Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Top 52: The Orange Box (#37)

I was surprised that I enjoyed the The Orange Box so much. I’m not a shooter fan, but Valve has consistently made amazing shooters that they alone have given me much more faith in the entire genre. Upon playing through the games in The Orange Box, I could tell that the Valve developers were obsessed with the quality of their products.

Title: The Orange Box
Console: Playstation 3
Release Date: 12/11/07 (US)
Genres: First-Person Shooter, Puzzle, Compilation
My Ranking: #37

Five games. One box. This is how the developers at Valve have been promoting this game since it came out. They didn’t need to say much more than that either, since the five games within this orange box are all phenomenal: Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episodes 1 & 2, Team Fortress 2 and the surprise mega-hit Portal.

I played through Half-Life 2 and, wow, that game blew my mind as is. Half-Life 2 is a complete shooter with an intriguing storyline, scary as all hell enemies, excellent boss fights, amazing gameplay engine and crazy weapons. The gravity gun, for example, allows you to pick up virtually any object and propel it at enemies. The most fun way of doing this is picking up an exploding barrel and then chucking it at enemies.

I could write so much more about the awesomeness of Half-Life 2 (Crazy stat: HL2 received 35 Game of the Year awards in 2004) but, that’s not why The Orange Box is on my list. The other games, Team Fortress 2 and Portal are the reasons why I love this game.

TF2 is an online-only shooter, where you can play in different maps that vary from capture the flag, maintaining control points, and attack/defend. There are 9 classes to choose from, like the slow-moving but hard-hitting Heavy, the healing Medic, or even a flame-thrower wielding Pyro. All the classes have great advantages and disadvantages and there is a great balance between all of them.

TF2 uses the same engine as Half-Life 2 so the shooting is really smooth. However, what really makes the game, surprisingly, is the cel-shaded kiddy graphics that are just hysterical. Blowing people up with rockets is oddly cute and it’s always great to hear a Scout screaming “Fire, Fire!” when he’s being burned alive. Ah, good times. I still actively play this on my PS3, despite not having any of the updates that the 360 or PC versions get.

Portal is the main draw of The Orange Box; there is no doubt about that. Portal, for those who don’t know, is a first-person shooter puzzle game where you can shoot two portals with your gun that you can walk through. For example, you shoot one Portal on the ceiling above you, then you shoot one below you, and now you are constantly falling as you go through one portal and come out the other, which leads to the portal on the floor again.

The puzzles in Portal are crazy. In one level, you need to somehow get over a glass wall that is blocking your path. You can’t shoot portals above and over the glass wall so the easy solution is eliminated. The trick is to put a portal near the ceiling of the wall opposite of the glass wall, then put a portal on the floor. Upon walking into the portal on the floor, you shoot out of the Portal that’s near the ceiling. Then, as you’re falling, you need to shoot a portal on the floor so that you’ll go through the floor portal at a high speed, and then that speed will carry over to the portal near the ceiling, which gives you enough propulsion to shoot up and over the glass wall. Sound confusing? It is. That’s why Portal is awesome. It messes with your head and your normal video-game puzzle solving skills. That and, as you can probably tell, the physics engine is amazing.

A lot of people have gone crazy over the ending Portal song, since it is legitimately hilarious. The computer voice that speaks to you throughout the entire game promises you a piece of cake after you done completing the various levels. However, instead, the computer tries to send you into a fire pit of death from which you can just barely escape, find the computer, and defeat it. That same goofy computer then sings a song to you, which is undeniably cute.

The Orange Box is rated so high on my list since all of the games included in it were spectacular. Most “anniversary” collections feature games from decades ago, but The Orange Box had games that were still pretty recent and popular. The Orange Box is the best (legitimate) deal in gaming since all the games in the box could have been sold for somewhere around $40 - $50 and be reasonable.

The only gripe I have with the game is that the Playstation 3 port was awful. Frame rate and loading time issues were minor annoyances that grew into bigger annoyances over time. And, I’m still annoyed that I’ll never Meet the Sandvich. *Sniff*. Still, this is the version I own, and in retrospect, I should have gotten the PC version but, it still rocks.
My Top 52:
#52 --- Star Fox 64 (N64)
#51 --- Kirby's Adventure (NES)
#50 --- Roller Coaster Tycoon (PC)
#49 --- Grand Theft Auto III (PS2)
#48 --- Metroid Prime (GC)
#47 --- Halo 3 (Xbox 360)
#46 --- Bomberman 64 (N64)
#45 --- Guitar Hero II (PS2)
#44 --- Super Street Fighter II (GEN)
#43 --- Pokemon Puzzle League (N64)
#42 --- Soul Calibur II (GC)
#41 --- Gears of War (Xbox 360)*
#40 --- Elite Beat Agents (DS)
#39 --- Call of Duty 4 (PS3)
#38 --- Super Metroid (SNES)
#37 --- The Orange Box (PS3)*

*- Denotes highest rated game for that console


Anonymous said...

Firstly, "I’m not a shooter fan"
#48 --- Metroid Prime (GC)
#47 --- Halo 3 (Xbox 360)
#41 --- Gears of War (Xbox 360)*
#39 --- Call of Duty 4 (PS3)
#37 --- The Orange Box (PS3)*
I'm calling shenanigans.

I agree, this game was amazing. I had never played HL1 or 2, and wow, I was missing out. Playing through HL2 then the two eps blew my mind as well.

With my mind blown, Portal somehow reassembled it, then blew it again. It managed to do this many many times.

That ending song is amazing; I've listened to it on YouTube dozens of times. Speaking of good ending songs, check out You Have to Burn the Rope.

TF2 on the other hand, just didn't do it for me. I think it's because there's not really any instruction, and they just throw you right into it, with a bunch of online people who are good, and there's no way to train via single player or anything.

Oh well, 4 amazing games for the price of one is spectacular enough.

Richard R. said...

Hold off on the shenanigans. I only have two more shooters on my entire list. Notice how all the shooters tend to be at the bottom of my list. Towards the end, the list gets platformer and RPG heavy.

But yes, The Orange Box is amazing. It was a good purchase.

You have to burn the rope is also bad ass. I suggest anyone who hasn't played it do so now.

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