Name: Half-Life 2: Episode 2
Genre: First Person Shooter
Platform: PC, Xbox360 (Reviewed on PC)
Warning, slight spoilers of Half-Life 2 and Half-Life 2: Episode One
Half-Life 2: Episode Two continues where Episode One left off. Again you find yourself fighting along the way to something. It seems to be the main part of the entire series that everything you need is always out of reach. Episode Two keeps that going and has you moving through forests to get to White Forest, a scientific lab where Alyx can bring the data she stole from the Citadel before it went nuclear.
Speaking of the Citadel, things have gotten worse. After blowing it to pieces in Half-Life 2 and Episode 1 it has created something that may be worse then before: a portal storm. The very same type of portal storm that caused the combine to take over the Earth in the first place after the Seven Hour War is now glowing in the distance. For much of Episode 2 the spinning blue portal is seen twisting violently as a circle of clouds rise above it.
The game is a major improvement over Episode One both graphically and in execution. A new feature in Episode Two is the cinematic physics, which are shown in several ways throughout the game. An early example is a bridge collapse seen from the distance. It twists and bends in ways that can’t usually be done in games. They are shocking to see especially when you get closer looks at them later.
The level design is also wonderful and varied just as the rest of the series. Driving through forests in a decked out muscle car and crawling through Antlion caves looking for their queen. It continues to impress throughout and there is never a dull moment.
The idea of having a sidekick has also become a staple in the Half-Life 2 trilogy and it has continued in Episode 2. Alyx feels like a true partner due to not only being truly helpful (unlike the Arbiter) but also the amazing voice acting and character animation. The faces show true emotion and brings them to life.
All in all it is a good middle for the Half-Life 2 trilogy. This isn’t some small addition to the game, it is as much a part of it as any moment in Half-Life 2. The plot moves on, the characters evolve, and we find out more information about what exactly is going on in this world.