Yes, my pre-ordered copy of The Orange Box turned up today. Seemed like too good an opportunity to miss before the glut of Xmas games comes rolling in - I played Half Life 2 on release, but I hadn’t gotten around to playing Episode 1 yet, so this package includes four new things to play with, namely Half Life 2 add-ons Episodes 1 and 2, Portal and Team Fortress 2. I wouldn’t call it five games in one really, more one full game and 4 nice add-ons. Still seemed like a pretty good deal to me, especially since they’ve all been getting some quite positive critical feedback.
I only had this evening to play, so I majored on Portal and Team Fortress 2, being the 2 brand new properties in the tangerine box (oh, and it’s really very orange indeed, even the DVD case itself). That said, I spent about 2 hours just on Portal because it’s a lot of fun. Puzzle game in a FPS clothing yes, but it’s very satisfying playing about with momentum particularly - the way you can accelerate things using gravity and change that into lateral momentum via various angled surfaces is a toy unto itself. As others have observed too, it has a rather black sense of humour that has had me chuckling on occasion.
Edit: I’ve finished Portal now after about 4 hours, and what can I say except: best … ending … EVER. Honestly, these guys deserve an award.
Team Fortress 2 therefore only had a fairly short play, but it comes across as very solid indeed. The graphical style is great of course, feeling like something akin to the Incredibles, where the colours are bright and everything very stylised, but extremely consistent and fantastically animated. It doesn’t just serve an artistic purpose, the high-contrast colours really make play a lot easier than all those tiresome ‘realistic’ games where browns and greys are the majority of the palette. As for the play experience, well - I’m not a big online FPS player, having tired of the repeating scenario that after a few weeks every server seems to have a group of players who practice so much that getting repeatedly reamed 10 seconds after pressing ‘spawn’ is about all you can expect from your play. Unless you’re one of those people that plays regularly enough that you can keep your skills honed, it’s a waste of time. I tired of UT (various versions), Counter Strike, Call of Duty and others this way. Nevertheless, I quite enjoyed my time with Team Fortress 2 - the class system seems very well balanced, and on large servers (the PC supports up to 32 players, consoles up to 16 - the servers I played on had about 20-25 people on them generally) there was an opportunity to play as a niche character and still do something useful. We’ll see if it stands up to my occasional play style…
I’m also looking forward to wading through Episodes 1 and 2 - I know they’re not that long, but the two together are probably about as long as Bioshock which is fine by me. If anyone wants a copy of Half Life 2 as a Steam gift by the way, let me know, I have a spare copy now since I already owned it.
Edit - ZeroPunctuation reviewed it too this week, definitely worth a watch: