With the holiday season fast approaching it is now a great time for gamers. A flood of high quality releases is upon us for all game systems. With so many good titles out already and many biggies soon to be released, picking and choosing which ones that will be occupying your immediate free time can be a real challenge.
Luckily for me, one of those choices has been made simple with the recent release of The Orange Box by Valve which is hands down easily the best value in gaming out there for this year. The Orange Box contains five fantastic games all on one disc – Half Life 2 and its subsequent episodes one and two along with the puzzle game Portal and multiplayer title, Team Fortress 2.Now I should preface that I’m not normally a huge fan of first person shooters, they often make me dizzy after an hour of playing but anything Half Life makes me wanna down a bottle of Gravol and stay up late with my Xbox 360. I played the original Half Life on my PC back in the day and loved it as well as the initial release of Half Life 2 on the original Xbox so I was familiar with the storyline surrounding the game’s main protagonist, the crowbar wielding scientist turn badass Gordon Freeman who is on a mission to save humanity from enslavement by an evil alien race. While HL2 may have already made an original Xbox appearance this will be the first time the series is on the 360 and the first time episodes one and two are available to 360 players. HL2 holds up unbelievably well in the next generation. Valve did such a great job with the game’s graphics, sound and storyline that it matches or exceeds anything out there currently. Episodes one and two add brand new seamless content to the series and continue the player’s adventure onward past the cliffhanger ending of HL2.
Episode one features a lot more puzzles and challenges for you to overcome instead of just blasting your way through combine forces but don’t worry Episode two will keep you busy killing a host of new enemies as well as a very challenging driving mission and finale. Hours and hours of great gameplay here people and Valve has also thrown in some extra content that allows you to play the episodes through featuring commentary from the developers at many points in the game, an awesome idea. The Orange Box also features the long awaited game Portal, a first person action puzzle game built on the Half Life engine. Set in the mysterious Aperture Science Laboratories, you’ll be required to navigate a series of challenging puzzles and rooms where you use a gun to create portals from which you use to navigate to different points and directions. This game is definitely a mind bender and will make you think but the whole experience is deep, unique and fun the whole way through.
Portal features only single player action however Valve hasn’t forgotten about multiplayer fans and has included a fantastic multiplayer game in The Orange Box, Team Fortress 2. TF2, is a class based multiplayer team shooter that provides you with a wide variety of combat classes with a large selection of tactical abilities and personalities. The game has a cartoon like visual style look to it based on the art of J. C. Leyendecker but don’t let that fool you into thinking this isn’t one of the most advanced and fun multiplayer shooters out there! While I admit that I’m not the greatest player at multiplayer mayhem, I do love the original visual presentation and humor in this game and find myself having a great time online. With all these great games in one package, its no doubt The Orange Box will be a favorite among all types of gamers from the casual to the hardcore who are looking for something with a lot of replayability. The Orange Box is now available for PC and Xbox 360. The Playstation 3 version will be out on December 11.
Rating: 9 out of 10
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