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"The Orange Box"


Having never played the "Half-Life" games by Valve on the PC, "The Orange Box" gave me the perfect chance to play one of the gaming world's classics, "Half-Life 2", as well as the two smaller adventures that comprise two-thirds of what would have been "Half-Life 3" if the game's producers had just decided to package it all into one game.

So, as it is, you get three "Half-Life" games in "The Orange Box", which follow the adventures of the world's greatest physicist/action hero, Gordon Freeman, as he fights against evil soldiers, zombies, nasty monsters and the occasional psycho robot.  "Half-Life 2" is the best part of "The Orange Box", and the two additional adventures are both very strong; this will get you about 20 hours of first-person shooter action just by itself.  Then, as an added bonus, you get "Portal", a very short puzzle game that basically hands you a gun that shoots holes into the environment that you can run through to complete objectives; for about 90 minutes, "Portal" is pretty good.

The main reason I bought "The Orange Box", though, was to get my hands on "Team Fortress 2", which I was hoping would satisfy my desire to not just kill everybody onscreen in an online game, but rather give me some team-based combat that was objective driven.  Problem number 1: only six maps for the game.  This is bad; worse, the online interface absolutely blows.  The lobbies aren't nearly as good as the ones in "Halo 3"; the game connections had so much lag that it sometimes took 15 minutes to find a good game; and, worst of all, players don't seem to take the "all for one, one for all" approach to playing; they seem mostly interested in killing the other team, instead of working together to strategize in a way that's fun.

So, you get three good components and an average fourth.  Hey, for $60, this is still a great deal...just not the best one on the market right now.

Rating:  $40


Feedback?  Comments?  Salma Hayek's digits?


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  Buy this game right away, and don't ask me any questions as to why that's a good move.  A game experience that will almost guarantee repeated controller abuse, lots of ManScreaming and high resale value, you will assuredly play this bad boy for months on end. 

"$40":  Usually after games have been out for a while, they drop in price slightly, or can be bought for slightly cheaper in combination with other new games.  Usually, that's about $40.  You'll feel good getting the game for this price, since it isn't quite run-out-and-get-it-right-now good, but it has enough game in the box for a few weeks' worth of enjoyment.

"eBay":  This game is not too bad, but you'd be better off buying it used from either or eBay.  You also might let a friend buy this game, let s/he beat it, and then try to buy it from them to make them feel better.  Yes, this does tend to feel like "Sloppy Seconds."

"Rental":  Like my cousin Ron, you should always rent games that you aren't sure about first, to make sure that your $50 is going towards something worthwhile.  For games in this category, this is the maximum amount of money ($5) and/or time (3-5 days) you'll need to either gain satisfaction from the game, or beat the game in its entirety.  Rental-rated games are also sometimes perfect for a weekend when you are going to be at home on your ass, with some time to kill.

"Dogshit":  Games like this should have never been released.  If you play this game for any reason, you will regret every second of the experience.  Further, if you can get this game for free, don't do it, because even for FREE, it will still be a negative experience for you!

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09