Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Orange Box - Half-Life 2: Episode Two (Xbox 360) Demo Impressions

Silly Valve. It seems I type that a lot lately, and sadly it's true. Now, I'm not trashing The Orange Box itself, as I've certainly heard great things about it and I'll probably end up renting it one day or buying it bargain bin style, but The Orange Box - Half-Life 2: Episode 2 (Xbox 360) Demo that was recently released is without question what I've been calling Half-Life 2 since it's release in late 2004: a Tech Demo.

Originally, I had a lot of problems getting the Demo to download from the Xbox LIVE Marketplace, it kept telling me that it could not retrieve information from Xbox LIVE. After a casual week of trying, I got it, and a week or so later, being yesterday, I played through it.

First off, the game's main menu is nice, very nice. It lists all 5 games that come with The Orange Box, and when you highlight one of those games, it changes the main menu's background to an actual section of that game, and plays a little gameplay trailer. Very slick.

For this Demo, only Half-Life 2: Episode Two was available, so I played that. It starts with a summary of Half-Life 2: Episode One, and then has you take control of Gordon Freeman as you escape a wrecked train with Alyx. You get to see some very nice scenery and are treated to the game's excellent use of the Havok Physics engine, both with the Gravity Gun and with the environment itself, but that's it.

What do I mean? I mean you spend the whole Demo walking around, moving wooden boards with the Gravity Gun, and listening to Alyx prattle on since your a wonderfully mute character lead.

What about combat? Well this is an FPS after all, so how could Valve even think about including any real combat in the Demo? What would be the point?

You encounter a few Zombie's and a Zombine battling some Ant Lions, and you can watch them kill each other or wipe them out quickly by hucking a few explosive canisters at them with your Gravity Gun. Oh, and you encounter one Poison Headcrab near the Demo's end. That's it. That's the extent of combat in this FPS demo. One weapon, a few enemies, and a whole lot of running around and one-sided conversation.

To say I swore at my TV once I finished the Demo would be an understatement. Valve appears as pretentious as ever, I see. At least the character models are still extremely high quality, and second only to Mass Effect in my opinion.

So is the Demo worth downloading. Sure, I'm sure you could use a good stroll. Did it make me want to run out and by The Orange Box. Hell no. As far as a Demo to show of what an FPS title can do, The Orange Box - Half-Life 2: Episode Two's Demo stunk.

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