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Review: The Orange Box 11.01.2007 – by Force

Hey all, Force here with a review today to one of the greatest console releases of all time. This is a game that I am sure will get further discussion on our show, but I just had to get this review of my chest and let the rest of the world know how much love I have for a little game called The Orange Box.

I want to say how jealous I am of some of you out there, i.e., those of you who are about to experience the world of Half-Life 2 for the first time. This is the definitive version of that classic game and it shines in all its splendor on the 360. As I am walking around the world of Half-Life 2 I keep finding myself saying, “ Damn I can’t believe this game is 3 years old!” The main game looks absolutely phenomenal. The character models, the environments, the weapons, all of it looks stunning. There might be some games out there that look a lot shinier, but none of them have the atmosphere and creativity that seeps out of every crack of this game. Valve truly was ahead of its time when the Source engine first made its debut.

I am also happy to report that the two truly new games Portal and Team Fortress 2 also look stunning. Portal looks like its pulled right from the world of Half-Life 2, which as you play you’ll discover it is. The real star in this game is Team Fortress 2. The art style that Valve chose to use for this multiplayer game is truly original. You’ve never played a FPS that looks like this. The character models look really gorgeous and it is like the gods at Pixar stepped into Valve’s studio and helped them create this game. Valve also gets props for the simple fact that they did something so daring. They incorporated cartoon quality graphics into a shooter and they did it with style and you never feel like you are playing a kids game.

The sound in this game is also one of the highest benchmarks of quality in video games. The voice actors that are featured in the main game are awesome. Robert Guillame from the TV show Benson is a true stand out in the voice cast. The woman who voices Alyx is also top notch. The actors aren’t the only stars. The sound effects for the weapons, the vehicles, the fact that you can tell what you are hitting based on the sound it makes, everything about Half-Life 2 sounds phenomenal.

As outstanding as the sound is in Half-Life 2, nothing compares to the creativeness of the sound in Portal. The computer that narrates the story of Portal is hilarious and the dialogue is some of the most inventive I’ve heard in the genre. You will find yourself constantly laughing out loud and the robot voice does a perfect job of conveying a computer going crazy. While I won’t spoil the ending of the game, I have to say that the final song that plays over the credits of Portal is one of the most funny, clever, insane things I’ve ever heard in my life. Everyone who knows me has been forced to watch the ending of Portal, it’s that outstanding. Last but not least, Team Fortress does a decent job in the sound department, especially the way characters speak to each other based on what actions you are doing.

The gameplay that is contained inside The Orange Box is some of the best the FPS world has ever seen. The outstanding game that is Half-Life 2 and both of its sequels are awesome. It is a bit disappointing that a lot of the same game ideas are rehashed over and over in both Episode 1 and 2, but that doesn’t keep them being truly compelling titles and an absolute necessity to play through if you enjoyed Half-Life 2. In particular, Episode Two has one of the most jaw dropping cliff hangers I have seen in a video game and I truly felt myself hit by the emotional impact of what happens.

As if the gameplay in HL2 wasn’t enough to justify a purchase, you also get Portal and TF2. Portal is one of those games where it sounds simple on paper, a gun that shoots a portal entrance and an exit, but the ways in which you use this simple concept is beyond creative. There are so many great ideas in Portal and solving some of the puzzles that the designers have put forth really makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something.

The last of the bunch Team Fortress 2, is in my opinion, the best of the bunch. I have never played a team based game where each class is balanced so well. There are so many games that offer a variety of classes, but I find myself almost never choosing most of them. In this game each character class is a blast to play. When I first started playing TF2 I was hooked on the soldier. I liked to blast the shit out of people with my rocket launcher. While trying to accomplish an achievement for playing each character class I found myself falling in love with the Engineer and his ability to create turrets. I love the fact that it keeps getting kills while I’m off trying to take out other players. My current record is 25 kills in one sentry. Another class that I think sometimes gets the shaft is the medic class. In this game the medic can truly make the difference between winning and losing a game. I remember one game where I joined and my team was already losing 2-0. I chose the medic and together with another player we were able to completely flip the game using the healers invulnerability power and came back and won 3-2. I am sure those of you who have played this are filled to the brim with stories about awesome accomplishments you have done in this game. I can’t remember the last time I played a game that was this perfectly balanced. I truly hope this game has a bright future ahead of it in the competitive circles.

You would have to be a corpse, blind, or brain dead to not have fun with The Orange Box. The fact that Valve crammed so much stuff into one box is amazing. The fact that they charged the same price as other companies only offering one game is amazing. Some might complain that Portal is so short or that TF2 only offers 6 maps, but when you look at the big picture and keep in mind that you also get the complete version of the most outstanding FPS games of all time, then you find your complaints carry little merit. If you purchase this game, you WILL have a blast. I am totally hooked on Team Fortress 2, I can’t stop showing off the ending of Portal, and I can’t stop thinking about the cliff hanger at Episode Two. As it stands right now, The Orange Box is one of the greatest purchases I have ever made and will be for you too.

Overall: Graphics 10 Sound 10 Gameplay 10 Funfactor 10 Overall: 100%