Windows Specs [ all ]
(prices updated 9/19 3:55 PM )

Description official descriptions

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 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 their 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 coordinated assaults on enemy bases, fighting gigantic boss enemies, bringing down aircraft 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.

Spellings

  • 半条命2 - Simplified Chinese spelling
  • 戰慄時空2 - Traditional Chinese spelling
  • 하프라이프 2 - Korean spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

252 People (226 developers, 26 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 93% (based on 121 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.2 out of 5 (based on 475 ratings with 24 reviews)

If you have a dial up line, DO NOT BUY THIS GAME!

The Good
Graphics were wonderful. The game is immersive. Sound is very good. Skin textures and facial movements are the best I have ever seen. Action is non stop.

The Bad
The game is totally unplayable if you have a dial up modem or if you don't have an internet connection. Product activation is one thing, but being forced to log onto the Internet and get Vivendis permission to play a game you have purchased is totally over the top. Especially when, if you have a dial up as I do it takes between 35 to 40 minutes before the game is finally ready to play. What were the Vivendi guys thinking. It is so stupid I am lost for words.

The Bottom Line
I am reminded of Winnie the Pooh and the Honey pot. There is this wonderful game, but it is totally out of reach. I think cruel and unusual punishment is an apt description for the Vivendi people. I will never ever buy their products again if they have such an outrageous activation scheme.

Windows · by Edwin Wigmore (2) · 2005

Perfect game for any one

The Good
Very smart AI that keeps the game interesting.

There are lots of puzzles to challenge the gamer and his or her intellect. the physics in this game make it way cooler than other games.

An array of weapons that not only look good but also are very helpful in combat against the combine. (one shot kill from the magnum, crossbow that is like a sniper, one or two barrel shot from the shot gun, etc.)

The load times (not including the first one) are any where from 5- 10 seconds long (in simple terms there is basically no load times).

The graphics are amazing and there are no cut scenes so its like a movie but you are the camera (what I am trying to say is the dialogue happens during the game rather than going to a cut scene).

The Bad
Sometimes can get a bit confusing and frustrating.

The combine REALLY piss me off at some times because the zombies and head crabs take my life down to like 20 and than (sometimes) around the corner is a combine with a shot gun which just happens to be a checkpoint so when ever i go back to that point, i get shot to like 5 life before i kill the combine.

Also the head crabs waste my amo since they are so small, they are able to evade 5 shells of my shot gun before they go down.

Some times i find myself lost in the game but that's just me.

The Bottom Line
A game recommended for any one that has an xbox or a computer (that can handle it).

Xbox · by Todd Bello (28) · 2006

Not just a game, an experience

The Good
I will be sincere and frank. Half-life 2 is one of the greatest, most inspiring games I have ever played. HL2 simply has a way of making you feel inside the game, working your way through the desolate and ruined streets of City 17. It has the power to make it seem like Half-Life 2 is so much more than a video game, that it really is you who is dodging the bullets of the combine as you escape through the city canals. Half-life 2 doesn’t make you feel like your sitting at your computer desk with the TV droning a rerun of the Simpsons. It brings you the atmosphere and the storytelling of a Hollywood masterpiece.

Half-life 2 gets its strength from how well it makes players feel part of the game, how it makes players feel immersed into the game play. Half-life 2’s ingenious storytelling is clearly visible through the game’s heavy sci-fi atmosphere and its life-like feeling. HL2 has the feeling of a good Hollywood masterpiece: it is able to make you feel as though you are sitting right there in the game, just as a good movie does. The sights and sounds of City 17 literally make the city come alive. All around HL2 has that utter feeling of deep drama, even without using much dialogue or even traditional cut-scenes. It has the ability to make you feel that something is going on and the game has a huge back-story even though it doesn’t tell you in cut scenes or through dialogue. All real dialogues are completely played in-game, and the camera never leaves your body, to give the narrative a more personal feeling and “silent” feeling. You can feel the post-apocalyptic, Orwellian air as you step into City 17. The narrative chosen by Valve makes the game feel much deeper and allow the player to be drawn in more than a game with a traditional narrative.

HL2 also owes much of its immersion to the masterful Source engine, which in my honest opinion is the most realistic engine ever created. The atmospheric feel to HL2 would not have been possible if it did not have such a realistic environment to work in. And of course, I would have never chosen a better engine. Source delivers such a realistic environment, filled with life-like graphics and physics.

The physics are one of the highest points in this game. Everything in the game bounces and rolls in the way you would expect it too in real life. Barrels roll smoothly downhill, and boxes tip precariously as you begin to stack them. You can pick up almost everything you would be able to in real life, from boards and boxes, to the tiniest insignificant items like paper cups, bricks, paint cans, and milk cartons. The effect of this is that Gordon Freeman’s hands feel like your magical hands into the digital world.

The best part about this though is that the game incorporates it into the game play. For example you can pick up boards and use them to cross dangerous gaps, or you must use the physics to solve puzzles to advance. Of course, the environments feel much more interactive with these grandiose physics, and during firefights you will be shooting down objects which will react to your movements and your bullets. Telephone lines will sway in the breeze as an enemy helicopter flies overhead. But of course nothing would be complete without the game’s ingenious Gravity Gun! The GG allows you to manipulate the area around by allowing to pick up items of almost any size and to move them around or punt them at people. Not only can it be used to manipulate the environment to reach unexplored areas, but it can be used to attack people. This is a gun where the ammo is literally the area around you. With how much detail the developers pore into the game, there is almost a constant supply of ammo for you to play with. Anything from tires to sinks to TV’s can be used, and it ends up being one of the most fun parts of the game. What you do with it is up to you! These are just a few of the things HL2 can bring to you through its ingenious physics. It is so much so, that physics are literally part of the game.

But of course, the physics would be nothing without beautiful and realistic graphics to complement the physics. The Source engine delivers just like it delivers its physics: superbly. The graphics of HL2 could not be more well-defined and realistic. Both landscapes and indoor levels have an unprecedented amount of detail in them.
Textures and lighting are absolutely top-notch, all of which look gorgeous on a computer screen. On a higher end computer, the graphics look photorealistic. The character models are highly developed, with Valve paying special attention to the ability to render detailed facial expressions, which allows for better storytelling through actions rather than words. All of the environments in HL2 are littered with detail and small items to make the areas seem more realistic. All of the areas in HL2 are ingeniously varied yet all contain a mind-boggling amount of detail. Every item is littered with items like couches, cans, boxes, frying pans and everything else you can think of. Any game can make an abandoned seaside village, but litter it with cartons, boards, paint cans, food, clocks, and pictures and it makes the ghost town feel as though someone has actually once dwelled there before you. The environments are wide and open, and make you really feel like there really are parts of the city that you simply haven’t seen yet. The lighting effects of the game are brilliant, with a realistic “iris” effect for outdoors. When you go from a dark indoor place to a bright outdoor area, the game temporarily blinds you to act as though your iris needs to get used to the new light. And if you’re sitting here thinking “yeah, its will have great graphics if I had a mega computer likes yours.” Well I must say you have it a bit wrong. HL2 will even play on some of the worst systems. You see the screenshots we have here at MobyGames? Well you can get that to run at a smooth frame rate with a 64 MB graphics card at 512 MB RAM. No kidding! Trust me, I should know, because those were my settings when I had my first run through this game!

And of course, after all of this you simply must have the ambient sounds to complete the package. As with many cases, ambient sounds can often make or break a scene. Sounds tell the player if the scene is peaceful and isolated from combat, or the player is in the middle of a war zone. A chase seems slow and boring when it feels like there is nothing that makes the scene feel urgent or that anything is chasing you. But add the droning Combine Tower alarm and helicopter blades overhead and it seems like the entire city is after you. The Striders seem much more big and powerful when you hear their howling war cries from over the rooftops. Danger seems close to your back when you hear the ticking of bullets flying to the brick wall behind you. A peaceful breeze combined with the graphically beautiful sunsets subconsciously tells a player that the area is safe and isolated from combat. Each sound tells a different story, and HL2’s sounds must be heard to be believed.

All of these things combine and the result is the world of HL2 feels all too real. From physics to graphics and sound, HL2 provides an eerie, life-like atmosphere and drama. And of course, Valve grants us the privilege of being able to play in this fantastic environment. The FPS sections of the game are utterly top-notch. The game allows a right amount of balance between weapons and enemies, and varies the environments enough to not make the game feel repetitive, but gives you enough time there to make it feel realistic. You will often find yourself shooting from rooftops, cliff sides, and more. Action-packed sections of the game are adrenaline pumping and extremely fast-paced, and this applies to the driving sections of the game, which are speedy and filled with high-speed chases. The enemy AI is highly advanced in my opinion, with enemies shouting commands on the battlefield, and actually DOING them. Enemies naturally shape their tactics around the battle, and you will often find yourself being outflanked by enemy troops. The gut-wrenching action of Half-life 2 will not stop until the very end.


The Bad
Like a Hollywood movie again, Half-Life 2’s biggest flaw is that it is the same thing through every time, usually with very little variation. Often there’s only one way to get through sections of the game, and while it is extremely fun it is in the most sense, it is the same way through every time. To do it any other way, I think, would be to destroy the gamer’s sense of immersion. But some players will find this point annoying, especially with big sand box games out there such as the Grand Theft Auto series.

LOAD TIMES. I hate load times. In the beginning of the game, there is also a number of load times that severely hinders the immersion. If you don’t know this game, then I must warn you that the load times can be outrageously long. All of the Half-life 2 files are on Steam’s servers, so that you don’t have to keep the huge amount of files n your computer. But uploading these files to your computer can take quite long. The only time this will hinder game play is the beginning, where because you are being chased it makes you feel as though you should rush through the areas. You may encounter a new load screen every few minutes, a bad flaw for this portion of the game.

And while the enemy AI is fine tuned and polished, the same cannot be said for your allies AI. Squad mates may often crowd around you, or run straight into the path of a strider. Can no game make good AI for friendly units? Is it an attempt to put the burden of work on to you? I can mention a number of games which suffer from this same problem, however a good potion of them have good to decent enemy AI.

But of course, these flaws are quite easy to overlook in the face of what it does well, so much to the point where the flaws become almost negligible.

The Bottom Line
There’s simply no other way to put it. Half-Life 2 is easily one of the most (if not THE most) atmospheric and immersive games out there. Through its sheer perfection of physics, graphics, sound, and AI, it has the uncanny ability to make you feel like you are standing there in the middle of each of your battles. The game has a few outstanding flaws but it is massively overshadowed by the feeling this game has to offer. This game will definitely be one of the most memorable ones of the current era, and sets a new standard for FPS games. Game Informer was right; nothing will ever be the same. Half-Life 2 is not just a game, it’s an experience that must be felt to be believed.

Buyworthy: You bet it is! Worth double of what they sell it for now!
Rentworthy N/A

Windows · by Matt Neuteboom (975) · 2006

[ View all 24 player reviews ]

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 Games

Half-Life
Released 1998 on Windows, Macintosh, 2013 on Linux
Half-Life: Blue Shift
Released 2001 on Windows, Linux, 2013 on Macintosh
Half-Life 2: Episode One
Released 2006 on Windows, 2010 on Macintosh, 2013 on Linux
Half-Life: Counter-Strike
Released 2000 on Windows
Half-Life 2 (Gold Edition)
Released 2004 on Windows
Half-Life: Platinum Collection
Released 2002 on Windows
Half-Life: Alyx
Released 2020 on Windows
Half-Life 2: Deathmatch
Released 2004 on Windows, 2010 on Macintosh, 2013 on Linux
Half-Life: Platinum
Released 2000 on Windows

Related 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.

Identifiers +

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Zack Green.

Android added by GTramp. Linux added by Sciere. Xbox added by DarkDante. Macintosh added by Zeppin.

Additional contributors: Unicorn Lynx, Jeanne, Apogee IV, Sciere, n][rvana, Paulus18950, lee jun ho, VVP, Patrick Bregger, Plok, FatherJack.

Game added November 25th, 2004. Last modified June 13th, 2023.