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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

Xbox One X
Nintendo Switch
PlayStation 4

Game Profile
Xbox 360
EA Games
Valve Software
GENRE: First Person Shooter
October 09, 2007

Portal 2

Portal 2

Portal 2

Half-Life 2: Episode Three

Portal: Still Alive

More in this Series
 Written by Troy Matsumiya  on August 15, 2006

First Impressions: The shooter's biggest hero is bringing some new friends to the 360.

Xbox 360 owners rejoice, for your savior is coming to bless your concave white box and kick the crap out of some ugly alien butt. Yes, everyone's favorite bespectacled gun-toting scientist, Dr. Gordon Freeman, will save the world once again when Half-Life 2 graces next gen consoles later this year.

Widely considered as one of best single-player FPS experiences ever, Half-Life 2 picks up the story after the horrifying events at the Black Mesa research facility. Similar to the original, Gordon makes his entrance via train ? only this time he arrives at the crumbling City 17, which is filled with the evil forces of the alien Combine. Not surprisingly, it's up to ol' four-eyes to save humanity, deal with the creepy blue-suited G-Man, and unravel the various mysteries, twists and turns he will encounter. Along the way, friendly NPCs like the cute Alyx help Gordon as he battles more head crabs, zombies and giant killer tripods than you can shake a crowbar at.

The Xbox 360 version will carry over the same stunning graphics, cool realistic physics objects and heart-pounding action of the PC version. This may cause some of the more cynical gamers out there to think, ?Hey, this thing's been around for almost two years now on PC and Xbox, so what's the big deal? This is just another lame money-grabbing port of an old game!? Well, normally that might be true ? but definitely not in this case.

Typically, console owners are left wanting for all of the cool stuff that their PC brethren can get ? like Half-Life 2: Episode One, the first of three standalone episodes that continue the story. However, thanks to the generosity of Valve's Gabe Newell, console gamers will no longer feel excluded because our version of Half-Life 2 will be a fantastic bundle package that not only includes Episode One, but also the upcoming Episode Two, the long delayed Team Fortress 2, and an innovative new game called Portal. Wow.

In addition to picking up the story after Episode One, Episode Two will add new weapons, enemies and locations. The whole concept of the episodic ?expansion packs? is to give gamers smaller pieces of the story more frequently, rather than having to wait six years for a full-sized sequel. In fact, Valve considers the three-part Episodes ?Half-Life 3? so we'll be getting almost two full sequels in one package. Nice!

But since Half-Life 2 is single player only, what about multiplayer? That's where the highly anticipated Team Fortress 2 steps into the picture. Originally slated for release five years ago, Team Fortress 2 is the sequel to the original Quake mod that introduced the class-based character system to the FPS. Numerous radical changes have been made since that time, the most obvious of which is the game's completely different visual style. Instead of the gritty realistic soldier models a la Counter-Strike, the characters now look like they stepped out of a Pixar 3-D animation. Each character is an exaggerated caricature of their role type which not only looks goofy and cool at the same time, it also adds a nice light-hearted touch to what is normally a dead serious genre; and if Conker: Live and Reloaded is any indication, the cartoon style should really add to the fun. In any event, the new look will certainly differentiate the game from the rest of the shooters crowding the market.

There will be nine role types in total, which include the Heavy, a thick-necked muscle-bound grunt; the Engineer, who wears a hardhat and tool belt; the rubber-glove snapping Medic and his giant needle; the dynamite-toting Demoman; the cowboy Sniper; the Spy, who wears a spiffy suit and balaclava; the skinny Scout; the WWII-garbed Soldier; and the creepy flame-thrower-loving Pyro. There hasn't been much word on what gamemodes will be available, but expect the usual Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and several objective-based games.

Interestingly, despite the fact that we're getting a former Game of the Year, two-thirds of a third chapter, and the sequel to one of the most popular multiplayer shooters of all time, it's a unique new concept game that's really grabbing people's attention.

Portal is best described as a 3-D first-person puzzle game where you use the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device to create teleportation ?holes? that link to one another, allowing you to traverse otherwise impassible obstacles. For example, the game trailer shows how to cross a wide chasm filled with flames. First you shoot an ?exit? portal across the chasm into a wall and then shoot an ?entry? portal in a wall on your side; step into the entry portal and you instantly step out the exit portal on the other side. The really cool thing is that by looking into the entry portal, you can see the view out from the exit portal, which allows you to see yourself on the other side. Freaky.

Simply put, Portal looks mind-blowingly cool. It's definitely a new way of playing games that appears to require a lot of unique spatial thinking and breaks down the traditional barriers and restrictions of level design. The Portal gun allows you to do some wild things like falling down an infinite series of holes and chasing yourself in a circle. It's not just for getting from one point to another either; you can also do tricky things like disabling a gun turret by placing an exit portal above it and then place an entry portal below a crate, causing the crate to fall onto the turret. Cool! Add the fact that the gun also lets you pick up and move objects like the gravity gun in Half-Life 2, and you end up with almost unlimited possibilities.

The game will have you play as a test subject in the Aperture Science Labs tasked to complete increasingly more difficult objectives. Portal is currently intended as a standalone single-player game but if it is well-received, the prospects of an expanded and enhanced sequel are tantalizing. Can you imagine a multiplayer version of Portal tag or capture the flag? Portal has the potential of revolutionizing the industry, even more so than the original Half-Life did those many years ago. It's good to finally see a developer take a chance on new innovative ideas rather that regurgitate whatever worked in the past. Of course, most of the credit should go to the Portal team, who were students at Nintendo's DigiPen Institute of Technology and were invited to show Gabe Newell their final project called ?Narbacular Drop?, their portal gameplay concept. Newell was so impressed he literally hired them on the spot. Way to go, team!

Final Thoughts
You really don't have to think about it: Half-Life 2, Episode One, Episode Two, Team Fortress 2 and the exciting new Portal, all in one package? If there was ever a no-brainer purchase, this has got to be it. So start saving your scratch as this incredible bundle is scheduled to hit store shelves later this year.

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