Game Reviews

Half-Life 2

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| Half-Life 2
Half-Life 2
| Half-Life 2

Nvidia's Shield handheld may not have set the hardware charts alight, but it's arguably the best gaming-focused Android console we've seen so far.

However, one of its biggest failings is a lack of exclusive software. While it's home to some amazing titles, almost all of them are Android releases with physical controls retrofitted to them.

This clearly hasn't been enough of an enticement to tempt seasoned players to pick up the machine, but now - almost a year since its launch - we're finally seeing an exclusive release worth making a song and dance about.

Half-Life 2 surely needs no introduction - it's one of the most critically acclaimed video games of the past few decades and is arguably the outing which turned developer Valve into a household name.

Released way back in 2004, it set a new benchmark for first-person shooters - a benchmark that many fans will passionately argue hasn't been surpassed since. And now it's playable in the palm of your hand - with a few caveats, of course.

Gordon the go-fer

Let's focus on the good stuff to begin with, though. Half-Life 2 plays like a dream with the Shield's physical controls, and the game has been adapted from the ground up to make use of all those lovely buttons and sticks - for example, it will flash up the relevant hardware button icon when you need to press something, which already puts it ahead of many lazy mobile ports of classic PC games.

Despite its age, the game is still incredibly enjoyable and challenging, and in some ways it's a bit depressing to see how much modern games have stagnated in comparison - this is a decade old, and yet it still feels fresh and innovative compared to many of the FPS titles sitting on store shelves as we speak.

The storyline is engaging and packed with memorable set-pieces and narrative exchanges, and the oppressive nature of the setting is expertly handled. Simply put, Half-Life 2 remains a solid-gold classic, in spite of the inexorable passage of the years.

Gordon Bennett

Given that it has been ten years since Valve's masterpiece first hit the PC, you'd expect this port to be the definitive edition, but sadly that isn't the case. This is a very bare bones experience and lacks all of the additional content which has grown up around Half-Life 2 over time.

Visually, it's also less than perfect, with graphical detail being toned down to maintain performance. Even then, the framerate is subject to wild fluctuations, lurching from silky-smooth one second to judder-city the next.

While this is disappointing - especially given the supposed power behind the Tegra 4 chipset - it's important to stress that it's never bad enough to fatally impact your enjoyment of the game.

As it stands, Half-Life 2 on the Nvidia Shield isn't a perfect conversion and arguably isn't the best way to experience this legendary game. However, as an exclusive for the portable Shield - and when compared to other Android titles - it's more successful.

Being able to play on the move will be something of a revelation, even for those fans who have played the game to destruction over the past ten years. It may not quite be the title that triggers a spike in Shield sales, but if you're lucky enough to already own the console, this is a no-brainer.

Half-Life 2

Graphically diminished and lacking extras, Half-Life 2 on the Shield may not be perfect but it remains as playable and captivating as it did a decade ago
Damien  McFerran
Damien McFerran
Damien's mum hoped he would grow out of playing silly video games and gain respectable employment. Perhaps become a teacher or a scientist, that kind of thing. Needless to say she now weeps openly whenever anyone asks how her son's getting on these days.