Steam Gaming

Half-Life 2: Episode 2

Your actions at the tip of the Citadel finally came full circle as you and Alyx
took your leave of the chaotic remains of City 17. In an attempt to send a message
of unknown contents to the forces off world the Combine were forced to sacrifice
the rapidly deteriorating Citadel by triggering a cataclysmic meltdown. The Citadel
ultimately erupted in a burst of blinding blue energy, the substance of the core
tearing its way through the remnants of City 17, ravaging the outskirts of the countryside
and laying waste to anyone unlucky enough to have been trapped with the surrounding
area. Unfortunately this included yourself and Alyx, who had spent valuable time
evacuating remaining citizens at the cost of being devoured by the energy wave as
you escaped the city via train.

As your carriage was swept off of the rails Alyx uttered a feeble 'Gordon' – and
then there was blackness. And so ended Episode 1, the first slice of Valve's episodic
trilogy. Episode 2, set for release Summer 2007, picks up directly where we left
off with what is promised to be a much more refreshing experience than Episode 1.
The latter's criticisms were mainly centred around its setting – many gamers cited
the return to City 17 and the Citadel as costing them a portion of the fun, due
to over familiarity and lack of anything significantly new.

In light of this, Episode 2 takes us to the countryside, more aptly named – the
wasteland. Abandoned and ravaged by the Xenian wildlife this critical location has
yet to be explored, and is the main setting for the second episode.

Such locations include an abandoned missile silo, an antlion hive and the forests
north of City 17. A great deal of research has gone into the making of Episode 2,
as Episode 2 lead designer David Speyrer explains, "We have a professional architect
building these old barns... a guy who's built original structures, who knows that
a farm house is built around the location of the fireplace and goes out from there".
Another focus of Episode 2's is open environments, where
the player can operate freely in the midst of large battles against the
Combine and resistance forces. Given that the game is moving into a forest
environment, it's an excellent opportunity for some open-ended battle scenes.
Level designer Dario Casali tags it as "More battlefield type play".

As well as new environments to be explored, we can also expect new weapons, enemies
and vehicles to find their way into Episode 2. A new addition to your arsenal includes
the 'Strider buster' a small mine of sorts that can be thrown onto a Strider via
Gravity gun, and upon sticking to the tripod will begin to drain its heath - allowing
you to take down the Strider with ordinary weapons, such as the pistol.

Story
Episode 2 picks up directly where
Episode 1 left off. The Citadel has erupted, leaving City 17 a radiation riddled
ruin that will no doubt remain untouched for years to come. The train Gordon Freeman
and Alyx Vance attempted to escape the City on has derailed, and now lost within
the desolate wasteland they must make their way North to an enclave of resistance
scientists buried within an abandoned missile silo. Their goal is to deliver the
information packet they stole from the Citadel so it can be deciphered as to what
was so important that it required the sacrifice of an entire Citadel. Unfortunately,
things have gotten that little bit harder.
The surviving Overwatch forces, now in disarray have made
their way into the surrounding forest and are causing chaos for City 17
escapees scattered throughout the wasteland. But perhaps more importantly,
the Combine Advisors, who jettisoned from the Citadel moments before it
erupted, are already working against the resistance and it soon becomes
a race of time to reach the scientists before the Combine regain their connection
with Earth – and strike back with unimaginable retaliation.

As events pan out on Earth, an entity existing outside of normal time and space
plots to reclaim his pawn. Temporarily subdued, the Gman moves to strike at those
close to Gordon.

Episode Two is available as part of Valve's 'Orange Box' available now on PC, Xbox
360 and Playstation 3.
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