Month: November 2004

Half Life – Full entertainment

Playing half life 2 is an enjoyable experience. I really mean. I think this game is going to be the reference against which other games will be compared.The enemies AI is interesting. For example I found that a zombi after “understanding” he could not reach me directly, since I was on a high platform, grabbed a chair and threw it at me. What’s amazing is that the chair was one I took from another platform and fired it down into the square were the zombies were wandering.
Given this very polished game features it’s very surprising to discover quite a poor dubbing. Valve chose non-professional actors or gave them not enough information to do their work. You suppose that during a battle a comrade shouting: “watch out Mr. Freeman” would add an intensity and an emotion quite different from a pal asking for pop-corns in front of a TV screen. The latter is what you get in HL2… At least talking about the italian version. Also most of the actors aren’t italian for sure, altough very clear and understandable, their voices have foreign accent.
Anyway the game is really a great game. The more you go further in the story, the more you can appreciate the rythm and pace of the sequence.
Albeit this is the first release and I have applied no patches the game never crashed (sadly a rare case for PC games) and I got no severe bugs. Well done Valve!

How to eat up all your spare time – play Half Life 2

Some more book reviews have been added in the reading section – most notably the “C++ Standard Library”.Well Half Life 2, it took some 5 years and a huge amount of hype to be completed. Now it’s here and … I think it is really worth the wait. From the beginning it has all the feature of a masterpiece – an intriguing start, an addicting plot, an impressive art direction and implementation. When you start playing a bit a time, right at the beginning you are just following the trail, you’ll discover that there is a solid gameplay for you.
From the technical view point the game is astonishing. First of all you can run it on a box that is not bleeding edge technology. The box on which it’s running is a AMD Athlon 2000+, with 512M RAM and a GeForce 3 video card. Setting the resolution to 800×600 you get just some annoying jittering after the level loading.
Then there is the physics. There are environments with tens of objects you can manipulate and interact. The physical behaviour of solids is quite credible and there aren’t those odd trembling when objects collide.
I think I’m far from completing it (I’m not a fast player, and in this case I’m happy to be like this so that I can better taste and feel the experience), and the game is holding all its promises. The only way it can somewhat delude is by having a quick and easy ending… but I don’t think it’s the case.
Being so perfect there is some things you can easily forgive (or forget) on another game, but it is more difficult here. For example your body is transparent. When you look at detailed backdrops and then look down, you expect to have a body. Loading times are a bit slow and the initial loadings lack a progress bar.
But this is just minor annoyance. The worse thing of the game is the installation. First you need to be connected to internet and given the time I spent for installation on the workplace 2Mbit, I suggest to count 56k modems as “internet not available”. Also Valve decided to go on their own protocol and made it incompatible with existing ones. So you cannot hope for the usual HTTP proxy or NAT inside a firewall to connect for installation.
The (relativaly) good news is that after installing and registering the product you no longer need the internet connection. From my understanding this system purpouse is not just to try to keep piracy away, but to distribute (read sell) next products. For sure this could be done better, but has interesting potential.