Half-Life 2 is one of our all time favourite games. Valve Corporations’ work of genius, from 2004, is the absolute peak of first-person shooter (FPS) perfection. We’ve run through it again recently and we’re still reeling from its insanely intense, relentless madness. But, guess what? Valve created two mini-sequels! HUZZAH! Thusly, let’s take a look at Episode One.
Half-Life 2: Episode One
Following on immediately from the events of the last game, you star as Gordon Freeman. He’s a physicist stuck in the ruins of the Citadel, having seemingly taken out a dystopian state with the help of Alyx Vance, a skilled hacker and fighter.
This time out, you journey beyond City 17 and get stuck in all manner of high-concept, nightmarish situations. It’s an ultra-violent game with horror elements and some incredible innovation – given how stale and formulaic many FPSs are, even the latest releases, Half-Life 2 and its Episodes are just a million miles ahead in terms of creativity.
It’s an enormously immersive experience. Rarely can a gamer come across something that will draw you into the experience and make you entirely forget about the real world – it’s escapism at its finest.
But how do Valve do this? As we’ve rambled about on other posts, it’s Valve’s formula is intensity and madness. You can have eerie moments of calm that you know are building towards a hellish nightmare – before you know it, you’re stuck in another terrifying situation and you have to battle your way out.
But Valve’s creativeness also looks reverentially towards science. There’s a reliance on physics that renders most other FPSs moronic – its clever use of the gravity gun (a creation of total genius) helps you manipulate your environment in clever little ways. Think you’ve run out of ammo? Well, no, you can use whatever the enemy chucks at you to keep yourself alive.
And your survival instincts really do get a good workout here. You’re facing the type of overwhelming carnage that most FPSs can only dream of. The Call of Duty series, for example, looks amateurish in comparison to the intellectual bombardment you’re constantly up against in Episode One.
And as with Half-Life 2, you face some incredible challenges and a carefully crafted world that ramps up to a wild crescendo. Whilst Episode One represents a slighter version than its monster of a predecessor, it’s still a visceral experience like no other; impossibly engaging, addictive, and the whole series will likely take over your life and leave you rather happy.
You don’t need to own Half-Life 2 to play its Episode One, just so you know. Although we highly recommended you do so (as it’s so good). But the first mini-sequel is a standalone game, but one that plays like an indie experience – you can wrap it up in less than two hours. You can pick up on Steam for less than $10. Well… don’t delay, eh?