Monday, May 22, 2006

Half-Life 2: Lost Cost Review

So with the purchase of Half-Life 2: Game of the Year Edition for my father, I was finally able to play Half-Life 2: Lost Cost, a bonus level for the PC version of the game available via Steam. Half-Life 2: Lost Coast features cut content from the Highway 17 Chapter of Half-Life 2, and takes place around a church on the outskirts of a town to which the Combine are laying siege. They've set up a gun that is firing Headcrab missles into the town, and it's up to Gordon to stop them.

Now, the main purpose of the level is to showcase some enhancements to the Source engine and its lighting system, however my old video card couldn't handle any of those, so I simply played the level to enjoy it unto itself. Overall, as a free level, it was enjoyable, and I actually found it presented something that was absent from most of Half-Life 2: a bit of a challenge.

The level starts with Gordon falling onto the ground near this fishing town, St. Olmes, I believe. You start the game with an assortment of weapons and some ammo, and you immediately come across an old fisherman who shows you the way to the stronghold the Combine have set up, which is on the top of a hill in an old church. From here on, you have to battle your way, mainly against Combine Soldiers.

Now, I played the level on Hard, and to my surprise, the Combine Soldiers were actually fighting well. They were not only seeking effective cover along hilltops and pathways, but they were also using grenades to try and flush me out, and these weren't scripted sequences. I think they did that last part all of twice to me on Hard in Half-Life 2.

Another first was with the music. Once you enter the church, the game plays this interesting choir-styled piece that is different from the music thus-far featured in the Half-Life series, and by that I mean it was actually good! It applied itself nicely to the theme of the area to help immerse the player instead of blowing any suspension of disbelief with some BS techno junk the series usually has.

While it's too bad I couldn't check out the new lighting effects, I must say that I overall enjoyed the level. Granted, being cut content, its not part of the official story and there' really no story to speak of, but as a stand-alone download, it's well worth its price.

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