Sunday, April 23, 2006

HL2 first impressions

Ok to some this is old news. Even to me it seems a bit old and dated, however I haven't had a computer capable of playing HL2 until now and let me tell you reading about the innovation and playing it is completely different.

This physics engine is nothing short of incredible. I'm frequently baffled about how well it can simulate how objects would realistically behave. So much so that even in the earily parts of the game I learned to used my new found ability to interact with the enviroment to my advantage. In fact without thinking about it I did things like knock down tables for cover. Grab a barrel for protection against fire. All of which later I sat back just to let it all sink in that this game reached a level of realism previously unheard of.

And it's not a dumb shooter either. There are frequent stops along the way where the game throws you into puzzle solving scenario. These end up being stages where they demonstrate the power of their physics engine. For example in one scene there's a titer tottler type scenario where you run around the room piling up bricks on one end until the titer toter is heavy enough to let you stand on the other end without going down. Things also have boyancy, and this is demonstrated by a scenario where you have to raise a platform by making it more boyant.

I think what's most impressive about half-life is how the game never feels flat. Frequently I find myself in the toybox scenario where every game object is like a toy because the physics engine so good at modeling realistic behavior.

For anyone that has glossed over HL2 because their computer wasn't fast enough be sure to try it when your computer is. Although I would also recommend playing HL1 to understand the storyline. Although the sad part is I don't think I'll ever run into a game that's this well thought out in terms of storyline, and gameplay. More and more games go for the all graphics approach, and like supermodels they might look beautiful, but you surely get fed up with them quickly. HL2's graphics might not be as spectacular as farcry but in every other way HL2 is a more superior game, and the level of polish is above everthing I'm used to seeing.

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