Title: Half Life 2 level by level analysis
Posted: June 06, 2008 (09:45 AM)
I haven't checked the blogs in about an hour so hopefully this one didn't get stolen. Maybe I'll do more some other time but I'm done for now.
Point Intersection – Sets the tone for the game. No action so I won’t give it a rating but works better than the first level in Half Life.
A Red Letter Day – Still not an actual level. Once again does a good job at setting the tone and the rendezvous with Kleiner and Barney and Eli Vance was cool.
Route Kanal – A pretty standard level here. Great atmosphere and introduction but pretty average for the most part. Not bad but not one I’ll be replaying too much. 6/10
Water Hazard – This one is updated from the first comment. Sure, it's super long and at the end I was glad it was over but the level of intensity is unmatched. This is one of the most exciting levels in the game and the last third especially is memorable. 8/10
Black Mesa East – Once again not an actual level but a neat introduction to the gravity gun.
Ravenholm – One of the best levels in the game. Using the gravity gun on everything is so much fun and there are so many ways to play this one. Too bad you use the gravity gun more in this level than the rest of the game (minus the last two levels) because Valve were really on to something here. The ending is less than spectacular but it doesn’t stop this one from being one o the game’s best. 10/10
Highway 17 – A bit on the long side but filled with exciting moments. Shooting down the chopper on the bridge is a classic moment as was being ambushed in the “abandoned” villages and running over antlion after antlion. A lot of people I know didn’t like this level but it’s one of my favorites. 9/10
Sandtraps – The first part of the level is decent but forgettable, the second part is torture (though now I'm starting to appreciate running from antlions on sand) and the final third is outstanding. The Nova Prospekt assault with antlions on your side is one of the greatest moments of the game. Too bad that’s like 30 minutes into the level. 8/10
Nova Prospekt – Using the bug seed really makes this level a blast to play. A bit on the easy side thanks to the antlions doing most of the work but seeing them eat the combine to death and kamikaze into turrets is priceless. Tight corridors work in this setting but the antlions trapping me started to annoy me halfway through. It was annoying but didn't ruin the level how AI ruined an upcoming one. 8/10
Entanglement – Brilliant. The turret parts are among the game’s best, even though I found a completely cheap way to win one of them. This is one of the most replayable levels and still remains one of the most fun. 10/10
Anticitizen One – Starts off pretty cool with the thought of you controlling your squad, but loses some of its charm once you realize that your squad consists of a bunch of idiots that work against you more than helping you. The game isn’t hard at all but they made it a lot more difficult than it should’ve been, by trapping me in doorways and making a big deal when I tried to be quiet. The hoppers are a lot of fun to use and the level is actually pretty good but they bring it down quite a bit. 6/10
Follow Freeman – Basically a more epic version of Anticitizen One. The striders are awesome, too bad the AI made the last battle so much more difficult by blocking the stairs at the last encounter. Still bad AI moments though not as many since the level is more open and you can sort of ignore them. Otherwise this level is ace and one of the most epic in any Half Life game to date. Plus the beginning with the snipers is hilarious how they just shoot at the windows with their machine gun from far away and then get nailed. Priceless. 9/10
Our Benefactors – Just when the game was slowing down a little it picks up again. Not as much fun to replay as some levels but using the blue gravity gun is so much fun at first. Incredibly intense, and the ending with the elevator and strider is absolutely great. 10/10
Dark Energy – Cool ending sequence with an intense final battle, though not as intense as it could’ve been because it’s too short and easy. At least the blue gravity gun is back; I didn’t want to get rid of the thing. 8/10
Posted: June 06, 2008 (04:58 PM)
in general I agree, though I don't think the first few levels are that mediocre. they have lots of great moments throughout, and Water Hazard is too long at first but when you're replaying it you kind of come to appreciate the sprawl. at least, I did.
if anything, I hated how over-the-top some parts of HL2 could be. like in HL1 you're not exactly driving a motorboat through rivers of acid being chased by a helicopter while running dudes over, in the span of about two hours of his perceived life Gordon turned into an action hero. it's Aliens to HL1's Alien.
Posted: June 06, 2008 (09:38 PM)
After thinking about it you're right. I should bump up the scores for the first two levels. If the entire game was on par with the first level I would probably give it a 7 or so. It was just the only moment that was less than spectacular.
Posted: June 07, 2008 (08:40 PM)
I'd do my own level-by-level analysis but for the most part it would be a repeat of what you guys said, though there were a few levels I enjoyed more than you did. The city segment near the end, for example, was my favorite part of the game, and I wasn't even bothered by the ally AI. I think they're really just meant to add to the atmosphere of the game, since, let's face it, you're really doing all of this by yourself. They never got in my way, and that's all I ask.
What I love about Half-Life 2 is how every level feels completely different from the last, so each chapter feels distinct in its own right. The waterway escape at the beginning is tense and keeps you on your toes. Ravenholm is freaky, atmospheric, and loaded with "toys" for your gravity gun. Highway 17 has a lot of quiet, empty moments that make you feel uneasy, because you never know when your next battle will take place. Sandtraps feels like Pikmin with antlions. Nova Prospekt is packed with tight, close-quarters action. The city levels are large-scale and epic. Our Benefactors just lets you have fun with the beefed-up gravity gun. It's all great.
Posted: June 07, 2008 (09:25 PM)
Since I'm bored, and because it's fresher in my memory, I'll go ahead and do a level-by-level analysis of the original Half-Life.
Anomalous Materials - Not really a level, more of an introductory sequence. Gotta love that monorail ride though, and the resonance cascade scene is pulled off with exceptional skill.
Unforeseen Consequences - Much of the first part of this level is just a tension buildup, but the atmosphere is terrific, even if the survival horror attempts aren't as effective by today's standards. Still as close to a "living movie" as there was back then, and once the action gets going this chapter serves as a great intro to some of the common enemies of the game. 8/10
Office Complex - Probably the most basic, straightforward segment of the entire game: It's a set of rooms with enemies and puzzles and whatnot. I do like how every room is designed differently; when I plaeyd through recently for the first time in years, I found myself recalling individual rooms as I went through this chapter, which is a huge plus. Keeps the tension high; a well-paced level throughout. 9/10
We've Got Hostiles - Now this is where the game REALLY begins. The appearance (and attack) of the soldiers came as a surprise the first time I played it, and after fighting aliens non-stop for a little while, battling against intelligent beings -- who strategize and outflank and throw grenades -- was a great change of pace. This is a short chapter, but a memorable one. 10/10
Blast Pit - This initially frustrated me because I didn't know what to do against the giant blind all-hearing tentacles of death, but I'm glad the solution to killing the thing wasn't to actually fight it. This chapter is kind of fetch quest-y in its "go here and turn this on" objective, but the reward (incinerating the monster with the push of a button) is pretty rewarding. The gargantuan, acid-filled room outside of the test chamber is one of my favorite individual locations in the entire game, for whatever reason. 8/10
Power Up - This feels too much like a repeat of the last chapter, since you're once again presented with a mini-boss who's invulnerable to your attacks, and you must go somewhere and activate a power system that will enable you to kill it with the push of a button, again. This level does a good job balancing battles against aliens and soldiers, though, but that one backtracking segment threw me way off. 7/10
On a Rail - Am I the only person who loves this level? I see how it can get tedious for some, but the whole thing felt like a massive puzzle to me, and I do love me some puzzles. I've noticed that the levels that have you fighting more soldiers over aliens tend to be my favorites, and I like how well the battles are interspersed with the puzzle-solving elements here. Launch pad section at the end is boss. 9/10
Apprehension - Yar, that giant fish thing is a bitch, and all the swimming gets old after a while. Still not the worst of Half-Life, and the ending is pretty cool (especially when Barney is about to give you some valuable information and then dies). 6/10
Residue Processing - Lots and lots of platforming here. Some would say they went overboard, but platforming is such an integral ingredient in the Half-Life world that if this kind of thing is intolerable to you, well, you probably didn't make it this far anyway. Good to finally get some fresh air, too. 8/10
Questionable Ethics - Fantastic, expertly paced chapter with plenty of action and the intro to those hornet-firing alien grunts that become a common enemy later. The weaponry you get your hands on is pretty sweet too. Lots of fun, this one. 10/10
Surface Tension - I can't rave enough -- this level MAKES the game. It's long, intense, and never skips a beat. There are so many memorable moments in this chapter I don't think I have the time or energy to name them all. Even if the rest of Half-Life sucked, it'd be worth playing through it just to get to this one. By far the game's greatest moment. 10/10
Forget About Freeman! - Brief interlude focuses more on chaos and noise than alien encounters. You could bolt through this level quickly but you'd be missing out on some sweet battles. 8/10
Lambda Core - This is the part where Half-Life starts to tone down and pull the beloved military opposition out of the picture, but there are a couple of unforgettable sequences here, particularly the finale. You get your hands on some kickass gear near the end. 8/10
Xen - Fairly short chapter seems to exist only to contribute to the atmosphere of this "border world" you've entered. There's not a lot of action here, and I'm not too fond of Zen anyway. 5/10
Gonarch's Lair - This boss always felt rushed to me, as it was often too easy to accidentally die and there was no sure-fire way to beat the thing, and it's basically just a big spider with an oversized testicle hanging down that you need to fire rockets and grenades at. At least it's over quickly. 4/10
Interloper - The only segment of Xen that feels fully developed. There are lot of lightning bolts and hornets flying all over the place, and the atmosphere is unnerving throughout. They bumped the platforming down a notch too, which is a relief. I mean, enough already. 8/10
Nihilanth - This boss can be pretty cool if you know how to beat it and really frustrating if you don't. Either way, the game could have ended better, but this finale isn't horrible. 6/10
Endgame - Great cinematic with the G-Man. Classic ending.
Posted: June 07, 2008 (10:33 PM)
personally, I found On A Rail ten times cooler if you ignore the tram cart and just hoof it. and Power Up rules! and Residue Processing sucks! :P
I like all of the last few chapters, oddly... I really do think I'm the only one. Xen works, I thought the Gonarch was a pretty cool boss, Interloper is great, and it's been so long since I first played the game that I don't even remember initially liking/disliking Nihilanth. does the head split open anyway if you get teleported a few times?
Posted: June 07, 2008 (10:36 PM)
Ignore the cart in On a Rail? Haha, I should try that.
Can we at least all agree that Surface Tension is the greatest thing mankind has ever produced?
Posted: June 07, 2008 (10:57 PM)
and you'll have to take the cart a short ways in just because of the electrified water, but after that you really don't need it. it's a tradeoff... the plain corridors get longer, obviously, but on the whole it's far less annoying.
Posted: June 07, 2008 (11:09 PM)
That Half Life analysis seems pretty accurate; I haven't played the game in at least 4 or 5 years but I agree based on what I remember. I need to replay that one soon.
On a Rail is fun no matter what and becomes much better when you find out that the cart is almost useless (what was just said). I didn't realize that until I watched a speed run years later. Also it is possible (though I've never gotten it to work) to completely skip the level before that and jump over the blockade.
Posted: June 07, 2008 (11:12 PM)
Also what's the deal with Black Mesa Source? I was looking forward to making that my next replay of the game but I haven't heard anything about it in years.
Posted: June 07, 2008 (11:27 PM)
Well, since it's fan-made I guess we'll never know when it comes out, if it does at all. I'd love to make that my next play-through, though.
Posted: June 08, 2008 (01:28 AM)
don't you have tripmines by then? because I know you can skip a lot of things in the game (part of Lambda Core particularly) by making a tripmine staircase on the wall. maybe that's how you can do it.
either that or go Quake all over their asses and grenade-jump.
the knockback on the Tau Cannon's charge shot is great for skipping a few parts in Surface Tension, too. I don't think I've bothered to fight that fucking underwater monster at the dam since the second time I played the game haha.
Posted: June 08, 2008 (02:44 PM)
I originally tried to kill that thing with my bow whenever I saw it, but no matter how many times I hit it, the bastard never goes down. Nowadays I just avoid it altogether.
Posted: June 08, 2008 (03:47 PM)
I stand by my claim that On The Rails is a game-killer.