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Half-Life 2 (PC) artwork

Half-Life 2 (PC) review

"Imagine the future. Not shiny metal and fluorescent lighting; not lightsabers and foreign planets. This is a disturbingly grounded future: today's world and today's ideals, painted black by the harsh brush of technological surrealism. A future where, day by day, life becomes a little more synonymous with survival. "

Imagine the future. Not shiny metal and fluorescent lighting; not lightsabers and foreign planets. This is a disturbingly grounded future: today's world and today's ideals, painted black by the harsh brush of technological surrealism. A future where, day by day, life becomes a little more synonymous with survival.

Imagine a city full of hopes and dreams, destroyed by the very nature of its existence. Imagine it being put to use as a subtle prison, a place of brainwashing and alien authoritarianism, masquerading as a safe haven for humanity. Imagine its beauty ripped apart by the bullets of a seven-hour war, rebuilt by an unfamiliar and unfriendly race. Imagine the sunís rays reflecting off dingy canals, highlighting the intricacy of the bloodstained walls.

Imagine feeling helpless. Imagine feeling like the most powerful person alive.

Imagine a woman so achingly beautiful that it hurts to be in her company. But imagine her being the only remaining scrap of comfort in the universe. Imagine her as a spectacularly intelligent, fiendishly independent human, one who speaks in a way so hauntingly magical that it makes you feel gorgeously inept. A woman whose gaze follows you across a room, who jokes with you, who clearly wants you around but never needs you. A woman you adore to rely on.

Imagine a village on a hillside. Imagine it dark and foreboding. No one goes there any more - not since the oppressive Combine government destroyed it with bombs containing vicious Headcrabs, which enslaved the villagers as their hosts, rendering them murderous, zombified versions of their former selves. Imagine pure terror as you sneak your way through the flaming wooden remains, escaping a Combine attack on your safe haven. Imagine a lone survivor, shotgunning through the hordes of undead, maintaining Ravenholm as his own paradise. Imagine killing everything with saw blades and luring monsters into gory metallic traps.

Imagine hurtling at 70 miles per hour down a canal, foot firmly down on the pedal of your airboat, finger tight around the trigger of the devastating weapon mounted upon it. Imagine it so real and tangible that you can practically feel the wind whistling through your shaggy hair and goatee beard.

Imagine a constant, unrelenting sense of awe.

Imagine fierce and visceral gunplay against a mysterious masked species, hell-bent on bringing you and your ideals to the ground. Your reputation precedes you: as far as the Combine are concerned, you're only there for one reason, and that's to cause trouble. Imagine pistols and shotguns and submachine guns, all blisteringly powerful and gorgeously balanced. Imagine grenades, rocket launchers, and a device that lets you manipulate gravity to your advantage. Imagine doing so, regularly, to wondrous effect.

Imagine regrouping and leading the oppressed citizens of City 17 in a huge rebellion against the Combineís headquarters, a pacey and exciting race for control and restoration of peace. Imagine the most astonishingly designed, curiously inhuman architecture you've ever seen: an inexplicable tower that Ian Simpson could only have dreamed of creating. Imagine a fight to reduce it to rubble - because that's what this will take. The lives of thousands depend on you.

And imagine the end. An end that comes a little more quickly and abruptly than you may have been expecting from your epic journey thus far. But imagine the thrill of the explosions, the sheer carnage and destruction around you, as you sit back, smile, and think. 'we made some progress today.'

But remember: you're never in control. None of this was your decision. You're a perpetual puppet to the mystifying secret agent that brought you to this nightmare of a place, offering to spare your life on the grounds that you unquestioningly obey his orders. There's no illusion of free choice here, not for a second. After all, it's only a videogame...

Half-Life 2: the stuff of imagination, on disk.

Lewis's avatar
Community review by Lewis (November 13, 2008)

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