Half-Life 2 Episode 2

Time to get the numbers down. Time to try a game that I can reasonably expect to finish in a weekend.

After my first multi-hour session of HL2E2, I’m well into the sixth of its seven chapters, facing what amounts to the Half-Life version of the Battle of Hoth, trying to repel a dozen Striders marching on the rebel base. Striders are the immensely tall things that I’ve referred to before as “tripod robots”, but by now I’ve had enough opportunity to see them close up and realize that they’re not robots at all. They’re three-legged alien cyborg crustaceans. Most of the Combine war machines are at least partly organic. One of the new monsters for this episode, the loping tripodal Hunter, doesn’t have any visible organic components, but its behavior is animal-like enough to suggest that it at least has an organic brain.

The other new monsters this time around are the luminescent acid-spitting variants of the Antlion. Much of the midgame is spent in their warren of glass-smooth tunnels, helping the Vortigaunts on an errand that would have been a lot easier if they still knew how to use pheropods. I found the new antlion grubs particularly disquieting. They’re about the size of your forearm and completely non-aggressive. There’s some evidence that they’re fed on human meat, but they basically just sit there glowing and occasionally wiggling, waiting for you to squish them. If you don’t want to squish them, tough. You’re going to squish some whether you want to or not, because they’re often on the floor in places where you want to walk. The worst part is that when they’re squished, they emit a little glowing crumb that, when picked up, restores a little bit of health. Is Gordon eating something that came out of a dead alien bug? Intellectually, I know that I’ve eaten worse things in Nethack, where consuming monster corpses in order to gain their powers is a pretty important part of the game, but it’s all very abstract there, without the visceral revulsion you get from graphics. Still, you get used to it, just like you get used to the violence and gore.

2 Comments so far

  1. malkav11 on 11 Jan 2009

    There’s also an achievement for killing all of them, though if you’re hoping to finish the game in a weekend you’re probably not shooting for achievements.

  2. Carl Muckenhoupt on 12 Jan 2009

    I figure the achievements are best saved as something to try for if I feel like replaying later. Like, when episode 3 comes out, I might play through episode 2 again to refamiliarize myself with it, and having a few achievements to reach for would add a little spice to that.

    For what it’s worth, I abandoned the gnome pretty soon after finding it, when I hadn’t even looked at the achievements list yet. I think I hurled it at an antlion in the part before you get a real weapon.

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