As is the standard practice during exam-time, I just completed a play-through of Half-Life 2: Episode Two. Well, a play-through starting from after the mines, because I hate antlions. Several times over the course of my journey to White Forest, I found myself pleading for a set-piece to end, crouching behind a counter as bullets zipped all over the place, and then, once I had beaten the final enemy with an improbably reckless charge (inevitably, the attempt in which I didn’t die was always the most seat-of-the-pants), paused for a moment, and instantly wanted to do it all over again. Even sitting here now, having spent probably around an hour on the final battle, I’m having to resist the temptation to start the whole thing over again.
This is one of the many things, to me, that makes Half Life 2 (I can’t speak for Half Life as I haven’t finished it in a while) so incredible. In other shooters, Call of Duty comes to mind, each firefight is vaguely enjoyable, but pretty stressful, and once it’s over, the improbably endless stream of enemies (seriously, where are these terrorists recruiting? Kamino*?) dispatched, you just trudge on to the next one, which, likely as not, will play out in a similar fashion. I don’t know what it is, but there’s not that same childish glee of “again! Again!” that I get at the end of so many set-pieces in Half-Life – especially Episode Two.
Which makes me feel terribly upset that within a year, we’ll probably have had another wildly successful Call of Duty game, and nothing more than some wildly overstated rumours of Episode Three. I think I want that game more than another Batman: Arkham ___ game.And that’s saying something.