This is an interesting one. Until the release of The Orange Box, I'd never played Half Life 2. I'd never even watched somebody else play it. I'd played the original Half Life (who hasn't?), along with Blue Shift and Counter Strike (I'm a bit of an addict). But, for various reasons, I missed Half Life 2. When the game was released, my home PC could barely run Quake 2, never mind this beast. And I didn't like the idea of the cut-down Xbox version. I decided to wait.
Coming up to the release of The Orange Box, I decided I'd post my impressions of the game as a new user. The game has been out since 2004 and is pretty much considered one of the best FPS games of all time. But things change fast in the world of games. I played Far Cry about a year ago for the first time, and it's showing it's age. The AI was painful, and the whole experience was ruined by the technical limitations. I kinda thought this might happen again, but vowed to try anyway.
I was wrong.
I haven't finished it yet. I haven't played Episode One or Two, but I've pretty much finished Portal. But Half Life 2 is INCREDIBLE. I imagine that I'm a rare breed of gamer and that everyone else who reads this HAS played through this game, probably years ago. But if you missed it, don't worry. It's not great because of nostalgia or because of it's place in history. It's brilliant because everything works and it feels as relevant today as it did on release. At no point have I yet remembered that I'm NOT playing a brand new game. It feels fresh and exciting and I'm hooked. I've even borrowed a 360 to play it while my bricked console gets repaired.
The atmosphere created in the game is absolutely incredible. It's so hard to describe games that really make you feel something, but this game does. I totally felt like I was in an Orwell novel right from the start, and the stifling presence of the police is something that's lodged itself in my mind already. I'll never forget playing this game. I just wish I'd played it three years ago.
Seriously, if you haven't had a taste of it yet, you need this game in your life. If you consider yourself a gamer, even slightly, you have to play this. I feel a twat for not getting it sooner. But, in fairness, The Orange Box is probably the best way you can experience it, even if you have finished it before. Get it.
The Orange Box is available on Xbox 360 and PC now. The Playstation 3 version has been, predictably, delayed until sometime next month.