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Finally finished Half-Life 2 Episode 2

I haven't played Opposing Force or Blue Shift, but the main games are still incredibly fun to play through. I will say that the games have aged a little bit since their release, but it's interesting to see the graphical fidelity improve with each episode.

For more realistic criticisms, the games are incredible experiences. Half-Life 1 is obviously far more rudimentary than the rest of the franchise, but it still opens this super interesting world up along with terrifying aliens and a particular jump scare from an alien in a bunker that made me lose a few years off my life. There are points where the difficulty spikes or the objective is unclear thanks to the open storytelling, but in the age of the internet it's never too bad.

This world expands exponentially as soon as the second game boots up. From the aliens of the previous games being given a bigger role, to the events of the first game being expanded upon until the main character is considered almost a God amongst his peers. I unfortunately don't have a lot of time to play games in one go, so my playthrough was sporadic and I barely remember some parts of the base game, but despite this the game gets the player to really empathize with the characters until the thought of them going off alone to scout a dangerous area can instill genuine panic. I will say, I'd heard the game never takes control away from the player in its storytelling and world building, and that's mostly true; but there are sections where you technically have control, but not really – like being in a locked room with no exit, or being held in place. It doesn't detract from the overall experience, but I just wanted to point that out.

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The base game ends with a bang, and the 2 episodes that follow are both just as incredible. Full of fun gameplay scenarios, world-building, story dumps, incredible combat, and ultra intense build-ups to the incredible climactic episode 3.

After playing I can say it's good to know why so many people were angry about episode 3 never releasing, but now I'm one of the people angry about episode 3 never releasing. The ending of episode 2 isn't a tease for the 3rd episode, it's practically the opening to it. So many existing story threads left unanswered, so many new ones added in the final act, so much tension, such masterful build-up… like lighting a fuse to a damp firework. While I want to recommend this game to everyone for the moment-to-moment gameplay and story, the lack of an ending is ripping me apart.


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