Words About Video Games

Half-Life 2 Episode 2 And What Might Have Been

I haven't always gotten on well with the Half-Life series, but Episode 2 very clearly demonstrates why people want more of the series, and not simply because it ends on decidedly unresolved business.

It's an extremely smart FPS for its six-hour running time, and it moves from high point to high point with little in the way of padding. From the cramped ant lion tunnels to the relatively more open areas where you join up with the resistance--it feels dense and varied.

It also makes the stakes more personal, giving you people to save and teasing you with a significant victory before handing you your most heart-breaking defeat.

This episode even finds time for quieter moments, and for a short time, the characters stop talking to me like Freeman, completer of all unsavory and difficult tasks, and start talking to me like Gordon Freeman, their old colleague and friend. For the first time, I find I actually do want to hear what they have to say. Which just makes it all the sadder that I never will.