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Best of the Decade: Half-Life 2

Half-Life 2

Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Windows, Mac OS X

Release Date: November 16, 2004 (Windows version)

Publisher: Valve Corporation

Developer: Valve Corporation

When I sit down to write something about a game, I’m usually struggling to contain the veritable torrent of words that spill forth from my fingertips and onto the screen. I love to talk and write about games and am rarely at a loss for words when it comes to discussing them in any form.

So it has been with my Best of the Decade list so far. Entries I thought would be quick and easy have turned out far longer than expected. I started with the intent of creating short blurbs for each game and have quickly slipped to writing a gushing review-length article of every pick. 

But I honestly can’t think of anything to add to what’s already been said about Half-Life 2. I have no unique angle or compelling personal drama framing my experiences with it. This is one of the most loved games ever created and I simply don’t feel I can meaningfully add to the discussion. 

It is, quite simply, the best first-person shooter ever made. It remains one of the shining examples of interactive storytelling in gaming, delivering an enveloping narrative without ever once taking control away from the player. It is one of the most perfectly paced games ever created, with nary a dull moment save when there needs to be one to give you a rest from the action. Its characters actually feel believable, with Alyx Vance in particular surely being one of the best, most down-to-earth and likable female characters in all of gaming. The way Valve presented and expanded upon her character in the two expansions added a level of detail and immersion to the character that gave you a vital human element to latch onto in the otherwise expansive, alien story.

What more needs be said? What could I possibly add? 

My one and only complaint about the game is that, after two games, two expansions, and lots of waiting, Valve has yet to deliver any answers whatsoever to its increasingly twisted narrative, but that’s more a testament to how good the story is than an actual problem. I simply can’t wait to see more of this world. However long that takes, I’m confident it will be worth it.

For reasons too numerous to list, Half-Life 2 easily makes my Best of the Decade.

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