Half-Life 2: Episode One

Game review by
Aaron Lazenby, Common Sense Media
Half-Life 2: Episode One Game Poster Image
Popular with kids
Maintains quality, brutality -- adults only.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 15 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Gordon and Alyx try to stop the destruction of City 17 ... with violence.


Not as gruesome as its predecessor, but still very violent. Players use grenades, machine guns, the signature crow bar, etc. Blood splatters, bodies fly apart, zombies catch on fire, and more.


Occasional, incidental strong language.


Part of a series.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMotherlyLove February 23, 2014


I am a mother of two children, 14 and 16 years old. I fight hard so they can be raised in a proper way. Half Life 2, was first to me, a not acceptable video gam... Continue reading
Adult Written byCrazyCSIW6 June 12, 2021

Alyx doesn't have a crowbar, but she's got your back.

It's Valve. Come on, you know this is gonna be great.
TL;DR: Masterpiece.

Gameplay: Flawless, one of Valve's best games to this day.

Violence: Blood... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old September 5, 2011

what would you do

what would you do if you were under attack by aliens and they wanted to kill your children and turn you into a mindless soldier? violence would be the only way... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byValveisawakeoncemore March 8, 2020

The end and start of a cliffhanger.

HL2 EP 1 ends the cliffhanger Half life 2 leaves off with and leaves it with one. It involves blood (very outdated, could barely scare anyone.). This is where t... Continue reading

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?

Game details

  • Platforms: Windows
  • Price: $19.99
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Valve
  • Release date: July 31, 2006
  • Genre: First-Person Shooter
  • ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language
  • Last updated: June 19, 2019

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