Unlike those lucky PC owners the rest of us have not yet had a chance to continue the adventures of Gordon Freeman. Now with the Orange box we have episodes one and two available to a new audience. Here we will look and see if Episode one is up to the standard of the Half-Life legacy.
Following on directly from the end of Half-life 2, Episode one revolves around Alyx and Gordon trying to escape from city 17. It is not the longest title in the world, clocking in as it does at around four hours. As you would expect it does not deviate massively form the Half-life 2 formula but it does have a couple of nice ideas that help to carry it along.
The most notable thing in Episode 1 is the pace. Half-life 2 has many sections where the player will stop and take a breath while they try to figure out a puzzle or admire the scenery. In Episode one the pace is mostly relentless. It seems you are always running from or to something. Also you have Alyx by your side for most of it.
Alyx acts as far more than some dumb NPC who must be looked after and protected. In fact for a large portion of the game the exact opposite will be happening. Until you can find a decent firearm Alyx will be looking after Gordon. Players will be very glad to have her along for the ride as many sections are cramped and filled with enemies. You do not have to worry too much about Alyx dying, as she is near indestructible. If however she does die you will have to go back to a previous save.
Despite its short length there is still a fair amount of variety and each of the five chapters introduces something a little different to keep you wanting to push on. Much like with Half-Life 2 just as a section is beginning to become tiresome you reach the end of it and have something else to engage with. The story is also excellent and once it is over you will really want to know what is going to happen next (so it is handy that Episode 2 is just the next box along).
Episode one may well be short but it still contains enough stand out moments to make it worth playing. There is not really a point where you think you are playing anything they should have put in Half-Life 2 first time round, but it is a highly enjoyable made for TV version of its big screen brother. It more than maintains the standard of the Orange box as a whole and once more we are pleased to see it here instead of arriving as twenty pounds of downloadable content.
The game may not standout as much as Portal or Team Fortress 2 but any Half-Life fan would be mad not to see the continuation of the story and the further adventures of Doctor Freeman. It seems Valve can do no wrong and long may it continue.