Itís widely agreed that Alyx Vance is one of, if not the best AI partner in video game history. She doesnít have a handful of catchphrases she randomly spouts, you donít need to protect her like a baby(except in that one bit where you do), and she kills her fair share of enemies. But a lot of people also agree that they feel tricked into liking the characters in the Half-life series, even though most of the time you canít help laughing as they rattle on about how you all got on so well in black mesa(that is, if your remember playing the first game and how the scientists would mostly tell you they couldnít be bothered to talk to you). Well, this is the relatively long story of how I came to like the characters, specifically Alyx.
I've always been a gamer, but I only started 'seriously gaming' about three years ago. And during that time I've made it my quest to play the best and most influential games I missed out on, as well as playing all the good games that are coming out(quite a mean feat as some of you will know). In all that time, probably the best two games I came across were Half-life 2 and Shadow of the Colossus. Shadow of the Colossus was such a powerful game and Ė to my shame Ė I actually dropped the controller and momentarily considered not playing anymore when Agro fell of the cliff. Obviously I picked it up again quickly and carried on playing.
I played the first Half-life in about 2006, and was immediately a fan, shocked that all my friends had given up on the first one near the half way mark. It was a simple game compared to the second, I was later to learn, but it was still an amazing shooter. Who doesnít remember with how exhilarating it was to have to quickly turn full circle when you heard a Vortigaunt teleport behind you, knowing you had one shot to kill him before he halved your health with an electric shock.
After finishing it, I went straight onto Half-life 2 on the pc and was amazed at how different it was. Again I was in love, completing it in a number of days. When I first met Alyx I was actually shocked that I hadnít died, thinking the guards were going to kill me and I was going to have to restart at a checkpoint. Throughout Half-life 2 though, youíre pretty much alone, and itís for the best as you wouldnít get the eerie feeling of en empty countryside, or the feel the terror of traversing Ravenholm, if you were with Alyx.
After that I went straight to portal - it's that easy Samit(oh wait he's played it now)- and loved that.
Deciding that I now loved fps games on the computer, and not knowing how out of date my laptopís graphics card was going to turn out to be, I plunged right in to Episode One. Either it didn't load at all or was so unplayable I had to exit it, but either way I had to grab The Orange Box on the 360 the next day. I completed Episode One, went straight to Episode Two and quit 20 minutes in. Iíd played almost all four Half-life games in a week and a half and I was out of steam. I was fed up with the series and found myself getting angry most of the way through Episode One at little things I would later realise were my favourite parts of the entire series.
By the time I decided it was time to give the series another try it was too late-my 360 was red ringing. It was only in November of last year that I finally came back to the series, now owning all three consoles after much saving. I played Half-life 2 again to reacquaint myself with the story, and fell in love once more. Again I rushed straight into Episode One, but this time I enjoyed every second. The parts I thought I had hated were the parts where I was alone in the dark and fighting hordes of zombies. I did still hate those parts, but only because there was a part of me that was terrified of facing them all alone. And ironically, that was when I realised how much I liked Alyx. The comments she made Ė which Iíd always thought were pointless Ė now gave me a sense of companionship in contrast to the horrible loneliness I felt when facing the head crabs without her beside me. I realised then just how good a character Alyx was.
Then I beat Episode Two and it was even better- though Iím sure Iíd have preferred it on PC because although the awful car controls didnít really get in the way until the end, they made the ending horrible for me. Although I did get an amazing feeling of achievement when Iíd completed it, which is probably the point.
Also, if Iím being a complete noob and thereís a way to change the driving controls in the 360 version, laugh at me. But then tell me how :| read