The following was sent in by a good friend of mine & is probably the most negative review of Half-Life 2 you'll find anywhere just to be clear again, this is NOT my review, I merely offer this as an interesting counterpoint to all the praise other reviews have offered. Half Life 2: The Milestone As a game, Half-Life 2 might very well be the game that puts me off all computer games for a long, long time. Ironic, given the fact that this game has been heralded as the savior of computer games. The ultimate, next-generation, first person shooting game that will finally show off how far we have come in these last few years. Looking at the reviews, you’d think it had delivered in spades. Unfortunately every single reviewer has felt the need to give this game as many accolades as possible. At this stage I’m convinced that every single one of those reviewers is severely mentally retarded. I just cant see how anyone could possibly derive any kind of real enjoyment from this game seeing as how it’s identical in every way to every single first person shooter ever produced before it. I don’t want to drag this out for too long so let me just say that the game has been sold on a foundation of deceit, lies and fancy marketing. Having completed the game a few days back, I quit the application (as the final credits rolled) and slumped back in my chair absolutely sickened. Questions had arisen and they needed immediate answering. “Had I gotten some defective, retarded version of the game?” “Where was the enemy AI that was allegedly so ****-hot it could get inside my brain and psycho-analyze me and know my every move before I did?” “Where was the physics engine that was to make every single thing in the game destructible, opening up a whole new world of gaming?” “Where was the virtual world where everything I did had an effect on everything else, and my every action would influence the game in a magical and unique way?” The Enemy AI Either I am the perfect killer and assassin and an intellectual marvel… or else the AI is pretty damn stupid. The game itself admits this halfway through, when it broadcasts the message telling the guards that if they can’t deal with one puny physicist in an orange suit, then they are officially retarded. If Valve knew that the AI was bad then why didn’t they patch it up a little rather then making lame in-jokes? By the end of the first couple of levels I had accounted for approximately 200 enemy soldiers. Granted they didn’t have the luxury of respawning and trying again lots of times like I did (although I rarely had to make use of this luxury), but even so that’s a pretty respectable body count considering my character is an untrained physicist armed with a crowbar. Nope… all the poor guards can do within the pathetic confines of their AI is stand around in two’s and three’s and wait for me to kill them. That is their sole reason for existing as far as I could see. The Gordon Freeman character progresses linearly through the game, killing these mindless drones in order of appearance and conveniently re-spawning Groundhog Day-style whenever he does finally succumb to the guard’s gunfire. It’s pretty pathetic really. In the promotional clips that were released some months before the game came out, the developers tried to illustrate the intelligence of the enemies. I witnessed an enemy soldier (who was attempting to locate the player) check a door which was barricaded, then attempt to shoot though the door and the barricade, before giving up and throwing a grenade in through the window. Apparently, the enemy had carried out just one on of many possible responses to the situation, and the game would surprise and delight the player every time it was played. The enemy never once employed any semblance of intelligence to take me down at any stage throughout the game. I even went out of my way to recreate the bit from the promotional clip… to no avail. Oh sure, guards shoot from behind walls sometimes and occasionally throw a grenade my way, but they ALWAYS inevitably ended up charging headlong into my waiting machine guns…. Which is an admirably brave decision to make it has to be said, but one which gets very old after a couple of hours of it from a players point of view. They are pretty retarded given that that game loads up in a sequential series of small chunks, so it’s not like they have a huge world to interact with or anything. They basically have enough AI to maneuver them around whatever small room or arena they happen to be placed. It becomes boring and repetitive after just the first five minutes. That leads me onto the levels and the level design. Am I the only one who sees a problem with a game that promises plenty of freedom of expression and delivers a severely linear series of small area’s where the goal in each one is simply to move through each one to the other side?? How many times can a person kill a handful of soldiers and open a switch over and over again before it becomes mind numbing?? The striders are quiet impressive when they first appear in the game. I had envisioned epic running battles with them through the streets of city 17 with fully destructible scenery splintering all around me as they stalked me with their huge laser weapons… and then I confronted them and my hopes were dashed. The ****ing things follow the same path around and around and around in a circle, regardless of what the player does. Sometimes they bend down… I’m not 100% sure why but it didn’t make them any tougher to kill. Nor did the generous helping of rockets and conveniently placed discarded rocket launchers. It’s the age-old problem, which was epitomized in the Deus Ex games. Basically if you are confronted with three locked doors in the game then searching nearby crates and bins will yield three lock picks. Possibly some power armour, nano upgrades and ammunition. Realism and believability comes a poor second to lazy programming. I could almost have played Half Life 2 blindfolded. When you reach a mounted machine gun you know its going to trigger a little wave of attackers for you to shoot down, because that’s what every other game before it has done. I’ve seen it all before. We all have. Is this what every games reviewer in the world is ****ting their pants over? Was this why I waited for two hours online for my game to “unlock”? Can’t people see that we’re just playing the same game over and over again? Medal of Honour, Call of Duty, Half Life… the only difference is the cover of the games box. Linear series of small arena’s interrupted by cut sequences.