The Orange Box Review
This is the game that was universally acclaimed by critics as one of the best the year had to offer? Yeah, maybe if the year was 2004. But it’s 2007, a full 3 years after Half-Life 2 was released and the game has gotten stale by today’s standards. Granted, there are 5 games in this bundle. I assume reviewers gave it extra points for having more, but shorter, games. But I’m not that nice. So, to be fair, I’ll divide my review up into 3 sections, one for the half-life game, one for portal and one for Team Fortress, score each and then take the mean and that’ll be the final score.
If you’ve played the PC version of Half-Life there’s really no reason to play this again unless you’re dying to find out what happens in Episode 2. You play as Gordon Freeman, everyone knows who you are and, well, the story is kinda complicated. This youtube video will explain everything that needs to be explained in 60 seconds. (It’s also quite funny, I mean the video of course) The graphics were mind blowing in 04 and here they’re just above average compared to Call of Duty 4 and Bioshock. (Although it does get progressively better) However, the facial animations are still top-notch. There’s no uncanny valley in this game, the people look and act like real people with emotions. The action is just meh, so much so I almost fell asleep playing. It’s just nowhere near the quality of today’s shooters. The physics based puzzles you’re required to complete to move on are annoying. Move this over here so you can climb up it and what not. The only thing that was unforgiveable was the load times. No, not the legnth of them but the quantity of them. It seems like every 5 minutes I’d have to wait for the game to load a near area. If you’re not going to code the game properly with streaming to make sure I don’t see any load times, the least you could do is to separate the different areas into levels. Having load screens while you’re walking in an open area is like being the victim of a hit and run. In short, you shouldn’t be playing Half-Life 2 for any reason other than the story.
Now here’s where that critical acclaim comes into play. I haven’t played a puzzle game that was just oozing with awesomeness since Tetris. There is a story behind Portal but I’m not going to ruin it for you. Just pay attention to what the computer program is saying to you, a lot of it will make you chuckle. In Portal, you’ll solve puzzles by using, aha, portals. Opening rifts in space and crawling through them to get to your destination. It’s ingenius in design and lots of times there are more than one way to solve puzzles. (Me and my friend each found a different way to solve some of the levels.) There are only so many games that are immortal, tetris, pac-man, the original Donkey Kong, I think Portal has the potential to be one of those games.
Team Fortress 2
After playing the main series, I expected this to be a Half-Life with mutliplayer but it wasn’t. There are different classes, soldier, scout, spy, demo-man, etc, with each their own stregnth and weakness that makes them truly unique. It’s a team based game at its core. A well-formed clan can dominate every game by balancing out everyone’s ability. (Turns out I’m at better at setting things on fire than healing.) The cartoony style graphics are a pleasure to look at, especially since it’s not a common style in todays games. The only thing that hurts this game is the level selection. It’s poor. How poor? There are more character classes (9) than there are stages (6) This would be fine if they were huge maps, that were divided into smaller sections based on the number of players, ala Warhawk, but they’re not. Add in the fact that if you want to play CTF or territory control, you’ll be limited to just one map. Other than that small caveat and it’s all good.
PS3 Version: Yes the PS3 version has some problems absent from the 360, mainly frame-rate and longer load times (wow, 3 seconds, better make myself a sandwich while I wait) but none of this really angered me to the point where I said “I had more fun on the other version”. And since I score titles based on how fun they are, they will both receive the same score.
The fundamental problem I have with The Orange Box is that it gives me too much of what I already have and don’t want (Half Life 2, Ep1, maybe Ep2 considering how much I actually cared) and not enough of what I do want(more Portal and more maps in Team Fortress2). I would’ve been more content if the games were sold separate for $20 a pop.
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Developer: EA UK
The good: Portal is the best thing since Tetris
Team Fortress2 is awesome
The Bad: Half Life 2 isn't as great
Lack of levels in TF2
The Ugly: The fact that Gordon gets the company of Alyx and I'm stuck with some stalker chick who looks like the girl from Napolean Dynamite