Half-Life: Alyx, Review. Valve’s Twelfth Revolution
The leap that Virtual Reality needed. Review of the new installment of Half-Life on PC.
There are times when it’s worth the wait. Almost since thirteen years since we got the last installment of the well-known Valve saga. Since then, video games have changed enough that these last episodes begin to show their years. Wonderful sequences, gigantic battles or innovative puzzles have become every day over time, the minimum one would expect from a major obstacle. Who will jump to that Half Life 2 and its episodes for the first time now you could apologize for not understanding the real revolution that gravity pistol once meant or the frenetic pace of those incidents. But what matters to us today is different. Welcome to Half-Life: Alyx, the new masterpiece Valve
Something Valve employees must have been feeling this way in recent years. People asked for more Half life but they were aware of the deficiencies that appeared at that time. A Half Life 3 that continued the story using current technology to add new enemies, new weapons, and battle scenarios would add to the fanfare, yes, but that’s not why Half Life exists, despite what the recent success of Black Mesa able to demonstrate. For Valve this is a saga to give up on crossing boundaries. It was necessary that the Virtual reality progress (not least because of Valve’s own efforts) to have a worthwhile boundary. Unlike the large contingent of skeptics of this technology, the Seattle company saw the potential to take the next big step in video game design. With the ferocity of many dogs after just a few weeks of hunger they jumped at this opportunity and the result transcends the current limitations of this technology to offer us one of the most exciting experiences in our environment.
Return to the City 17
Half-life: Alyx following, as its name implies, incidents Alyx Vance during the period between Half Life 1 and Half Life 2. Their spin-off nature does not mean that the story here is in the background, much less. Those who have lost Valve’s classic charisma should not worry about creating their stories, the old habit remains and every aspect of the story fades away. The gripping touch of this episode dominates Russel, a viable member of the resistance to the Empire Combine. Since we met this scientist, who sins too deeply, his dialogue with Alyx not only makes him acquainted but also the latter. Through our conversations we discover new aspects of Alyx Vance’s personality, her deep curiosity about the world before Combine joins our favorite.
The IS traditional structure at the time of tell the story, with most of them going through the aforementioned dialogues during our adventure and the most important parts giving all of our attention to presenting us with wonderfully honest action and drama sequences. We fear that any part of this episode will be ruined and therefore we ask you to trust us when we promise you, regardless of the format in which it should be played, that this is a full-fledged Half Life adventure, with little or no jealous of him. previous installments and that will leave fans and new initiatives in the saga perfectly happy.
But almost more important than the story how it is counted and it is here where we need to start talking about typical idiosyncrasies virtual reality. Over the past decade we have become accustomed to acting games exposing us to increasingly disturbing explosive scenes, so much so that it has lost some of its effect. The first time we see a big bang from a helicopter in an action game we can’t help but be impressed by it, maybe the fifteenth is not that great. But here these explosive scenes look new thanks to the sense of presence that only Virtual Reality can bring, putting ourselves in the shoes of the experienced and never having the player in control. The biggest emotion of living the events is being a simple spectator with the possibility of moving the camera. The great variety of these scenes only increases your prayers.
Virtual reality continues to give a the first steps and it’s time to discuss how he came here. So far the games that came out might stand out in one aspect or another, but none of them could be considered great work within our entire lives. Games like Beat To your knowledge or Superhot VR they built one mechanic and polished it off. Single Echo you taught that you could make a good story in virtual reality and it was a great graphical pleasure, but it wasn’t quite empty gameplay. Asgard’s Wrath was finally offering an adventure of legendary proportions, but its mechanics were simple and its inflatable loop ended up boring. Games like Blade and Sorcery, Bone Works o Hotdogs Horseshoes and Handgrenades provide the most complex gameplay possible with unlimited possibilities and the highly complex systems of physics and interactions, but that effort of the play content does not provide a rich enough story.
Design across borders
Here is Alyx. Almost stealthily Valve He has been in contact with some of the best virtual reality developers for several years, specifically those with a more “sandbox” design, those who focused primarily on media interaction and the notebook was obviously during those meetings hands. This is not the essence of physics i Virtual reality. Weapons do not reach complexity Sausage and it is very clear that the level of physics is not at the level of Bone Works. The manual combat system is conspicuous because it is not there, partly because it is difficult to implement, partly according to Valve because of the need to differentiate between Alyx and Gordon Freeman and his lever. If you look at what Alyx could and should not do, they are enough.
But what if Alyx does do not make all those elements perfect it takes, polishing them exhausted and unifying them to create a whole that is undoubtedly better than the sum of its parts. To use this Valve set of tricks that other developers seem to know nothing but that they increase every second of the experience. First and foremost is the “less is more” philosophy. While most fans expected a bombastic production to take action from previous titles to the next installment of Half Life, this is a step back in terms of quantity of ammo, enemies, etc. Perhaps a necessary step in the face of limitations hardware current and the additional requirements of Virtual Reality, but as needed it should not be wrong. No one expected the next Half Life to be more similar horror of survival not its predecessors but the reality is that this is the direction most of the game takes and it does it with a success that places it at the height of that genre’s grandeur. Ammunition is scarce, balanced and we must always be careful not to miss bullets. Every encounter is tense, every enemy becomes a threat and as soon as they have a group the thing becomes more complicated. The variety of enemies is surprising, all the more exciting with some new additions that undoubtedly have little to do with other spawns of the saga. In addition, his intelligence received a significant improvement, especially in the case of Combine weapons, which can set the player aside and mislead and make much more distinction between units.
The addition of these mechanics to the new perspective has resulted in some incredible scenarios, including some not premeditated by developers. So, for example, we are addressing a zombie possession for headcrab who came after us. To send it quickly and save ammunition we used a grenade we were carrying in our hands without fitting into the inventory. Unfortunately, we throw it a little too close, forcing us to take a few steps back to avoid the explosion, which leads to one of the myths. Barnacles He grabbed our heads, pulling us into his gangrenous jaws. We pull our pistol and lunge on it quickly until it’s safe again. This series of unscheduled events always happens thanks to the almost limitless possibilities offered by the gameplay and combat designs, sometimes overtones slapstick humor that will make us laugh at the absurd way that we will die more than once.
Every system in the game is designed not only to be pleasing to use in virtual reality but also to increase the visual impact in this new perspective. To give a simple example, to heal ourselves we will use machines where we have to introduce a crystalline cylinder with a worm. By placing our virtual hand, the mechanism pushes the worm inside the cylinder and injects syringes of its sweet evergreen nectar into our veins, filling our health bar. This health bar, it is worth mentioning, is shown in our Russels or Gravity Gloves, an invention of the eponym Russel that allows us to paste things from a certain distance. The game has no interface outside of the pause menu, and always chooses to display these items as part of the play experience. So we keep our ammunition on the shoulder as if we are carrying a rucksack and important things can be stored on our wrists (one in each).
What surprises Alyx, where its mastery really lies, is its unique rhythm. So far these games Virtual reality They had a boring boring loop, always repetitive. Not so in Alyx, where there are new scenarios, mechanics, enemies, situations … 11 chapters there are no two that give equal feelings, one that is not over, nor one repetitive. Each chapter brings something cool, some more or less, but none of them leave indifference. One mission encourages us to carry a whole box full of grenades that we must deposit on the ground as we fight to free our hands, while in another we must target every dead Headcrab with our recurring borehole to confirm that he is indeed dead and not waiting patiently to cause a heart attack. There is a astonishing variety while the famous Half Life aesthetic both cyberpunk and neoclassical still applies to them. Special mention on the way organic life forms mix with artificial structures to create truly alien environments.
Virtual Reality helps explore these environments that awareness, opening any drawer, checking under any shelf, behind sofas, etc. There is no corner where we can be sure there is no hidden ammunition or resin unit (which we use to enhance our weapons) and this scourge of certainty always encourages us to search. The result is that we get to know every corner of these interesting situations, as we travel every inch of it. exquisite hall or winding tunnel which we find. Rather than cutting the rhythm, these search periods give the player the necessary rest between the busiest parts. And believe us, when things are tense, they get tense.
I run a fast pace
But at the end of the day this is But at the end of the day this is Valve showing the world that it is still in top shape. That it will fail Artefact and lack of single player pitches he didn’t twist his gears. Valve’s past, which was able to launch success after success, never surpassed the previous one. This is a designer who put the accumulation of years of learning toward perfection into a new way of understanding art and masterfully executed it, showing the world that it is still in best shape.
Finally, we want to report on certain features of the less obvious title, perhaps. The game is available in Spanish but the voices are only (so far) dubbed in English. The IS Subtitle they appear in the lower part of our view which makes them difficult to read. The game requires a good computer and virtual reality glasses, but it does not require glasses. Index Valve but works with the vast majority of glasses on the market. Alyx offers a wide range of options for comfort in virtual reality, perhaps the widest we’ve seen to date. We can play with constant rotation or steps; to move linear, teleportation or a hybrid; sitting or standing; with head-based locomotion or any of the controls … enough choices for anyone to enjoy the experience most.
Many minutes of this episode hurt us not to be able to comment on this Review. Today’s first-person game is rarely capable of offering a memorable moment. And here, on the other hand, it’s hard to play a few hours without sharing. Whole chapters are indelibly marked in our minds, no doubt there will be characters in the video game “hall of fame”, enemies will again be in our nightmares. Almost a week after Alyx came on the market, we have been playing this title for dozens of hours and the feeling is exhausted. Not only physical to stand so long, but also from the deep concentration that the title demands in some of the most tense parts. We have laughed, we screamed of fear, anxiety, sigh after a hard fight …
Alyx is a live video game story. A title that is worth playing now and later, in the current unmatched context. Like Ocarina of Time, Goldeneye, and countless other titles, it may lose some of its current luster over time. In the meantime, we are faced with an authentic masterpiece, a game that has few drawbacks and always surpasses the best and almost insurmountable moments. Half Life: Alyx is by far the best Virtual Reality experience to date, but unsurprisingly it’s the best Half Life experience to date. Our only request is that follow-up will take a little less time to come.