[Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the December 2005 issue of GameCola, back when GameCola was published in a monthly online magazine format.]
Looks like I’m going to have to eat a little crow this month. See, a few issues back I reviewed Halo and I was a little hard with the PC crowd. I think it’s jealousy on my part. Sure, I’ve got a decent work computer, but my home one is shit. I tried running Battle Chess on it and it sank to its knees and begged me to unplug its surge protector and then pray to Raiden, god of lightning, to strike it down. I’ll admit it: That was a bit fucking hurtful.
Quick story. It’s September 9, 1999. Sega is set to launch the always-underappreciated Dreamcast. I buy one with one and only one goal in mind: I want to play Half-Life. Badly. I was a poor lad then, so no cool $3,000 computer for me. I’d drooled over this game for months, and I wanted it. I skipped like a little girl down to my local Electronics Boutique and plunked down the entire pre-order amount. I’ve never done that before or since. Then it got delayed. And delayed again. And delayed again after that. I mean, the official strategy guide came out, for Chrisssake. Oh, then they cancelled it. While I was out buying nuclear weapons to blow up the world, I paused and came to a realization: Oh, that’s why I’m so bitter. Therefore, when a shitload of first-person shooters start coming out all over the PC scene, it makes my blood boil. I simply don’t have the expertise or scratch to fund a hardcore PC gamer’s lifestyle. I had to sit back and watch Doom 3, Painkiller, Far Cry, F.E.A.R., and of course, Half-Life 2 come out on PC. Sure, some come to the Xbox, albeit altered. I’m still waiting for my goddamn Painkiller port.
But not Half-Life 2. The entire beautiful, stunning, moving, life-asserting single-player game has been crammed and jammed into my Xbox. Somehow. I’ll say it loud and clear now: Half-Life 2 has the greatest single-player mode in the history of first-person shooters. This game is goddamn brilliant. It has no equal. Halo and Halo 2 just basically bent over and said, “Well, go ahead and just do us up the ass, since we’ve been owned.” For me, the single-player experience is the way to go. I’ve never taken Halo 2 online. Nor will I for Quake 4. I despise online gaming unless I know for a fact who I’m playing against. If I want to hear some 12-year-old in New Jersey call my mama a “straight-up skank whore”, I’ll just go to New Jersey and start slapping random 12-year-olds until one of them gets pissed off enough to insult my mother.
Look, I know everybody wants a great, long, detailed rundown of the story, the gameplay, the graphics, etc., but c’mon here. If you’re a regular reader, you know this is a newsletter. I don’t have fifteen pages like Gamespot or 1UP to go on and on about how the character Alyx’s left boob is slightly larger than her right (it’s not; I checked). You’re reading this because you want to know what I thought of this game.
Fucking brilliant, is what I thought. I’ve heard the PC crowd go on and on about the Gravity Gun, the incredible physics, the G-Man, the graphics—fuck, I wish I were home playing this thing right now. I love this game the way you loved that certain game from junior high you used to play on your Nintendo or Sega or Turbo or whatever for hours on end. When you first get off the train in City 17 and see all the activity, the draw distance, the huge monitors with a 1984-ish vibe and creepy, leering Dr. Breen booming down on you, or maybe just these little chirping cameras that hover and snap photographs, you are positive you’ve been transported to another world. And when you use your Gravity Gun to pick up a saw blade and cut some sucka in half, you know you’re playing something special. To any and all PC aficionados out there that I may or may not have offended before with my ignorant comments, I offer this: I sincerely apologize. This game is legend.
Of course, if you go to the IGN message boards and you happen to catch the toddlers up from nap time and posting away, you may come across a bunch of retards saying things like, “fuk this gaem buy the pc one because if you by this one yu are so gay the frame rate is like five frames pir second i want to merry teifa from final fntrasy sevin caues i loveherLOL LOLOLOL!!!!!!”
The frame rate is a little wonky. What do you expect when you run a game of this graphical splendor on a nearly five-year-old machine? It’s gotten universally good reviews from just about everyone (except Game Informer, which blasted it because of FUCKING DROPPED MULTIPLAYER—you know, maybe some of us just don’t give a shit about multiplayer and only want a quality single-player game), and for good reason: It’s a technological achievement unparalleled this generation. I feel the same thing I did when I saw Quake up and running on my Sega Saturn: awe. I was drawn into Gordon’s story (fine! He was a scientist in the first, got sucked into a war, had to make a choice at the end, chose to live and work for the G-Man, cue the opening of HL2). I wanted to see who he’d run into next (apparently Barney was in the first one). I wanted to see the next graphical wonder. I wanted the next perfectly weighted gun so I could blow some hell into bad guys. Most importantly, I wanted to be Gordon Freeman, and I was. What could make a video game more special or appealing than that?
Valve officially has permission to have sex with me at any time, any place. And only my wife and Rachael Leigh Cook could have said that before. And Snuffleupagus. You know, from Sesame Street.