I wrote a short while back about my initial experiences with Half-Life 2, namely concerning how uneasy the game made me feel because of how real the environment looked and the first person perspective. Now that I have progressed a good ways into the game, I can’t say that has really changed. In fact, the game has since given me all kinds of new ways to be terrified and anxious in a video game, and it is these experiences that I wish to relate to you all today.
Since my last update, I have grown quite accustomed to dealing with the Combine forces, and honestly, it has become a relief when I run into them as opposed to…other foes. Which I’ll cover soon. I got to face more of those infamous headcrabs, as well, which aren’t really so bad once you get to know them. Or rather, they go down with one whack from your crowbar, so no big deal. As far as the victims of said headcrabs go, well, that’s a story for another paragraph. I then got to spend a prolonged period of time riding around in a boat, which was fun. Wee.
After getting the rather awesome gravity gun, I visited a town called Ravenholm. Cool, this place looks spooky, and I like spooky. I quickly took back my words within…what was it, two minutes? Let me tell you, this place terrified me. I’m probably just a total wimp, but this area was dark…and there were a lot of small, enclosed spaces to travel through…and people shambling towards me with headcrabs clamped onto their heads and…I think I spent a lot of time just hanging out in the most brightly lit place I could find at the moment as I tried to work up the willpower to continue onward. Yeah, headcrab-infected undead people are a heck of a lot scarier in dark, claustrophobic spaces than out in the open in broad daylight. Who knew?
Eventually, as with the Combine soldiers, I started to get used to this after a while. I was still pretty freaked out, and every time I needed to go into yet another dark, creepy building, a part of me would want to hunker down beneath a light again and remind myself that it’s only a video game, it’s only a video game. But, you know, I have this under control. I think. Unfortunately, it always seems like in this game, whenever you start to get used to something, things get worse. And they did, about halfway through this nightmare town. It started with the most horrifying wail I’ve ever heard, followed by something dashing towards me from out of the darkness. Which I shot at, along with a good deal of screaming, I must admit.
The earlier headcrab-infected people were bad enough, but at least they were slow and relatively easy to deal with. Not so with this new variety, which were fast and aggressive and could somehow also climb gutters, so even rooftops weren’t safe anymore. And hey, did you know that some headcrabs are poisonous? Yay! At least some strange guy gave me a shotgun, so that was nice. That’ll delay my inevitable death just a little longer….
Okay, so Ravenholm was a trying affair, but I got through it. It’s just a video game, after all (and I wasn’t really that scared…). Before I end this post, I have one more frightening experience to write about. Later on in the game, I got to drive this car, which I had a surprisingly difficult time controlling, for whatever reason. After a time, I came to this abandoned two-story house by the sea. Leaving the relative safety of my little vehicle behind, I went inside and began to explore. I love abandoned buildings, you see, even if the ones in this game are pretty sparsely decorated. I figured out how to get up the broken staircase by climbing onto a box, and I got to exploring the upper floor, as well. After checking out the second level, I heard a noise. Seeing as I had already scoured every inch of the place, however, I thought nothing of it. Surely nothing could have passed my notice. It must have merely been my imagination.
When I turn around, something is standing in the doorway I had so recently had my back to. It’s humanoid, but there was something off about it. It kind of just stood there, and I stared at it. Vying on the side of caution, I ended up shooting it. It fell to the floor and several headcrabs crawled off of it, which I quickly dispatched with my trusty crowbar. Needless to say, I got out of there as quickly as I could after that. Where it had been hiding on my initial pass through the building, I have no idea, but I wasn’t going to risk running into anymore.
I must say, Half-Life 2 is filled with all kinds of chilling experiences that I won’t soon forget. It’s been interesting, to say the least, though I would probably enjoy the game more if it wasn’t so violent. That’s one thing I neglected to mention when I talked about Ravenholm. There was a bit too much gore here, which is one reason I don’t get M-rated games very often. It’s a shame because you don’t need gore for a game to be scary. You just need that sense of dread as you turn the next corner, when you have no idea what awaits you, but you know it’s going to be as horrible as your imagination fears it will be. Seeing that thing standing in the doorway in that abandoned house was so unexpected, and that alone was enough to send me running from that place as fast as I could. That scared me a lot more than any dismembered body could.
I think that’s what I enjoy the most about this game so far. The suspense. I never know what horrors await me next, and while this frightens me, it’s also what keeps me going because there’s something very satisfying about getting through trial after terrifying trial. This game is difficult. It really is. I have died so many times, as many times as I have temporarily lost the will to go on. That’s kind of what’s so good about it. I know things are only going to get worse. I hope they do. And when that happens, I’ll have a post ready to tell you guys all about it. Here’s to delving ever deeper into Half-Life 2.
Head Ducks; We’re a Lot Cuter