Half-Life 2

aka: Bantiao Ming 2, HL2, Hλlf-Life², λ²
Windows Specs [ all ]
(prices updated 9/25 12:08 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.


  • 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



Average score: 93% (based on 121 ratings)


Average score: 4.2 out of 5 (based on 476 ratings with 24 reviews)

Great Graphics, Great levels, but Dated Play

The Good
This review is going to be simple and straight forward.

I downloaded it off Steam, fully patched and updated. No bugs at all. Even the annoying audio stutter was resolved.

It stays true to the original, for good and bad. You have the clever puzzles and hidden paths of escape. The sound effects are improved but not replaced. The voice acting is top notch and including a lot well known actors like Robert Culp and Robert Guillaume.

The graphics are remarkable, considering that they'll run on most machines made within the last 8 years. Unlike Doom3, You don't need an ATI or Nvidia card to play the game. You have several options for customizing the video to match the requirements of your PC.

The story is not going to win any Hugo awards, but it serves the gameplay suitably. The story is actually enhanced by the dialog performed by the helpful and not-so-helpful NPCs.

The gravity gun is awesome but not used enough in game play. Part of the fun is finding out what weapons work best against the varied baddies you face. The barnacles and headcrabs make a great return as the annoying aliens.

The Bad
This game is very linear. The only challenge stems from survival to the next level. For a game with such potential, the play options are surprisingly limited.

The bullsquids and One-eyed Howlers are missing.

The Bottom Line
A decent challenge the first time you play it.

If you're into run and gun gaming, this is a good game for you. If you're more into any role playing, you might find this a bit dry. There's little reason to play it more than once.

Windows · by Scott Monster (985) · 2009

"The Right Person In The Wrong Place Can Make All The Difference"

The Good
The sequel to 1998’s game of the year. So named by over 50 publications. Half-Life 2, is an amazing game. It is just as good and often exceeds the original. Not an easy task considering that Half-Life is considered by many to be the greatest FPS of all time.

Half-Life 2 picks up an undisclosed amount of time after the events depicted in the first game. Alien overlords known as “The Combine”, are in total control of the Earth. And have beaten humanity down. Due to the ruthlessness of the invaders very few dare to stand up against them. Gordon Freeman has gained a legendary reputation for his defeat of Ninlanth, the alien that led the invasion, of what is now known as “The Black Mesa Incident”.

Known as the one “Free Man”. Gordon is about to return. In so doing he will be the catalyst for the human race to fight back. In HL2, you will be reunited with many familiar faces, as well as some new ones. As in the original the game is broken up into chapters. The story is told via interactive cut scenes, in which the player has freedom of movement. While the characters talk. As before Gordon Freeman does not say a single word.

In HL2 you play through chapters on foot, and with the aid of vehicles. The chapters with vehicles play quite differently than those on foot, and of other FPS with vehicles. These chapters tend to be longer, and filled with more action. While more standard chapters have Gordon fighting Combine troops and other foes, collecting weapons, and solving simple puzzles.

In later stages of the game, you get to make use of a squad of fellow freedom fighters. Not unlike Opposing Force. However in HL2 it is implemented better. You can give more precise orders to your soldiers. They can heal you, and themselves, as well as give advice to certain situations. Parts of the game when alone tend to be more fun and more like the first game, but the squad gameplay is a nice change of pace.

There is little in common in HL and HL2 level wise. This is often a complaint about the game. But it is understandable. In the first game you were stuck in Black Mesa for 80% of the game. In Half-Life 2, the levels are almost exclusively outdoors. As you battle through “City 17”.

Where HL2 excels the most is the diversity of the areas. From the creepy “Ravenholm”, to the thrills of vehicle segments. In the end however HL2 is not a long game. In fact it is even shorter than the original.

The Graphics are stunning. The NPCS look so real as to be almost life like. The use of lighting and particle effects are outstanding! The decrepit city looks convincing, while Ravenholm looks eerie and foreboding. The best part has to be that you do not need dream machine PC to play it! The minimal video requirement is 32MB, incredible! The better your system of course the better the game will perform. But the fairly low requirements mean than playing the game will be in most peoples range.

As in the original the game has amazing sound. The voice overs are excellent. And while there are few big names aside from Louis Gossett Jr. The cast all do an amazing job here. The sound effects are very well done. From the gunshots to the chatter of the Combine troops. The music while not as good overall as the original, but is still great when it needs to be. Some tracks even return! I hope you have a good sound system for your PC.

The Bad
On the negative side, HL2 is too short. The ride is over a little to quickly. Some chapters are not as strong as others. Thankfully when you finish the game you can jump to any chapter. And play your favorites, over and over if you wish.

Steam sucks! Steam is a program used to upload HL2 to your PC. It is horrible. Even with a cable modem it is so slow. It took like an hour to install. Ridiculous!

The game needs a lot of hard drive space. About, 4.5 Gig…..shessh!

The game ends abruptly, and it seems that the writers have themselves in a corner.

The Bottom Line
Overall this is a worthy sequel, and a hell of a fun game. Even if you have not played the original. And barring the huge amount of hard drive space needed, this game can run on most systems. The different character boxes are cool!

Windows · by MasterMegid (723) · 2006

Methodical FPS with a decent story.

The Good
Half Life, in all of its forms is one of the most beloved IP's to ever grace computers and home consoles. It's obvious to see why, the games are thoroughly enjoyable experiences. They're solidly developed, well produced and competently paced games. The mythological status that the series has developed over the course of years may be a little exaggerated but it can't be denied the core elements of the franchise like the seamless world and well developed story are what defined the series upon release and why it is so popular and so well loved.

So, based on the core fanbase developed by its predecessor Half Life 2 had something to live up to. A change in the dynamics of the gameplay would have totally up ended the solid foundation that had been established and would have ruined everything. Then, it is logical to assume Half Life 2 is very similar to its predecessor. Similar to the point that the two games play almost identically. Judged side by the side the two games are almost identical, very little has changed and it's a double edged sword. If you're familiar with Half Life, if you love Half Life then you'd love Half Life 2. The games virtually identical control system, seamless world broken up by sporadic loads and exposition through interaction with NPC's will be comfortably familiar.

If you're not entirely familiar with Half Life you control a theoretical physicist named Gordon Freeman who in the events of the first game was forced to confront an alien horde invading a hidden government contracted research facility called Black Mesa when an experiment goes wrong. If it sounds strange that a theoretical physicist would be able to fight off an alien horde then there is more explaining to be done, shortly before entering the test chamber to begin the experiment Freeman donned an HEV (or Hazardous Environment) suit to protect himself. The HEV suit provides Freeman with protection and augments his physical strength and speed considerably.

Gordon Freeman is seemingly put into cryogensis at the end of the game and wakes up some time in the future when the world has been dominated by an alien race called the Combine. The story is serviceable and provides a few satisfying twists and turns and memorable characters like the beautiful Alyx Vance and and ex security guard from Black Mesa. The concepts surrounding the story are occasionally more satisfying than the actual reveals, what few of them there are. The hulking, synthetic monstrosities and suggested glimpses at transformation processes give hints at the malevolent machinations of the Combine, while little is actually elaborated on. This suggestion seems to work better than simply laying out a foundation of exposition as every cold war era building crumbling around you and every lonely swingset seems to tell a little story of its own. A story of desolation and neglect, indicative of the grey, depressed resignation of the human race in their subservience.

In every aesthetic respect it's a beautiful game. The Source engine is employed to give the impression of a drab, frightening and claustrophobic world of crumbling buildings and forgotten people. Long lost relics of humanities past lie in the countryside, reminders of how safe a house used to be, now only to be used a base of operation for Combine forces. The town of Ravenholm is a blood spattered mess, filled with corpses, hideous and disfigured monsters lurking in the shadows of the wind swept and long forgotten city. Suggestions of traps being laid, barricades and makeshift hospitals litter the halls of buildings and on the streets. The cityscapes are poetic and do more for the story than the actual story does for itself. What is suggested is powerful and frightening.

The Bad
While Half Life 2 is a beautiful game it lacks any significant gameplay edge. The constant moving from load to load feels like a slog through a drab, depressing neverending world of constant hardship. There are moments of quiet however these quickly end and you're forced back into constant firefights and small, cramped tunnels. It's suffers from the problems that its predecessor suffered from, the rigid insistence not to deviate from the "you are Freeman" concept limits the amount of exposition you could possibly hope to have. It also limits game play possibilities and forces you to adjust to simply going from checkpoint to checkpoint, firefight to firefight and vague narrative point to vague narrative point.

There are sequences where you are able to drive a buggy or a jet boat however these are either too long or too convoluted. There is no pay off for completing them other than going from point A to point B.

The story itself is nothing special either. There was wriggle room to concoct an impressive science fiction story however the narrative elements in this game are either poorly explained or not explained at all. Almost everything has to be picked up from paltry pieces of dialogue or things taped to notice boards and it just isn't enough. The environments tell a story, but they can only tell so much.

The Bottom Line
Half Life 2 is a game that does a lot of things really solidly but ends up coming across as vacuous and Valve as somewhat arrogant. They're convinced that the narrative elements in the game can purposefully remain vague so long as the engine is solid and the game play is too.

The game play is very solid, the firefights are challenging and satisfying and the little deviations like being able to drive a buggy and jetboat are welcome. This doesn't help to alleviate the overwhelming sense of aimlessness. It doesn't help alleviate the feeling that you're simply going through the motions, going from checkpoint to checkpoint.

As much as I enjoyed Half Life 2, I can also appreciate its flaws, which it contains in abundance.

Windows · by AkibaTechno (238) · 2010

[ View all 24 player reviews ]


1001 Video Games

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


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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+.


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.


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.


  • 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.

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Half-Life: Counter-Strike
Released 2000 on Windows
Half-Life 2 (Gold Edition)
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Half-Life: Platinum Collection
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Half-Life: Alyx
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Half-Life 2: Deathmatch
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Half-Life: Platinum
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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.

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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 September 29th, 2023.