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

(See part 1 if you’re unsure what’s going on here.)

Concerned #028

Ah yes. If I recall correctly, this is the first time we ever lay eyes on Combine Adviser in the game. (Obviously this happens much earlier in the comic, but since we’re following along with the comic in the article, that’s how it’s gonna be.)

I’m pretty sure I didn’t know the significance of what I was looking at in the game, when I saw these guys for the first time. To be fair, I still don’t, not completely–I do get that he (it?) must be the Combine’s equivalent of Breen–not in the traitor sense, but in the sense that it’s the alien liaison with humanity. I wish we had heard more of Breen’s interaction with it…I’m curious what this specific alien thinks of humans. Does it look down on us? Pity us? Think of us like cattle? Is it completely indifferent? I don’t know. But I really hope we get to find out in Episodes 1 and 2.

Also, I just want to say that I love the idea of Frohman cheerfully taking a message from the Adviser without questioning anything at all.

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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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Last…I am the last…

…person on Earth to probably play Valve’s brilliant Half-Life, bit it’s finally, after two years, complete. BEHOLD:

And so my two-year Odyssey with Gordon Freeman comes to an end. Nihilanth is dead, Earth (and those asshole scientists) are safe, and Gordon…well…Gordon got rather screwed, didn’t he? I was expecting him to teleport back home to a hero’s welcome, but no. Instead he got kidnapped by a creepy, not-so-human guy in a suit. Not as anticlimactic as the death that awaited him if he refused, of course, but still…ouch. I did, by the way, reload a save so I could see what happens if you refuse G-Man’s offer. Just like I thought, he was not to be trifled with, and you are killed pretty much without ceremony, and no chance of victory. Like I said: ouch.

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G-Man? More like CSM, amirite?

Gaps and comes up for air for the first time in three weeks. Blinks owlishly at the sudden bright lights.

Incidentally, if anyone ever asks you: teaching is HARD.

So, obtuse X-files reference aside, this article is indeed about Half-Life’s mysterious be-suited character. At this point–what, somewhere around 3/4ths of the way through are we, now?–and I still don’t know much about him at all. He’s…a…guy, he seems to dress well, he carries a briefcase, and he tends to appear in the oddest places.

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Strange goings-on in the comments section…

Once again just flying in under the deadline thanks to my new smart phone, and its WordPress app…

So my last post was fairly innocuous; simply a short piece on a nice piece of software I use to help catalog my comic book collection.

Things took a turn for the surreal, however, when a fine…someone/thing by the name of “Combine Overwatch Dispatch” began posting rather odd things in the comments section. It began like this:

Comment by Combine Overwatch Dispach on January 24, 2011 3:16 am

[Anti-Citizin One] not detected//
Resuming [Secter] sweep//

Wtf? First of all, whoever this Combine Overwatch Dispatch person/thing is (hereinafter referred to as “COD” for brevity’s sake) is, they do not know how to spell. 😉 Obviously, therefore, it must be someone fairly high up in the government. (heh heh.)

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Half-Life enemies, continued

So I hadn’t exactly planned to make an entry like this, but the response to my Halloween post on my favorite Half-Life enemies was such that I decided to go ahead and answer the requests I got to cover some of the other major enemies in the game. So, here you are. (Oh, and someone also asked me about a possible ‘ecology of Half-Life’ post I had discussed making. That’s still in the works, but won’t be posted until after I’ve finished the game. I want to see everything else the game has to offer–as well as any other species or locations that might come up–before I finalize it.)

Vortigaunts

These guys are cool. Probably the most intelligent of the alien species I’ve encountered so far, they’re the only creatures that seem to act with any sort of tactics or forethought. Bullsquid and headcrabs are dangerous to be sure, but they simply attack blindly, and out of what appears to be instinct–like an animal. Maybe it’s only because they’re bipedal and sound like they’re “talking” more than any other creature, but the Vorts do seem to have a little more to them than meets the eye. Of course that opens up a whole new can of worms though then; I understand why the “animal” aliens would attack when suddenly teleported to a strange place with no warning–no doubt they feel threatened, or maybe they’re just aggressive by nature and attack on sight. if the Vorts are more intelligent though, that means they either think we’re a threat, or have had prior contact with us and know that they don’t like humans. There would be no other reason for them *all* to simply attack on sight the way they do. Then again, I suppose the military IS gunning them all down, and the Vorts probably make no distinction between me (that is, Gordon) and the bad guys; one man with a gun probably looks the same as any other, and all are threats to be eliminated. Maybe that, more than anything else, proves how intelligent they are. I know if I was in the Vort’s shoes, I’d be electrocuting every human in my path too.

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