Half-Life 2: First Impressions
Besides the 5 CD’s, the game comes with a coupon for $20 off the latest ATI graphics card and a small Quick Ref card – no manual.
I had a little trouble getting it up and running properly. First, you must activate the game in order to play. The activation/registration servers were bogged down last night given that everyone in the country was trying to activate their game. Eventually (10 minutes later?) the program came back saying it was gave up and to just go ahead and play until the server could be reached.
I then restarted the game, and it took another 15-20 minutes for the game to validate its files.
Okay, so I didn’t really care so much that all this took so long as I was working on something else at the time. Had I been really wanting to play the game immediately after install, I’d have been livid.
After starting the game, I immediately went to settings and cranked the resolution up to 1600×1200. That was a big mistake, as I got a blank screen and no way to task swap out. I rebooted, restarted the game and once again got a blank screen with no interim steps for me to change the resolution. I tried one more time unsuccessfully and then wound up finding the setting in the registry to set the resolution back down to 1024×768. I left the rest of the settings alone and started to play.
First, let me say the game looks pretty good at this resolution. I’ve got most of the settings at High. The first most noticeable eye candy was the people. Gone are the pointy heads! Not only do they look good, but they react normally to you. If you walk up to someone they’ll look up at you inquiringly. Yeah, inquiringly. It may be my imagination, but it sure looks to me like peoples’ expressions change. You walk up to a civil patrol and he’ll push you back gruffly. Walk up to him again and he’ll tazer you.
The game starts with a short train ride. You get a chance to walk around the car you’re in and marvel at how well the other passengers are rendered. The train stops and you get off the train and notice some kind of alien or mutant sweeping the station floor, and civil patrol guys gruffly pushing people along. Dr. Breen, the facility administrator from the first game, is on an overhead display welcoming people to City 17. Dr. Breen seems to be all over, in fact, from the soda machines to to posters, etc.
City 17 looks like a high-tech rendition of East Berlin. Civil patrol guards are everywhere and they’re usually beating up on people. There are little floaty cameras following people around and if you look at them they’ll take your picture, blinding you for a few seconds.
There’s no obvious tutorial, but the game ingeniously walks you through certain aspects of the game. For instance, a civil patrol guard will knock a soda can on the floor and tell you gruffly to pick it up, thus teaching you how to manupulate objects.
I played maybe 1/2 hour into the game, and there was some hella cool stuff in that 1/2 hour. I’ll stop here, as anything else I could say may spoil the experience for others. Suffice it to say that I’m really looking forward to getting back in!
Filed under: Games
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