18 months was a long time to wait without answers, but finally the day has come. Was is worth the wait? Without question! Episode 1 met all of our expectations and surpassed some. As soon as you enter the game, you will find out exactly how Gordon and Alyx survived the massive explosion.
The gameplay is absolutely top notch and everything just works perfectly. The teamwork Alyx provides makes the game only that much more exciting, and gives you even more responsibility than in HL2. You will not only be trying to save your own behind, but protect Alyx in the process. Coupled with the better puzzle solving, this is a great experience. The real kicker is that it’s only 4 – 6 hours long, but at least we will not have to wait as long for the next episode. Hopefully we will be playing that one this Winter.
Is the game worth the $20 asking price? Without a doubt. Being that it is a 4 – 6 hour game doesn’t even come into the equation, because chances are good you will be playing through the game more than once. Though I have not played with the commentary mode yet, that should only prove to add even more to the game. Personally, the game took me exactly 4 hours to complete on the medium difficulty. I did find it ended quick, but the experience was truly amazing. If you a hardcore player and want to try to get through the game as quick as you can, it should only take you a little over 3 hours.
EP1 does have a few bugs that didn’t get squashed during testing though. One area in particular, took me around a half hour to get through only due to a bug. I didn’t realize there was a bug at first, until I reloaded my last save. Other bugs that have been reported include missing textures and stuttering. I personally had the game stutter quite badly at a point near the end of the game, but it ironed itself out fairly quickly.
Does this episodic delivery thing work? Well, instead of players paying $60 for a 15 hour game, they will pay $20 each for three 5 hour games. If Valve finds the need to update the source engine with the new releases, players can be welcomed with better graphics, sound, gameplay or whatever else they want to throw in. Because of the new graphic additions to EP1, modders will also be able to add HDR and such to their personal maps, so you can be sure to see mods in progress and in the future to have some stellar graphic tweaks.
No question. If you enjoyed HL2, pick up EP1, you will not be disappointed. I am awarding Half-Life 2: Episode 1 a well deserved 94%.
Pros & Cons
+ Top rate gameplay
+ Teamwork and puzzle solving
+ HDR is best we’ve seen so far
+ Sounds amazing, especially with 5.1
+ Commentary is back!
– Minor bugs, including stuttering at points
– Can complete the game in an evening
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