5am: Just completed HL2! Thought i'd put down some notes abt the long long story.
HL2 is amazing! One imp comment: Though Valve released HL2 sometime in May 2004, after many deadline misses, there still seem to be many bugs in the program. I somehow managed to get rid of the infamous "Memory Read Error" twice, and was able to complete the whole game in 2 sittings :D
These were my settings:
hl2.exe -steam +mat_forcehardwaresync 0 +snd_async_prefetch_priority 1 ai_norebuildgraph 0 -console
[hope this helps someone]
In the first case, I was able to postpone error using the forcehardwaresync and prefetch_priority (i doubt this is even a valid command!). Then I got stuck at Highway17, (after the colonel provided me with the rocket launcher). The problem seemed to come from the [Wood Splintering] audio file (I found this by setting the subtitle feature). Anyways, loading back from a previous stage and was able to continue with the gunship rockets scene by setting the above and heapsize as 1/4 of my RAM (250000).
But the memory read error seems so stark common and its suprising that Valve didnt come up with a subtle solution. There are tons of forums flooded with users thrashing the issue and some announcing victories, but no concrete fix (still!). And, the error is so fustrating cause u cannot proceed easily once u r struck by it!
Anyways, coming to the game: the improvement over original HL is the new range of weapons, (the gravity gun(!!) , crossbow particularly) and gameplay. The physics is simply stunning from ripples and gunshot ricochets in water, to an almost real high altitude bridge climbing experience -in the Coast level. Combine forces play well (!!!) and the strider creatures are stunning. However, the noticeable issue is the abrupt change in level difficulty and weapon availability. For eg, the last two chapters seem nothing more that videos(!!), there is almost nothin to do. The super gravity gun can pull the CPs off the grnd and hurl them aside. So, it simplifies the levels too much. Also, valve has failed to maintain the level of suspense and addictiveness that were the definin moments of original HL. The entire game almost seems to be the same maps coming over and over again (except for that long drive on highway17! on the super buggy!). The final scenes are almost like from The Matrix!
Overall: a nice way to spend a few hours, gravitate into the world of Gordon Freeman and save humanity from the bots (that is if you can make it work!). Also, the HL2 Lamba symbol rox!
Some screenshots from the mahabarat:
The Canals: start of the tourney
The Wonder Buggy!
The Final Reunion!
Breen does a namaste to Gordon ?? !!!
The Defining Moment: I win!