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Half-Life 2: The Orange Box Member Review for the Xbox360

LinksOcarina By:
PLAYERS 1- 16 
PUBLISHER Electonic Arts 
M What do these ratings mean?

Whenever a bunch of games are released togeather in a compilation set, it is sometimes too good to be true. I remember once I got Dungeon Keeper 1 and 2 togeather, along with American Mcgees Alice, Myth 2, Vietcong, and some racing game. Of them, only Myth 2, Alice, and Dungeon Keeper 2 were worth the bundle of $50 dollars.

Enter the orange box. The little citrus-looking rectangle is perhaps the best deal one could hope for, five different games for the price of one of them. And since almost all of the content is nearly related to Half-Life, with the exception of the legendary Team Fortress and the new Portal game, someone would be crazy not to get this deal.

But wait! Like all deals, there is a slight catch, and while the Orange Box is definitly worth a look, and purchase, to the die hard Half-Life fan, perhaps it is too good too be true at all, once again.

Since this is five games in one, it will be hard to score it like I usually do, so this is the overall package, and I have to say, it is impressive. We get Half-Life 2, the complete game, as well as Episode one and two of the Half-Life series, with Episode one being released on PC only previously. We also get Team Fortress Two, the anticipated sequel of an addicting online game. We also get Portal, a small puzzle game which has generated so much positive feedback for numerous reasons.

I will say this right now for all of the games, they look great, and will always look great. Now almost five years old, Half-Life 2 still looks better than most new games today. The level of detail the games have is enormous, and graphically, all of them are a strong achievement.

That being said, one of the pitfalls of these graphic capabilities falls under the weight of loading them, as well as having minor clipping when the action gets too hot. I found this to be true in Both Half-Life 2 and Episode one, the two oldest games in the bundle. While graphically identical to Episode two though, it is clear that the hardware to make two was updated, while it is possible that Episode one and Half-Life 2 were emulated with new control schemes.

Either way though, the game still is a great storyline. The infamous unlikely hero, Gordon Freeman, is now working against the man and the aliens with the help of his allies, such as the heroine Alyx Vance, and our old friend Barney Calhoun. With a crowbar and the awesome anti-gravity gun at his side, Freeman is determined to destroy the legacy that Black Mesa has created, going through headcrabs, antlions, helicopters, and faceless soldiers alike to achieve this goal.

The game is beautifuly acted throughout both Episode one and two and through Half-Life two, and the controls are fantasticly implemented, reminiscent of the old X-Box controls. While the story hasn't changed, however, the hardware has. This is the third time Half-Life two has been released, and while it's still an excellent game, cheaper copies can be found both on an original X-box and on the PC. Valve was smart in making this a bundle, because adding Episodes one and two too the mix not only help the overall story until Half-Life 3 comes along, but makes the game replayable once again.

As a core, that would be enough, having those three games, but Valve has added two nifty bonuses. Portal and Team Fortress Two.

Portal is perhaps the smallest jewel in the crown, but is definitly the shiniest. As Chell, the silent protaganist, you must match wits with the impeccably funny GLADOS, a super AI that has so much character, I would hope to see her again in more games. Besides the revoultionary gameplay Portal has, creating holes and using physics and momentum to overcome hazardous obstacles and platforms, which looks incredible on the screen by the way, it is the witty yet menacing banter that GLADOS provides throughout the game that makes it worth the while. Believe me, there is a reason why the cake is still a lie.

That being said, Portals biggest problem is that it's too short, easily beaten in three hours for a good game, one hour for a puzzle master. Despite an awesome ending, the only thing that comes back with the game is higher difficulty and a time attack mode, which changes the puzzles yes, but in the long run it is still a short trip.

Despite this, Portal makes an excellent game, and is easily one of the reasons to get Orange Box. On it's own, it would be hard to see it survive, but with the bundle it comes with, it is without a doubt the best game on there, and that is saying something when compared to Half-Life.

Team Fortress Two is the second game, and I honestly can say it is the weakest game in the bundle, but even that is not saying much. The game incorporates funny humor into it by changing the realistic characters into cel-shaded cartoons, matching silly archetypes that were seen in the first Team Fortress, from the medic to the spy, the sniper and the soldier, all of them have similar functions as the original Team Fortress.

The major problem with Team Fortress is this though. First, there is a severe lack of content. There are no bots, so you can't hone skills outside of the game, and the lack of good maps, because there are only six of them, is a cause for longevity. Second, since the game is multiplayer only, the search of people, at least when I attempted to play, worked half of the time. Sometimes there is an abundance of Team Fortress players, and sometimes there seems to be less than ten people willing to play. Perhaps it's a minor glitch on my own game, I don't know, but it is a glaring problem for a multiplayer only game.

Despite this, Team Fortress 2 is a pretty good multi-player game, although the influx of titles like Halo 3, Shadowrun, Call of Duty 4, and GRAW are a concern in the end as well, the multi-player realm is saturated at this point, and only the very best will survive. I think Team Fortress 2 will be among them, but barely.

So in the end, we have five great, playable, and often quirky games that are without a doubt woth $60. For a 360 owner, having the Orange Box in your library is almost a necessity. If not for anything else, to preserve Half-Life 2. For even the most casual fans of first person shooters or puzzle and multi-player fragfests, I highly reccomend this deal. It is almost a steal for the price that's being offered, and in a game enviorment where prices keep going up, getting five games for under $70 is definitly worth it.

Final Score- A-

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