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Aaron Waite Aaron Waite
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Remembering Half-Life 2

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A look back at the seminal classic

I still remember the day that the 'Half-Life 2' demo came out. I was ecstatic about the possibility of seeing the sequel to Valve's original classic, and in my haste, I didn't exactly check the specs of my parents' computer. I got the demo downloaded, and I could almost feel the gravity gun in my hands as it began to load.

Then I actually tried to run it.

That poor Emachine was attempting its best impression of running one of the most graphically intensive games of 2004. After the (albeit very pretty) slideshow, I literally had to drop the window size down to roughly 1/4 of the monitor I was using to get any sort of playable framerate. But on that teeny-tiny window, I was blown away by the revolutionary physics that would come to redefine a generation of games. The sheer enormity of what was taking place in this demo based around the terrifying Ravenholm was not lost on me. From the very moment I picked up my first sawblade with the gravity gun, I knew right then that gaming would never be the same. 

'Half-Life 2' was nothing short of a once-in-a-lifetime shake-up that makes every single developer rethink what they think they know about game design. From the top-notch visuals, fantastic voice-acting and seamless storytelling, Valve not only raised the bar, but reset it somewhere in the stratosphere. However, the main attraction was the gameplay based around the gravity gun, which allowed the player to interact with the environment. Random objects suddenly became deadly weapons, so rocks, sawblades and toilets were flying about throughout the entire game. The ability to improvise any encounter gave the game both style and replay value.

Technologically, 'Half-Life 2's' Source engine was the basis for dozens upon dozens of both games and mods. By utilizing the flexibility of the tools that Valve gave to developers, the Source engine became the pinnacle of creativity. Its legacy extends even to this day, with the recent 'Titanfall' being built with its technology at its core.

Even a decade later, 'Half-Life 2' stands head and shoulders above its contemporaries and even games that had the privilege of building off of its foundation. It remains the standard for the industry, and a shining example of the marriage of gameplay and tech being pushed past its limits.

Aaron Waite still has Flappy Birds' on his phone. That's still cool, right?

Last modified on Tuesday, 01 April 2014 16:07


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