Half-Life 2: Episode Two and Portal Review

Half-Life 2: Episode Two and Portal Review

Team Digit   Nov 1, 2007


Half-Life 2: Episode Two and Portal detailed review


Bottom line: HL2E2 could have been better. Portal rocks though

Finally! After 16 months of waiting, Episode Two of the Half-Life 2 saga has been released. It’s not that good, unfortunately. We’re hoping that the lapses we detail below are because the developers were working on Portal, for there’s no other explanation we can think of.

Ever since Valve decided to release future instalments of HL2 in an episodic format, the innovations haven’t exactly awed us. Episode One was interesting, but nothing compared to the buzz that surrounded HL2. Now along comes Episode Two, and it just feels like rehashed content. The solution to the various puzzles seem too obvious, and I could always immediately see my way out of the current situation. Episode Two will give you a maximum 10 hours of gameplay, which is another irritant with the episodic format—I’m officially changing my stance from a supporter of the episodes to the point where I’d rather wait five years for HL3 and get my days/weeks of enjoyment, instead of this 10-hour teaser.

What’s New?

In order of appearance, here goes:
The Hunter: A badass machine you’ll often meet. It’s fast, powerful, eight feet tall, shoots weird cannons, and basically spits venom. Throw something heavy at one and watch it get bowled over. The pulse rifle’s alternate fire is a one-shot kill, and the hunters become the hunted if Freeman is doing his Schumacher impression behind the wheel of a beaten-up jalopy (see hunter, point car at hunter, hunter go squish!).

The Antlion Worker: The damn thing throws venom over long distances, while jumping and climbing like, well, an Antlion. It’s immune to water too, unlike regular Antlions that drown in a puddle. Again, using the gravity gun to fling boulders or gas cylinders (if available) at Workers proved to be very effective.


The Magnusson Device: In Episode Two, you’ll face a dozen or more Striders. Sound really hard? Not when Freeman carries a Magnusson Device, it’s not! Use the gravity gun to shoot this sticky bomb at a Strider, then just pull out any weapon and shoot the bomb. Kaboom! Strider-stew. If it weren’t for the Hunters that accompany each Strider, these monsters would be as easy to kill as a stray zombie. 

Apart from the few new features, Freeman leaves City 17 for the first time and heads to White Forest. Scenery-wise, everything you do in Episode Two is outdoors or in caves. We won’t ruin the ending, or too much of the plotline for those who still want to play it, but be prepared for another pot-boiler at the end—typical!

HL2E2—5/10; Portal: 9.5/10
Developer: Valve Software
Publisher: Available at http://orange.half-life2.com/
US$ 49.95

Valve has also released Orange Box—which contains HL2, HL2E1, HL2E2, Portal and Team Fortress 2—for a mere $49.95 (less than Rs 2,000). If you haven’t played Half-Life 2 or Episode One before, get the Orange Box now. Episode Two on its own is nothing great though. Portal, however, is a different matter altogether...


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