Saturday, December 14, 2013

Hanging with Alyx

It's now been ten days since I woke up without a hint of the mysterious fatigue that has been dragging me down for over a year. I can't help hoping this will last, but I have no idea why I feel so good.

I've changed my diet slightly. Less sleep, colder weather. A nightly game of Half-Life 2. Well, I started catching up on sleep and that didn't seem to hurt. And I just completed Episode 2 last that will be changing, too (unless I can get Black Mesa to run on Wine).

On the game review side: I'm not generally fond of "twitch" games, but this one is quite fun. Three elements stand out; the Gravity Gun, which allows for more variety in your tactics, the spectacularly rendered settings, and the "hero" NPC, Alyx. On the downside, the play is too linear for my tastes much of the time and I really don't care for crawling through narrow, restricted holes in the ground filled with creepy-crawlies. For a combat game, I really prefer the open spaces and open strategic options of something like Overgrowth.

Episode Two is the best of the bunch, with fewer of the claustrophobic settings and a few combat scenarios that really allow you to maneuver (the final boss fight is a ridiculous sprawling battle in which you with your stripped-down Dodge Charger, Gravity Gun and sticky bombs try to take out Striders converging on the rocket base from every direction. I suspect the Hunters may have been nerfed a little for that fight, as they seem to go down a little easier, regardless, the only way I found through that fight is to drive like a maniac under the very legs of the Striders, ramming the Hunters with your car, then when they are out of the way hopping out to throw a sticky bomb (sorry, "Magnuson Device") at the Strider.

In any case, some of my response is the same as it was to "Deepstar Six," one of some half-dozen near-identical underwater monster movies that came out in the same decade. That is to say; the early parts of the film are all about the blue-collar undersea workers, the hazards of the sea, the geological challenges and scientific questions...and I'm thinking, I want to see that movie. You can keep the monsters; I'd just as soon spend an hour hanging with Alyx and exploring that great scenery.

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