Half-Life 2: A Concerned Retrospective (Part 1)

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!

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Just Who the Hell Do You Think You Are, Free Man?

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?

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Why do I play Half-Life?

hqdefaultCarpe 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.

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A Red Letter Day

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.

What would you do?

So this was going to be the first Skyrim LP post, but then I got the following message from RipOffProductionsLLC:

Cut Beta Quote about the 7 hour war:

“There was an illusion of safety, for a time. And then the Citadels appeared. It happened in a split second, all over the world. A chunk would disappear from the center of a city, to be replaced an instant later by one of these… headquarters for the Combine. Invasion Central.”
-Eli Maxwell (later renamed Eli Vance, after General Vance[whose role in he plot was taken by Barny] was cut)

This also talks about the Citadel’s arrival on Earth, whether or not it’s still cannon is unknown but it makes sense.

Another peace of cut content said that the UN asked Breen to negotiate the surrender of earth, but that is on vary shaky ground.

But now let me ask you something, wouldn’t you do the same? To save the humanity from extinction at the hands(or whatever) of an alien empire? ‘The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.’

Well. For all my blustering about hating Breen and wanting to shove my (sadly non-existent in this game) M-4 up his rear end, I was NOT expecting to be confronted with the moral quandary he faced. I mean, Breen wasn’t a bad guy, or he wasn’t at Black Mesa. He’s not a bad or evil man, although I think he’s thoroughly misguided by this point. Whether he’s taking advantage of the situation or simply being misled by the Combine, I don’t know.

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But who will be left for them to rule?

So apparently the Combine have weaponized headcrabs. This is not something I had foreseen. (And apparently some of these headcrabs come pre-stocked with explosives, but that’s another blog entry.)

Aside from just being a cool idea, let’s step back for a moment and think about this logically. When humans conquer something, what’s the usual objective? Power, right? (Not that there aren’t other motives, but we’ll get to those in a moment.) If the Combine is launching zombie-creating headcrabs at people–rendering entire areas inconvenient to reclaim at best–then this means one of two things: they don’t care about humans, or they don’t care about land. (Or maybe they care about neither one.) Maybe we’ll learn which later on–maybe the Combine actually will send troops in to clean out the area. Or maybe they’ll be content to let all the non-City areas become post-apocalyptic nightmares, which is exactly what will happen if they use this weapon regularly.

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