170 of 181 people found the following review helpful
Platform for Display: Xbox 360
I have been a fan of Half Life, so I knew I would get this for Xbox 360. (I prefer playing games on consoles.) I was also curious about the other games in this package. There is one disc...when you put it in the 360 a main menu comes up with five choices across the bottom of the screen...1. Half Life 2, 2. Half Life 2 Episode One, 3. Half Life 2 Episode Two, 4. Portal and 5. Team Fortress 2. That's right 5 games! One disc. One box. $59.99! Great deal.
Half Life 2 appears to be much better looking graphically than the original Xbox version...there are not as many glitches either. The backwards compatible version had quite a few bugs that made playing the game on the 360 quite annoying. Not to worry here. The game play is smooth and quite comparable to the PC version. The bonus here of course is that you have both Episodes One and Two to move on with after completing Half Life 2...or you can play just Episode One or Two. You don't have to solve one to play the others. That may be beneficial if you have played Half Life 2 and just want to jump right into the Episodes. The graphics on the Episodes really shine...it looks amazing...they did a great job with this version.
Portal is an interesting game and quite challenging. It seems very similar to Half Life 2 in that it is in first person, but this is more of a puzzle game. You have a portal shooting gun, and you have to figure out how to use the device to get through a maze or puzzle. There are a few twists on this too...moving platforms, switches, blocks, weight activated floor buttons, electrical sensor receptacles, energy emitting zappers that can activate the receptacles and later in the game this is even more complicated by motion sensing robotic machine gun turrets. It really stimulates the brain. It definitely makes you think outside the box. Eventually, you get the ability to shoot two different portals...one an entry portal, and the second an exit portal. I got addicted to this game and played for two hours straight until I became completely stuck and confused. I had to put it down and relax for a while...I was getting a little too intense. I can't wait to play again.
Team Fortress 2 is an online multiplayer based game. You are set up into teams, and then there are different objectives to play. I only played it twice, so I don't know all the ins and outs of it. However, it does look quite interesting. There are a few different characters to choose from with different abilities. These abilities can make one character better at defending a base, one is better at going out and stalking the other team, etc. There are snipers, medics, heavy weapon handlers, spies, scouts and a few others that I can remember. This game appears to have some replay value and a lot of fun for online multiplayer.
With all those games in one box and on one disc, who wouldn't want it for $59.99?!? This is truly the best deal in video game history. Why don't more companies do this and release more content at one time? This may make developers think about quantity in addition to quality.
47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2007
Platform for Display: Xbox 360
I should mention up front that I'm a PC gamer, and that while there are some here that might hold that against me (you console folks can be brutal) I'm going to give as honest a review of the Orange Box games as I can. Given that Valve's release coincided with some catastrophic malfunction of my wife's car, the funds I had set aside for this game for my PC ended up getting sucked up into car repairs, thus I was forced to play this on my brother's Xbox 360. And that said I thoroughly enjoyed the Xbox version, much to my surprise, even without a mouse and keyboard to aim and shoot with.
Orange Box includes the original Half Life 2, and it's subsequent followups Episodes 1 and 2. In addition it contains the quirky spatial-puzzle game Portal, and as icing on the cake Team Fortress 2. To get these separately (at least on PC) would run in the realm of $250, more or less, and to get all 5 games in one bundle for all of $60 is too good to be true. On to the actual reviews.
Half Life 2 begins with MIT PhD Doctor Gordon Freeman, released some 20 years after the Black Mesa incident by the G-man and into a dystopic City 17. It appears that Earth has been conquered by a galactic conquering empire of sorts who used Freeman's previous handiwork at Black Mesa to burrow through the walls of time and space to invade Earth. The game follows his insertion into this volatile situation culminating in his leadership of Earth's rebellion against the Combine Overwatch. The game's "silent protaginist" approach, where the player's character never speaks, is played out perfectly and adds greatly to the storytelling angle. The game tells it's own story and you're basically along for the ride. The weapons selection is fairly standard fare for a shooter, with your usual selection of pistols, rifles, and the ubiquitous shotgun. The real nice touch is the Gravity Gun, which can pick up loose objects on the ground and can then be used to hurl said objects at your enemies. The sound, voice acting, and atmosphere of the game (of a familiar world turned into an Orwellian style police state) are all fantastic.
Episodes One and Two both continue the story as Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance both try to escape City 17 in the former and deal with the remnants of the Combine in the latter. Each new episode showcases a new technology add to the engine (lighting effects for Episode One, motion blur for Episode Two) to increase gameplay.
When I loaded up Portal I had only the vaguest idea of what to expect. The game is admittedly hard to grasp at first and requires you to think puzzles out using Euclidean geometry and Newtonian physics and a little bit of brain juice all mixed in. The game begins with the protaginist, a female in an orange jumpsuit, being forced to complete a number of puzzles for the test facility's computer using a hand-held portal generating device. One can cross chasms by blasting an entry hole in the wall next to you and an exit hole in the wall across the chasm and simply cross it by walking through the portal. Each test gets harder, and it becomes apparent as things move along that the computer running the tests (and you) is more than a little deranged. As this game is set in the Half-Life universe I look forward to seeing how the plot of this game fits in with that of the larger title.
Lastly we come to Team Fortress 2. I must admit that I have loved Team Fortress since it's inception and have played it religiously since 1998 on the PC. This game spent the better part of 7 years in development limbo and those of us among the originals fans were pretty skeptical that the game would ever be released at all, but the finished product is here and is an absolute blast. Players can pick one of among nine classes to play, from the lightly armed but fast moving Scout, to the lumbering two-legged tank Heavy. There are only 6 maps included in the game, which is a downside, but the maps themselves are quite solid and the game dynamic is unique. The game itself is done in a style reminiscent of "The Incredibles" and this lends some rather comedic elements to the overall experience. The game is entirely Capture the Flag (CTF) so don't expect to go into Deathmatch as it was never designed to do this.
There are some minor points I must mention about Orange Box though. For starters the Half-Life games are really dark. I've had the benefit of having played this on the PC and the lighting is pretty ho-hum on the Xbox version. Case in point, even with the brightness on the game turned up you can still barely see in even dusk conditions, let alone the details on your weapons. The caveat here is that if you turn the brightness up *too* much then you end up getting flooded with bright light when you enter better lit areas, resulting in a weird glaucoma-style whiteout. Expect to have your HEV suit light on *a lot*. In addition the surface textures aren't quite as crisp as I what I was accustomed to with my previous experiences on the PC, although this didn't detract from the game that much.
I also felt it something of a disservice to 360 owners that as big as the game release was Valve kind of dropped you into the *middle* of the story, without the courtesy of even giving the new HL player an overview of what's happened thus far. The events of Half Life, HL: Opposing Force, and HL: Blue Shift are all integral to the storyline, and taking someone completely new to the story and simply dropping them off halfway through it seemed a puzzling choice. As they'd gone as far as making a game release this big how difficult would it have been to at least add HL 1:Source into the mix? Granted, it's an eyesore by today's standards, but still.
With TFC2 I don't have complaints, more like concerns. In the PC world you have literally thousands of custom player-made maps, as well as numerous Valve releases, and I'm wondering if players will be able to play classic Valve TFC maps like "Rock" and "Hunted". I suppose it wouldn't be too difficult to accomplish, but all in all it was a befuddling thing to place such a great, solid game into the mix with only 6 maps. And I'm wondering if they plan to eventually add class-specific grenades as those would most certainly enhance the gameplay.
Still the game package itself is fantastic and it's clear that a lot of love was poured into their production and subsequent carryover to the 360. I'm impressed enough with the 360's performance with these games that even an old, grizzled PC gamer like myself is giving it a serious second look. Cannot recommend Orange Box enough! Now if only they had a mouse/keyboard setup for old PC diehards like me to play with. :)
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2007
Platform for Display: Xbox 360
Not only is this game the best value in console history, with 5 quality titles, its also includes some of the most innovative first-person game play design as well. I'll review each title:
Half-Life 2 (4.5/5) - Probably the single best 1-player first person shooter ever made, definitely for the PC. I played this game on the PC and it gets a perfect 5/5 there. The console version gets a 0.5 star deduction if only because the 360 controller proves to be slightly less adept than the mouse/keyboard combo. Combat is fine because they've added some auto aim to compensate, but often times you'll find yourself strafing back and forth at doorways, in order to line up correctly and get through. But the absolute worst is the vehicle control. Halo is the only FPS I've played that got vehicle control right, but HL2 is bound by the rule of never leaving Gordon Freeman's eyes, and so driving must be done first-person. But the driving segments are relatively short, given the total length of the game, and there are plenty of breaks. Certainly not a deal breaker, but still noticeably inferior to the PC version in this regard.
Half-Life 2: Episode 1 (4/5) - The first in the "episodic content" experiment, HL2:EP1 returns you to the Citadel, where you ended HL2. The first portion of the game has you repeating the same style of combat, using your enhanced gravity gun. Some new puzzle elements have been added here, which basically involves shooting energy balls around. Its interesting, but not nearly as diverse as the first game. Same with the rest of the game. Although there are some interesting new ideas, and a few new enemies, there is also a little too much repetition for such a short title, and although the story is captivating as always, it doesn't advance very far. Ultimately though, its HL2 so it rocks. These are minor complaints, and would be diminished if it didn't have its predecessor to be compared to. There is also an unbelievable XBox 360 "Achievement" that involves completing the entire game using just one bullet!
Half-Life2: Episode 2 (4.5/5) - The first "new" game on the disc. A little longer, and a little better than the previous episode. The game play has changed a little here. There are a few less physics puzzles, and more varieties of combat. A brutal new enemy is unveiled, and quickly gives you a reason to despise them. One of the byproducts of this stylistic change, means more frustration. The first two games are very linear and do an excellent job of indicating ideal strategy, while still letting you "run and gun" if thats your style. While this title is still pretty linear, you have to work out some strategies on your own, and that usually involves dying a lot. In the middle of the game, navigating an underground antlion nest involves EVADING a mother antlion. Its not exactly clear (the AI characters only tell you not to KILL it), and you'll waste ammo (that you ABSOLUTELY need later) if you even try and combat it. For the first time, there is an epic "end battle". This was probably the most intense experience in the whole series, and it follows the same style as above: there are multiple strategies to attack the encroaching enemies. This is the first time I wanted to throw my controller out the window, but finally winning was awesome. When does Episode 3 come out again?
Portal (5/5) - Another reviewer has said that if you don't like Portal, then you are stupid. There isn't much else to say. Talk about an innovative idea that is perfectly executed! Portal is not only a unique puzzle game, its wickedly smart and funny. Although the game is far too short, it does have some replay value with a few advanced maps and some other challenges. I'm very interested to see where VALVe take this awesome idea! This is the first real first-person style innovation in a while.
Team Fortress 2 (4/5) - The online multiplayer aspect of the package. TF2 is awesome looking (almost cell shaded?) and pretty fun and funny as well. This is class based combat, meaning that if you aren't any good at shooting people than you can be a medic or an engineer or something else useful to the team. I have two complaints. First is that its one player per console. This makes sense as its a ported PC game, but it still suffers when compared to other major FPS online games (ahem, Halo 2 & 3). The second is that the online matchmaking system isn't as smooth as others (ahem, Halo 2 & 3). Once again, this is because its based on the PC model. But its no fun to have find an almost full match only to find out its been filled in the time it took you to push the "A" button and then have to start the whole process over again. There are only a couple maps, but thats OK because it removes some of the steep learning curve. Combined with the simple controls and fixed weapon options, it allows n00bs to jump right in and at least enjoy the experience, unlike other games (ahem, Halo 2 & 3).
So the final verdict is that you have to buy this title. Now. Do it. Click "Add to Cart". Do it.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2009
Platform for Display: Xbox 360
Even if the orange box merely consisted of Half life 2 and its' other two episodes it "still" would have been a steal for the price. However on top of that gamers also get Portal and Team Fortress 2.
For those unfamiliar with Portal it uses the same engine as half life and pits your mind against a diabolical computer which uses everything from deadly traps to psychological war-fare to slow your progress. Your only gadget is a gun that can make portals through solid walls and your sole goal is to get out of a giant experimental maze alive. While the environments are a bit bland in portal the "puzzle aspect" is fun and addictive even for people who would not normally enjoy puzzle games.
Team Fortress 2 is a slapstick humorous co-op online fps which seems to burrow a lot of cheese from old spy espionage movies and action flicks. Every character has side splitting outrageous quirks as well as their own unique weapons and skills.
Besides for Bio shock and Jedi academy I've never been in love with the fps genre. However valve presents each of their concepts with such flare and originality even jaded critics would be hard pressed not to like at least "something" the orange box offers up.
Obviously my favorite game is Half Life 2. The only glaring faults with the game are that the controls are not quite so easy to learn as Bio shock's and that if you have not played the first Half Life the story has many plot holes which remain unexplained.
Once you get into driving a swamp boat with a mounted gun turret around in a series of canals while blasting away at corrupt law enforcers and military helicopters or find yourself crawling around in tunnels filled with organic alien traps that want to slurp you up with their hanging tongues to devour you it is easy to appreciate the vast realistic yet nightmarish environments Half Life 2 offers up to the player.
The story though obscure is also quite good. Apparently as Gordan Friedman you helped develop dimensional travel technology in a place called black mesa. Unfortunately the open doorways you and your cohorts created allowed hostile aliens to spill through. Before you knew it humanity got conquered by a hostile group of crazy tyrannical creeps from a close by neighboring reality. The human resistance which did not succumb to the demands of the enemy despot regime formed lucrative alliances with other aliens who were being enslaved by the same oppressive fraction. They all see you as a type of "messiah" who can bring down "The Man".
The only thing I do not understand is since you are partly responsible for the invasion why does no one see you in a negative light? For a guy that set back human civilization you sure do get a lot of rear-kissing compliments! Besides for that oddity there is also the haughty feeling you get from Friedman. A lot of people talk to him yet Gordon never says anything in turn. You get the subtle feeling he is either mute or a bit conceited. A guy that is supposed to be a sophisticated scientist should have "something" to say to someone. The beautiful,brave, and capable Alyx is always at Friedman's side yet I have not seen him flirt with her yet.
Now that ranting wiener fest is over there were things I enjoyed immensely about the cast in half life 2. The cast you interact with are believable, flawed, and endearing. They are akin to what your neighbors and friends would be like if they were suddenly faced with losing their families, friends, and basic human rights. The men are rightfully rugged and while the females are cute they are not that plastic unrealistic false perfection you find in games such as Soul Calibur 4 or Sexy beach. There are no scantily clad big busted model types running around it slinky red dresses or in super short skirts and halter tops. Half life 2 proves you can make women characters "pretty" yet still respect them as people at the same time.
Honestly I think the gravity gun is one of the best ideas ever but beyond it and your environmental adaptation suit I found the weapons to be lack luster. We've seen the incarnation of the crow bar many times as well as machine guns, assault rifles, pistols, and grenades. While Half life 2 does have a decent Selection Bio Shock had "plasmids" which literally gave you cool powers. But yet if you flip over the same argument Half Life 2's environments are much bigger, there are at least 2 fun scenarios where you get to pilot vehicles, and the game is much longer. My final analysis found me loving both games equally for different reasons. However as far as re-playability is concerned even Half Life 2 by itself trumps Bio shock significantly.
Because of Half Life 2 and every other game within the orange box I cannot offer much of an objection. It is akin to a genie offering you grand wishes for a nickel apiece. Can any gamer honestly argue with a bargain of that magnitude?
+ All the games are high quality.
+ Besides for Bio Shock Half Life 2 is arguably the best first person shooter out there.
+ Fans of brain teasers will adore portal for its biting humor, wit, charm, and challenge.
+ Team Fortress 2 was a nice addition for co-op play over X Box live. Personally it is not for me but for those that prefer co-op and socializing it is a real gem!
+ A steal for the price!
- All the games still use a basic fps format so the variety is still limited in some aspects.
- Unless you have played Half Life 1 Half Life 2 will have you scratching your head on more than one occasion.
- Half Life 2's controls are a bit unique from other shooters so mild frustration may occur until you get the hang of things.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2009
Platform for Display: Xbox 360
I would just like to point out a few things that should be known about this game, in particular the possible issues concerning multi-player with the different versions.
Firstly, I want to agree with what most of the reviews seem to say, which is that this was a great collection for $50, and now that it's dropped in price it's an excellent deal. The Half-Life 2 game and Episodes 1 and 2 are great, with a great story and gameplay, some great visuals and so on. Portal is amazing, it's combination of semi-dark humor and fantastic gameplay amount to a game which is worth the price of the entire Orange Box. Team Fortress 2 is a well balanced multi-player game, with a class system that makes things interesting and keeps things mostly on an even playing-field.
Unfortunately, it is this last game that brings me to my second point. Team Fortress 2 contains the entirety of the Orange Box's multi-player gameplay, and the Xbox 360 version seems to have less people online at any given time, making it take longer to find a game and giving the player less choice as to what gamemodes or maps to play, since looking for a specific gametype will result in a longer wait. I haven't played the PS3 version, so I'm not certain if it suffers from the same problems, but I think it might because it shares the same additional drawbacks of getting the Xbox 360 version, which are:
-Lack of add-ons. Though Valve, the company that makes The Orange Box, discussed the issue with Xbox 360's creators Microsoft, none of the updates already released for the PC version have made it to the Xbox 360 or PS3 versions. The add-ons are due to be released for the Xbox 360, for a price, and grouped together to account for the cost. Valve attempted make them available for free, since the add-ons have already been released for the PC version for free, but Microsoft wouldn't allow it. No mention has been made of releasing the add-ons for PS3.
-No custom maps. Though a multi-player console game may arguably have the advantage in other areas, it is lacking (in most cases) in the areas of customization. Custom maps and gamemodes have been made for PC games for quite some time, and buying the PC version gives you access to those. You may run the risk of them crashing your PC in some cases, but overall custom maps add variety and entertainment value to the game, the trade-off being that you have to download it first, either on the internet or off the server before you join. The original Team Fortress started as a custom mod for another PC game, and the sequel has only three maps (though more official maps were added to the PC version), and more variety in maps is a welcome addition.
-Lack of split-screen support. For a game that has the word "Team" in it's name, the inability to play it side-by-side with your friends in the same room is a terrible exclusion from the game's features. I've never tried to system link to more than one other Xbox and don't know how many can be linked together. I almost bought this for Xbox in order to play the game against a member of my family. Having rented the game for Xbox previously, I realized that with only 2 people playing and no player bots to speak of (there are some in the Commentary, but they don't play in the game), the potential for fun would be short-lived. If it were possible to have 4 people each on 2 linked Xboxes the experience would still be lacking in comparison to that of having to full teams. Now having played the PC version for a while, I can tell that the game is a little tedious with 4 or less people on each team, with maps designed to hold many more players, it can mean a long walk back to where you last died, depending on how the game is going. The game is really enjoyable with at least 7 people on each team, where there are enough players to give both sufficient backup and more variety and strategy. With split-screen and system link, 4 Xboxes linked with 4 people on them could deliver a better experience. As it is now, it would be much more cost effective to buy the PC version, and as mentioned before, I don't know how many Xboxes can be linked together, so linking 14-16 systems together may not even be possible.
If you are just looking for achievements, only want the single-player experience, or aren't concerned with any of the above, then it's merely a matter of preference. Otherwise, I would suggest you purchase the PC version.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2012
Platform for Display: Xbox 360
I'm going to write this review as if I were writing a review for 5 different games. After that (here at the top) will be a summary of all 5.
The Good: All 5 games are solid and stand on their own, Portal is one of the most clever games ever made, HL2: EP2 evolves the story wonderfully, TF2 is a blast, HL2 and EP1 live up to their age, cleverly planned achievements, not having to deal with Steam
The Bad: Not enough puzzles for Portal, not enough maps for TF2, HL2 isn't complete yet, the HL games are very short
Overall TOB is one of the best deals in video game history. With Valve's ingenious talent backing this package there's no stopping it. Everyone has to pick this masterpiece up because there is something in here you'll love.
The Good: One of the greatest stories and worlds ever created, great graphics and voice acting, memorable everything
The Bad: Graphics are showing it's age, no online play, too few weapons and enemies, not for the traditional FPS fan
I bought this on my PC about 2 years ago and played it to death (including ALL the mods). Even if you've played it on your PC you'll love it even more on your 360 (or PS3) due to the achievements, and for people who can't run the game very well, can experience the game in all it's glory. You are Gordon Freeman who has mysteriously wound up in City 17 between a civil war against Dr. Breen and the Combine thanks to Gman. You and your sexy companion, Alyx Vance, have to reach the Citadel and take down the Combine. Instead of explaining what you already know I'll explain what's new. Nothing really. Just the achievements involved (and they are cleverly thought out). You have all the same weapons, levels, and monsters. Just sit back and enjoy the first part of the HL2 saga and you'll have the best 8-10 hours of your life. Back when the game was released I gave this game a 9.5, but due to it's age it drops half a point.
Half-Life 2: Episode 1=8.5/10
The Good: Evolves the story even more, great new scenarios to play through
The Bad: Cliff hanger ending (that left us hanging for more than a year), recycled stuff from HL2, nothing new at all
The story takes off after the Citadel blew up and you now have to escape and stop the reactor before all hell breaks loose. With Alyx once again by your side, you have to push back the Combine once more. While EP1 uses the same engine as HL2 with no enhancements (literally every thing's recycled to death) you still get a great experience. Well, there is one new thing ZOMBINES FTW!!! While the game is a bit more on-the-rails-cinematic than HL2 you get more clever puzzles this time around along with some memorable fire fights. In the end if you've played EP1 on the PC there's nothing new here either, but for first timers it's a blast.
Half-Life 2: Episode Two=8.5/10
The Good: Some solid new content, great evolution of the story, more cinematic than ever before
The Bad: Still the same aging HL2 engine, another cliff hanger ending
While this is the best HL2 entry yet with more cinematic game play, and some NEW content you'll love this one the most. After escaping the Citadel and City 17, you and Alyx must head through White Forest to her dad to stop the Citadel portal from letting loose monstrosities beyond our imagining. In EP2 we finally get new content such as acid ant lions, ant lion larvae, Combine Hunters, a new vehicle, and an evolved story. EP2's story is more touching then ever before and we finally get some background on Gman. EP2 is a couple of hours longer than EP1 and you'll want to play through it more than once.
The Good: The most clever idea since gaming itself, great next-gen graphics, cleverly thought out level design, great story
The Bad: Short, very short, very very short, no downloadable puzzles (still), advanced challenges can be kind of impossible to solve, the cake is a lie
This is a whole new creature. Portal is the introduction of brand new technology. You are an unknown tester for Aperature Science and you are given a Portal gun which you use to solve puzzles. This is probably THE most clever puzzle game ever made...ever. You use velocity to launch yourself over obstacles, use portals to navigate through rooms, and to even move objects. The game is just so clever it really works your mind, but in such a way to where you won't get frustrated. The game has a next-gen engine and looks fantastic as well. After you beat the 3-4 hour game you can go back and beat the advanced maps and challenges for more achievements. There's nothing more that I can say than to pick TOB for just this game...it's worth the $60. The game even sports an awesome, and memorable, story that you'll joke about for years to come...THE CAKE IS A LIE!!!!
Team Fortress 2=8.5/10
The Good: Unique graphical style, perfectly balanced characters, and maps, can be really funny at times
The Bad: Not nearly enough maps (still), no new characters either (still), no offline bot fragging (sorry Silver guys)
I remember playing TFC back when I bought HL1 Anthology and it was a blast. TF2 sports a unique graphical style and wonderfully balanced characters to use. You all know what the characters are unless you've been hiding under a rock this whole time. You have a heavy weapons guy who is as slow as malasses in January but packs a serious punch, a spy who can disguise as the enemy, and sneak into the other side, a sniper who also sports a machete and a machine gun. This is why I love TF2 so much. Everything is perfectly balanced. Instead of being a vulnerable sniper with just a pistol you get a moderate machine gun. Instead of being a slow heavy weapons guy you get a shotgun. Instead of being a weak Pyro with a flamethrower you get a shotgun as well. If you love online gaming TF2 will keep you hooked for hours. This is just the 5th reason to buy TOB and you're bound to be happy.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Platform for Display: Xbox 360
I'm 14 years old and I've played the first Half-Life, and have played both Left 4 Dead's, all by the same company, Valve. In this review I will discuss the pros and the cons about the Orange Box and all the games that come in it separately in one review. I hope you find it useful.
The Orange Box: Action, Puzzle Solving, Minor Gore, Online Class-Based Combat.
This review contains no spoilers.
The Orange Box consists of five different game in one: Three sections of the Half-Life story (all making up three parts of the sequel to one game), Portal, which is a humorous-yet-serious puzzle solving game, and Team Fortress 2, the online-only sequel to a game I have not played.
--[ALERT]-- Please note that Half-Life 2 will make NO sense to you if you have not yet played the original Half-Life. If you haven't played the original, then this entire review on Half-Life 2 can be considered full of spoilers.
Half-life 2 is, of course, the sequel to Half-Life, an alien invasion based game. In Half-life 1, you play a character named Gordon Freeman, a scientist working at a facility called Black Mesa. You and your coleagues are working to establish contact with an alien world, when something goes terribly wrong. (This is not a spoiler because it is the plot of the entire game). Aliens began pouring in, killing your coleagues and wreaking havoc throughout the facility. Eventually, a hostile alien force (I assume they're some kind of alien police, Valve doesn't explain things very well) takes over the world, holding humans under their thumb as the dominant species. You, Gordon Freeman, lead the revolution against the alien force that has ruled over the world since the Black Mesa Incident, and hopefully will become the savior of humanity.
Extremely Interesting Story - Half-Life 2 is solely about the storyline. It doesn't offer any multiplayer or online play, but it makes up for it with its brother in the Box, Team Fortress 2. As explained above, Half-Life 2 is about an alien invasion, with you leading the rebellion against them. The story is completely addictive, but is pointless if you have not played the original Half-Life.
Good Graphics - The Orange Box came out a little, little while ago, a few years. So it doesn't have the best graphics, but it was among the best of its time. The graphics are still practically picture-perfect, but aren't as good as today's games.
Deep Characters - The characters in Half-Life 2 have lives of their own. Valve did such a good job on writing the characters that you actually develope feelings for them and what happens to them... All of the characters in the game are very different, and all of them will capture the way you feel towards characters in a game.
No Multiplayer - As stated above, Half-Life 2 is all about the storyline, and has no online or multiplayer features. However, there's always Team Fortess 2, in case you buy the Orange Box instead of buying the games separately.
Unique Controls - For those who have played strong titles such as Call of Duty or Halo, Half-Life 2's controls will be a change, for better or worse, especially with the unique guns it has in it. Do note that the controls are still quick and responsive, they are just unique to the controls most FPS titles share.
Mature Storyline - This could be either a pro or a con. The storyline in Half-Life 1 and 2 are told very maturly, in a very intricate way. This probably isn't a game for younger audiences, though buy-knows-best.
Half-Life 2 contains little blood, usually a bloody skeleton or a burnt face, but no limbs exploding or anything substantial. No sexuality, and a mild amount of cursing.
Portal is a very unique game, combining puzzle solving, humor, and little action. You play the role of (character name not given in the game), who has been taken to a testing facility to be.. you guess it! Tested on. You are given a special gun that is used to shoot portals. You can only have two portals out at once, and when you (or an object you throw into it) travel through one, you (or an object you throw into it) come out through the other. You are given a series of testing chambers, all becoming more complex as you progress through the game.
Brilliant Puzzles - Portal's puzzles feature you using your portals at the right times, getting objects to where they are needed in order to complete said puzzles, and getting there safely. Some puzzles feature acid-flooded floors, elevators, timed doors, portal-proof panels and much more.
Great Antagonist - The antagonist of it all, GLaDOS, (no typos) watches your every move and makes sarcastic remarks on your performance. Abrupt inflections show her frustration as you complete puzzles correctly, which makes GLaDOS a unique character in a game.
Silence - Most FPS games usually have teammates yelling at you or gunfire echo-ing in your ear, but Portal provides absolute (and much needed) silence to help you figure out its complex puzzles.
Yet it's still funny - Portal is both a serious and a humorous game. With GLaDOS's sarcastic remarks and ironic outcomes of some puzzles, Portal makes a great game for both worlds, as some may say.
Ending - Without giving anything away, I guarentee you that if you decide to get Portal, you'll love what the ending has in store. It's very memorable.
Too Short - While Portal has an artistically written story that draws you in from beginning to end, the game itself is a little too short. On your first run, you can probably beat the game in about 2-3 days. Once you've figured out the puzzles, it can easily be beaten in less than one day.
Dizzying - The constant need for portals in high and low places alike and the need to travel through them can make Portal a dizzying game for those who don't have, um, spinning experience. You have to fling all around and launch yourself all the time in Portal.
Frustration? - Some people may find some of Portal's challenges to be too complex, and trust me, Portal can be very frustrating at times.
Portal should not, and I repeat, not be bought by itself. It's too short to be bought as one game. It's like spending $40 for Pac-Man. It is definitely something to consider if you get the Orange Box, but it is not worth anything about $30 by itself. No inappropriate content, just some blood spatters on the wall when you're shot at. No cursing.
Team Fortess 2
I have not played Team Fortress 1, and I strongly doubt that either of them have any story to them. Team Fortress 2 is a class based game, meaning that you can choose to snipe enemies from afar, build turrets to protect you and your allies, or even disguise yourself as an enemy to infiltrate them. Team Fortress 2 has something for everybody.
Something for everybody - Umm as stated above, Team Fortress has several different classes to choose from (Nine to be exact)
Humorous Massacre - While wreaking havoc on your foes, you may decide to mock them in a unique way (aside from teabagging them, while you can still do that). You can press (assigned button can vary due to player modifications) to do a special emote to mock your enemies. For example, the sniper can sarcastically mourn for you, or the medic class can play a sad violin for you.
Fool-Proof Teamwork - The fact that you can be a medic, an engineer (who build machines to aid you and your allies) or a durable muscle-man who can take damage for you make sure that everyone isn't just stealing your kills, they're helping you get them as well!
Intended Graphics - When Valve made Team Fortress 2, they made the characters and areas kind of cartoon looking, which can make it funnier or worse, depending on your play style.
Gore - Unlike Half-Life 2 and Portal, Team Fortress 2 does have some notable gore in it. When you blow someone up, there limbs blow up in all directions in little bloody chunks.
Please note that Team Fortress 2 can only be played online.
Well that sums up the Orange Box. It's definitely a steal, getting 5 games for the price of one, and all have good replay value. No inappropriate content, besides the gore in Team Fortress 2. Mild cursing in Half-Life 2, nothing major. I rate this game overall to have 4.5 stars, but Amazon won't allow halves.
I hope you found this review helpful.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Platform for Display: Xbox 360
For what you pay with this title, you get a lot of content. Five titles including Half-Life 2 incl. Episodes 1 and 2, Portal and Team Fortress 2 ensure that you won't be getting tired of this game anytime soon.
I especially enjoyed Portal which is one of the trippiest games I've ever played, not to mention laugh out loud hilarious. It's a first person shooter/ puzzle type game that has you using a gun that throws out two portals (think of it as an in door and an out door that you can place on walls and/or ceilings) which you use to navigate the maze like levels. All the while you are being spoken to by a computerized voice that simultaneously guides you and threatens you. It's one of the most original experiences I've had playing a videogame and almost worth the price of admission alone. It's a bit on the short side but it does get some life extension with advanced levels once you beat the game's main storyline.
The graphics are pretty nice across the board, especially on Team Fortress 2 which has this kind of cartoony look to it that gives the game a humorous touch to all the violence. Team Fortress 2 also has an online component that is everything you'd expect from a first person shooter except that it requires a bit more teamwork than other games because every character class is designed to achieve a certain function and in order to win in most cases, you've got to know what class to play with as well as what other players are playing with.
The Half-Life games are impressive themselves as their use of surround sound makes the game an immersive experience coupled with really nice graphics. Make no mistake, this is a LOUD game when you start firing your weapons but it's in the moments where you might be standing on a beachfront and all you can hear is the wind blowing all around you and the sound of the ocean and birds overhead that you really start to appreciate the subtlety of the sound design. This is the game that's probably the main attraction for most buyers and understandably so. It's one of those games that does a really good job of putting you into the world of the story and making you feel like you're really a part of what's going on in it.
This is a great package and highly recommended as you don't really see this kind of deal too often.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2011
Platform for Display: Xbox 360Verified Purchase
Half-Life 2 : You are Gordon Freeman, a researcher from Black Mesa research facility when one of the experiments opened a portal to an alien world, aliens came pouring through, and you barely got out alive. Now it's years later, the aliens have taken over the Earth and placed collaborators in charge. You start the game out getting off the train at City 17, and quickly hook up with the human resistance.
This is part puzzle game, part shooter, the pace changes every few minutes. Sometimes you're driving a car or boat, sometimes fighting futuristic troops, killing monsters, or trying to figure out how to solve a puzzle and get a door open. It's very scripted and linear, success or failure will depend on knowing when to fight, when to run, and when not to waste bullets on something you don't have to kill.
Took about 12 hours.
HL2 Episode 1 : Escaping City 17. Won't say much because that's a spoiler, but the gameplay is similar to HL2. Was surpsied how short it was, took me about 2 hours. Short and sweet.
HL2 Episode 2 : Reach the White Forest research facility with data critical to the resistance. Pretty similar to HL2 but added a little romance that made things more emotional and interesting. You get a fun car to drive, and you better love it because you need it for the final fight which is HARD. I'm a 20+ year gamer and that was one of the most gruelling fights ever, and very satisfying once you finish.
Portal : Strictly a puzzle game featuring a gun that shoots portals. Lots of fun.
Team Fortress 2 : Interesting multiplayer game, but I feel there are better MP games out there, so I didn't spend alot of time on this. For multiplayer I recommend MAG or BFBC2.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2010
Platform for Display: Xbox 360
The Orange Box (TOB) hits every gaming geeks nail on the head. TOB title game is the critically acclaimed game of the year Half Life 2. The TOB also includes Half Life 2 expansions Episodes 1 and 2. On top of this impeccable set of games there is also Portal and Team Fortress 2. Half Life 2 is a first person shooter full of puzzles, action and deep story telling. Portal is a complex puzzle driven game whose game play style and graphics are modeled after HL2. Team Fortress 2 (TF2) is an online balanced multiplayer only shooter. TF2 graphics reminded me of Disney smash hit movie The Incredibles (Think CGI animation if you missed The Incredibles and shame on you if you did it's a flawless family title). Big difference is this isn't a Disney game it's a action shooter so there will be blood, killing and plenty of dismemberment.
Half-Life 2(Did I mention Game of the year but I should also mention GOTY 2004):5/5
Half-Life 2 is everything a first person shooter (FPS) should be with vivid graphics, compelling story, believable characters plus acting and rocking game play. The pace is always switching from tense to frantic to creepy. Most importantly is that Half-Life 2 (HL2) manages to never become stale by incessantly switching up its game play. One second all you have is a crow bar used to bash in fascist Combine soldiers and the next your speed racing on a river boat craft getting shot at. This first person shooter uses the usual tricks of starting you out with no weapons leaving you to accrue an arsenal over several levels. That's a FPS standard tactic but HL2 goes outside the box by not just adding several fun and inventive weapons which they do do plus so much more. For example they insert exhilarating vehicle sequences, they've created AI that takes cover and tries to out flank you, Your charged with solving multitudes of well thought out and rewarding puzzels and you'll fight a wide array baddies ranging from the futuristic military state Combine soldiers, several mutant monsters to large Combine military vehicles that are all itching to take you down along with many other unexpected baddies that I won't ruin here. In HL2 you play Gordon Freeman the lead character from Half Life 1 who was the scientist that managed to escape from the Black Messa research facility accident. This accident has lead to the chaotic world that you must now survive in. Half Life 2 is a FPS only title that uses the now old school set up where you can carry about a dozen weapons at once. Since your lone wolfing it a lot I never once complained at how much fire power I could hold at once or felt it took away from my gaming experience.
Possibly Half-Life most enduring features are its engrossing world that at times totally consumes you with it. You play in future Earth that's been totally changed by Black Messa accident. Technology has in some ways advanced tremendously while society as a whole is on the verge of an apocalypse. By playing Freeman your immediately thrown into a world that's either run by the Combine an insidious military state regime or plagued by alien mutant zombies. This leaves you to lead the resistance (complied of both human and aliens) in a revolution from the combine. HL2 most inventive design comes from its use of a physics engine that allows for realistic gravity for both you and your surrounding objects. While a piece of wood might float on water rocks will sink straight to the bottom. While hurling a harmless pop can at foes does nothing a fridge is sure to crush anyone in its path. One of it's most original features is a Gravity gun you obtain that allows Freeman to pick up and throw objects such as a Refrigerator. On top of HL2 world feeling real the characters you're surrounded with are well written and believable. HL2 also has a high octane musical score that helps set the mood whether its heart pumping, eerie or just plan exciting. Only after all of HL2 story twists, adrenalin action and creepy backdrops are completed can you really understand why this was GOTY by over 40 different gaming media outlets.
HL2 Episode 1 (Classic HL2 not much new on the table):4/5 Alyx Vance was a major character in HL2. After the events of HL2 your thrust with her to escape from the Combine run City 17. The adventures you experience in Episode one offer very little that HL2 didn't already throw at you save the fact that Alyx becomes your side kick for almost the majority of your escape. Freeman will again start out having lost all his weapons. Damn how does that keep happening? Other than a few new baddies Episode 1 is simply a straight expansion from HL2. I still enjoyed Episode one but it lost points from me for not incorporation HL2 best feature of constant originality. That being said The end battles in Episode 1 we're enjoyable.
HL2 Episode 2 (Fresh, gripping and well written): 5/5 Now that you've escaped City 17 you and Alyx must fight your way to the White Forest resistance base. Episode 2 outclasses Episode 1 in originality, story and action. While episode 2 is still using classic HL2 engine you'll face several new baddies and receive one new weapon for your arsenal. There's several well added cinematic action sequence that usually involve Alyx's dog (who is a large AI one eyed robot that's first seen in HL2). The battles leading up to the finale are blood pumping and brilliant. The final battle was one of the most grueling of the whole series. It's a real grind to complete and a thrill ride all the way through. Episode 2 ends but in classic HL2 fashion it closes with a grand canyon size cliff hanger. If you enjoyed HL2 as much as me you'll be chomping at the bit for HL3 which hopefully is another Game of the year title.
Portal (It's no piece of cake): 4/5 Portal begins with you being a trapped test subject in a bizarre research faculty. You're prompted by a robotic voice on where to begin solving your way to hopefully freedom. The robotic voice acts as your only verbal companion during Portal's methodically escalating live action brain teasers. Portal's unique in that it gives a dual portal gun which you can fire on two different setting one being to create an entrance and another being for an exit. Portal quickly goes from hard to lethal while your only voice companion goes from helpful to psychotic. Portal will catch you off guard with its well placed humor, dark moods and fantastically designed 19 levels. It's fun addition to the TOB and while it steals from HL2 engine systems Portal is unique in a variety of ways.
Team Fortress 2 (very balanced multiplayer only gaming): 4/5 team fortress is really fun multiplayer gaming. It's basic combat red team vs. blue team. Each map has a locked in special objective like capture the intelligence or capture the position. There's several characters and they compliant certain means of attack whether heavy on defense, offense, speed or stealth. For example you can choose from the scout (very fast, weak health, shot gun, pistol, baseball bat), The sniper (sniper rifle, machine gun and knife), The heavy (chain gun, fist, shot gun, very tough and slow), Pyro (flame thrower, shot gun, axe), Engineer (Shot gun, pistol, wrench and ability to create portals, turrets, and supply stations), Demo, (sticky bomb gun, rpg, melee weapon),Medic (saw, healing gun thingy, dart gun and special limited invincibility for you and one teamate once you've gotten a full charge from the healing gun thingy) Solider (Shot gun, Rocket launcher, shovel, pistol) and lastly my favorite the spy (revolver, knife ,weak health, special limited invisibility cloak and ability to mask self in opponents colored suit and ability to sabotage engineer constructions). The spy loses his enemy mask after attacking but his knife is a one hit kill from behind. I live for knifing heavy's in the back. TF2 is different from other online games because it's object based and not kill based. You can respawn a hundred different times into what ever character you want too. Plus you can kill a hundred different characters yet never win. TF2 gave me a sense of team work I rarely find in other online games. Each skin has pre set voice commands that add a sense of humor to this already fun shooter. Games are clocked so if no winner is claimed there's a bonus round where your given only one life to duke it out with. This last man or team standing round is really fun because it gives you a sense of mortality that you don't feel during regular game play. These little touches add to how balanced and fun TF2 is to play. Basically TF2 is another nice bonus to already great package wrapped in orange and placed in a box.
Last take: I'm not a fan of playing games over again but Half Life 2 & Portal offer commentary gaming where you can replay these games and search out commentary bubbles click and hear what the development team has to say. Half Life 2 is one of the few games I've played twice and enjoyed it both times. Team Fortress 2 to me is like chess it never gets old.