For those of you who don't know, Valve has released Half-Life2 Episode One today. I had the chance to put in about 4 hours today and try it out and wanted to give my first impressions for those who care First off, I like this new idea of releasing games in smaller episodes for a number of reasons. 1. We get new content released more frequently. Instead of waiting a couple of years for an entire game to be finished, we wait a year (or so) for an "episode". 2. This will also hopefully allow some other types of games come through the pipes. When a company has to release an entire game that takes years of programming, they are less likely to take any risks in the games the put out. If they are going to invest a couple years in a game, it HAS to be successful so they will go with what has worked in the past. With these "episodes" they do not have as much at stake. They may be willing to risk more. So, back to Half-Life2 Episode One. So far after my first 4 hours, I'd have to say it has my attention well enough that I will continue the game for a while yet. It is not any different from Half-Life2 as far as gameplay goes. I have encountered no new weapons, and the maps in general feel identical to the ones in HL2. The major difference so far is the eye candy. Most noticably is the lighting. Have a look at the light reflecting off the floor on these two screens: Another technology they have really put to use is the dynamic lighting. When you go to an area that is really bright, it takes time for your eyes to adjust, as it would in the real world. Some of the scenes they have created are truly amazing. So far they seem to be trying to get me excited about "old stuff". Like, meeting Barney again. Woo-hoo. Getting the crowbar again. Woo-hoo. In HL2, sure it was cool, as the graphics were so much better than the original, and hell - the crowbar is just plain cool. But so far it almost seems as if this again is the highlight of Episode One.... I certainly hope that is not the case.... I am waiting for some type of new weapon, or some type of amazing action sequence that hasn't been done before. So far no luck. It is the same thing I did in HL2, with some extra eye candy. Of course there are some good action parts where they give us some cool music and send a bunch of crab-heads at us. There is a new baddy in this one, but I won't spoil anything for you. I'll post more as I progress, of course avoiding any spoilers. Cheers! All screens taken on the following system: Athlon64 3700+ Asus 7800GT 256mb 1Gb PC3200 (2x512) All settings on high, AAx4.