Half-Life 2: Orange Box

Here is a quick review of Valve’s Orange Box:

Portal: A lot of fun. This is a totally new twist on first person shooters – a puzzle element. Not the lame flick a switch, gather the key card type puzzle, but an honest-to-goodnes, use your education puzzle. While that may sound dangerously close to learning something, it is a lot of fun. Basically you have a gun that shoots portals; one shot delivers a portal entrance, the second shot is the exit. If you want to get to the other side of a gap, shoot the entrance portal next to you, and fire the exit portal at the opposite wall. You use this combination to get from point A to point B. That may not sound like a lot of fun, but it is.

The X factor is gravity. You can use the portals to fall from the ceiling. Open another portal beneath yourself as you fall and your momentum continues to build. Once you have enough velocity quickly shoot an exit portal on the back wall, and you will be propelled across great horizontal distance. My lame description doesn’t explain how much fun it is.

While this is going on, there is a computer program that guides you through the puzzles with all the innocence of Steve Urkel. The program almost says “Did I do that?” as it tries to foil your attempt to find the solution. And by foil I mean break your legs, set you ablaze, or steam roll you with a large object. Some of the computer’s lines are absolutely hysterical. This game is 9 out of 10 in my book. The only downside was it took me three hours to beat the game, and I wanted more! On the positive side, you can create your own puzzles or load user created maps.

Episode 2: This continues to Half-Life 2 story arch. It picks up a few minutes after the end of Episode 1. Solid story and is still lots of fun. I don’t know why, but I really like the characters in this game. I’ve bonded with Alyx and Dog over the past few years. Maybe that means I should spend more time with real people. It took me a little more than 5 hours to complete this section of the game. Worth the play.

Team Fortress 2: I played the first one on dial-up way back in the day and wasn’t all the thrilled with it. As usually, I didn’t even load this game onto my computer. I have very little interest in playing random people that accuse everyone of cheating because of their lack of skill.

As a bonus, you get Episode 1 and Half-Life 2 in this package. For 50 bones, I’d say it’s a pretty good deal; especially if you don’t already own E1 or HL2. Definite buy. Since I think World of Warcraft is the best game ever, I rate games on a scale of 1 to 10 days away from WoW. I give Orange Box 10 days away from WoW. Go play this game, seriously.

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