Recently, it was the 15th birthday of the groundbreaking and incredibly popular Half Life 2. Just a few days after this, Valve officially announced their new VR Game, Half Life: Alyx, their first new entry in the Half Life series since 2007’s Half-life 2: Episode 2. So, to honour this incredible game series, I thought I’d count down my personal favourite chapters from Half-Life 2 and relive some of my fondest memories of the game.
7. Follow Freeman
As one of the last few chapters in the game, things have stated to get very intense. Separated from Alyx who has been captured, you must navigate your way through the now war-torn City 17 with Barney and various teams of resistance fighters. You battle against tons of Elite Combine solders, gunships. and even take down a few Striders before you finally finish the level by infiltrating the Citadel. I enjoy this chapter a lot because City 17 is by far one of my favourite locations, which I will go into further in a later entry. I also really enjoyed any of the missions involving teaming up with other solders, as well as of course, any chapter involving everyone’s favourite undercover boii, Barney.
6. Dark Energy
The final chapter in Half-Life 2 had to be somewhere on my list, and this is where it sits for me. From the second you get off the train in the first chapter, there was no other way the game could end than with the ultimate confrontation between Gordon and Dr. Breen. And who can of course, forget the final moments of the game as the reactor is exploding. You think it’s all over, that you and Alyx are about perish… and then old mate G-Man rocks up again!
And then of course, there’s THE END CREDITS! I don’t know if these count as part of the chapter, but boy are both of these tracks iconic! The first track being a really gritty, urban sound that matches Half-life 2’s tone so well, and the second being a remix of the original half Life credits song. Fun fact: I have the second track as my phone ring tone, and have done for years. No one has ever known where it was from though. I was never mad, just disappointed.
5. Nova Prospekt
This is the ultimate prison break mission. You’re here to break out Eli Vance who was abducted by the combine a few chapters prior. It was a big tossup between this chapter and the one prior Sandtraps, mainly due to the ant lion buddies you get who take a little more of a backseat in this chapter. I think the main reason this one got a bit higher is I find the location of Nova Prospekt very interesting, and occasionally the ant lions come back in, so this wins the fifth spot. This chapter has several awesome battles including against an ant lion queen and many irritating turrets. The landscape and level design are just super awesome, and you can feel so much history in the building – and as a lore junky, that meant it HAD to be on my list.
4. Black Mesa East
After traversing dangerous waters, facing several enemies and 1v1ing a hunter-chopper, you finally arrive at Black Mesa East and are reunited with your old friend Eli Vance. This chapter isn’t very fighting heavy, but has a lot of interesting lore and character developments. You meet Dr. Judith Mossman, a new character in this game, and are finally reunited with Alyx, Eli’s daughter, whom you were separated from earlier. You also meet Dogg, Alyx’s boisterous robot companion. But the greatest thing of all you get in this chapter, is the GRAVITY GUN. The best weapon in any game ever hands down! For that alone, how could it not be on the list!
3. A Red-Letter Day
So, similarly to the last one, this is another chapter without a ton of action, but is more lore and character driven. After creating quite the stir upon your entrance in the chapter prior, you find yourself in a bit of a sticky situation and are saved by Alyx, your eventual traveling companion. She escorts you to the base of your old work colleague Dr. Kleiner and you also meet up with another old friend, Barney, who helped you out earlier. On top of this, this chapter marks the moment you get back in your H.E.V suit which is a pretty epic sequence.
2. Point Insertion
So yes, this is technically the very first chapter in the game, and yes most of it involves just walking around and running away, but it is just SO ICONIC! From the dulcet tones of, “Rise and shine Dr. Freeman” to the civil protection solider asking you to put a soda can in the trash. I used to spend hours in this level, just exploring all the items you can interact with and talking to every single citizen to learn as much about the world as I could. In fact, one play through I listened to the entirety of Dr. Breen’s recorded message and learnt so much about the world that I had missed in the past due to just rushing through. This is a prime example of how to draw people in with amazing world building and characterization, without necessarily needing to go in all guns blazing right off the bat.
1. We Don’t go to Ravenholm…
Where do I begin with this level? It is honestly, a masterpiece. Watching my brother play this level as a child was what got me into the game itself, and to this day it is still the level I am always itching to play when I start a new Half Life 2 run. Set in the city of Ravenholm after escaping the combine at Eli’s lab, Gordon finds himself having to escape the abandoned city which has become overrun with zombies and head crabs. Your only assistance comes from the mysterious Father Grigori who seems to be the only human still alive in the city, who helps anyone who stumbles into the horrific place.
This chapter has an amazing tone, superb level design and Ravenholm as a location is both scary but also very sad due to what had happened there. If you’ve never played Half-Life 2, this chapter alone is proof it’s very worth a play through!
So those were my highlight chapters from Half-Life 2. What are your stand outs?
Comment below and let me know! And happy birthday Half-Life 2! You changed the world of gaming for the better and will never be forgotten.
On a side note, it was also recently Skyrim’s birthday too! So we deiced to count down 7 Best Skyrim Mods for immersive game play! Go check it out here!