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Every gaming magazine says the same damn thing about Half-Life 2. 'OMG IT"S VUNDERBAR!'
Yes. Riding in an airboat for an hour and a half is just lovely. I love those those "real world puzzles" like putting X object on X platform to seesaw it so that you can jump over the goddamn fence that the new-wave l33tzorz physics engine should be able to let you blow the shit out of. And the needlessly lame final battle and kick in the balls ending were both quite spectacular. The mundane weapons were also a treat. Combine soldiers were such interesting enemies, I'm glad Valve used them more than id used Imps in Doom 3.
And how about that gravity gun? There's no better way to say "look at our neat physics engine" than to give you a weapon that you're forced to use for two levels INCLUDING THE BOSS BATTLE. Great job Valve.
I've tried to approach this a number of ways and I can't see why gaming magazines are so quick to foam at the crotch about this game besides the hype. Doom 3 > Half-Life 2 if not because it has more ass-kicking and a worthwhile ending, but because it never tripped over its own feet and promised revolutionary new shit. The sad thing is that Doom 3 would have been trounced even more severely if it had come out at the same time as HL2 and Halo 2. Why? Because it wasn't on a console and because it wasn't crowd pleasing. Doom 3 was too PC-centric to catch on. But I'm going to be laughing my ass off when they have to dumb everything down for the X-Box version.
It's all too infuriating. When the hell is Serious Sam 2 coming out?
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I liked the ending, despite it being overly simplistic in content.
And I liked using the beefed up grav gun for the last few maps (that wasn't such a long stretch of time - if it were longer, I would've agreed with you) - the last maps was where the grav gun finally got cool to use.
I agree about your vehicular issues though - another great example of why I think vehicles in FPS's blow elephant dick.
I've played though Half-Life 2 and found it to be a fun game that I actually wanted to play all the way though. But the entire time I played I had a nagging feeling in the back of my head that something about was... off. None the less I finished the game and finally figured out what that feeling was. Half-life 2 had quite a lot of uses of the physics and used a good ammount of action with diffrent enviroments, but I knew deep in the back of my skull that it may look diffrent and seem diffrent it was still Half-life. What do I mean by that? In areas that I would usually get stuck in HL, I would get stuck in HL2. Areas that I would blaze though in HL, I blazed though HL2. In fact, other then the new look and additions, Half-life 2 was the same as Half-life. This is both good and bad. Good that it means it was worth every buck I spent on it, and that it was a good game. However it's bad because that means all they did was recreate the feel of the origional, but didn't surpass it, meaning that Half-life 2 is nothing more then Half-life made in a diffrent time. What should be a ground breaking game is just a good game.
Now understand I don't hate Half-life 2 and certenly don't think Doom 3 was a waste, it's just as a GAME Half-life 2 was better then Doom 3, but didn't take my breath away the way it should have. Doom 3, however, is the real future of gaming, though the gameplay of Doom 3 its self is subpar. I'll just end my post here to avoid making too much of an off comment with this thread. :)
P.S. It's late so I may have missed the keyboard a few times while typeing. ;)