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Half-Life 2: Episode One
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that players navigate a dark storyline featuring an apocalyptic alien invasion and the potential end of the human race. Action is fast and furious, featuring graphic violence and incredibly creepy situations. Players use grenades, machine guns, a signature crow bar, etc., and blood splatters, bodies fly apart, zombies catch on fire, and more. While this is the next installment of the Half-Life 2 series, you don't need the original game to play this chapter.
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- Kids say
What's it about?
HALF-LIFE 2: EPISODE ONE picks up where its predecessor left off. Players control Dr. Gordon Freeman as he picks himself out of the rubble of the Citadel, the ominous headquarters of the alien invasion that was damaged in the final scene of the last game.
Facing a cataclysmic meltdown that would destroy everything for miles around, Gordon and his (potentially) romantic sidekick Alyx must fight their way into the heart of the Citadel and stabilize its reactor core. And maybe find out more about this alien invasion along the way...
Suffice it to say that there are a lot of mutant zombies and jack-booted military police to do battle with.
Is it any good?
Beyond the advancing plot, players of Half-Life 2 won't find a whole lot new here. All of the weapons are the same, and only one new adversary is added to the mix. Mature players new to the series should start with the original, or else they won't have a clue about what's going on.
While players might be disappointed in the length of Half-Life 2: Episode One (the committed can finish the game in one multi-hour sitting), they will thrill to the game's trademark creativity when it comes to cinematic style and puzzles. The cut scene introduction is more effective than most summer movies and guarantees to raise a few goose bumps. And the gravity gun (a weapon that works like a magnet, pulling an object close to you then allowing you to launch it violently at an enemy) is also in full effect.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes the series more effective than other first-person shooters. Does attention to plot, character development, and dialogue deepen the game experience -- and make it more disturbing? Does creating a long-form story also create a long-term consumer, ready to invest in the next chapter?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.