Half-Life 2 for Linux Review

excellent
key review info
  • Game: Half-Life 2
  • Platform: Linux
  • Gamepad support: N/a
  • Reviewed on:
  • Written by: Silviu Stahie
  • Show system requirements
Half-Life 2 gameplay

Gamers only have to say the name Half-Life 2 and everyone knows what the game is all about, but Linux gamers are not accustomed with this kind of quality. We'll take a closer look at this game that only recently managed to arrive on the Linux platform.

The fragmentation of the Linux community has been (and still is) the biggest hurdle for any major gaming company. Some studios released the source code for various smaller titles in the past, but the porting work has been marginal, at best.

The first company to break the ice, and by this I mean to invest a colossal sum of money in the Linux platform, was Valve. It was the first to provide a digital distribution client for games when users were still battling for enough bandwidth.

The presence of Half-Life 2 on Linux is actually an investment in the future, made by Valve, but how does it actually hold up to scrutiny? Was it worth it?

Installation

Installing Half-Life 2 is impossible without installing Steam for Linux first. This is actually quite simple and it can be done in a couple of ways. The methods shown here have been tested in Ubuntu 13.04 64-bit.

You can download the .deb file from the official Steam website and run it with a simple double click. This action will open Ubuntu Software Center, which will take care of the rest (you can also install straight from USC, but you're going to need an account and that's too much of a hassle).

The second method is somewhat cleaner and it's done in a more purist way. Download the .deb file from the Steam website, open a terminal, navigate to the location of the file, and enter the following command:

sudo dpkg -i steam.deb

If the installation fails due to some missing dependencies, just enter the following command in the same terminal:

sudo apt-get install -f

The command will trigger the dependency download and the rest of the Steam .deb installation.

Story and Gameplay

Even the most hard-core Linux users have heard of Half-Life 2, or at least the ones that are, at most, pushing 40. The story of Gordon Freeman’s origins is well known and it goes back to the first Half-Life.

In any case, players will once again take the role of Gordon Freeman as he's arriving in City 17, which is currently occupied by an extraterrestrial race called The Combine.

The game does provide some hints that it's a city in the Eastern Europe or from the Soviet bloc, but this is where the similarities with our world end.

The Combine is using the human populations as a docile work force, but as always, a Resistance is keeping the aliens occupied.

Gordon manages to make contact to the Resistance, only to get lost very soon after that. The rest of the game is a never-ending race against the clock and against the enemy, who is doing everything in their power to stop you.

Gordon has proven to be an agent of chaos and the Combine is all about order. Before reaching the mind boggling conclusion, the player will also learn to love Alyx Vance, an AI companion that has been almost unrivaled the last eight years of game development.

Even if the main character never says a word, not even when he gets shot, the voice acting is exquisite and it's still something to strive for today.

The gameplay itself doesn't separate itself from the rest of the FPS pack, with one exception. Valve was the first studio to introduce a weapon that could physically manipulate other objects, and a lot of other games have since copied this feature, in one way or another.

The graphics aren't too shabby either. Keep in mind that the game has been launched originally back in 2004. It's hard to imagine that a game could keep up, after so many years, but Linux users don't have the same standards in this department.

Half-Life 2 is also accompanied by a substantial multiplayer mode that is extremely robust and fun to play. Throwing toilets with the Gravity Gun is just as amusing as it sounds.

The Good

  • Great atmosphere
  • Run great on Linux
  • Lots of hours of gameplay
  • Great multiplayer
  • Very good voice acting

The Bad

  • The game is still unstable

Conclusion

If we ignore the small problems that inevitably appear when porting a game from the Windows to the Linux platform, we have to admit that Half-Life 2 is one of the best titles on Steam for Linux.

Whether this is a good sign or not, we'll let you to decide, but you are not a complete gamer until you have finished Half-Life 2 on at least two different platforms.

story 10
gameplay 10
concept 10
graphics 9
audio 10
multiplayer 9
final rating 9.6
Editor's review
excellent
 
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