Thursday, January 12, 2012

Level Design - Half Life 2 opening

I've never played Half-life 1, but when Half-life 2 opens, you know you are in one heck of a weird world.

Gordon Freeman is a silent protagonist, so he doesn't divulge any information.  We get all the information from the world around him.

For starters, opening up to that image of the G-man is INCREDIBLY creepy.  He does nothing, he threatens nothing, but something just screams "WRONG!"  which is the point.  The G-man was developed to fall firmly into the Uncanny Valley so you can pick him out easily and realize how "off" he seems. The fact that we wake up in the middle of a subway car with no knowledge of how we actually got there only adds to the creepiness.

Once we exit, we are greeted by a semi abandoned train station.  It may have trains, but people aren't reacting right. People are missing, the stations are trashy, and the place simply feels wrong.  It doesn't help the police don't really look like police with those masks and are hassling everyone.  When Gordon steps through a door, he triggers a response and he gets escorted back to be tortured. 

When he finally escapes, he goes through the streets of a completely desolate town, the PA confirms how everyone is now a slave, people are scared and the standard of living is low. 

You know something is wrong.  Other then the PA deal (which is background noise) each individual element wouldn't be too noticeable.  We have security now a days in train stations, places aren't always clean, things generally look fine if you look at them individually. It's the whole that causes problems.  The fact that what spells out the fact the world is in danger isn't an explosion, but a train station speaks volumes about the value of setting.

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