Behold the ‘Orange Box’

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By Christopher Wolf

By Christopher Wolf

In what can only be considered the greatest bargain since one-dollar “McRib,” “The Orange Box” includes three games (“Portal”, “Team Fortress 2”, and “Half-Life 2” and its two expansions) for the price of one.

“Half-Life 2”, released for the PC almost three years ago, is considered by many to be one of the greatest games ever made. Finally, consoles have caught up to the PCs of yesteryear, and Xbox 360 users can experience one of the most finely-crafted first person shooters in existence.

The games most alluring feature is its physics engine, which allows for a highly immersed and interactive environment. To showcase how awesome “Half-Life”‘s physics engine is, your character obtains a Gravity Gun early on in the game. This device will pull boxes, ammo, weapons, anything with weight towards you, which results in some interesting game play. Did an enemy throw a grenade at you? Simply pluck it off the ground and shoot it back before it explodes. Is their a health pack on a ledge you can’t reach? Well, just grab it with your Gravity Gun.

The graphics are passable, but curiously the later episodes have a much better texture quality. The original game looks like crap, especially the character models. Their faces aren’t as crisp and defined as the ones in Episodes 1-2. It looks like Valve ported Episode 1 and 2 from the PC, but ported the original game from the inferior Xbox version.

Besides minor graphical gripes, “Half-Life 2” is an excellent game. Strangely, I would consider this game the weakest of the ones included in “The Orange Box”, which should not be considered detrimental to the package, it just shows how awesome “Team Fortress 2” and “Portal” are.

“Portal” makes me sick to my stomach… in a good way. I’ve never felt so dizzy from a game. What’s up could soon be down, and what’s down could just as easily be up. “Portal” is a first person puzzler, in which you have a gun that shoots an entry portal with the right trigger, and an exit portal with the left trigger. If you wanted to, you could shoot one portal on the roof, and another directly below it on the floor, and have a never ending fall. You could shoot two portals right next to each other and run in circles chasing yourself.

“Portal” gently introduces you to this very original mechanic, and I slowly felt as if I could wrap my head around the game. One level poses you with a door at the opposite side of a huge gaping pit. What was the solution? I simply shot a portal on a panel above the wall, and then shot one inside the pit, and jumped in. The resulting momentum from my fall tossed me over the pit, landing right next to the door. Small puzzles with these, coupled with some of the most humorous pitch black dialogue I’ve ever heard in a game (“Grief counseling and cake will be available at the end of your mission”) by the antagonists cold robotic voice make “Portal” one of the most original and fun, albeit terribly short, games in “The Orange Box”.

Anyone who has been following the PC gaming scene for the last ten years has most likely played, or at least heard of “Team Fortress”. This game revolutionized online multiplayer with the introduction of team based game play and significantly different classes to play, such as a Medic, Sniper, or Pyro.

Finally, its long delayed sequel has been released, and let me be the first to say, “Team Fortress 2” was worth the wait.

The game returns with its classic team game play, introducing six maps with objective based games such as Capturethe Flag, and Attack and Defend. The maps are excellently designed, although there aren’t very many.

“Team Fortress 2” looks amazing. The untrained eye would think it’s a Pixar movie. Every class has a distinctive personality. There’s Heavy Weapons Guy, a large boisterous Russian man that carries a minigun, the Sniper, a sharp shooting Crocodile Dundee outdoorsman, the Engineer, a Moonshine swilling mechanic that bursts into a hoedown, along with six other characters you can choose from.

“Team Fortress 2” is the one game that will have you coming back for more, months after you’ve beaten “Half-Life 2” and “Portal”. “Team Fortress 2” is like a giant slice of Cheesecake after a very fulfilling meal.

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