Half-Life 2: Episode One

aka: Bantiao Ming 2: Diyi Bu, HL2EP1, Half-Life 2: Aftermath, Hλlf-Life²: Episode One
Moby ID: 22688
Windows Specs
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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.

Spellings

  • 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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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 83% (based on 52 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 147 ratings with 6 reviews)

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

Pack your gear, Morgan.. I mean Gordon. There's still three episodes to go.

The Good
So, the story of Gordon Freeman and merry aliens will finally be finished with the three episodes post-Half-Life 2 with this being the first of them.

I was never a big fan of Half-Life 2 as I felt it was too much of the old. The original Half-Life was the reason I got into FPS's, though. I never found Doom/Quake etc to my liking but HL was something I liked. It had a bit of a plot and level design had some interesting ideas and of course the scripted events were pretty new back then. Trouble with HL2 was it was too much of the old. From a gaming perspective there wasn't that much new even though the rest of the FPS world had moved on. Far Cry had massive outdoor areas and clever enemies. F.E.A.R. was scarier and had clever enemies, as well. Deus Ex was the perfect combination of FPS and RPG with an interesting plot. Freedom Fighters managed to turn an FPS into a team-game with intelligent team-mates and an excellent command system. And so on. And many shooters had included multiple ways of solving situations. Deus Ex and Far Cry in particular excelled in this aspect. HL2 didn't, it was still mostly a long run through a tunnel, just like the original HL. It wasn't a bad game but hardly the best FPS ever despite the hype.

Episode One is a sure-hit for people who liked HL2, as it's really mostly same old, same old. Level design is unfortunately less interesting and really a waste considering the setting. A city in turmoil would allow some interesting scenes and areas but mostly the game consists of running in cellars and other uninspiring areas within that city. Apart from the first area which isn't very interesting at all just like it wasn't in HL2. Somehow almost all of the areas are very confined and I can't figure out why. Why do I have to move through narrow passages all the time? Where are the large buildings with large, open interiors (sometimes the areas look big, but your movements are still hampered in some ways)? There really aren't any unforgettable levels in Episode One, and that is a shame because the game looks gorgeous and it does have a few neat tricks in its sleeve.

The most important one is Alyx. Without her the game would actually be quite boring for long periods. Especially the dark cellar areas are made a lot more interesting with her doing most of the shooting. She also makes up a lot of the atmosphere with her comments. Faithful to his style Freeman, I think, says exactly one word in the entire episode...

With such confined areas it's also hard to tell whether the enemy AI is good or not as they have very little space to maneuver. I like the Combine soldiers as enemy, especially the sound they make when they die. The new zombie type is, however, annoying more than anything. I suppose the best tactic is to shoot it from afar, but that's hardly possible in the small areas that Episode One is made of.

Confined areas also mean that the player is forced to play most areas in just the right way. He can't think of alternative routes or tactics - something I enjoy in an FPS. Rhythm of the game isn't quite to my liking either. I like to have slower and less action-packed areas to catch my breath once in a while but in this game the breathers are too short. It's practically "one room and after you open the next door, back to shooting beings". There's also a few annoying areas that I wish they had thought more about before releasing them. HL2 had a much better rhythm and as for the latter, it's like a bad version of Ravenholm in a few situations. Ravenholm, at least, was large (or made to appear like it) and managed to create a sort of panic in the player. In Ep One these areas are just annoying.

Being the first episode of the final part of the story, Ep One doesn't really move the plot forward at all. I personally don't get the point of Episode One. I'm sure some will love it, but for me it's not a very good shooter, has very little plot and is short. After all this time developing it one would have expected a little more, especially considering Valve didn't have to spend an awful lot of time developing the game engine.

Episode One is not a bad shooter. It's just average. A bit like a BMW. Technically brilliant but mostly bought by boring people. There is nothing to get excited about. If you have $20 burning in your pocket and nothing to do on a Sunday, you might check this out. But be sure you start the download on Saturday, it took me most of the night to get it.

The Bad
Uninspiring level design, short-lived. Doesn't really move the story forward. The price is also quite high considering that 20 dollars gives you about five hours of gaming. That would only give you 10-15 hours for a standard price game, and most people think it's too little especially if the game is nothing special.

This episode also has its share of perhaps the most annoying feature of any FPS: the "ambush". With "ambush" I mean any situation in an FPS where you die the first time you get into it but after that it's easy to get through because you know what to expect. Suddenly falling through something into a very nasty place is a common way of setting up an "ambush". I think it's unfair to the player. Sometimes you do manage to get through the situation in the first try, but there is one particular scene that is just ridiculous.

The Bottom Line
Same old, same old, but with smaller and less inspiring levels. Quickly played and quickly forgotten. I'd expect a little more for $20 (almost $25 with taxes).

Windows · by Marko Poutiainen (1151) · 2006

Unnecessary and inconsequential

The Good
The expansion does attempt to add some variety by putting more emphasis on combat without the use of firearms, both by using gravity gun and co-operating with AI companions.

The Bad
Unfortunately, it doesn't actually offer anything new when it comes to puzzles or mechanics, and mostly just recycles design ideas from the main game.

The Bottom Line
A minor attempt to set this expansion apart from the main game is made, but ultimately it fails to provide actual variety. It's not actively terrible, though. 5/10

Windows · by Pegarange (216) · 2023

[ View all 6 player reviews ]

Trivia

Dog

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).

Awards

  • 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 9, 2006. Last modified February 12, 2024.