Ages Like a Fine Wine

[Originally posted on 1Up.com]

In one of my earliest posts (exactly two years ago to the day!) I wrote about Half-Life 2's excellence and how what had been shown on the 360 so far was laughable in comparison. Back then I was suprised that there "still" was nothing that even came close to "the layout of the levels and the use of the Havok physics, along with the excellent graphical style, the characters and dialog makes [Half-Life 2] just so much better then anything I've ever experienced". The truly amazing, and slightly worrying thing is that now, after yet another two years this still rings true. I mean, sure there have been some stellar titles in the intermediate years - The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, if not excellently, at least did make use of the Havok physics-engine; Unreal Engine 3 games like Gears of War and BioShock sure looked great, but I found their static environments and uninspired level-designs very disappointing. Also even if BioShock had some interesting ideas and a good story, it just didn't feel as engaging as the Half-Life series does.

Half-Life 2 is the only game, since the NES-days that I've replayed. This second run - now through the amazing value-pack that is the Orange Box on Xbox 360 - was just as fantastic as it was the first time, and again cements itself in my mind as the best game ever made, pulling ahead ever so slightly from my other two favorites The Secret of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge and Advance Wars. I'm currently working my way through Episode One and playing these two games back-to-back makes it clear that EP1 is a step-down from the stellar quality of it's predacessor. Don't get me wrong, it is still lots of fun, but the first half of EP1 is a bit too similar to HL2, even though the "single-player co-op" mechanic with the AI controlling Alyx is a nice and well implemented addition.

Still it speaks volumes that I have neglected Metroid Prime 3, this highly anticipated title that: A - promises to prove the Wii's worth as a platform for FPS-games; B - is the first Nintendo game after Wii Sports to utilize the controls to any greater degree; and C - is the game that I've been longing for since it was first hinted at when the Wiimote was unveiled two years ago, to instead replay a three year old game...

"On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero." says the narrator in Fight Club. Similarly any game's worth will diminish over time as it is out-done graphically and game play-wise by it's successors. It would seem that Valve where quite humbly aware of this fact when they fittingly named their flagship franchise half-life. This now 100 year-old term (coined in 1907) indicates the rate at which a quantity - most often a material of the radioactive persuasion - is reduced to half it's original value. On the other hand, considering that these games still hold-up to scrutiny after such a long time (by gaming standards), maybe they where really aiming critique at Half-Life's competitors, as Valve has worked hard to make sure their games stand the test of time that the competition does not.

"On a side note, it's been a while since I sat in front of my computer to play a game, and man is my desk way to low! Hello Carpal Tunnel Syndrome! Sure I should get a new desk, but besides the height I'm quite happy with it, and for some reason, sitting at it to surf or work with images I don't feel that there is a problem. So what I would REALLY like, is to not be tempted to play games on my PC, because I have no love of keeping up with the latest hardware either, so if only there was a console that could play the few PC games I don't want to miss that require mouse-control... oh wait, there is! Well, will be soon...."

That was my closing statment to the Half-Life 2: Episode One Review I wrote here on 1Up one and a half year ago. Well, what do you know, here I am playing Half-Life 2: Episode One on a console. Sure, when I wrote the above text I was hoping for a Wii-conversion of HL2 and with Metriod Prime 3 proving that the controls would be no problem, that is still something that I can't rule out completely, however I'd rather they convert Portal to the Wii as that should be fully possible and instead release the Half-Life 2 games on the "Wii Too" (although Nintendo would never go for such an obvious name) which should be able to do the games' graphics justice.

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