The Orange Box

2008-12-07 21:54:08

Orange Box(Xbox360)

As I've said before, I'm a FPS fanatic, if it's FPS I'll probably play it at some point. from Wolfenstein to Call of Duty 4, I've seen quite a lot of FPS's. However I will always hold every FPS that tries to tell a compelling story up to the candle of Half-Life the original. Half-Life one was new and refreshing in it's time because most FPS's relied on the manual or a readme to tell the tale, the game just dropped you off in the middle and gave you no introduction to your character or anything.

Half-Life brought us a character that not only had a story, but also had a name. Instead of being a generic soldier you were Gordon Freeman. According to the Manual you were a physicist working at Black Mesa. When you start the game you start it on a subway tram, which is heading to your research lab. It's the first FPS of it's time to not drop you off hot and ready to kill things, instead, you walk around, people say hi, talk to you about experiments and other scientisty things to do. You walk to the locker room to suit up for your test. Shit hits the fan and you use whatever is at your disposal, the game had great presence to provide panic in all the right places, what starts off as a panicked scientist running for his life turns into a hero. It's a great story wonderfully told and was game of the year the year it came out. Making a huge improvement on the FPS genre.

So along came Half-Life 2, built on a brand new engine. Only thing I can really say bad about Half-Life 2 was it took too fucking long to make! I mean I bought an ATI Radeon 9600XT and it came with Half-Life 2 bundled, only problem was HL2 was delayed a whole YEAR! thankfully they gave me a few of the add on bundles for free from the original game so that kept me happy until launch. I beat the first game and it was totally disappointing as an ending, it seemed so anti-climatic, which means we're lucky they released Episodes 1 and 2. It is with the onset of Episode 2 that we see the appearance of Orange Box, the focus of this review.

So when I heard about Orange box part of me thought, well that's great for people who don't own HL2, but what about me? Then I looked in my closet at my broken as fuck tower PC's which I still haven't found time to rebuild, and said, oh, well maybe that's a good point. So on the Gamefly it went, and I have to say, anytime you can get what amounts to 3 games(plus 2 mod packs) for the price of 1 game, it's not a bad deal, assuming you don't already own half the kit. I savored the idea of playing through HL2 again and getting the added bonus of achievements for doing so. While this proved to be semi gratifying and hilarious at points (such as when I used the crane to flatten some combine and I unlocked "OSHA Violation" achievement) I definitely began to understand where my old PC elitist friends come from. Aiming and shooting combine with my 360 gamepad felt shitty and apparently Valve didn't know a good way to implement the game console secret weapon, the aim-assist.

Aim assist is everywhere now, Call of Duty 4, Battlefield on consoles, on anything that requires analog joysticks to kill. yet it seems that Valve didn't take that hint, so instead of me locking on to a solid headshot on that combine soldier to drop him like a bad habit, I have to shoot him 2-3 times to acheive victory. But really outside of the aiming concerns, the game played just how I remembered it.

Episode 1:

Episode 1 was annoying as fuck, okay so we're trying to escape the massive explosion we unleashed on the city 17, so the entire game is running oriented, and that includes the fight scenes. In situations where you gotta fight something it usually means you gotta run and gun, you have to scramble locations quickly or you're dead. There was no time to inspect the scenery in this game because there was just nothing to show but running and more running. Enemies always seem to appear en masse, and when they don't they trickle in until they're over-whelming or they're striders or aircraft to mess up your day. This game plays like Half-Life 2 except for all the damn running away from action you have to do.

This is truly the Emo side of Half Life 2, you just run around like a pussy trying not to get shot or caught in some kind of blast radius, This is not the Gordon Freeman we signed up for!!!

Episode 2

Episode 2 after playing through Episode 1 was a blast of fresh air. Instead of running like a pussy physicist, you're rocking out with guns blazing. However after the first time the Hunters show up to ruin your fun, it doesn't stop. the game smacks you in the face with it's dick about halfway through the game, making you feel impotent against an enemy that can withstand something on the order of 8-10 Magnum rounds before dying, meanwhile they shoot special flechette rounds that stick into your skin and then explode into shrapnel, so they are very very deadly enemies. Also there's never less than 2 hunters in a pack and they are just nasty vicious. towards the end of the game I was getting frustrated as I kept running out of good ammo to take out those hunters.

Episode 2 also ends in a cliffhanger, and a very sad hardcore ending at that, I would almost compare it to the nuclear death you face in Call of Duty 4. It is that heartbreaking.


Portals a pretty cheesy game title, relying on showing off physics even MORE than Half-Life ever has before, and that's saying something when you consider 70% of Half-Life involves some kind of balance puzzle or lever puzzle. In this game we take a portal gun, and we can shoot a entrance and an exit to connect any two points we can aim at line of sight in order to pass between them. It's crazy fun because of some of the tactics you can employ to get things done, and you always feel good after solving a puzzle. The games dark humor really isn't as funny as everyone on the internet would have you believe. (The cake is a lie indeed!) but it is still humorous in some places. Other than drones you never see another living being to fight against in this game, in fact for an FPS there is a whole lot less S'ing then FP'ing.

Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2, after Team Fortress got rave reviews as a great mod for the original Half-Life, Team Fortress 2 became slated for release by Valve as they absorbed the old manufacturers of Team Fortress Classic. Team Fortress 2 is one of those games that you want to point to and say "SEE THIS GAME, It took a decade to write, BUT IT'S OUT! Take that DUKE NUKEM HATERS!" but then you realize that Duke Nukem is still under a veil of secrecy, but TF2 has been pretty open with news for a while.

Facts are with Team Fortress 2, that it does what it does well, the classes all have a purpose etc. However it almost always just boils down to whoever gets to the enemy spawn first, so they can board up the exit and next thing you know it's not safe for the enemies to leave their base. This happens all the damn time, people choke off the ONE exit from spawn. it would be great if every map had 2 exits but almost all of them only have 1 route between bases. This lends to frustration by spawncamping, which Valve games are definitely no stranger to.

I personally favored the Engineer, and the spy, as I liked the ability to setup camp defenses, or to sneak past enemy mounted turrets. All the rest of my time with the other classes didn't go over so well but I at least knew what my niche was. In the end I have to give this product a 6/10, what it did right it did awesomely, but it's flaws can be a dealbreaker for some in regards to controls, auto-aiming, and Lame Episode 1.