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Half-Life 2: Episode One

aka: Bantiao Ming 2: Diyi Bu, HL2EP1, Half-Life 2: Aftermath, Hλlf-Life²: Episode One
Windows Specs [ all ]
(prices updated 9/18 3:54 PM )

Description official descriptions

Half-Life 2: Episode One continues the story of Half-Life 2. It begins immediately after the end of this game, and follows Gordon Freeman (the player) and Alyx as they attempt to escape City 17 in the wake of the defeat of the Combine forces and the battle in the Citadel.

Gameplay and Gordon's weapon arsenal are identical to Half-Life 2. Enemies too are familiar, with only one new zombie variant. A notable gameplay feature is the behavior of Alyx, who fights along Gordon's side for virtually the entire game. While the player still provides most of the offensive firepower, Alyx does provide a beneficial presence, and is far from the typical cannon fodder AI.

The game has four to six hours of gameplay, and also features a "Commentary" mode, which enables hotspots on each map where the player can listen to developer commentary explaining how or why certain things were done.


  • ハーフライフ2 エピソード1 - Japanese spelling
  • 半条命2:第一部 - Simplified Chinese spelling
  • 戰慄時空2首部曲:浩劫重生 - Traditional Chinese spelling
  • 하프라이프 2 에피소드 1 - Korean spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

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Average score: 83% (based on 52 ratings)


Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 137 ratings with 6 reviews)

About as good as it is long.

The Good
...does a better job of hiding its linearity than Half-Life 2?

The Bad
Then again, it might just be because it's so short.

Episode One is mostly worst parts of Half-Life 2 mixed with some really really bad design decisions. Such as: Focusing the game on Gordon/Alyx relationship while Gordon is still a mute; Alyx doing everything for the player through first half of the game, then turning into useless groupie in second half; Putting player in dark, underground areas with flashlight lasting ten seconds; Having the obligatory "defend for x minutes form infinitely respawning enemies" section in said area; Combining grenade-wielding zombies with an NPC which blocks your way and some tight corridors; Using scripts to make things dumber, not smarter, such as reprogrammed rollermines automatically exploding exactly when when all enemies are dead and Combine soldiers charging out of cover straight at sniper positions. The story doesn't make any sense at all - Alyx uses her gizmo to mysteriously "zap" various things, which ends up with her getting some super sensitive Combine data. So the only logical thing to do is run around all of the City 17 drawing fire so that a dozen civilians can escape - escort missions, who doesn't love them. The game is predictable as hell - with only Gravity Gun in the Citadel we don't meet any enemies at all, but as soon as it's upgraded to being combat-worthy the levels swarm with Combine soldiers who never seem to drop their weapons because hey, it's The Blue Gravity Gun Section, and all the physics puzzles are same as first time around, and so on, and so on.

The Bottom Line
That's one afternoon you will never, ever get back.

Windows · by Peta Michalek (8) · 2010

Half-Life 2: Episode One Is Better Than Star Wars Episode One

The Good
After the ending of Half-Life 2, players knew it was not over. What they did not know however was that the expansions for HL2, would be released in episodes, there are reportedly going to be 4 total. Which makes me wonder why did Valve just not finish the all the episodes and release it as one game.

In Half-Life 2: Episode One, Gordon Freeman has just defeated Dr. Breen, and triggered an explosion of the citadel. At the end of HL2 the mysterious G-Man has rescued Freeman, from the explosion. Oddly, HL2:E1, does not pick up here. Instead, the Vortagons, help Gordon and Alyx. The G-Man is seen only once in this game, as are many others, such as Drs. Kliner, and Vance.

In this episode Gordon and Alyx must escape City 17, and help the now free humans flee as well. Along the way they will battle Combine troops, Zombies, including the new and very fierce Combine Zombies, as well as Head Crabs, etc. And solve some “puzzles”.

In the very beginning, HL2:E1, is much more solve the puzzle, than action oriented. The latter half of the expansion is more action based.

Valve made the right decision here by having the player once more assume the role of Gordon Freeman, the mute savior of the human race. Unlike the expansions for the original game which had the player being others. All the weapons return in this expansion, but many seem to take awhile to obtain. And the gameplay is similar with some new twists.

Aside from the new monsters. Episode One is also different than most FPS, in that instead of being alone, Alyx is with Gordon 98% of the game. And serves as a fellow combatant, as well as another first for FPS games, a love interest for Gordon. It is interesting to hear her flirt with the still non-speaking Freeman. Although it is more of we don’t hear what Gordon says, than he does not speak. And do not worry about keeping Alyx alive, as she cannot be killed, and is quite capable when it comes to combat.

The Graphics as in the original are amazing. Even set on their lowest setting. Realistic looking characters and environments abound. As well as most excellent lighting effects. Rag doll physics courtesy of the Havok engine.

Sound Effects and Music are up to par also, as we have come to expect. The voice acting is as good as it was the first time, as is the music and effects. And the game also has new music, almost all of it is new in fact.

There is another first here, in the form of commentary. Yes, Episode 1 has a commentary track. Activate the icons, and a member of Valve will talk about the level, or monsters, etc. An interesting, if strange addition.

The Bad
This game is way too short. Clocking in at about 3-5 hours, this game can be finished, in one day. And yet it is still $20, although I got it for five bucks cheaper. This game should retail at 10-15 dollars, not 20.

I would have rather had one big expansion, than, four smaller ones.

The Bottom Line
Overall, Episode One, is just as enjoyable as HL2, so needless to say, HL2 fans will have to play this game.

Windows · by MasterMegid (723) · 2006

More of the same... but that's not a bad thing.

The Good
One word. Alyx. Alyx made me love this game. I have never been so attached to an NPC in my life. Her facial expressions, reactions, conversations, and friendliness are so astounding you forget you're sitting there playing with a digitally created character. Alyx covers your back, saves your neck, and even gives you a warm hug during the course of the game. (Most gamers reported tingling sensations during the hugging sequence.) ; )

The source engine, after a few tweaks here and there (namely facial muscles and HDR), still looks good after a couple of years. It's not the best graphics out there, but I was still impressed while running it in 640x480 (High Detail) on my Radeon 9550. Once I made the upgrade to the X800GTO I cranked the settings to high and at 1280x1024 and the visuals were mindblowing. Every rock and car is ground out to the highest detail, the citadel is like nothing you've ever seen, combine troops eyes glow at you from a distance, the black rappel ropes fling effortlessly through the air like they were... real ropes. Whoa.

The AI of the creatures was markedly improved, combine zombies (zombines) can track you down quickly and always seem to pull a grenade right when you don't have the gravity gun handy to whip it out of their hands and send it flying.

The difficulty settings were also better, I played the game all the way through on the hardest setting and actually had a few levels where it took me quite a few tries (10 to 15) to get past certain sections. Normal difficulty was just about perfect, not so easy that you coast through the levels, but not so hard that you can't get past them without being a pro.

I loved the fact that the game never seemed to go into "time filler" mode. Even though it clocked in at 7 hours for me on my first play (on Hard), they were the most action-packed 7 hours of my gaming life. I had trecked through the citadel, met familiar and unfamiliar enemies, gunned down endless creatures and troops, and fired probably one too many RPGs for my ears to handle.

Valve has done was has been very hard for gaming companies to do over the years. Create a game with characters we care about. We laugh at the so-brilliant-he's-stupid Dr. Kliener's, we honor and respect Dr. Vance, we feel like we're with an old war buddy when we're with Barney, and we guard Alyx with our life because... well you have to to win the game. ; )

There is much more is this short but deep adventure that I enjoyed, but I'll leave it to you to uncover.

The Bad
No new weapons, no new characters (one new baddie), not much for new level design, just more of destructive ol' City 17.

The combine soldiers still seem stupid. Must be those crazy outfits.

I know Valve does this on purpose, but it still bugs me. I want to know more about what's going on. I've been through all the FAQs, all the Stories, Guides, Walkthroughs, with very few of them shedding any new light on the story of Half-Life. Information is given to you in morsels, and you are expected to continue trudging through the game relying only on tidbits of interesting data and dialog. But then again... maybe that's why I love playing this game, because we all have fear, and we always fear... what we don't understand.

Valve tantalizes our taste-buds time after time with this series, it's a beautiful love/hate scenario. We love what the games give us and yet hate Valve and Steam for the waits and the cryptic storylines, and yet again, that's why we keep coming back.

The Bottom Line
Debris are flying through space... Dr. Breen's ominous words echo through the digital panels... you are sucked back into the middle of an explosion... time stands still.

The soft rumbling of a familiar robot pierces your sensitive ear drums, you hear a familiar voice... someone searching... Alyx. The debris is lifted away and you are greeted with the overwhelming disaster that you have just created. Welcome... to Half-Life.

The Half-Life series (to me) is not about what's revealed. It's about what's NOT revealed. So much of the story and information that could be revealed isn't, they only tell you what you absolutely need to know. Nothing more. Nothing less. Every piece of data that you learn is critical, and should be well-taken note of.

Get ready for the ride of your life through a game (series) that will not be duplicated for years to come. "Action-Packed Adventure" is now the understatement of the year.

Half Life 2: Episode One, and the rest of the Half-Life games may or may not be your cup of tea, but it's one that I'm going to be sipping from for a long time.

Windows · by Ian Badeer (19) · 2006

[ View all 6 player reviews ]



Valve development commentary in the game mentions that players seemed to love Dog, so they made him the first thing the player sees at the start of the episode.

Dr. Breen

Apparently, some citizens enjoyed some of the Breencasts. In the game, one citizen can be heard saying to another; "I don't miss Dr. Breen, but I do miss his show. Remember when he had the jugglers on?". This is possibly a reference to the satirical webcomic Concerned (the author of Concerned, however, denies this, believing it to be something of a stretch and citing the absence of jugglers in his strip).

German version

There are changes in some German versions of the game: * All blood by humans (including German Freeman) and blood which is part of the level design was coloured green * Almost all enemies instantly disappear after being killed. An exception are some dark parts were burning zombies are used as light source. * The cries of burning zombies were toned down * During the part were Alyx finds the first zombine, the corpse she refers to was removed

A detailed list of changes can be found on schnittberichte.com (German).


  • 4Players
    • 2006 – #3 Best Add-On of the Year
  • Games for Windows: The Official Magazine
    • March 2007 - #4 Game of the Year 2006
  • GameSpy
    • 2006 – #9 Game of the Year
    • 2006 – #3 PC Game of the Year
    • 2006 – PC Action Game of the Year
    • 2006 – PC Action Game of the Year (Gamers' Vote)
    • 2006 – Best Graphics of the Year (PC)
  • PC Powerplay (Germany)

Information also contributed by Mark Ennis.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Shadowcaster.

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

Additional contributors: PCGamer77, Unicorn Lynx, Foxhack, Paulus18950, lee jun ho, Patrick Bregger, Plok.

Game added June 9th, 2006. Last modified May 1st, 2023.