Half-Life Alyx Review The Best VR Game To Date
Things have not been the best for Valve in recent years. Strong competition from the Epic Games Store service is causing the loss of users on Steam, and the recent Artifact, which is a card game in the Dota 2 universe, was a complete failure.
And at such a time, a very bold project for VR is coming out – Half-Life: Alyx, which is a new game in this series for more than a 10-year break. Given the not the best position of Valve, some took this idea skeptically, they say the company wants to earn at least some money on the cult series.
This is partly true, especially considering how much demand for Index devices has grown since the release of the game. However, not everything is so simple, because no matter what platform the game is made for, if it is bad in itself, then this will not save it in any way. And in fact, we have before us the best game for VR to date and a great spin-off of the Half-Life franchise.
Favorite setting captivates us again
Half-Life: Alyx takes place between parts one and two of the franchise. It was during this period that Professor Gordon was in stasis and nothing was known about him. However, at this time there were no less important events.
The famous city of City 17 was under the occupation of Combines – alien invaders who captured the Earth and established a total dictatorship on it. Invaders enslave people to extract the resources of the planet.
The game creates a very oppressive atmosphere. Each person is under total control, gramophones are installed around, and the route of movement is always under control and strictly limited.
The main character of the game is Alyx Vance, an acquaintance of Gordon Freeman. With their father, Eli, and engineer Russell, the trio becomes the backbone of a resistance that contemplates how to overthrow the Alliance.
The story campaign takes place in City 17, where there is a bunker with the main prisoner – Gordon. The goal of the game is to rescue Gordon and get into this bunker. Of course, before the bunker, the protagonist of the game has many more obstacles to overcome.
Beauty is in the details
From the very first seconds of gameplay, you can see how hard Valve tried when developing Half-Life: Alyx. Valve representatives said that the goal of creating the game is not to make money on the name of the franchise, but to create an exciting project that will allow you to immerse yourself in this universe again. And these words were confirmed by deeds.
Valve has done everything so that players can immerse themselves in the game world as much as possible and feel it literally at their fingertips. The game has a large number of elements that, although not of practical importance but allow you to better feel the world of the game and enjoy it. You can easily take any item and study it. And how in the game you can draw anything with a felt-tip pen has long been a meme.
You can touch anything in Alyx. At the same time, a number of items are interactive. For example, the radio on the balcony. You can turn it on and adjust the antenna to tune in to the desired frequency.
And such interactivity pleasantly surprises. You can easily lift the drawer and take out the bottle. Or squeeze an aluminum can and throw it off the balcony. The little things here were treated with the utmost scrupulousness. Any mask or helmet in the game can be put on your head to protect yourself from opponents. Such attention makes the gameplay as interesting as possible and makes it possible to explore each location up and down with great pleasure.
Anything you want
The combat mechanics here are on another level. This applies to all weapon interactions in the game. You won’t get this feeling in any other game.
Touching again on the aspect of attention to detail, I would like to talk about reloading. Here you yourself must take out an empty store, load a new one, pull up the shutter, and only then start killing enemies.
The arsenal in Alyx is very modest: a pistol, a shotgun, and a machine gun. But each weapon behaves extremely individually, you need to get used to it and adapt to it. You cannot take weapons from corpses, but they can be searched for new cartridges. As a rule, during the search, you can always get hold of new shotgun shells or several pistol clips.
Not only opponents have ammo. Like any important things, they can always be found in locations. Since ammo runs out very often, you need to search everything for new cartridges. Cherished clips or shots can lie in the trash, on bookshelves, or even in the bathroom. But stocking up for future use here will not succeed. Alex has not the most spacious backpack and gloves, where you can put a few medical syringes and a couple of grenades. If you run out of ammo, then nothing prevents you from throwing a box or barrel at the enemy. This will cause very little damage, but it will definitely give you extra time to retreat.
Special gloves on Alex’s hands deserve special attention. They allow you to pull objects towards you, which is very useful during the passage. The same first-aid kits and cartridges can be pulled to you with one movement of your hand.
The game also has weapon crafting, albeit the most basic and primitive. On each of the trunks, you can install several body kits and a new fire mode. For example, for a pistol, you can add an automatic firing mode and set a sight.
In addition to shooting and learning levels, part of the gameplay will be spent on solving puzzles. Many of them are based on the study of a specific subject. So often, in order to solve some kind of riddle, you just need to “twist the right little thing in your hands”.
Level design at its best
The Source 2 game engine works wonders. All levels are beautifully detailed, and the graphics in the game are perhaps the best among all VR projects. Thanks to the visual component of the game, you can easily read the newspaper in the game or the inscription on one of the product packages.
Valve created the great atmosphere of City 17 from the games in the series. Panel-type houses, small rooms for residents, bypassing supervisory services – a real dystopia. All locations in the game, whether it’s one of the houses or the sewers, are worked out to the maximum. They want to be, wander and explore literally every centimeter.
The game also has elements of horror, albeit not in large quantities. Wandering around a dark location and meeting not even the most dangerous zombie, you always shudder involuntarily. And if you have no ammo and you just need to run away, then the game at such moments is a good thrill for the nerves.
What can be said in the end?
Half-Life: Alyx is a very important project not only for Valve but for the gaming industry as a whole. Perhaps it is Alyx that will become the starting point for creating large AAA projects for VR devices. The project itself has learned to be simply magnificent and its detailing and elaboration can easily compete with conventional games. And for fans of the franchise, a game like Half-Life: Alyx will be the best gift from Valve.
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