I recently replayed Half-Life 2 and played Episode 1 and 2 for the first time. I enjoyed my moments with this game so much that I came to the conclusion that everyone needs to play this game! Here are the reasons why!
1. The Price:
This game came out in 2004 and the price has come way down. You can download it off Steam for $6.99 or you can buy it in the Orange Box for xbox 360 for $19.99 ( The PS3 version is priced higher and doesn't run as well so I recommend 360 unless you only have a ps3) Not only does this include Half-Life 2, but you also get Half-Life 2 Episodes 1 and 2, Team Fortress, and Portal.
The Orange Box!!!
2. Has Aged Well
This game holds up really well for such an old game. The graphics aren't as spectacular today as they were in '04 but they still are quite good. The gameplay is somewhat dated in the fact that to melee you have to equip your melee weapon (same with grenades) but I never found that to be much of a problem. In fact the gameplay, in retrospect, was probably ahead of its time.
Pretty good for a 7 year-old game!
3. The Characters
Half-Life 2 has fantastic characters. I felt a fondness and a connection to all the characters I was introduced to in the game. Most games (FPS seem to be especially guilty) don't have that level of care put into their characters. Alyx Vance is everyone's favorite for good reason. She keeps you company on occasion (more so in Episodes 1 and 2) and I love having her around. She is also one of the more interesting female video game characters of recent years.
Dr. Kleiner, Eli Vance, and Alyx Vance
4. The Story
The story of Half-Life 2 is structured well and is enjoyable throughout. The setting is a dystopian Earth where the Combine (an oppressive multidimensional biomechanical force) have taken over. You play as Gordan Freeman and join an underground resistance that was formed by former colleagues at Black Mesa. The story and gameplay mesh into one entity as you are introduced to the game. Playing the first Half Life is not required (although you can get that cheap off steam as well!) but I recommend maybe reading a synopsis of the first game online somewhere. One thing that I really appreciate about the Half-Life series is the level of mysteriousness. I often speculate about who G-man is and why he's so damned interested in Gordan Freeman!
Keep an eye out for G-man. He seems to always be watching. Kinda creepy!
5. Length vs Enjoyment
I have often noticed that first person shooter campaigns are often short. I have also noticed that I am usually ready for them to be over once they do end. As much as I enjoy a first person shooter, often I find that the gameplay gets repetitive and the story just isn't that interesting. This is not the case with Half-Life 2. The campaign is easily 13-15 hours long and that doesn't include the other episodes. Episode 1 takes about 4 hours while Episode 2 takes 5-7 hours. Now, length is only a good thing when you are enjoying the experience the entire time, right? Well I can honestly say that I never felt the game was repetitive at all. This is largely due to the various puzzles and vehicles in the game. Also the objectives are sometimes different or the game lets you gain control of an amazing weapon/ability. I won't say specifics for the sake of not spoiling anything! Now, fifteen hours is a really long first person shooter and the fact that it is enjoyable the entire time is just one more reason why you need to play this game!
Driving an airboat!
6. Very Immersive
Okay so I'm going to reference the characters and story once again, but not as a main reason for the immersion. These factors just add up to a world that is entirely believable and make you feel a part of it. As you are making your way to your next objective, the way isn't necessarily laid out for you with a blinking neon sign. While the game is mostly linear there is room for exploration and you can often find extra supplies if you look around. There is even a singing vortigaunt you can discover in a cave (you also get an achievement for finding him!) Another aspect that helps immerse the player is the fact that all the puzzles are extremely logical and mostly intuitive. All these things create a world that feels very real and the experience is spectacular.
Lambdas indicate supplies. Could this be an intuitive puzzle?
I hope you found these reasons helpful if you haven't played the game yet, and if you have I hope that you enjoyed the game as much as I did. Maybe you should go replay it!