9.5

Purchase of the year....

The Orange Box is a amazing package, specially if you never played HL2 before, but even if you have it's still amazing seeing as you can give the games you own already away to friends and still be playing less than what all 3 of the new ones cost seperate. I was expecting a big letdown but it's just totally amazed me and well worth every penny i spent on the box.

Here are my reviews for each game...

Episode 2:

While it doesn't have the same revolutionary feel that Half-Life did but nore did HL2 and it is based on a near 4 year old (due to be released n 2003) engine but surprisingly enough it still doesn't look or feel dated. I'm not sure if this shows how much work Valve put into Source or the fact that since 2004 it's been real lackluster for the FPS genre. What stands out the most about episode 2 and Source Engine is the facial animations and the model details which still are to this day the most detailed and best i've seen until Crysis maybe lol.

The Story obviously moves on from Episode one and even shows you where your going next which i wont spoil for you. I think HL really does have one of the best stories in a FPS and it's told soo well in this games and really makes youc are for the character, for example you still want Alyx and Gordon to kiss lol. Dog is obviously back in this episode and he's great when you see him come back killing a Strider it's fantastic and cinematic. You'll also have the GMAN return and he's a great character you don't know anything about yet.

The level design is fantastic with great pacing from driving to being on foot and then the defensive and offensive missions. The cave levels at the start to the industrial parts and then the open countryside parts all play amazingly and theres not one part you'll hate. I love the new vehicles it's really kool looking and sounding and makes for great drives and soo much better than in previous games.

The weapons are the only part that lets the game down with all of them being soo dated and few of them, most of them still from 1998's HL so you want something new apart from the gravity gun and a revolver. However it doesn't ruin the gameplay but you just want new weapons cause atm they are lame.

This game just offers more gameplay over the previous ones and even adds all the best parts from them and then improves on them with tweaks. How epic it feels aswel is just amazing because they've done soooo well to update source with nice touches like motion blurr.

The graphics still are the best around for FPS games with sooo much detail and fantastic models and just soo many improvements over the previous games. I can't believe how a near 4 year old engine looks sooo good these days and i still have moments when i think "WOW" and that says somethig for the engine.

The sounds are my fave with great voice overs and sound effects. It's all acted perfectly and no voices become annoying apart from Alyx sometimes when you get out of the car and she keeps telling you to get in. I love all the sound effects that come with the game too and the sirens are my personal fave.

So Episode 2 really suprised me to actually being fantastic after the letdown that was Episode 1. It's the best HL game on source by far and some people may say it's too short but it's about 6 hours long and thats the same as Bioshock lol.

TF2:

I never liked TFC and i'll make that clear now, i'm not going to offer a nostalgic or elitest opinion and many people are complaining that it's not like TFC and i seem to think it's TF2 and not TFC so if you love the original so much then go and play it. Seems to me that all these people arn't playing it anymore and just lost in their own nostalgia....

With TF2 the first thing you notice is the graphics which offer a really unique look to online FPS games. What's even more great though is all the animations and facial animations which are just really great and you've never seen this kind of depth before in a online FPS. This really comes into it's own when you taunting other players and your standing there releasing all 200 clips with heavy weapons guy and he shouts "get behind me doctor i am bullet proof" and really brings a sense of immersion. What else is great about them is how they run it all looks real fluid, specially the scout and how he moves in the air.

TF2 has around 9 classes and all of them are fantastic and amazingly balanced, only the Pyro felt underpowered but that's such a easy fix. My personal fave is the demoman, soldier or Heavy Weapons guy because you can just take down sooo many people with them classes. All the servers seem to be FF off and that seems to be for a balacing issues with the Spy Mainly which is a shame to have a class which forces 99% of servers to be this way. The reasons are because a spy can disguise themselves as any enemy and sneak behind them and kill them. With FF off you can shoot all your players to check if they're actually a Spy, if FF was on then it would give them a big advantage.

Theres only a handful of maps but it's worth mentioning that some of them have 4/5 different layouts which is really kool. All the maps are great and theres something for everyone however i only myself liked one of them and that was 2fort. I'm sure there will be many more maps in future from Valve and Mappers alike.

All the guns are great in the game and it's all class dependant but if you want to use different weapons then it's sooo easy to change class at anytime which is great. You'll have any weapon you can think of from a flamethrower to a minigun to turrets or granade launchers or my personal fave the Spies pistol.

Achievements are great too on Steam which give you more of a reason to play for longer if they're your kinda thing. I spent lots of time to unlock all of them during beta, it's only a shame that there wasn't any new ones on release and that goes for content too, it's the same as the beta which i didn't expect i thouht there would be more.

So TF2 is a fantastic online FPS and the only fault i could come up with for it is a BIG one, which is a shame. The only problem i have with the game is how easy and accessible it is. It's a fualt because i was already getting like 40 kills to 1 death and with other games like Counter Strike it took me 4 years to be really good at it. So it gets boring fast for me i have no real room to grow my skill in the game and really kills it.

TF2 is a fast and fun online FPS which would be great to be sold on it's own but even better value that it's with the Orange box, this will also be great because it'll have more people playing than it would selling on it's own.

Buy TF2 if you love class based online FPS games. Portal:

So my internet has been down for about a month and because i needed it to activate the games on Steam with the same motherboard i had to wait to play the Orange Box games. All my friends were raving on about how Portal is amazing and funny, so i was hyped up about it but when i played it i wasn't impressed. It's lucky this game was sold with the Orange Box because it wouldn't have done well on it's own as it's only about 2 hours long and feels more like a exprimental polished mod rather than a full game.

Don't get me wrong this game has great points like the great graphics and the fantastic sounds. The game has alot of humour in it too but it doesn't really come out till the final level which is a shame. Just what Portal lacks is length and a proper story and level structure because atm it feels too much like a series of small levels until you hit the final one and it opens up. That really sums up the whole game for me, how the last level is really the only good one. I really love all the atmosphere it creates and the computer womans voice that talks to you throughout and has some great sarcasm too but it's just a shame it's sooo short and never picks up till the last level. What i also found weird was how it's dead easy until like around level 11ish and then it suddenly just becomes harder so it has alot of pacing issues.

The sound of the game is fantastic with a great script and music. The credit song at the end is very funny and really really good actually. The graphics are all top notch aswel and even though the source engine was due to be released in 2003 (not released till 2004) it's still looking fantastic and one of the best looking games out there. They really manage to create a experimental atmosphere and really sciencey lol.

So theres not much more to say other than it's a funny game and worth playing as you get it with the orange box. However it's too short and the game doesn't really get good until the last level, maybe these portals however might work their way into HL3 or even episode 3.

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