I have finally finished Half-Life 2. It is quite simply an awesome game. The sequel to one of the most influential titles in the gaming history, HL2 is the best first-person shooter I have ever played.

From a visual standpoint, the game is amazing to look at. The finest of details are rendered. I caught myself staring at the rotating metal blades of a windmill as it caught the rays of sunlight from above. Others may coo at the graphics in Doom 3, but the scenes in HL2 are a beauty to behold. The fact that it’s playable on machines that are nearly three years old is a testament to the engineering skill of the developers.

Thing that I liked the most is the inclusion of real-time physics in the gameplay. Objects now have representative mass and material properties. Nearly anything in the game world can be picked up, shoved, moved, thrown, or dropped. Gone are the days where your tank-destroying missile launcher wouldn’t even move an office chair an inch.

The ability to pick-up and move items in the game world in a huge forward step in gameplay. How many times have you entered a room full of ammo and medkits, only to discover you were carrying the maximum allowed items already? This is not a problem in HL2. You can simply pick-up said items and bring them with you. Or, toss them down the hall with the gravity gun.

New strategies are now possible with HL2. Pinned down by enemy fire? You can now grab a desk and use it as cover as you make your way across a room. The ability to move furniture now allows you to barricade doorways and create choke points. In one particular level, I was able to block four doorways which I had to defend with filing cabinets and desks. It challenged me to find better ways to solve the problems presented. Any game that does that is a worthy experience to me.

Now, I’ve heard some grumbling on the Internets about the ending to this game. Yes, some of you may not agree with how it ended. Before you continue your grumbling though, I recommend you take a look at this site. It will provide you some information that hopefully will put the ending in context to the larger story at hand.

If you’re even the most casual PC gamer, you can do no wrong by picking up a copy of Half-Life 2. And oh, just for you Frank, here’s a picture of Morgan Freeman as the hero of Half-Life 2.

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