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Jamie John

Half-Life 2 - 16 years later

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The first time I shot a combine soldier with the magnum and that ragdoll, blood spatter and the bzzz*static* death sound felt godlike. I thought the game fell apart in the last hour or so mind, but up to then, it was brilliant.

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Pre-ordered this at the time, it turned up a day early but due to it using Steam it was 'locked', what the hell! It had some sound issues originally but it played really well. The bit where you shoot some barrels under a rickety structure with loads of Combine standing on it and it all collapses realistically, fantastic. Yes it had some pacing problems, the bit with the buggy went on for way too long. Might have another go, not played it since about 2010. 

 

And yes The Orange Box brings back great memories of 'MUK Team Fortress 2 nights in 2008/2009. Was never a massive multiplayer gamer but that was ace. 

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1 minute ago, Down by Law said:

The first time I shot a combine soldier with the magnum and that ragdoll, blood spatter and the bzzz*static* death sound felt godlike. I thought the game fell apart in the last hour or so mind, but up to then, it was brilliant.

 

Yes, the magnum is indeed spectacular.

 

I love the reload animation on the Combine assault rifle, too, and the sound effect.

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I kind of wish I'd started playing it with this mod because it looks great:

 

 

I wonder if I can load up my current save on it...

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It was the small details like your ears ringing when you were too close to an explosion, or the walkie-talkie noises from Combine in the area. 

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Thanks to this thread I've just loaded up the game again and played through Water Hazard chapter. I thought the last time I played all through HL2 was when Valve updated the PC version to add all the achievements from the 360 version... but I've just checked and that happened in 2010, but I'm sure I've played all through it more recently than that! (According to Steam and my saved games, the last time I played any of it at all was in 2016.)

 

I forgot where the Vortigaunt's cave was on this run through. :(

 

While playing Water Hazard, a couple of progress updates towards the lambda cache achievement popped up - I'm not sure if I'd never found them before, or if I had got them on previous playthroughs but the achievement progress hadn't registered. Surprisingly, one of those was when I touched the lambda symbol on the ladder into Black Mesa East... but surely I should have got that automatically on previous runs? :o

 

1 hour ago, Vimster said:

It was the small details like your ears ringing when you were too close to an explosion, or the walkie-talkie noises from Combine in the area. 

 

One thing that's always bothered me about HL2's audio is the massive difference in volume between gunfire and NPC speech/other environmental sound effects. (And even between weapons: the pistol's individual shots are fine, but the rapid-fire SMG and Overwatch Pulse Rifle are extremely loud.) I'm all for weapons having powerful sounds, and for games offering good levels of dynamic range... but it's annoying to set the volume at a good level to absorb the environmental atmosphere and hear NPC noises, then have to adjust it every time you go into or out of a gunfight.

 

 

But apart from that, the sound design has always been one of the HL series' best aspects. It's no wonder that "but dubbed with HL SFX" has become a meme!

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Down by Law said:

The first time I shot a combine soldier with the magnum and that ragdoll, blood spatter and the bzzz*static* death sound felt godlike. I thought the game fell apart in the last hour or so mind, but up to then, it was brilliant.

On the other hand I thought the game made you feel godlike during the last hour when the gravity gun became fully upgraded to use against enemies instead of just solid objects. 

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12 hours ago, KartoffelKopf said:

The other 2 games were RE4 and MGS3 which came out in quick succession after that Christmas. Best 6 months of gaming ever. 

 

Yeah, last November I made a thread about how many great games were released during that Q4 2004-Q1 2005 period:

 

 

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I'm already looking forward to the pulse rifle alternate fire. The way the charge bounced around and disintegrated things is still my favourite!

 

 

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54 minutes ago, Nick R said:

I forgot where the Vortigaunt's cave was on this run through. :(

 

FFS, I knew there was something down that tunnel! I even tried balancing some barrels on top of each other to get up there but I gave up after a few attempts.

 

And I don't think the lambda cache pop-ups are achievements by themselves but rather indications of your progress towards an overall achievement of finding all 45 caches (or however many there are).

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Two favourite chieves got so far are one for pinning a combine to a billboard with the crossbow as previously mentioned and another for dropping a shipping container on three combine halfway through the car level. That was unexpected but very satisfying. 

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5 minutes ago, Ninja Doctor said:

Two favourite chieves got so far are one for pinning a combine to a billboard with the crossbow as previously mentioned and another for dropping a shipping container on three combine halfway through the car level. That was unexpected but very satisfying. 

 

I got that second one too :D

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I installed Mmod 1.3 and it works perfectly, which, seeing as this is the first time I've modded anything, I was quite surprised by. I've only played it for five minutes or so but it definitely makes everything a lot slicker, so I'd recommend people giving it a go. You can't transfer saves, however, but if you activate the developer console from the keyboard options menu and type in sv_unlockedchapters "15" then you can choose which chapter to start from when you go to 'New Game'. I'm right at the end of Highway 17 on the vanilla version so I'm going to get to the end of that and then play on Mmod from the next chapter on.

 

If you don't fancy modding anything (although it's very easy to do) then you should still definitely download and install Half Life 2 Update from the Steam Store instead, which provides a lot of graphical and mechanical tweaks over the original version (Mmod just adds to this).

 

One question I had was whether I should play The Lost Coast chronologically (so after Highway 17), or should I wait until I've finished the base game?

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Just wait until after. While the events of Lost Coast would have taken place during Highway 17, it's not just a dollop of excised content, they've given it its own little start and finish.

 

You can think of it as a sort of standlone episode of a series, not connected to the wider storyline at all.

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5 hours ago, Jamie John said:

And I don't think the lambda cache pop-ups are achievements by themselves but rather indications of your progress towards an overall achievement of finding all 45 caches (or however many there are).

 

Sorry, I don't think I explained it well. You're right about the progress indicator updates not being achievements in their own right. What I meant was that I've played through the full game at least once since achievements were added to the PC version in 2010, and IIRC Water Hazard is a chapter that I've replayed again since then. The achievement progress indicator shouldn't pop up for any lambda cache I found on an old play through. So I had assumed that today's casual run through Water Hazard wouldn't give me any new progress towards that achievement.

 

So I was surprised that during today's run, the progress indicator updated several times - including on one lambda symbol that it's impossible to avoid when progressing the story! (The HL wiki says: "it counts towards the Lambda Locator achievement and cannot be missed.")

 

Possible explanations:

  • On all my previous runs through this chapter, I somehow missed several of the lambda caches I found easily today.
  • I did find them on previous runs, but the game didn't register them correctly.
  • Steam has forgotten I got them years ago, so is displaying the progress indicator for ones I've already got.

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2 minutes ago, Nick R said:

 

Sorry, I don't think I explained it well. You're right about the progress indicator updates not being achievements in their own right. What I meant was that I've played through the full game at least once since achievements were added to the PC version in 2010, and IIRC Water Hazard is a chapter that I've replayed again since then. The achievement progress indicator shouldn't pop up for any lambda cache I found on an old play through. So I had assumed that today's casual run through Water Hazard wouldn't give me any new progress towards that achievement.

 

So I was surprised that during today's run, the progress indicator updated several times - including on one lambda symbol that it's impossible to avoid when progressing the story! (The HL wiki says: "it counts towards the Lambda Locator achievement and cannot be missed.")

 

Possible explanations:

  • On all my previous runs through this chapter, I somehow missed several of the lambda caches I found easily today.
  • I did find them on previous runs, but the game didn't register them correctly.
  • Steam has forgotten I got them years ago, so is displaying the progress indicator for ones I've already got.

 

Maybe the achievement progress indicator was added since you played the game last time, even if overall achievements were added.

 

Or maybe it just shows the indicator anyway since you've started a new game (or you've started a level over again, at least).

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I think I first played it on Xbox, then on 360 with TOB and then on PC. It’s one of my favourite games ever and it’s bloody criminal that Valve never made Episode 3.

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14 minutes ago, Jamie John said:

Maybe the achievement progress indicator was added since you played the game last time, even if overall achievements were added.

 

Or maybe it just shows the indicator anyway since you've started a new game (or you've started a level over again, at least).

 

Could be that! Maybe I'll start a new playthrough from scratch, to mop up that and the other achievements I'm missing...

 

 

 

Also, going back to mods: after you've finished the full game Lost Coast, and the Episodes, I'd recommend installing the 

mod MINERVA (aka Minerva: Metastasis): https://store.steampowered.com/app/235780/MINERVA/

I've been meaning to replay it for a while: its dense, spiralling onion-layered level design (on a map inspired by Halo's Silent Cartographer) was really impressive a decade ago. Its developer Adam Foster subsequently worked for Valve on the Portal 2 ARG and on Half-Life Alyx.

 

I also have fond memories of the puzzle-focused Research and Development:

https://www.moddb.com/mods/research-and-development

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I remember seeing that tech demo with the mattresses flopping over each other accurately, my jaw was on the floor, and the way the wood splintered into smaller pieces when hit with the crowbar is still amazing to me; saying how many billion triangles are in a scene doesn't have the same effect today.

 

I just fired a gun at a bunch of toilet rolls in Division 2 and the models blinked out of existence.

 

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On 14/05/2020 at 23:53, SeanR said:

I don't have a machine that could do my steam account justice anymore, but I recently tried playing the xbox version of Half-Life 2, and it was... an experience.

 

Back in the days it was an impressive conversion though.

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I started trying to work out if I had a console version of this knocking about....

 

Transpires I have it on the PS3, that'll do right?

 

Is there anything really unsuitable in here for a modern teenager? I'm thinking that my kids would benefit from playing the series especially as one of them has played quite a bit of portal.

 

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The PS3 port is probably the second worst version, after the original Xbox one.

 

Which means it's still great. But it wasn't ported by Valve and they had a lot of nasty things to say about the PS3 afterwards. 

 

Swear-wise it goes as far as "bastards", and there's a fair amount of body horror going on with decapitated corpses and the like. You'll know your kids well enough to know what they'd handle. 13 year old me would have absolutely loved it, but 13 year old me was brought up on Robocop.

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I have acces to it on the xbone, is that a better punt?

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On 14/05/2020 at 23:43, MattyP said:

First digital game I bought. Remember leaving the PC on overnight to get it downloaded! They even eventually released it on the Mac - had one for a bit and could download that version for no extra cost. :)

 

Might have to download this again and give it another play.... :)

 

Half Life 2 was also the first game that required an online connection to play, wasn't it? I seen to remember lots of people being angry about the on-line requirement. 

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You needed Steam to install it but you could play without being online once it was done. I was annoyed at having to cart my PC downstairs to where the internet connection was then back upstairs again. Those were the days.

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10 minutes ago, Stevie said:

 

Half Life 2 was also the first game that required an online connection to play, wasn't it? I seen to remember lots of people being angry about the on-line requirement. 

I think it needed to connect to the net to validate the game even if you bought it at retail. Also I think you needed a Steam account to play any version of the game. Although memory could be hazy It was a whole ago :D

 

It's still great don't think I ever fully completed it back in the day for one reason or another.... Although can't remember how far I did get through it now. One of the many things I liked about the game there were no cutscenes in it everything happened in game through chatting with characters you met throughout the story. Still beats a lot of games today IMHO.

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2 hours ago, marsh said:

I have acces to it on the xbone, is that a better punt?

 

Absolutely.

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