So I just finished Half-Life 2 Episode Two yesterday. For those of you who don’t know anything about video games, it’s a video game. It’s set in the future, there are aliens from another dimension that are trying to essentially enslave and wipe out humanity, and you are a part of the rebellion as Dr. Gordon Freeman. It all starts back in the original Half-Life game, which I never actually have played yet, because I don’t have a PC to play it on. (I’m hoping Valve gets around to releasing it on the Mac sometime this year, as they have with the HL2 games, Portal, and pretty much every other game in their catalog.) But, I have played HL2, and HL2 Episode 1. And the series is incredible.
Now, I haven’t played a lot of games, I’ll say that much. But there is something so incredibly wonderful about the games Valve makes. Everything in a Valve game is as real as it can possibly be constructed to be. And I’m not necessarily talking graphics-wise, though there’s some pretty bangin’ graphics. The characters are real. The voice actors, animators, and directors all see the characters in as authentic a way as possible, and it works really really well. By the time I ended Half-Life 2 Episode 2, I realized I was way more involved with the characters than I thought I was, because Valve got me to cry at the end of the game.
Portal is a very different game, in which you never get a gun to shoot anything with. But you are often confronted by armed enemies. What you get is a portal gun, which shoots portals onto walls which you can travel through and create havoc with physics. There’s so much fun to be had with such a simple idea, and the storyline is awesome and riddled with really quirky humor. Short, but it was also a “test” game. Can’t wait for Portal 2 to come out. Already preordered it.
For me, Valve is like the Pixar of video games. They concentrate on making a GOOD GAME, and that’s it. Valve is notorious for pushing back release dates of their games, something that’s annoying but ultimately a happy thing, since Valve probably just didn’t find the game perfect enough yet, and had to add that little thing that most of us wouldn’t notice, but makes the game that much more playable.
So I didn’t really have a point that I was aiming for, I just wanted to talk about Valve. So nothing very deep today. But if you are inclined towards maybe wanting to try out playing video games, start with Portal and then Half-Life 2 and sequels. And then everything after that will be a disappointment.