|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Valve||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Steam||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 8, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (multi online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
New creatures include a streamlined version of the spider-like Stiders, which are faster and more difficult to hit. Different versions of ant-lions spring up, including one that can spit poison from a distance. You're bound to cower at the Combine Hunters. They are ruthless and incredibly efficient. They can't be easily killed, so running and gunning is not an option. You'll get your hands on the gravity gun again as well as a different version of it near the end of the game. You will also get to use a few vehicles in this game, something that was sorely lacking in Episode One.
Complaints? Yes there are a few. Although the game is longer than Episode One, it's only longer by a couple of hours. It's too much fun to be so short. I do like that it's linear, and there isn't a lot of backtracking, so I guess I shouldn't complain too much. There are also some load times that are annoying, but fortunately they aren't too distracting.
Episode Two is a great looking game. It's got amazing detail that allows the scenery to be read like a book. The game speaks volumes visually, without a word being uttered. The animations are great, the monster models are realistic, and the facial expressions really bring the human characters to life. If Episode One had a purpose, it was to illustrate just how amazing Episode Two is.
Half Life 2: Deathmatch
In order to enjoy Half Life 2: Deathmatch to its fullest, you must find the right dedicated server. If you experience any trouble getting online or any latency during the game, get out and reconnect. This is a great frag fest and is so close to perfect that you simply have to take the extra effort to get the most out of it. We're talking the gravity gun here, and there are few weapons around that are as unique and as much fun as this piece of equipment. In the Nova Prospekt prison, there are plenty of loose items to toss around including concrete slabs, sinks, toilet bowls, tables, chairs, radiators, and exploding barrels. Simply point the gravity gun at a particular object, activate it, lift the item, and then lob it at your opponent. You will also have more normal weapons at your disposal, such as pistols and a rifle.
A fair bit of strategy is involved when determining to use the gravity gun or conventional weapons. No particular weapon has a decided advantage. You run the risk of getting shot when using the gravity gun as it leaves you vulnerable for a short period while lifting an object in front of you. You can use the gravity gun to stop other projectiles thrown at you by other combatants using the same gun. You can even intercept these items and throw them back. Hitting another player with a cement block would certainly devastate them, as would throwing an exploding barrel at them. But at the same time, a player using a gun could shoot the barrel while you're lifting it, causing it to explode prematurely and kill you. So keep in mind it's not the weapon you use, it's the tactics that you employ.
The Overwatch map is an outdoor, urban environment. The decaying city has plenty of fodder for your gravity gun including abandon cars, dumpster, iron girders, and more slabs of concrete to throw around. Various guns and ammo are located in the surrounding buildings. There's no shortage of firepower, and it's always interesting to see what you'll find next. Some of the weapons include a machinegun, rocket launcher, explosives, the Reisistance crossbow, a gunstick, and a Pulse Rifle. It's an interesting mix that allows you to explore different killing methods, including melee and ranged combat,which will range from running and gunning to taking potshots like a sniper while hiding under cover.
As far as Deathmatch modes go, this game could easily have been attached to either of the Episodes. In fact, there are a lot more Deathmatch modes out there with more sub-modes and options. This game will accommodate up to 32 players. In Team Deathmatch you can play against the Combine. Respawning is instantaneous, so there's no waiting for the unlucky victim. Although there should be more of a penalty for getting nixed by a toilet instead of just the embarrassing toilet icon that appears over your character.
Half Life 2: Episode Pack is definitely a well-balanced collection for the shooter fan. If I could only afford one component, it would have to be Episode Two. I can live without Episode One and Deathmatch, but if you haven't played Episode Two, you can't really call that living.
CCC Senior Writer