I have finally completed Half-Life 2 and its mini sequels, Episode One and Two, so today I present you all with the final installment of my experiences. Episode Two takes place after the train crash at the end of Episode One, which Gordon and Alyx apparently survived unscathed. Our objective: head for the Resistance base called White Forest, where awaits Alyx’s dad, Dr. Vance, Dr. Kleiner, and some new scientist who is a jerk. Dr. Magnusson. Who later accused me of doing something to his microwave casserole some time ago, a grudge he has been holding to this day. I have no idea what you’re talking about, dude. Now if you had accused Gordon of assaulting a watermelon you planned on eating for lunch, I would be more understanding….
To be honest, I kind of had mixed feelings when I started this game. On one hand, I was excited to explore outside the city limits, and on the other, I was getting a little weary of the Half-Life games. They are awesome, don’t get me wrong, but I think after playing for about a month and a half straight, I was getting a little tired of, you know, zombies and Striders and Combine and…oh, great, we have a new foe called Hunters. Yippee! More on them later.
Weariness or not, however, I was still rather excited to be out in the great outdoors. Up in the mountains, with the trees and the fresh air. Ah, just take a deep breath and smell the pine. That’s the stuff. Out here in the open, it feels like nothing bad could happen to us. Yep, it’s smooth sailing from here on out. Yeah…
About that… Well, one thing I have to give this game credit for is the fact that it is responsible for several really shocking moments. The first one came fairly early in the game. I remember Alyx and I had arrived at these abandoned buildings, and as we checked the area out, there is a bizarre noise I didn’t recognize. All I knew was that it probably came from something that was going to try and kill us at some point. In an effort to get into one of the buildings, I climbed onto the roof and dropped through a hole in the ceiling. After pressing a button that opened a gate outside, I heard a strange noise again. When I turned around, I saw a robot looking at me through the window separating my room from the one behind me before it ran off down some hallway. Huh. That was weird. Maybe I should just…stay in this room forever and never go outside again. That sounds like a good idea.
At least, that’s what I would have liked to do, but you know, I couldn’t. Thoroughly disturbed, I opened up this hatch in the floor and dropped into a crawlspace beneath the building. I crawled through here, and just when I get a clear view of the outside, I saw the robot out there with Alyx. She began to run towards me, while I yelled for her to hurry it up and join me in this lovely, very safe crawlspace, but she was too slow. The robot, or whatever it is, attacks her, and several moments later, she falls to the ground unconscious and bleeding.
Um, change of plans. I’m going to permanently live in this crawlspace and never leave it ever. Sound good to you, Dr. Freeman? Me, too.
Fortunately, it turns out that Alyx is not dead, but merely wounded, and a Vortigaunt shows up (it literally took me until now to learn the name of this bizarre race of aliens). Grateful for this extremely convenient bit of good fortune, I leave the crawlspace, and…I forget what happens next. I do remember arriving in a cave, where the Vortigaunt plans to heal Alyx, along with some of his allies. Like usual for someone of my less than remarkable memory, I forgot the order of events during this part of the game, but I do remember spending a lot of time exploring some caves filled with antlion grubs. When I first saw those things, I was pretty creeped out, but to my knowledge, they won’t actually do anything but squeal at you if you get too close. And for some weird reason, whenever you kill one, a yellow thing comes out of them that can heal you a tiny bit. This seems kind of gross, but I’ll take it. Don’t look at me like that, Freeman, eat the yellow rock that came out of the giant grub! Just do as you’re told!
Of course, things eventually take a horrifying turn. I get to help a couple of guys defend about five tunnels against an onslaught of antlions (I don’t know why I said “get to”, because a flood of killer antlions is not really my idea of a good time). Surprisingly enough, this is not as bad as it sounds. A little while later, I get the pleasure of being chased by an antlion guardian or some such thing. Basically, it’s a really big bug with a nasty temper, and…I really hated this part of the game. I despise being chased, and as the thing pursued me from one tunnel to the next, I was actually out of breath from all the pitiful screaming I had been doing. The only reprieve I got from that thing was when I ended up in tunnels too small for it to go, which were filled with skeletons and more grubs, so hooray for a game where the only place I can find solace is in a claustrophobic cave filled with corpses. What reason could there possibly be for this game to be tiring me out? It’s such a cheery, wonderful game to play! Why am I yelling so much!
I probably should move on before this post gets too long. Long story short, Alyx is healed, and we are on our way. The rest of the game is largely travelling to White Forest, with a few highlights here and there. For one thing, Hunters are a new enemy in this game, you know, the thing that nearly killed Alyx. Yeesh. They’re vicious buggers, and to be honest, even though I described it as a robot before, I’m not entirely sure what it is. All I know is they’re horrible, and we encounter them from time to time throughout the game (once you arrive in White Forest, a guy claims he defeated Hunters simply by punching them…ha ha, you lying so and so). Yeah, you won’t be defeating these things with your fists. It takes a lot of firepower to take them down, plus they are pretty fast, which makes dealing with them that much more difficult. I just hate them. I think I’d prefer super speedy zombies or Striders or…zombies riding on Striders or…pretty much anything else. Speaking of super speedy zombies, on two occasions, I was chased down by the fastest torso you ever did see. That thing had incredible upper body strength, which would have been more impressive if it also wasn’t one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen in my life. And in these games, that’s saying something.
I think this post is losing focus.
Another thing worth mentioning before we reach White Forest…Advisors. As with Episode One (in the case of the Stalkers), Episode Two explains something that was originally only seen in the previous games. I still don’t think these things are actually explained, but they are strange, enigmatic creatures that appear to possess telekinetic abilities. The first time we encounter one in this game (at least, I believe it was our first encounter) was pretty scary. We find a crashed ship Alyx claims must have originally been transporting an Advisor, but the thing I found most disturbing of all was the fact that I saw no Advisor. Where is it? And should we really go looking for it, or can’t we just pretend we didn’t see anything and just go on our way? …Wait a minute, didn’t Alyx claim to not know what the thing was in Episode One, and now she suddenly does? I could be remembering incorrectly, or I have caught a mistake. Take that, Valve!
Of course, being a video game, and not real life, the latter circumstance one where I would run screaming and never come back, we had to go look for it. There were two abandoned buildings, a smaller one and a larger one. Delaying my uncertain fate for just a few minutes longer, I explored the less likely of the two buildings first, all the while experiencing strange flashes in my vision (the game, not my real vision…I am fine) like we did when we first found ourselves in the presence of an Advisor in Episode One. Finally, the time came to explore the larger building, where we find the thing in a larger room, encased in some metal container. Instructed to do the exact opposite of what common sense would dictate, I open the container the thing is housed in. And that’s when things go to crap. Just like I knew they would. That’s why I’m a pessimist. Because when I think things will turn out badly, I’m always right.
Alyx and I find ourselves floating in the air, unable to move or fight back, while the Advisor inspects the dead body I had previously found lying in the room (and proceeds to attack said body…I guess it’s just being cautious…or it can’t recognize a dead human from a live one), giving us just enough time to anticipate our own gruesome fate…and then, honestly, I have no idea how we got away. I watched that scene again on Youtube, and still…I don’t know. All I know is this was a rather scary moment in the game, even if I don’t understand all that happened.
A good deal of travelling more, and we arrive at White Forest, where the game ends with a pretty challenging battle against a bunch of Striders and Hunters. Luckily, things got a lot easier when I learned I could kill Hunters by ramming them with my car, and once they were out of the way, it was pretty easy taking the Striders out with Magnusson’s sticky bombs. But, what happens next, I can’t tell you. I know my posts have been filled with spoilers, but this is one I just want to leave secret for anyone who hasn’t yet played the game. All I can tell you is that the ending of Episode Two is super shocking and really sad. I had a feeling such a moment was coming all along, but expecting it and seeing it are two entirely different things.
And…that’s it. Unfortunately, I can’t find out what happens next because a quick Internet search for Episode Three taught me that, well, there is no Episode Three. There’s also no Half-Life 3. It’s been nearly ten years since Episode Two was released, and that’s where the story ended. Which is really weird. No idea why Valve just decided to drop the series like this, but hey…it was an awesome experience while it lasted. They’ve gotta finish it someday, right? Surely.
Half-Life 2 really took me out of my comfort zone, which is probably what I enjoyed most about it. There were so many intense moments, including moments as scary as any horror game, but I got through it all. The best thing, really, is how I was able to conquer my fears. At first, I was always hiding from my enemies or panicking as the next group of zombies shambled my way. As I progressed, however, I began to find it much easier to keep a cool head. Eventually, I became far braver and would actively fight off my enemies instead of letting them come to me. Over the course of these three games, I took down Striders and helicopters and faced more zombies than I care to count. I died a lot, but nothing could stop me for long.
It’s funny because I never had any interest in this game originally. It only came into my possession thanks to The Orange Box, which I bought solely for Portal. You see, I’m just not that big into first-person shooters, even if I do enjoy games like Halo from time to time. I guess Half-Life just had an environment and characters that felt realistic to me, along with a compelling story that kept me playing. Aside from the story, I kind of just wanted to see what kind of challenges the game would throw at me next. Sometimes I wanted something really bad to happen just so I could test my skill, and I usually got my wish. In Ravenholm. Or against the Striders or the Hunters. Or in a dark room as I waited for the elevator to rescue me from a hoard of zombies. It’s been a thoroughly wild ride, and I’ve loved it as much as I found it harrowing. Here’s hoping for Half-Life 3. In the meantime, I should probably check out the first game….
The Duck…Advises You to Try These Games…Ha Ha…