I had to ask...
By this what I mean is that I hadn't seen Valve construct any scenarios involving precarious ledges over deep pits or whatnot. Those who played the first Half-Life will recall that such sequences played a significant role in the game, and were quite well implemented. They will also recall, if they are somewhat afraid of heights as I am, that these sequences were uniformly terrifying and exhilerating in equal proportions. It may seem odd, but I find headcrab-induced zombies, alien soldiers, and other homicidal fauna to be much less worrisome than heights. I mean, seriously, what's to worry about with a zombie? You see it, you either (a) run away or (b) kill it. The solutions are well defined. With heights, however, the solution is usually something like "don't fall." This is made difficult by the fact that the game's designers want to make it at least somewhat difficult to avoid falling.
So, given all this, you can imagine the breathlessness of my journey through Xen in the first game, where leaps between moving platforms over deep chasms were the norm. Yeah, Xen just about gave me a nervous breakdown. So, in a way, I was surprised to see the lack of such scenarios in the new game.
Well, I just had to fucking wonder, didn't I?
Not only did they make me climb through the superstructure underneath a large bridge (think "Golden Gate" here people) that is VERY fucking high up but I had to fight about a dozen combine soldiers (bad guys) and an f-ing flying Orca-like gunship thingy from under there as well. Great. Goddamn great. I was tempted to turn down the graphics settings to make that particular duel over an abyss a little less realistic.
This dance was only made harder by the fact that the superstructure on which the battle took place was curved- you know, in arches between bridge supports? So there were significant periods when you couldn't just stand still, but had to take running leaps down a slope of open girders, hoping your fucking aim was good enough to land on something solid. While being fired at by a floating gunship. That looks like an Orca. And has a REALLY big energy weapon. Yeah. A bit nerve-wracking.
Some of you may be thinking that I'm playing this game an awful lot. Well, that's true, but considering that I drafted a 30-page paper this weekend, I'm not playing as much as it might seem. The paper is single-spaced too, thank you very much. None of that weeny double-spacing for me. As if you're surprised that I'm just as much of a verbose bastard professionally as I am in my blog. In any case, I'm working my way through the game rather slowly, savoring it as I go, rather than sprinting through it in 14 hour marathon sessions the way my hypothetical-roommate like to. I'm certainly not playing as much as some guys who, according to the folks on Planet Half-Life, are playing for such long perionds they're developing motion sickness. Planet's advice is to stop playing for an hour or so. Good advice, but I've got to wonder, are there really nutbags who are trying to "shakeoff" the nausea to get one more Antlion kill in before they succumb to vomitting? I mean... damn.
Talk about making ME feel better about wasting my time on a video game.