It goes without saying that any game bearing the Half-Life 2 logo is worth buying. But as The Orange Box includes the sublime Half-Life 2, its two follow-up episodes, a multiplayer blaster and a brand new action-puzzle game based in the series’ bleak universe, this incredible compilation could be the gaming deal of the century.
Don’t even bother reading the rest of this review - just go and buy it.
Still here? OK, if you want more background on what you’re getting into, Half-Life 2 is one of the most intense blasters ever unleashed, a dizzying blend of intelligent gunplay, scarily-intelligent enemies and Orwellian imagery; Episodes 1 and 2 continue the story of accidental hero Gordon Freeman and his battle against alien invaders, each semi-sequel refining the Half-Life experience and plugging holes in the series’ elaborate plot; Portals, a new action-puzzler, sees players negotiating a series of rooms and using inter-dimensional gateways to reach the exit, the game’s ingenious brain-ticklers hooking players with its irresistible, ‘just one more go’ appeal; and Team Fortress 2 is an ambitious multiplayer mash-up featuring exaggerated, cartoon-style heroes that look like the stars of a Pixar movie, but are thrust into hardcore combat where character classes attempt to outdo each other by exploiting their simple-to-understand-but-a-bitch-to-master, paper-rock-scissors-style relationships.
While any PC player worth their salt will have already cracked Half-Life 2 and Episode 1, The Orange Box still represents tremendous value for money, especially as you can ‘gift’ friends with the bits and pieces of the compilation you already own. But no matter what platform you play this package on, The Orange Box is a indisputable classic that no gamer should be without.
Reviewed by David McComb