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Game Review: The Orange Box

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 The Orange Box, released by Valve, is a collection of 5 games, including Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2:Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Portal, and the long-awaited

Team Fortress 2. Originally released as a Windows PC package, it has now being released on gaming consoles, first on the Xbox 360 and subsequently on the Playstation 3.  Any of these games are worth the price of admission. Throw in all five spectacular games, and you have a Game of the Year contender that is worth being in everyone’s library.

    

 

Half-Life 2 , once voted 2004’s Game of the Year, the game’s gripping story, tough characters and challenges have been preserved in the port, and with it are controls that are almost as tight as they are on the PC. Even if you have beaten it before, those perfectionists will be back in City 17 for the achievements that are available.

           

 

Episode One is more of the same, as it doesn’t add to much to the actual gameplay elements ( There are no new weapons and only one more creature), but , it adds a change of pace and makes the story more relatable to the player.  Alyx, now your companion, serves as your backup through the game as you try to escape City 17.As the length of the game isn’t that long, it feels more like a link between Half Life 2 and Episode 2, instead of a full game.

           

 

Episode Two however, is simply a blast. The pace picks up, the graphics are superior, there is a new weapon and a new creature, and more importantly, the skill of Alyx picks up as well. The action engages you and is a breath of fresh air. If you go through the game completely (Half Life 2, Episode One, and Episode Two) you really get to see what Valve has been working on. It makes it that much more satisfying to get to the ending.

           

 

Portal is a complete change of pace from Half Life 2, as it is a First Person Puzzle game instead of a shooter. The first levels are easy, and will give you confidence, until you make your way into the final few, and this is where the game shines. You really have to think as the puzzles begin to tax you mentally, and the joy of completion really makes each experience worth it.

           

 

Team Fortress 2 is where this game earns its bread and butter. Veterans of the previous Team Fortress have an idea on just how fun this can get, with 9 classes of completely different skill sets set in a world based on objectives. The difference between this game and other class based games is the balance that comes with it. All classes push your team to victory, and there is no class that is overpowered. Teamwork is the name of the game as going solo is a quick way to have your team lose. It is definitely a change of pace for console owners who are used to just outclassing the competition using the same guns and tactics. If you can find a group of players and a full map, be prepared for an afternoon of mayhem that will run for hours. 

           

 

 

The Orange Box has everything a gamer could want, the controls are tight, the interface is sleek, and the live matches are pretty solid.  Critically acclaimed, hood tested, and gamer approved. Each one of these stands alone as great gaming. All five together is gaming ecstacy.

 

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