So, as you probably know if you’ve found your way to this site, my LP of Half-Life 2 is complete. Now that it’s done, I can finally, finally, FINALLY devour all of the brilliant and hilarious comic Concerned.
Rather than another long winded, rambling post about my HL2 thoughts–I’ve honestly said 99% of what I want to say about it at some point in this blog anyway–I figured I would format this ‘retrospective’ a little differently: by using various Concerned comics and commenting/analyzing/laughing about them. It seems like a fun and fitting way to end all of this, and look back at the last five years (!) through a slightly different lens.
There are a LOT of comics, obviously I’m not going to address even close to all of them, but this will no doubt take more than one article. But for now, here is part one!
So at the very end of my last Half-Life 2 episode, I stopped and strained to hear a fairly short but important Breencast. I’ve taken the liberty of looking up the full text (since I had some trouble hearing it in game) and present it to you in full now:
I’d like to take a moment to address you directly, Dr. Freeman.
Yes. I’m talking to you, the so-called One Free Man. I have a question for you. How could you have thrown it all away? It staggers the mind. A man of science, with the ability to sway reactionary and fearful minds toward the truth, choosing instead to embark on a path of ignorance and decay. Make no mistake, Dr. Freeman. This is not a scientific revolution you have sparked…this is death and finality.
You have plunged humanity into freefall. Even if you offered your surrender now, I cannot guarantee that Our Benefactors would accept it. At the moment, I fear they have begun to look upon even me with suspicion. So much for serving as humanity’s representative.
Help me win back their trust, Dr. Freeman. Surrender while you still can. Help ensure that humanity’s trust in you is not misguided.
Do what is right, Dr. Freeman. Serve mankind.
Let’s, for the sake of this sure to be long winded philosophical exercise, take most everything in game at face value. Let’s assume that Breen is being entirely forthright here, and honestly believes what he’s saying (which may or may not actually be the case; no real way to know that yet.) Further, let’s assume that Gordon is fighting purely because he believes that what he is doing is right, and that he isn’t being manipulated by some shady, possibly omniscient, time/dimension hopping alien thing in a suit (we know that he is. That his morals cause him to do what G-Man wants is irrelevant.)
Assuming ALL of that…is Gordon Freeman (and the resistance) doing the right thing?
Carpe noctem my feathered flock! While trolling through some comments and messages, the following idea came in from Rob on Patreon:
Here’s a question, since you’re coming back to Half-Life again. You have a somewhat unique perspective on Half-Life because you played all of 1, spread over a while…and have now been partially through 2 on a blind run for quite some time. Obviously, you enjoyed 1 enough to start 2, and 2 is engaging you enough in some ways to keep you coming back to it. What engaged you about the first one, and is it the same things that are engaging you in the second?
It’s a deceptively fascinating question, at least to me. My initial knee-jerk response is, of course, I play it because that’s what I do. I started the series, I should finish it The sky is blue, dogs bark, and Hawk plays Half-Life. But, as Johnny Rico observed in Starship Troopers, “Fight because I’m an M.I.? Brother, you’re drooling like Dr. Pavlov’s dogs. Cut it out and start thinking!”
So I did. I started thinking. This article is the result of that thinking.
I figured I’d post a little something while we wait for the new episode to upload. Granted, this song is actually about the old Prisoner TV series but, given where I think the Half-Life story is going…I think it’s quite fitting:
I’m baaaaaaaaaaaack! At least, I’m back to a place where I can at least have a few moments to type. So enjoy the continuation of my exploration of Skyrim with my feisty Bosmer ranger avatar, Piter.
It’s still a little while before I really got into the screenshot taking thing, so forgive the lack of some of the important bits. Hopefully my l33t English-major description skillz will help make up for it.
When we last left Piter, she had almost been eaten by a dragon, and was asked to choose sides in a civil war she could care less about. Rather than follow the Stormcloak (or seek out the Imperials), she skips off of the path entirely and heads out into the woods for several (in-game) days. After getting my fill of hunting and exploring various settlements we come across (and being loaded down with pelts and furs in my inventory), it is time to find a road again, and continue South. I find birthsign stones as I do, and–obviously–pick the Thief. Piter is no pickpocket, mind you, but she does rely on ranged weapons and stealth. The Warrior is not her way, and neither, for certain, is the Mage.
So there’s this Steam group. And they’ve designated today A Red Letter Day. They call for everyone interested in info on Half-Life 3 to spend part of today playing Half-Life 2 as a “call for communication.”
Now, I doubt this will have much effect–Valve is known for taking their sweet time, and will release info when they release it. Still, I thought this would be fun, and I really would love to have Half-Life 3 waiting there for me once Episode 2 is complete.
I’ll be participating, but I don’t think I’ll have the actual video up until Monday or Tuesday. (I was hoping to have it up today, but you know how these things go. Best laid plans and all that.)
Anyway, join in and spread the word if you’ve a mind to.
You’ll have to forgive the lack of screenshots in the first few entries here; I still haven’t gotten used to hitting the capture button at important moments–I usually get too wrapped up in the game. I’ve gotten better as I’ve gone along though, so you’ll get more pictures as this progresses
Ah, the Skyrim theme. It’s not Morrowind, but damn it’s beautiful. The male choir is gorgeous, and sets the Viking-like tone very well indeed. And so does the scenery as the game opens–trees, mountains, snow…in fact I feel quite at home. I spent four years at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks and loved it, -60F temperatures and all. I immediately feel that familiar chill as the opening scene fades in.
Of course, as is Elder Scrolls tradition, my character is a prisoner. I hadn’t specifically known this ahead of time, but it’s hardly a surprise. I’m not sure I’m a huge fan of this convention–it rather limits the hypothetical background you can give your character–but it is an easy way to get you into (and out of) a tutorial and character creation quickly. As an Elder Scrolls veteran, I already know what race I want to play–a Wood Elf. They’ve always been my favorite. And although I usually play a male (purely because the female versions of armor–especially the light armor I favor–is insultingly skimpy) I think I will try a female this time. The screenshots I’ve seen have shown at least some suits of reasonable armor for female Dovakhiin, so that will be nice.
My fellow prisoners–none, sadly as endearing as my good friend Jiub (whatever happened to him, anyhow? I hope he got released as well)–talk for a bit, and don’t tell me much of anything I don’t already know from Skyrim‘s marketing department. There’s a civil war, and it seems that a small band of Nord freedom fighters and/or terrorists are attempting to force Skyrim to cede from the Empire. As much as I know the writers probably want me to sympathize with the rebels, nothing Ulfric Stormcloak says here convinces me OR my character that he’s playing with a full deck. Maybe this is residual Imperial sympathy from the last two games, but much of his ‘inspirational speech’ sounds like militant Texans demanding their own country. (And yes I AM allowed to make fun of Texas–I was born there.) While I understand his position, I–the player–have far too much love for the Empire after the events of Morrowind and Oblivion to immediately get on the rebel bandwagon.