Friday, November 19, 2004

HL2: More Impressions

If you want to understand just how good this game is, consider the reviews. PC Gamer had 'exclusive' first reviews of both Half-Life 2 and Doom 3. Doom 3, if I remember correctly, scored somewhere around 95%, and Half-Life 2 was a 97%, which is one of the most amazingly misleading comparisons I've ever seen.

Look. If Doom 3 is 95%, or even 85%, then Half-Life 2 is 135%. Seriously. This game is so vastly superior in every conceivable way that it's impossible to even discuss them together. I don't know about the relative power of the game engines, but I do know that in everything that relates to me in terms of the game experience, Half-Life 2 absolutely kicks Doom 3 in the teeth. Hard.

I think the most powerful endorsement I can make for this game is that when I look at the screen I see what I expect to see. For twenty years, I've played games, and for twenty years I've used my imagination to fill in the blanks. When there were sixteen-color graphics, I added millions. When the animation was jerky, I smoothed it out. When the sound was lousy, I made it symphonic. The phrase 'willing suspension of disbelief' was not only helpful, but it was an integral part of the gaming experience, because there would always be disbelief.

As the years went by and games became more and more sophisticated, I realized that one day I would play a game and there would be no disbelief, no need for imagination to fill in the gaps. And now, for the very first time, there are no blanks to fill in. I'm looking at another world and it's there. It's as real as I am.

A low bar, I know, but still.

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