Half-Life 2: Episode Two for Linux Review

excellent
key review info
  • Game: Half-Life 2: Episode Two for Linux
  • Platform: Linux
  • Gamepad support: Yes  
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Half-Life 2: Episode Two

Half-Life 2: Episode Two is the last game released in the Half-Life universe and it’s Valve’s attempt to close the story arc that has been brewing for so long.

As I said in our review of Half-Life 2: Episode One, the concept of episodic content has been explored by Valve for a couple of years. The final goal of this endeavor was to build games at a much faster pace, although they would suffer from a shorter gameplay time.

I would like nothing more than to say that this episodic content promise has failed, but users can see it for themselves. No one has played Half-Life 2: Episode Three and I suspect no one will.

The game is available only through the Steam distribution platform and it was initially launched back in 2007. If someone had told me that I was going to play this game in 2013, on a Linux platform, I would have said that he was delusional.

Unlike other companies that tend to make games one after another, Valve had a very different approach. In this case, it brought them some criticism because Episode One and Episode Two have been developed at the same time.

Valve chose to release the second game a year later, but it has never got around to making the third episode and left players with an ending akin to “2001: A Space Odyssey,” where everyone would imagine their own conclusion.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As we can remember from the previous review, the first Episode ends with Alyx Vance and Gordon Freeman riding a train out of City 17 and being caught in the explosion that pulverized the Citadel.

The two manage to get in touch with the Resistance and Alyx’s father, Eli. The more astute readers will remember him from the first Half-Life game. He was one of the two scientists that oversaw the experiment that caused the destruction of the Black Mesa facility.

The explosion of the Citadel has opened a portal that is linking Earth to the alien homeworld. A plan is devised to close this portal, and Gordon is ultimately responsible for this action.

You might think that closing the portal would be enough, but the truth is that the G-man, the mysterious character that guides Gordon’s actions, is never revealed for who he is. He has some ties with The Combine, but at the same time, he provides some important intel for Alyx and Gordon.

Valve went for the melodramatic ending, which in fact was the wrong way to end the series. In all of the previous Half-Life games, no major character has been killed. The end of Episode Two is also the end of one of the main characters.

This would have been a great ending, if the series hadn’t just stopped after the second episode. For some unknown reason (we can only speculate that the sales were the ultimate factor), the third Episode didn’t make it.

Valve said that it was working on it, but the project never made it to Steam. Maybe we can blame the insane quality standards that are valid for all the Valve games, but if you liked Half-Life series, the second episode has provided one of the biggest disappointments in the history of gaming.

Gameplay-wise, the title is pretty much the same as the first episode and the main game. The player will follow the same linear path and solve the same kind of puzzles.

The Source game engine has been upgraded for Half-Life 2: Episode Two and if we keep in mind that there is a six years gap between the launch on Windows and the one on Linux, we can still say that right now it's probably one of the best-looking titles on the open source platform.

Also, if you haven't played the game already, then you owe it to yourself to go through it again, with the developers’ commentary turned on. This feature will allow users to listen to the ideas and concepts explored by the team, while building the game.

The Good

  • Superb graphical engine
  • Action packed
  • Interesting developments in the story

The Bad

  • Too short
  • The ending doesn't explain enough

Conclusion

Half-Life 2: Episode Two is the most action-packed game in the franchise. It is short and offers players a little over six hours of gameplay. It's satisfying and frustrating at the same time. In the end, if you are an optimistic person, this is just a window in Half-Life 3. If not, then you are doomed to hate it and to love it.



story 8
gameplay 9
concept 9
graphics 9
audio 10
multiplayer 0
final rating 9
Editor's review
excellent
 

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