I bought an entire computer to play Half Life 2 back in 2004. I was using an old Gateway machine before its release. This was the thing with games back then. You had to upgrade your hardware because games pushed the limits. My friends at school would sit at lunch and exclaim “Dude, I threw a gas tank at a guy with the gravity gun and BOOM he went flying!” I couldn’t resist. I had to upgrade and not just for the new found bragging rights you get with new hardware. I confidently booted up the game for the first time expecting an action romp for the next eight hours.
What I got was something entirely different. While the game is full of action and adventure, it’s true testament is it’s storytelling power. The cool tools and toys like laser’s, mech’s, zombies, bugs, dune buggies, and a load of gratuitous eye candy disappear in to a bigger picture. Zooming around the sewers in a fan-boat, getting off the train at City 17 and seeing the oppressed masses, or realizing that the head crabs turned people into zombies, are all iconic moments in the game that can’t be expressed without playing it.
By the middle of the game I actually empathized with Gordon Freeman’s plight, and losing sight of Alyx Vance was, and always will be, heart wrenching. Being paired with another character for most of the game made it tough to see them leave, especially one as likable as Vance.
After being handed the gravity gun I remember realizing how much fun I could have with it in real life. Pick up anything and throw it anywhere. Such a simple concept implemented so flawlessly in a game I couldn’t believe it.
Zoom forward to today. It is easily forgotten how very old the Half Life 2 game is as 6 years have past since it’s release. It’s still good storytelling no matter how old it is. this is key. Not many games survive past 2 years of their release.
With Steam running on Mac you can experience this cinematic game. Or you missed it the first time because of the hardware requirements any PC purchased in the last four years it should run quite smoothly. Otherwise, I’m sure Gordon will let you borrow his crowbar which will easily “upgrade it.”
be sure to listen to Give Me Steam.
written by Jordan Crair
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