I thought I’d make a list of the best moments from the Half Life 2 series. Being an FPS game, Half Life 2 is all about immersing the player and making us feel like we’re experiencing the whole story from the point of view of the leading protagonist, Gordon Freeman. Half Life 2 and both of the episodes that followed have plenty of amazing, mindblowing moments. However, here I’ve chosen my 10 most favourite ones and also explained why I think these are the best parts of the series (which of the HL2 games it’s from is in brackets).
***WARNING! Some mild spoilers ahead!***
10) Battle at City 17 (HL 2)
Right after you step out of the teleporter with Alyx when escaping Nova Prospekt, Dr Kleiner tells you that it’s been an entire week that you’ve been gone and now the citizens of City 17 started an uprising against the Combine. It’s then that you step outside and see what happened to the city. It became a battle zone and you are now right in the middle of it. This is when you realise that you are about to witness some really heavy battles and use a lot of teamwork with the NPCs. Perhaps the part in this chapter that I enjoyed the most was when you, together with Alyx and a handful of citizens, had to defend a plaza from incoming Combine troops.
9) Pursuit in the Rail yard (HL 2: Episode 2)
This is a scene when you are being chased by a Combine helicopter through a rail yard. I thought this scene was really intense and made for a great chase scene in the game. Not only did you have to dodge the bombs dropped by the helicopter whilst driving, but also the zombies on the way as well. The scene ends with you assisting a group of rebels in destroying this helicopter by flinging its bombs back at it using a Gravity Gun.
8) The Long Elevator Wait (HL 2: Episode 1)
Perhaps one of really memorably chapters was ‘Low Life’ from Episode 1, when you along with Alyx had to make your way through the underground garages and fight off zombies and antlions. The finale of that chapter had you restoring power to the elevator that would eventually take you up to the ground level. However, as soon as you restore the power and begin to wait for the elevator to arrive, you had attracted every zombie in the vicinity to your location. I thought it was really epic to fight off a large group of zombies in partial darkness whilst desperately waiting for that elevator to arrive. This certainly can remind us of all those horror movies when the heroes have to prolong their doom as much as possible, except this time we are in their shoes.
7) Escort the Citizens (HL 2: Episode 1)
This happens nearly at the end of Episode 1, when you have to help Barney to escort the remaining citizens of City 17 to the trains so that they can escape the city. Perhaps what’s best about this scene is how it builds up (this is in fact true for most scenes on this list). You have to escort small groups of citizens at a time and you know that at any moment the Combine will appear and will try to stop you. Whilst delivering the first group of people, it’s incredibly silent. The words ‘calm before the storm’ have never been more suitable. Then it starts happening very gradually, with the faint sound of the approaching manhacks, and before you know it, you are fighting off squads of Combine soldiers and attempting to make sure every single citizen survives.
6) Silo Defence (HL 2: Episode 2)
This one was the finale battle of Episode 2, when you must make a stand against an approaching group of Striders, assisted with packs of Hunters. This was quite a tricky fight due to the fact that it was happening over a large area. There were 6 buildings, all with supplies, and Striders were coming from different corners of the map, so you had to quickly drive your vehicle to where they were coming from. Another tricky thing was that you first had to take care of the Hunters before attempting to blow up the Striders with the Magnusson devices. This battle requires some planning and the use of clever combat tactics by the player and is guaranteed to make you sweat for victory.
5) Ambush at the White Forest Inn (HL 2: Episode 2)
Another great scene that had a brilliant build up. Whilst driving through the roads and starting to approach the White Forest base, you and Alyx come across an Inn. However, everything is quiet. There is not a single sign of any life. And then, at one point, BAM, your car hits an invisible force field and within seconds Combine troops start coming out of everywhere. You and Alyx are forced to quickly run inside the Inn and to make a stand from there. Luckily the Inn is full of supplies. This scene is a really decent gunfight as you get Combine troops and Hunters coming from every direction - front doors, back doors, even trying to shoot you through multiple windows, and even attempting an entry through the basement.
4) Highway 17 (HL 2)
That’s right, the whole chapter. I thought this whole part of the game was great, starting from seeing light at the end of the tunnel as you make your way out of Ravenholm caves and ending with a fantastic lighthouse defence scene. For most of this chapter you drive a Buggy through the highway and have to make regular stops to engage in action, whether it’s simply to clean out some Combine troops from a small settlement, or to help some rebels out with a gunship attack, or to outrun packs of antlions, or to climb your way through a semi-broken bridge and switch off some force fields which are blocking your way. This whole chapter basically is a great ride, in particular the lighthouse defence scene at the end of it, during which we get to listen to perhaps the best music track in the game.
3) Meet the Hunters (HL 2: Episode 2)
This is one of those scenes that takes you by surprise. You and Alyx try to restore power to this very small station so that you can send a radio signal. However, as soon as you come out of the basement, you hear a bunch of Hunters just outside the building, peeking through the windows and preparing an attack. As you take your position, probably crouched in the corner somewhere, the Hunters begin to break into the room you’re in, and once they do, all you can do is to fight back. Since they are highly resistant to bullets, your best bet is to use your environment, which is incredibly fun. This is the first time you actually get to engage in a fight with them, making this their entrance scene, and a very cool one at that.
2) Assault on Nova Prospekt… with Antlions (HL 2)
Preparing to attack a high security prison? All right. Assault rifle? Check. Sniper crossbow? Check. Rocket launcher? Check. Bugbait?... O_o? That’s right. We are attacking a high security prison, which is owned by Combine troops, by using a bugbait. Long story short, with this bugbait, the antlions treat you as one of their high guards, so they listen to your every command and follow you everywhere, even into certain death. Now this is an incredibly fun part of the game, because it adds something new to the action as you and your little pet antlions fight the Combine troopers, first on the beach, then in the front yard of the prison facility, and finally inside the prison itself. Controlling all those antlions makes you feel like some kind of twisted sorcerer or evil genius.
1) Vortal Combat (HL 2: Episode 2)
Had to give number 1 spot to this scene, simply because it has the best build up of the atmosphere and a fantastic climax. In the early stages of Episode 2 you start making your way into the mines, where antlions made their nests, and come across sort of a little outpost inside the shack. This outpost is defended by two funny guys, Sheckley and Griggs, and one of the Vortigaunts, who is helping Alyx out. Now as soon as you arrive, Sheckley and Griggs inform you of the incoming waves of antlions and also about their genius defence system. Each of the four tunnels leading out of the ‘base’ has 3 lights next to it which act as warning signals. Now when antlion waves are approaching, the lights come on. Few antlions – only 1 light, moderate amount – 2 lights, and loads – 3 lights. With this in mind, you start facing incoming antlions, at first only smaller waves and then gradually larger ones. For the final wave you are joined by 3 more Vortigaunts who tell you that many many more antlions are still coming. As soon as they say that, 3 lights go off in EVERY tunnel and a really cool music track starts to play. You instantly realise that a serious battle is about to begin, at which point masses of antlions come from every direction, completely swarming the shack and forcing everyone to work as a team to fight them all off.