I finished playing Half-Life 2 this evening. Wow; it was a blast! It’s been a long wait since the original Half-Life made gaming history and I’m months behind on this release. Version 2 held up to the name and provided an even more gripping experience.

Some highlights are below.

Vehicular Zombieslaughter

Driving dune buggies and hovercrafts through treacherous territory whilst avoiding death by bullets, grenades, rockets, flaming explosive barrels and deadly neck-ties is quite fun.

Skull and Crossbows

Yes, the crossbow is back and better than ever. Perhaps my favorite weapon from the original is back in HL2 and it’s got a shocking surprise. The bolts that the crossbow launches toward your foes are charged. As before, a well-placed single shot should render the enemy…well, dead. I figure they added the electric punch to explain why a single shot to the arm kills. In addition to the charge, an enemy that is struck while near a wall perpendicular to the bolt’s trajectory will be stuck to the wall by the bolt. It’s very cool to witness; they just dangle on the wall where you shot them.

Hanging in There
I shot this guy from far below the beam that he is now firmly attached to.

Wreaking Havok with Physics

The Havok© Physics Engine makes play delightful. The added realism attributed to this physics engine is a joy to experience. There were even quite a few “puzzles” to be solved that relied on clever uses of the in-game physics. This company is now on a roll, despite the potential setbacks resulting from the HL2 source code theft that included parts of Havok. In fact, Havok is now appearing in all sorts of new games and has entered into a Strategic Licensing Agreement with Sony Entertainment. I’m betting this is all related to the upcoming Playstation© 3.

Lift without the Tuck

The Gravity Gun was something to look forward to. From the moment you play catch with “Dog” to the very end when the Gravity Gun gets a super charge, you cannot help but love to switch to this thing and just start throwing things. The coolest thing is picking up a saw blade and hurling clean through a line of zombies. Trying to make sure the blade got wedged into a wall behind them so you could reuse it was half the fun. I won’t spoil the end for those that haven’t played by letting on to it’s new “ability” at the end of the game.

This was definitely one of the more fun games I’ve played in the past few years (there have been a couple). If you don’t own a copy of Half-Life 2, go buy one; if you do own a copy, keep playing or play it again. Personally, I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the Half-Life 2: Aftermath expansion pack.