Half-Life 2
Half-Life series protagonist Gordon Freeman, along with a character introduced in Half-Life 2, Alyx Vance.

Half-Life 2 is a continuation of the Half-Life Series of games, following the primary protagonist in the series, Gordon Freeman. Taking up after the end of Half-Life, Gordon finds himself being addressed by the G-Man who sends him onto a train arriving at a depot in a place called "City 17". There, he sees evidence of a tyrannical totalitarian government, apparently under the head of the administrator of Black Mesa, Wallace Breen, who rules from the massive Citadel in the center of the city.

Dr. Wallace Breen

Much like the first game, the player must learn the story by observation of the world and listening to the characters, and make their way through the game fighting enemies and solving simple puzzles, including some physics puzzles, such as using weights in order to hold down one side of a lever so the other side can be used to scale walls that are too tall to otherwise pass. Also as in the first game, the G-Man can be spotted throughout the game, watching the player and occasionally appearing to intrude on monitors used by Breen's regime, or even on televisions lacking any apparent source of power. In some areas, the player gains control over a vehicle that they use to traverse dangerous environments, such as contaminated waterways or breeding grounds of hostile aliens. The game also introduces the gravity gun, a weapon that is capable of picking up and launching objects in the environment, from paint cans to boxes to engine blocks.

As the player leaves the station, they encounter an old friend of Gordon's, Barney Calhoun, who is a spy within the regime of Dr. Breen, acting as one of Breen's police forces, and Barney directs Gordon to meet up with Dr. Kleiner, a former Black Mesa scientist who is a member of a resistance group. Once there, Gordon meets Alyx Vance, who acts as a companion during some parts of the game, who's father was another scientist from Black Mesa, Eli Vance. Alyx is teleported to their headquarters in an old hydro-electric plant, but due to an accident, Gordon is teleported to various locations, including Dr. Breen's office, setting off an intense search for him. Through the game, the player discovers that due to word spreading of his actions at Black Mesa, Gordon Freeman has become something of a messiah to people, and that it has been around 20 years since the end of Half-Life 1, after which Gordon had been placed into statis by the G-Man. During that time, an alien empire known as the Combine attacked Earth through the rift, defeating it in what would be called "The Seven-Hour War", after which Dr. Wallace Breen, having negotiated Earth's surrender, was placed as an interim administrator in charge of Earth.

The player makes their way to the resistance HQ, known as "Black Mesa East", apparently somewhere in northeastern Europe. The player was heavily pursued during this time, leading to the Combine attacking the facility, forcing Gordon to escape through the nearby town of Ravenholm, a place that is full of "headcrab zombies", the results of a parasitic alien that attaches to a person's head and reduces them to a zombie-like state. The town had been a mining community before Dr. Breen's forces discovered it and shelled it with artillery that dispersed headcrabs all throughout the town. Fighting their way through Ravenholm, the player eventually makes their way back to the outskirts of City 17, where they meet up with resistance members, and learn that Eli Vance, the leader of the resistance has been captured and taken to Nova Prospekt, an old prison that is now used to house enemies of the Combine.

The player must travel along the coast for some ways until they reach Nova Prospekt, and then armed with an organ harvested from the body of a powerful member of an insect-like alien known as an antlion, the player leads the antlions into attacking the prison, and once inside, meets up with Alyx and goes to free Eli. There they discover that one of the personnel at Black Mesa East, Judith, was a spy working for Dr. Breen. She manages to take off with Eli back to the citadel using a teleporter, and then the player and Alyx escape to Dr. Kleiner's office in City 17. Once there, they find that in escaping Nova Prospekt, the teleportation had destroyed the prison, which led to an open revolt among the people. The player must then lead groups of them in fighting the combine forces, and making their way to the Citadel.

Once inside, the player makes their way to Dr. Breen's office, where they find that Judith was a double agent, actually working for the resistance to spy on Dr. Breen. Judith helps them against Dr. Breen, who escapes, and confers with the alien leaders of the Combine, who offer him refuge on another world in a host body. The player ultimately stops Dr. Breen's escape, but triggers an explosion that consumes the top of the Citadel where the player and Alyx Vance are located. As the explosion is about to consume them, time seems to stop, and the G-Man appears, congratulating Gordon on his accomplishments, telling him that he'll see him when it's his time again, concluding the game until Half-Life 2: Episode One.

1) Image from: http://z.about.com/d/compactiongames/1/0/6/G/Halflife2_4.jpg
2) Image from: http://oldgameszine.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/dr-wallace-breen.jpg

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