Half-Life 2: Episode 1

Half-Life 2: Episode 1 is a stand-alone game that continues the story after the cliff-hanger left by the conclusion of Half-Life 2. Since it is a stand-alone, you do not need to own Half-Life 2 to play it. You are once again playing as Gordon Freeman, who seems to be indestructible at this rate. Or at least, does not seem capable of dying. Accompanied by Alyx Vance this time round.

Half-Life 2: Episode One was meant to be part of a trilogy of episodes that was meant to be released over the year (2006).Half-Life: Episode 1 (HL2: Ep1) as I mentioned earlier, continues from the cliff-hanger ending where Gordon (you) and Alyx are bracing yourselves as you are caught by the explosion of the portal reactor. Long story short. G-man makes an appearance and  Vortigaunts stage a rescue mission….of a sort. Thus leaving G-man very displeased.

Now with 100% more vent-crawling action!
Now with 100% more vent-crawling action!

The main plot of the game is for your and Alyx to escape from City 17. Before you can do that however, you need to stop Citadel’s core from exploding. Just another day in the life of Gordon Freeman.

I think it was a great starting point for HL2: Ep1 since it starts off where Half-Life 2 ended. Although the situation with G-man and the  Vortigaunts was somewhat confusing and seemed….less impacting than I expected. Although it was amusing to see G-man get upset when he realized his access to Freeman was cut off. He does not strike me as a person you would want as your enemy.

Due to the episodic nature of the game, it is very short unfortunately in terms of length. Despite the mix of combat and puzzle-solving, the game is rather linear as well which is rather disappointing. However it is an episodic so it makes sense for it to be short and linear. Although the combat was definitely more challenging and the puzzles were complex.

Uh dog...you did the math calculations right?
Uh dog…you did the math calculations right?

Alyx accompanies you for the entirety of the game, very rarely splitting up with you. As such you need to rely on teamwork, and thankfully she is a very capable partner. Is it possible for her to die though? I am curious since it appeared she had unlimited ammo and health during heavy combat with the Combine forces. The fact she can also hack, thus opening doors and disabling force-fields is helpful as well. The reliance is not one-sided, as she must also rely on you to show targets in the dark for her during a certain (and evil) chapter. Thus not only do you serve as her navigator, but also her “eyes” in a sense, while she acts as your bodyguard during the chapter.

I find it remarkable how there is so much humor in the dialogue throughout the game, despite Gordon’s silence (since he never speaks). I really do enjoy hearing the witty conversations. Especially the conversation between Alyx and Dog. I knew he didn’t do the math before throwing both Alyx and Gordon in a burnt out car back into the Combine fortress. The voice acting remains impeccable.

Yes, we should use the crowbar to confirm it has indeed died. A few whacks should do the trick
Yes, we should use the crowbar to confirm it has indeed died. A few whacks should do the trick

I did find the escorting the civilians to the escape trains a little annoying, but mostly because I hated missions of that nature. They normally ended up dying, but I am very proud to report that all civilians that Barney asked Gordon and Alyx to escort had survived. With no losses. Also the last battle with the Striders felt dragged out since you had to dodge their attacks till you found the rockets for your launcher.

Regardless, I had fun playing this despite the short length and linear nature of the game. Now it is time to move to episode 2 to see what happens next, as the Episode One leaves you once again a cliff-hanger.

Any takers on the bet that their escape train did not survive the trip in one piece?

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