I recently finished another circuit of Half Life 2 with the dual purpose of reviewing the game’s material, and exposing cookiemonger to its story, characters, and gameplay. The game has aged well in my opinion, and is approaching its tenth birthday (originally released for the PC in 2004). Still, considering CM and I recently finished Portal 2, HL2 is definitely showing its age.

We discussed Valve’s improvement in the areas of character development and immersive gameplay. CM was strongly affected by the characterization in Portal 2 and I recall parts of the game where I forgot the events were, y’know, pre-scripted. Considering CM’s suspension of disbelief kicks like a mule, and I’m a hyper-aware jerk who criticizes advertising, that’s an achievement of mythic proportions.

Half Life 2 has some timing problems with its event progression, and I often found myself waiting for the engine to acknowledge that I completed the objective for the area before it allowed me to proceed (most noticeable in City 17 at endgame). By comparison, Portal 2 had timing such that events were prepared and waiting for the moment the player arrives. It’s a measurable advancement in Valve’s art.