Half-Life 2: Episode One PC Review

This is the PC episode for the fantastic first person shooter Half-Life 2. You do not need Half-Life 2 to play this episode. It has a lot more puzzles and action from the great original game. The expansion starts directly after Half-Life 2’s ending, so you might want to beat the full game before you play the expansion.

You start with a modified gravity gun and exclusively use it for the first hour of the game. The first hour feels like a good bit of puzzles with a side of shooting. Then once you get past the first hour the game opens up to more shooting and less puzzles. Its very nice. The shooting stays great, weapons are fun to shoot and have a great feel to them. All or almost all of the weapons return from the original game.


It feels like a clever extension to the already great Half-Life 2. Which if you were looking for something drastically new, this isn’t for you. While there are no major upgrades to enemies or weapons, the change in gameplay comes from Alyx Vance who will be with you through the expansion. While she’s not with you 100% of the time, you do go off on your own while she waits. As a partner, she is extremely competent and in fact if you want to make things easy you can let her do the shooting when she’s around. She rarely dies and never seems to run out of ammo.

There are elements of horror when you’re relying on flares and your flashlight fighting against zombies and headcrabs in a ruined building, using guns and explosive barrels. The expansion has you relying a lot more on your flashlight. Not 100% of the time, but maybe 10% of the time you will need to use your flashlight while being chased by zombies.

All or almost all of the enemies return. There are Combine soldiers, gunships, headcrabs, zombies, antlions and so on. There is even a new armored zombie that will occasionally pull off a grenade and shuffle toward you. There are a diverse array of tactics used by the enemies. Combine soldiers will throw shoot, fan out, throw grenades, strafe, hide and other tactics. They will even fight with zombies or your friendly AI characters. You will find new ways to tackle old enemies, like burying antlion holes with cars and shooting them onto their backs with the gravity gun. You can reprogram gravity mines to go after enemies.

The story isn’t extended at all. There are a dozen or so achievements and my first playthrough lasted a mere 3+ hours. Which makes it well worth $10, but not the original prize of $30.

In conclusion this is everything great about the original Half-Life 2 without the driving or open spaces. This is a great episode, but doesn’t add much.

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