For some people, it’s hard to comprehend playing a game from the past. With this generation’s technology and fully established games library, it’s questionable to why someone would want to play a game without achievements; a game without high definition graphics or a game without online features whatsoever. For that bunch of selective people however, it’s to get out of that Call of Duty online rut they’ve been building. You see personally I don’t think it’s a stretch to be astonished by a relic from the past, that’s why we have history after all. Sometimes a developer’s best bet is to reflect on an previous offering, wouldn’t the latest Prince of Persia be better if it took a grain out of the Sands of Time? Sure, sometimes you might have to cringe to see a painting better, but it’s still a work of art, no? Of course it is, only the blind would argue otherwise; and if you can put into account a game’s age, sometimes it’s even more impressive than a newer title.
To put into perspective, I’ve been playing through Half-Life 2 recently and while it has been a complete blast, it has amazed me far more than the other game I’m trawling through at the moment has, Modern Warfare 2 (oh yes, I went there). For those of you who don’t know, Half-Life 2 came out back in 2004, alas there’s a gap between that and Modern Warfare 2 and I only use the term ‘gap’ only in regards to time. If you even just look at the two games side by side, there’s very little in Call of Dooty’s favour. I know the PC was ahead of its time back then, but Jesus Christ… Apart from the odd murky model here and there, Half-Life 2 looks fantastic. I very rarely fail to awe when upon entering a new area and the environments are so varied, it happens quite frequently. I think if anything impresses me the most in games, it’s having that ambition to create something differential – Variety is a bliss, which I thoroughly learnt after exploring Super Mario Galaxy 2 and it’s something that Half-Life 2 mostly certainly has.
Obviously, a game has to carry its soul purpose; it would be pointless creating a first person shooter in which you don’t actually shoot anything, right? Well, to an extent anyway, if new aspects of gameplay are implemented without making them seem shoehorned in and the switch between them is done with eloquence, it will flow naturally and as a result of this, it will be interesting to play. Forget its age, it’s this level of design and intuitive progression that blew me away with Half-Life 2, not just a few bells and whistles. It’s astounding just to think of all the diversity you experience within the game, from traversing through a frightening apocalyptic environment to solving a puzzle to get on top of a pipe, one could only imagine the vision Valve had when creating such a masterpiece. The Gravity Gun itself could have potentially fuelled an entire game with the sheer amount of uses it has, most of which are ingenious. There’s also this organic sense of a living-breathing world, the characters themselves have a distinctive personality to them and they actually look at you when they speak, like they’re talking to you directly.
As you can probably see, some of the cards Half-Life 2 brought to the table have mysteriously appeared in other games, so it’s actually quite interesting to play Half-Life 2 just to see where all these wonderful additions come from. If you haven’t quite worked it out yet I’m (metaphorically) lost for words about Half-Life 2, it’s so well structured and designed that I don’t think any other game of its nature has topped it over the last 5 years or so. You see, old games can be fun too. Alternatively you could always just buy The Orange Box; probably one of the only games you’ll ever buy that has too much content, like a cheeseburger that has had napalm stuffed into it.