Half Life 2 isn't just a great game, it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you'll never forget.

User Rating: 10 | Half-Life 2 PC
First person shooters changed forever in 1998 when an unknown gaming developer known as Valve released a game known as Half-Life. It revolutionized the genre with cinematic gameplay, intense combat, and a story filled with characters that the player actually cared about. And six years later, Valve returned to bring those experiences back once more in Half-Life 2.
HL2 once again puts you in the gloves of theoretical scientist Gordon Freeman who wakes up from a state of sleep by the mysterious G-Man after an unknown number of years after the events of the original Half-Life. You find yourself on a train bound to City 17, a rundown Eastern European town ruled by a puppet government that is ultimately controlled by the Combine, a human-like alien race that has taken over the planet and is depleting its resources.

The moment you step off the train and leave the station, you know you're in for a grand adventure. You'll soon meet up with new and old friends who are nearly finished with developing teleportation technology to smuggle civilians out of the decaying city. And when it's finally your turn to be teleported, a technical error puts the entire city on alert and you must get out of City 17 as fast as you can.

From this point on, you'll find yourself running from the Combine through many of City 17's districts including a train yard, apartment buildings, and some abandoned streets. Half-Life 2 also incorporates two vehicle sequences in the adventure where you'll drive an airboat and a buggy. The sequences provide some of HL2's best moments even if they feel a bit too long. What makes the vehicles sequences so different from most games is that there are several points where you can pull over to the side of the road and simply explore. There are plenty of little houses and beaches filled with all sorts of little gems to see.

Arguably the best thing about Half Life 2 would be the story. Right from the beginning, the characters draw you in and the game's world feels very realistic. From seeing civilians living in rundown apartments, to people being arrested in the streets, it all feels like it could be something that would happen one day.

Unfortunately, you're not going to experience Half-Life 2 from beginning to end without a big fight. The combat feel s intense without being overwhelming. The Combine are very smart fighters and will take cover, flank you, and flush you out with grenades. You'll also have encounters with various zombies as well as massive ant lions. You have a relatively standard assortment of weapons to keep you protected as you explore City 17. Pistols, machine guns, shotguns, and rocket launchers feel powerful and will never let you down.

From a technical perspective, Half-Life 2 is cream-of-the-crop! Despite running on the oldest version of the Source engine, HL2 looks fantastic and runs with a surprisingly smooth framerate at all times provided you have a solid computer for gaming. Half Life 2 isn't a very demanding game in terms of computer power and will run on just about any computer build in the last three years.

So what makes Half-Life 2 so perfect? The great story, the heart-pounding action, the marvelous graphics? I honestly think it's the overall experience. From that moment you step off the train to the game's dramatic climax, Half-Life 2 provides an entertaining thrill ride from start to finish and should not be missed any gamer of any stripe.