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Cliffhanger at Nerdtales
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Cliffhanger

March 18th, 2008 by Marcel

Almost two years after it’s release Episode 1 felt a little shallow. It was not bad but I could feel how Valve was thinking more about episodic content and digital distribution than the game itself. But my hopes were high for Episode 2. Fortunately, Valve did deliver and made Episode 2 a memorable experience.

The game starts off were Episode 1 left. The Citadel exploded and the shockwave hit the train I was on. The train crashed and Alyx and I are going on by foot to White Forest, where Eli Vance and the other scientists are waiting on us to deliver the information gathered in the Citadel to launch a rocket that shall destroy the portal that connects the world of the Combine with the earth.

The first minutes included the only minor annoyance of the game. Why in hell do I start without all the weapons I had at the end of Episode 1? From a gameplay perspective this is clear to me. But this is supposed to be episodic gaming, similar to TV series. So consistency from episode to episode is very important. I should start completely as I have left off in the episode before. Stripping you from all your gear without any explanation just destroys the illusion.

However, this thought lasted only for a couple of minutes as Episode 2 is so good over all. I critized Episode 1 for rehashing older content, throwing only known enemies against the player. Valve did better this time and used a new unit called Hunter to lay the tracks for the game as a hunter hurts Alyx badly. A Vortigaunt steps in to heal her. Since Alyx’ wound is too bad, he needs the help of other Vortigaunts and a certain extract. With my help Alyx can be rescued and the journey to White Forest can be finished.

The levels are very varied this time and have a perfect mix of shooting and puzzle solving. The bridge puzzle is fine example of physics enhancing the game experience. You’re tasked to retrieve a car that is standing on the other side of a bridge. To get there you have to cross a river of toxic waste. Once you are at the car, the bridge starts to crumble and break at certain points. The middle part of the bridge stands askew with the near end elevated. Just driving over the bridge is impossible now. So you have jump on the middle of the bridge, get the car wrecks there on the elevated side so that it all evens out and you can drive to the other end. To be honest, it took me a while to figure that out. But it was fun.

Still the main focus is on shooting and there are a lot of very challenging and rewarding skirmishes in the game. And obviously no annoying “the battery of my flashlight is low” parts. The hunters are hard to fight and close the gap between the normal grunts and zombies and enemies like the striders. I bitched about the final fight in Episode 1, this time it is hell of a ride against a lot of striders and hunters which I have to stop from destroying the rocket before launch.

Story wise Eposide 2 is much for fulfilling. But I don’t want to spoil anything here. Just so much: G-Man is back again and his absence from Episode 1 is explained and his role gets a little bit clearer. The ending is sad and a huge cliffhanger that makes me want to play Episode 3 as soon as possible. So Valve, would you kindly finish Episode 3 for me?


3 Responses to “Cliffhanger”

  1. really request you to plasee understand history better. People believe in god even before Jesus. Its not just 2000ys old. Then in which religion Jesus was born and in which gods that religion believe??? There must be some other gods??? As I told you already gods in Hindhuism in India date back to millions of years ago. plasee go thru history thoroughly. Can u show me one real UFO video, but some junk/fake ones??? I want to see a real UFO video u got me???

  2. these ancient alien thsoirets are the worst of human life with their senseless brains coming up with so senseless theories. Just bcoz u can not explain and just bcoz u dont believe in god u can nt attribute everything to the ALIENS. What proofs are there that aliens visited earth??? at least one proof??? Why cant it be possible to our ancestors to build those huge monuments, if we can build giant sky scrapers now. They cud hav more knowledge which is not passed onto us.

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