Half Life 2 vs FarCry – Final Round… or is it?

Ok, I managed to finish Half Life 2 a few days ago and had time to digest the whole experience, now let’s do final comparison between these 2 games.

In the first round, FarCry totally dominated Half Life 2 on the graphical enhanced features like water and heat distortions. Althought FarCry had a nice physics engine, you could tell that it wasn’t fine tuned and released kind of sloppy. This was evident in watching how dead bodies would be all limp and sliding down slopes (no matter how steep or not it was).

Half Life 2 definately flaunts its physics engine by designing the whole gameplay experience around the use of the new gravity gun. You get this pretty early in the game and is used throughout the rest of the game. You’ll even get to see the “ragdoll” physics toward the end of the game. This is where you can see Half Life 2’s engine start to shine.

If playing isn’t enough to notice the physics changes, just start looking around through the new Hammer editor and the new model viewer. You’ll quickly see how physics has become very integrated and in a realistic way too.

Half Life 2 introduced various implementations of NPC co-op throughout the game, which really added to the experience and was one of my favorite parts. Well, maybe until a few skirmishes with your rebel squad. They had the worst aim and most of the time, my 4 NPC squad would only provide 20-40% support. They often got in my way, especially when a grenade was tossed my direction and they’re just standing there blocking the escape doorway. I was always happy when they all died. That’s just how bad they were. But, the game was designed so that more would join up with you along the way. I was real tempted to take them out myself.

Now, I know LucasArts is working on a game called Squad Commander, which puts you in command of a clone army squad and you’re able to designate where each soldier should go. I’ve seen screenshots and a nice video on it, and Half Life 2 only gives you a taste of NPC co-op mode. Squad Commander will do a full implementation of this, as the whole game is really designed for it.

FarCry really didn’t have much of a co-op feature, so there isn’t a whole lot to compare with it. FarCry did offer a really huge map (level) size though. It was large enough to fit an entire island in a single level. It provided for some pretty far distances, horizontally, more than any other game so far, including Half Life 2 .

Now, Half Life 2 has definately increased their map size quite a bit. In the game, you really felt this in a more vertical way. FarCry did this in a more horizontal way. Regardless, Half Life 2 really shows it off toward the end of the game and is enough to make you go “wow” and just enjoy the experience.

I have to say, that the storyline and the fun gameplay in Half Life 2 definately beats all other FPS games I’ve played. Valve actually had a good story and enough content to keep it moving smoothly all the way through. You didn’t find yourself eventually fighting a ton of mutants (e.g. FarCry, RtCW), nor did you find yourself in an alternate realm either (e.g. Half Life 1). It was really like playing a character in a sci-fi movie.

Another cool element Half Life 2 provided, was in the various puzzles you had to solve in order to proceed with the game. This wasn’t your typical FPS, where you just run through the entire game with guns ablazing and fragging everything in site along the way. No, you’ll definately need to exercise some problem solving.

One last feature that deserves some credit, is in the updated NPC models and their more lively faces. These new NPC characters are probably as realistic as you’re going to find for awhile. IMO, they even pwn those found in EverQuest II. You just look at the facial expressions, there are plenty that you see. I mean, you’ll see many different facial expressions on the major characters. Everything from feeling surprised to showing concern. You’ll see it in the cheeks, nose, mouth, chin, eyebrows, and even the 2 diagonal wrinkles between the eyebrows on the forehead in times of anger and concern. The mouths move perfectly with the voices too.

So, overall, I’d say that even without the features it failed to deliver in round 1, Half Life 2 definately comes out ahead of FarCry (and every other FPS game out there so far). Sure, the engine is a little dated for some of the graphical features, but it seems that only Valve can deliver quality gameplay and storyline that will definately allow you to totally emerse yourself into the game as if you were really there.

It’s definately worth the $50. I can’t say a whole lot for the Silver and Gold offers on Steam, which you really are just paying Valve again for the games we played with and own with Half Life 1.

There’s my take on the game, please share your experiences here after you’ve had your chance to experience it.