Just Gnomin’ Around

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Gnomes, there’s something about them that we love. Be it decoration, or playing characters in video games, gnomes are so much fun! Recently I fired up Steam and decided to finish Half-Life 2: Episode 2. There’s a remake of the original Half-Life game called Black Mesa and I wanted to be ready for when the remake is finished (Black Mesa is the name of the research facility in the original game). For those of you not in the know, the makers of the Half-Life series, Valve, have been teasing fans for years about a new Half-Life game. There was supposed to be a third and final episode of Half-Life 2, but it never came, even 10 years later.

In all likelihood, there won’t be an episode 3, since graphics have advanced quite a bit since then. Maybe a Half-Life 3 is comming? The original game that started it all came out in 1998. It was a considered a ground-breaking game at the time, since most FPS games were pretty much the same, run around maps, kill enemies, and get keys. Half-Life went in a little bit of a different direction. Sure there were still enemies to shoot, but this game had an engaging story to go with it.

The game was set in a secret research facility run by the U.S. government. You play as Gordon Freedman, a silent but loyal character. The game begins with just another day at the lab when then things suddenly go crazy. My favorite aspect of the game is the interations with characters. I love the dialogue and voice acting, they fit pretty well together. Gordon might not speak in the game, but with the first-person view and the conversations, it feels pretty immersive.

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Alyx Vance

Half-Life 2 was perhaps even more ground-breaking than the original. Take Alyx Vance, delightful and handy with a hand gun, is probably the most important non-player character in the game. The daughter of a former Black Mesa scientist, Alyx travels with the player through most of the series. She brings in much of the emotion of the game and for the first time as I can remember, it was possible to see facial expressions on characters. That, along with the Source Engine with realistic physics, made Half-Life 2 an instant classic.

Playing the game was like being in a movie, with several events of the game strictly dialogue. Sure, there’s plenty of action, but it’s the scenes when the non-player characters interact that make the game truly what it was meant to be, and it’s a nice break from the action. Even if FPS isn’t your thing, the Half-Life series is something gamers shouldn’t miss. It brings in wonderful storytelling is worth it alone.

So, when will be see another adventure with Alyx and Gordon? Many fans have given up hope. After all, year after year went by, and there was always some promise episode 3 was coming. Sadly, it never was released, and most don’t expect it to ever come out. Still, some think the possibility of a Half-Life 3 is real. There may even be some content Value developed left over from episode 3. The company could take the original idea for that game and put it into a brand new game.

But now to the main point of this post, gnomes. One of the achievements in Half-Life 2: Episode 2 requires you to travel through the game world with a fun little gnome. I saved it for last, however, it’s also a pain in the neck, because you have to carry the gnome through most of the game. It’s pretty easy to lose the little guy, so that meant finding a safe place to put the gnome. The most frustrating part were the chapters with the car. The gnome wasn’t a fan of staying in the car, apparently. 😉

When I started working on the achievement, I thought of taking pictures of the gnome at various parts in the game, sort of like going on a vacation. I dismissed the idea at first, but after about a quarter of the way through the game I changed my mind, so I’ve included all the fun places the gnome got to see and of course at the end, the gnome is shot up into space. Makes sense right?

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