Half-Life 2: Episode Two is the second of a three episode arc that takes place after the events of Half-Life 2. In this game, you play as Gordon Freeman as he attempts to make it to a resistance base called White Forest with data crucial to the resistances war effort against the Combine. It was released on October 10, 2007 on its own on Steam as well as being packed in the Orange Box alongside Team Fortress 2, Portal, Half-Life 2 and Half-Life 2: Episode One for both the Xbox 360 and the PC.
Since it is only an "episode", the game is slightly shorter than most full priced games, but it is still much longer than an ordinary DLC pack. The game has been received quite well with most critics agreeing that it is better than Half-Life 2: Episode One, and may even match the success of Half-Life 2.
The game is linear in nature, with areas in the world that can be explored that are alongside the main path of the game. The game mostly takes place in forests or very small military outposts or civilian towns. It is split into multiple chapters that can be played individually once beaten at least once. The design is focused much on the characters and environment, thus most of what you can see in the world you can interact with by some means, usually with the Gravity Gun. The characters are also quite detailed, mostly in the facial animations and body movement. From a gameplay perspective, the design is either usually centered on a puzzle that must be solved, through use of the Gravity Gun or some trigger in the environment, or fire-fights between you and the AI.
The gameplay is very similar to that of the previous entries in the series; this is a First Person Shooter, with much of the trappings of what you expect an FPS to have. Unlike most modern FPSs, the game includes many puzzle-based game mechanics while leaving out iron sights. The movement style also hearkens back to earlier eras. Whereas in more modern games movement is slower and feels heavier, HL2: Episode 2 maintains the fast paced movement style that is becoming less frequent. The one big game mechanic that has been a centerpiece since Half-Life 2, the Gravity Gun, is back, thus allowing you to manipulate the environment by picking up and throwing objects.
New in Episode Two
One significant change from past games is the inclusion of large vehicle sections. While Half-Life 2 also had vehicle sections, they felt more isolate and closed off from the rest of the game, being only seen in one level before moving on. In Episode 2, you gain a vehicle early on and traveling through most of the game with it. Throughout the game, there are areas that can be explored on the driving paths that are optional, but give rewards such as ammo and health.
Valve has said that each Episode (from 1-3) has been built around a specific design choice that would allow them to further experiment with their Source engine and how they create games. With Episode 1 it was the inclusion of a highly sophisticated AI partner, Alyx Vance, who accompanied you throughout most of the game. In Episode 2, the new game mechanic was that of augmenting Valves Source engine to allow for much more open environments and larger scale battles, as illustrated by the final battle in the game and the many large open forest areas you encounter throughout the game.
To the White Forest
Half Life 2: Episode Two starts hours after the events of Half Life 2: Episode 1. Gordon finds himself mildly injured and trapped inside the same train on which he and Alyx Vance departed from City 17 only hours earlier. After making his way to the front of the mangled train car, Alyx appears outside and is greatly relieved to find Gordon safe. She manages to free Gordon from the train car by ripping the door off its hinges with the gravity gun, which she found near the crash site.
Gordon and Alyx quickly discover that the explosion from the citadel core completely destroyed City 17. The ominous citadel has been leveled and a swirling blue super portal has appeared above the rubble, sending a distress code out to the Combine home world. After making radio contact with the resistance headquarters at White Forest, Gordon and Alyx are informed by Eli and Dr. Kleiner that the data packet recovered in Episode 1 is the Combine’s portal code, and that it is this code that allows the Combine to control the super portal from their home world. Dr. Arne Magnusson hypothesizes that the resistance can use the code shut down the portal and effectively shut off the Combine from earth for good. Gordon and Alyx then depart for White Forest.
On the way to White Forest, Alyx is critically wounded by a Combine Hunter. A nearby Vortigaunt senses the trouble and comes just in time to save an unconscious Alyx from being finished off by an Ant-Lion. After assessing Alyx’s wounds, the Vort tells Gordon that it will not be easy to save her and that they will require the Ant-Lion’s larval extract, as it possesses powerful healing qualities. Gordon and the Vort travel deep into the Ant-Lions’ hive and steal the larval extract. Meanwhile, other Vortigaunts are keeping Alyx’s state stable back in an abandoned silo. Upon returning to Alyx with the extract, Gordon is told that the Vortigaunts must weave Gordon and Alyx's life forces, effectively intertwining their fates.
Just before Alyx’s wounds are healed, the G-Man appears for the first time since the beginning of Episode 1. The G-man acknowledges that it is not a very good time for a “heart to heart,” but the Vortigaunts had been preventing him from appearing to Gordon prior to that point. The G-Man explains that Alyx would not even be alive today had he not saved her from Black Mesa and, as a form of repayment for keeping her alive, he charges Gordon with the duty of safely delivering her to White Forest. The G-Man then plants a hypnotic suggestion in Alyx’s mind instructing her to relay the message “prepare for unforeseen consequences” to her father.
After the G-Man’s cryptic visit, Alyx awakens fully healed but still in pain. Gordon and a Vortigaunt companion assist her into an elevator and the trio sets off to find a car. Eventually, Alyx fully recovers and the group finds a car, giving Gordon and Alyx an opportunity to quickly head to White Forest. Gordon and Alyx encounter several obstacles on the way to White Forest, but after staving off several ambushes by Combine soldiers, hunters, and a Hunter Chopper, they finally make it to the base. There, they are warmly greeted by Eli and Dr. Kleiner. The reunion is cut short when a Combine raiding party breaches security and makes it into the base. Gordon eliminates the threat by defeating most of the enemies and sealing the silo doors to prevent further Combine invasion.
After Gordon reunites with the group, they go to Eli’s work area to watch a transmission from Judith Mossman that was recovered along with the data packet in Episode 1. Eli becomes incredibly nervous after seeing that Judith is in danger, and becomes even more rattled upon Dr. Kleiner’s discovery of a hidden message in Judith’s transmission. The message reveals that Judith has discovered The Borealis, a legendary research vessel that infamously disappeared years ago. It is learned that the vessel was owned by Black Mesa competitor, Aperture Science. Kleiner and Eli have a heated debate about what should be done with the vessel. Eli is convinced that The Borealis can only bring more harm to earth and must be destroyed, while Kleiner urges that knowledge gained from The Borealis could help the humans finish off Combine forces on earth.
The argument is left unfinished, and Kleiner leaves to prepare for the firing of the rocket that is to be used to shut down the City 17 portal. Shortly after Kleiner has left, the G-Man triggers the hypnotic cue in Alyx’s mind. Consequently, Alyx walks up to her father and says, “Dad, prepare for unforeseen consequences.” Eli nearly collapses upon hearing this, and Alyx comes back out of her trance with no memory of what she just said. Eli assures her that he is alright and that he would just like a cup of tea. Alyx agrees to go make it, leaving Gordon and Eli alone in the work room.
With Alyx out of earshot, Eli confides in Gordon the importance of the line “prepare for unforeseen consequences.” According to Eli, that is exactly what the G-Man had told him just before the resonance cascade at Black Mesa was triggered. Eli reveals that it was the G-Man who brought the Xenian crystal to Black Mesa that fateful day, and that he is in many ways responsible for that event. Incidentally, Eli is the only person to ever mention the G-Man to Gordon, as he refers to him as their mutual friend.
Before Eli can divulge any more information about the G-Man Alyx reenters and questions them about what’s going on, Eli tells Gordon that they will finish talking about it later and changes the subject quickly. Immediately after this Dr. Magnusson barges in with news of an incoming Combine assault. He informs Eli and Gordon that several Dropships carrying Striders were spotted heading towards White Forest and he volunteers Gordon for the job of taking them out. Gordon silently agrees and heads out with Magnusson where he is introduced to a new weapon named “ The Magnusson Device”, a weapon for taking out Striders that Dr. Magnusson assures Gordon was named by the staff.
The weapon works by being launched onto the body of a Strider via gravity gun, after Gordon sticks a Strider with the device it can then be detonated by gunfire causing the Strider to spectacularly explode. Mini teleportation hubs scattered across the forest supply Gordon with an infinite supply of devices as he takes on the Combine assault.
Over a dozen Striders escorted by hunters end up assaulting the base but Gordon destroys them all in a hectic finale and is hailed by the rebels around him as a hero. Excited cheers and shouts of praise for Freeman flood the field and PA system. Alyx is waiting back inside for Gordon who is amazed at his performance against the Striders. They take a lift back up to the rocket control room and on the way even Magnusson feels compelled to thank Gordon. Everyone at the base agrees that Gordon should be the one who launches the rocket and so he presses the button launching the salvation of humanity into the super portal and destroying the last chance the Combine had at retaking Earth.
The game concludes with Alyx and Gordon preparing to take off in a helicopter that Alyx fixed up. They plan on flying further north to find and rescue Judith Mossman. As Eli is saying goodbye a Combine Advisor crashes through the glass roof and pins Gordon and Alyx against the wall. The Advisor slowly floats over to a knocked over Eli just as another Advisor enters and keeps Gordon and Alyx completely immobile. Eli tries fruitlessly to hurt the Advisor with a pipe but the Advisor shrugs it off and picks up Eli in his mechanical arms. Eli is turned towards Gordon and Alyx as he is raised up to the Advisors extending tongue, he tells Alyx to close her eyes as she screams in horror for her Father’s life. Eli’s last wish is that Gordon destroys The Borealis and his last words to Alyx are “I love you baby”. The Advisor brutally punctures the back of Eli’s head with his proboscis like tongue and appears to suck out his brain. Just as The Advisor is about to do the same to Gordon, Dog comes barreling through the glass and tackles the Advisor injuring him in the process. The Advisor scuttles away in pain and the other follows as they both float up and take off as fast as possible. Gordon lies on the floor now watching as Alyx sobs over Eli’s dead body, the screen fades to black as Alyx cries the final words of the game: “don’t leave me”.
- The G-Man's "heart to heart' with Gordon during a cut scene just before Alyx's healing.
- He walks slowly across a large bridge in the area where Gordon must retrieve the car.
- Entering the White Forest Inn, just before you arrive in the car and are blocked off by the Combine
- His silhouette appears momentarily on the big screen TV in Eli's office just before Alyx's line.
7 new levels were added to Half-Life 2's universe in this second expansion.
- To the White Forest
- This Vortal Coil
- Freeman Pontifex
- Riding Shotgun
- Under the Radar
- Our Mutual Fiend
- T-Minus One
PC System Requirements
- 1.7 GHz Processor
- 512MB RAM
- DirectX® 8.1 level Graphics Card (Requires support for SSE)
- Windows® 7 (32/64-bit)/Vista/XP
- Internet Connection
- Pentium 4 processor (3.0GHz, or better)
- 1GB RAM
- DirectX® 9 level Graphics Card
- Windows® 7 (32/64-bit)/Vista/XP
- Internet Connection
Mac System Requirements
- OS X version Leopard 10.5.8
- Snow Leopard 10.6.3
- 1GB RAM
- NVIDIA GeForce 8 or higher, ATI X1600 or higher or Intel HD 3000 or higher
- Internet Connection