I've been out of it for a while so forgive me if this isn't the best of reviews. But anyway, I need to get back into reviewing by doing The Orange Box! And with new reviews I'll just explain a small change to my rating system. I've decided to do increments of .5 instead of doing like "8.9/10" or whatever for a certain aspect. Just makes me a little less obsessive compulsive. Anyway, onwards! As always, for multiplatform games that go for PS3/360/PC, this is a review of the Xbox 360 version. Don't complain about PS3 glitches or "OH MOUSE AND KEYBOARD ARE SO MUCH BETTER" because honestly sunny, I don't give a shit. Valve has always been a company for the gamers. Not about making massive profits (although their games sell like hotcakes) or milking gamers, but about simply making great games. And Valve is just so grateful for gamers that they've made The Orange Box, an orgasm of 5 games on one disc for the price of a single game. From a typical video game dev you'd expect either a bunch of shitty little games or one great game and a bunch of meh ones. That's not the case here. The Orange Box is 5 fantastic games for one low price (you can get new copies for around $20 nowadays, but they're not easy to come by). I'll divide the gameplay portion into 3 sections for the 5 games: Half Life 2 (and it's two additional episodes), Portal, and Team Fortress 2. Then I'll do a generalized audio and graphics paragraph for all the games. Easy as pie. So Half Life 2 is considered many things. Some say it's the greatest adventure game of all time. Others say it's the greatest PC game of all time. A few say it's the best first person game of all time. And there's those who say it's the best game of all time. Period. I won't necessarily say it's any of those myself, but hell, there's merits for each of these titles. Half Life 2 is simply an amazing game in every sense of the word. And in the Box you get the original game and it's two additional episodes. Awesome. Anyway, Half Life 2 follows after the events of the first Half Life, where beings from an alternate dimension have been released onto the world after the disaster at Black Mesa. You, Gordon Freeman, is given the task to liberate humanity from the totalitarian oppressors unleashed at Black Mesa. It's no easy task, and you're just a scientist, but hey, it's Half Life. If you've never played Half Life 2, one thing you'll notice is that there's no cutscenes. You're always in control of your character the entire time. There are areas of dialogue, but even then, you control your character. You can walk around during the scenes and do whatever. You never leave the first person. I know some critics think this is a "poor" feature, but I for one think it's awesome. It adds a sense of realism and being in the first person. In real life, if you're grabbing a pizza and your wife is doinking the guy next door in the mean time, you won't just randomly be able to sense this and see it. You're thinking she's at home watching the news. You don't know what everyone else is doing, only what you're doing. Cutscenes are overrated! But the main thing people love about Half Life 2 is it's great diversity as a first person adventure. It's part action, part minor platforming, part puzzle. And none of these areas greatly overshadow the other, and you'll be doing segments of each part throughout the game. You also can't mention Half Life 2 without bringing up the arsenal, which I do love. Sure, you don't get an array of like 20 weapons, but the weapons you get are great. From the famous gravity gun to the pheromone pods to the pulse rifle, they're all fun weapons. Additionally with Source engine games, you get one of my favorite physics engines, and Half Life 2 displays it terrifically. The gravity gun itself is just a giant playground for the engine, and seeing your environment fly by is amazing. On top of the nice degree of difficulty and challenge, the top notch controls, and great storyline, Half Life 2 and it's additionally episodes can be worth the purchase alone. Second in line is Portal, Valve's quirky little puzzle game that's spawned a whole cult of followers. I'm sure everyone's heard someone singing "Still Alive" or telling you "the cake is a lie" or bringing up their affection for Companion Cubes, and if you don't know where it's from, it's from this small little game. Portal is a simple concept: use 2 portals to get from point A to point B. You shoot an orange and a blue portal that form a "doorway" through to each other, allowing you to get around. It sounds simple but the way they use this concept becomes not only challenging but fun. You play as a "test subject" at Aperture Science Laboratories, a mysterious lab populated by what appears to be only you and the always present voice of the computer mind, GLaDOS. I'll say it right now that GLaDOS has some of the most hilarious commentary out there. With its slightly "off" voice and quirky sayings, it's hard not to laugh. But the puzzles in Portal themselves are challenging, combining mind bending physics and maze concepts together. My only complaint with Portal is that it's short, able to be beaten within a couple of hours. I can't complain though, as it is part of the overall package and there's still secrets and achievements to go for (not to mention there's more levels in the XBLA game, Portal: Still Alive). It's a fun, challenging, and hilarious little game and is a great addition to the Box. The final game on the list, Team Fortress 2, is the sequel to the popular Team Fortress. TF2 serves as the multiplayer for The Orange Box, as it's nothing but multiplayer. If you don't know what TF2 is, it's essentially class-based versus in all its glory. Red and Blue teams duke it out as one of several classes (Scout, Soldier, Pyro, Demoman, Heavy, Sniper, Engineer, Medic, and Spy). Each class serves its purpose and have dependencies and weaknesses on each other to work. It's teamwork, people. Teams fight in team-based versus games. While I admittedly suck at this game, I do love it. It's a great multiplayer game, to say the least. And the one thing I love most about TF2 is its style. It's cartoony and lighthearted. If you watch the Meet the Team videos for TF2, you'll have a good laugh. And the style really shines through, alongside solid gameplay and great mechanics. Side note that's really random, the Medic is voiced by Robin Atkins Downes, whose quite the famous voice actor. You may know him best for voicing The Prince in the Prince of Persia games and Travis Touchdown in No More Heroes. Just a little FYI. As for graphics and audio, The Orange Box is pretty good. The Source engine isn't as impressive today, especially with super awesome games on the 360, but it still has good amounts of details and, of course, a physics engine I love. Half Life 2 has a gritty look to it, while Portal has kinda a "sterile hopsital" style. Team Fortress 2 is the oddball, with great cell-shaded cartoon graphics that really do shine. As for audio, all the games feature great voice acting, tunes, and sound effects. So, my review may seem kinda condensed on each game, but overall, The Orange Box is a killer app for 360 owners (and PC owners too, odds are). On top of being a fantastic bargain, it's got tons of content, tons of things to do, and tons of fun to be had. Presentation: Each game has a fantastic amount of style and personality. From Half Life 2's epic narrative to Portal's funny and disturbing atmosphere to Team Fortress 2's quirky cartoon style, each game shines exceptionally. There's a ton of achievements and extras out there as well. 10/10 Graphics: It's not as impressive as it was upon its release, but the Source engine still looks good. There's still a good amount of detail and a great physics engine. Team Fortress 2 looks especially good, with some very lovely graphics. I didn't have any framerate drops in any of the games either. 9.5/10 Audio: Top-notch voice work in all games. From Half Life 2's great cast, GLaDOS's eerie voice, and Team Fortress 2's hilarious sound bites, they're all amazing. Half Life 2 also has an awesome soundtrack, and I'm sure everyone loves Still Alive from the Portal credits. Sound effects and other tidbits are impressive. 10/10 Gameplay: Where to start... Half Life 2 is a fantastic first person adventure that makes Metroid Prime quake in its boots. Portal is a quirky, hilarious, puzzler that's mind bending and complex. Team Fortress 2 is amazing team-based warfare with a great sense of reliance and teamwork. All the games control well, are built with an insane amount of polish and though, and are simply perfect to play. 10/10 Lasting Appeal: Half Life 2 and its expansions will take you a good chunk of your time. Portal is short but there's plenty of reason to come back. And of course, Team Fortress 2 provides lasting multiplayer fun. With all the secrets in Half Life 2 and Portal on top of the 99 achievements to get, you've got a huge bundle on your hands. It's a rare mixture of long lasting single player and long lasting multiplayer, all for a great bargain. 10/10 Overall: 10/10 My first perfect score! Well, a 10/10 doesn't mean perfect in my book, just HOLY SHIT THIS GAME IS AWESOME AND YOU SHOULD OWN IT.