Half Life 2: The Orange Box on Xbox 360 – The DVDfever Review

Half Life 2

Half Life 2 is just one of the five games in The Orange Box, and if you’ve not played the main title, or last year’s PC follow-up Episode 1, then you’ll be playing at this package for a hell of a long time.

Firstly, while I played both of those two titles on the PC and this compilation is also available on that format, as well as the PS3 – albeit delayed until December 14th (check link above in case it slides again), I was pleased to play it on the Xbox 360 because it has none of that ‘Steam’ nonsense which seriously hindered the fun in Episode 1 (plus the 2006 title, SiN Emergence: Episode 1). These two games will also now be in HD for those with the relevant equipment.

Half Life 2: Episode 2: Here comes the Portal Storm!

In Half Life 2: Episode 2, which is the main game you’ve all come to see here, both City 17 and the Citadel has gone, the Combine are trying to get reinforcements together and your first task is to get to the resistance base at the White Forest. At the end of Episode 1, you and Alyx stole the transmission packet which the Combine send at the sacrifice of the Citadel and details information about the Combine’s homeworld and allows the creation of their superportal to be controlled from the other side… which obviously they’d rather you didn’t know about.

Okay, there’s a lot of blah-blah-blah in there but the main question is – is it as much fun to play as the previous entries in the series? Hell, yes! When you load in this latest entry, you’ll know what to expect and you’ll get it, so after being treated to a brief summary of the main experiences from Episode 1, it’s on with the action from the moment where the train, in which you left the Citadel, crashes with a massive thud and when the portal storm kicks in (see right), you’ll be glad you didn’t buy a National Rail Super Saver Return(!)

As I type, I’ve still got a way to go in this entry, but from the clips posted in this review, to which I’ll add more as I progress (Subscribe to my DVDfeverGames Youtube channel), you can see just how fantastic the game is. There’s lots of little centipede-like creatures which can be shot or walked over to squash ’em and give you some extra health, but the way they make a shrill noise like a banshee rolling its “r”s gives me a shiver down my spine!

More antlions and other nasty creatures as can be seen from the footage – and one of my favourites is the suicide-bomber zombie – and you will be having great fun with the gravity gun. As you progress, as usual the game will autosave as using HL2’s save-anywhere feature if that’s your choice.

Half Life 2: Episode 2: Zombie Melee!

Tony Todd (the mortician in the Final Destination movies, as well as being the Candyman) provides the voice of Vortigaunt, a very strange creature, who appears following an altercation that leaves Alyx feeling rather worse for wear and puts you alone again, naturally, for a while. In addition, the G-Man appears as he did at in the original Half Life game… you know him – the guy who interrupted you at the very end and took you away from it all.

However, while the Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is an absolute treat and will have the neighbours banging on your door, if there’s a downside it’s that the close-up inspection of graphics still doesn’t hold water if you take a look at floor and wall surfaces. Also, the button layout occasionally has you pressing the wrong thing as you try to get to grips with everything and so much is going on at once, but it hits far more than it misses and is no reason for not buying this title.

Overall, perhaps these short outings are best for this kind of game? When Half Life 2 appeared it did seem to go on and on and on rather a hell of a lot and proved that you can have too much of a good thing, whereas an annual blast of this as the nights draw in will help combat that Seasonal Affected Disorder :)

Half Life 2: Episode 2: I Got Stuck Opening The Door

Portal contains very trippy audio, which sounds like it’s come out of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, circa 1981 for The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. There are plenty of autosaves on later, longish, missions and when I first saw the trailer for this, last year, I expected great things and that’s exactly what I got. If there’s any disappointment it’s only that it’s a short-lived experience, but then not to worry because it’s part of easily the best-value compilation released this year.

As I type, I shall be uploading video clips of all the levels in the game, but bear with me and check the aforementioned Youtube channel regularly for updates.

The only game I haven’t mentioned so far is Team Fortress 2, which is cartoony multiplayer fun for those who enjoy a bit of online action. For me, I never got round to playing online games as often as I’d like since I just don’t get the time so haven’t got an Xbox Live Gold account. That said, it’s had some fantastic reviews on Amazon from those for whom a multiplayer fragfest is their bag.

Now… before I go… where’s Sin: Episode 2?

In this review, I’ve uploaded a number of clips including the ones above, with more to come, which are as follows:

And Portal in its entireity can be viewed here: DVDfeverGames – The Complete Portal Playlist

Visit my DVDfeverGames Youtube channel for many more gaming videos.

Portal: Level 19 Part 6: Final Battle

Important info:

  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • Players: 1; System link: 2-16; Online: 2-16
  • HDTV options: 720p/1080i/1080p