Valve crafts a masterpiece and sells 5 for one great price.
The Orange Box includes 5 great games: Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Portal, and Team Fortress 2. I'll compact my reviews into the following: Half-Life 2 (this includes EP 1 and 2), Portal, and TF2.
Half-Life 2 Bundle
In Half-Life 2 you play as Gordon Freeman, a scientist who, in the first Half-Life, unleashed a portal to Xen. In HL2 you face an alien race called the Combine, and throughout the game, as well as the episodes, you battle them, among creatures of Xen as well as antlions towards your everchanging objectives. The game is, for the most part, linear, but in a fun way. The scripted events are always engrossing, as you never leave your first-person as Gordon; characters have one-sided conversations (since Gordon never talks in any HL thus far), and so on. The facial animations, as well as the voice acting, is the best of any game I have ever played and is worth the $60 to experience, alone. The controls are fairly simple, you can change weapons, jump, use a flashlight, reload, interact (i.e. open doors, activate things, pick up objects), a fire function as well as alt. fire. Half-Life 2 itself will lend you 11 hours or so of gameplay, EP1 is roughly 2 hours, and EP2 is approximately 5 to 6 hours. Don't let the times of the Half-Life games, as a whole, be underestimated as all of the time spent playing each game is action-packed and fun; rarely does it ever get dull or boring.
In Portal you play as a nameless test subject in an experimental facility, and throughout 19 levels (as well as 6 advanced levels, and 18 medals to attain) you'll use portals to complete your tasks. One trigger controls the blue, the other controls the orange, when both portals are present they interconnect and you can go in one and come out the other. This provides a variety of different puzzles that are fun in their own way. The 19 levels will last you 2 to 3 hours, but the advanced levels and medals to obtain will add at least 5 to 10 more hours on top. Over-the-top humor compliments this amazing puzzle-based game.
Team Fortress 2
TF2 is a class-based multiplayer game, where the game is balanced where one class may be great against another, but is weak against a different one. It is all a lot of fun for up to 16 people, especially when you have friends that work together. There are 6 maps with set game types, so 2Fort has Capture the Flag while Granary has a territory type where if you stand in a set area, you will eventually regain it and you must take all the territories to win. What comes together is a lot of endless fun, as the controls are easy and the game is playable within minutes because of how simple and engrossing it is, with more depth the more you play.
That's 23 hours of gaming, with lots of replayability, and a multiplayer aspect. There are also 99 achievements to allocate, ranging from easy, to unavoidable (i.e. story achievements), to downright out-of-the-way, such as carrying a gnome to a space ship, through 3 hours of gameplay. For $60, The Orange Box is a definite buy and I recommend you buy it at all costs. The graphics, controls, story, and just everything comes together. Hit me up on Xbox Live and tell me how you liked my review, because I sure love The Orange Box. Have fun.
[This review was originally posted on GS on October 17th, 2007.]