Orange Box

'Orange Box' is a suite of games from Valve Software released in October of 2007 including Half Life 2, HL2: Episode One, HL2: Episode Two, Portal, and Team Fortress 2. I remember when the very first 'first person shooter' came out- Wolfenstein 3D by iD software- back in 1992. Specifically to play that game, I bought a Sound Blaster (the original 8 bit card) for my 386dx40 PC so I could hear more realistic stereo sounds instead of the beeps that eminated from my PC speaker. Wow, what an experience- I remember 'sneaking' around corners in the game to hear the speakers belt out 'Gustaffe!' as a Nazi guard finds me and starts shooting at me. With the lights down, in 1992, believe me- that was an amazing gaming experience. Now of course, every game puts that experience to shame. After Wolfenstein came Spear of Destiny, then later iD released Doom which, in addition to a different storyline, brought a new and exciting element of gameplay- network gaming. I remember playing many 'Doom tournaments' in high school where we had 20 or so people in a computer lab playing Doom and Doom 2 against each other. What a blast! Playing against real humans (especially ones in the same room that you can taunt) brought the games to a whole new level. With the advent of the Internet, it was inevitable that these games would lead to Internet based play as well as network play and single player modes to play through a campaign. The next big jump was the first person shooter called Quake. In the late 1990s I managed an Internet Service Provider in Evansville, Indiana. Myself and my colleagues spent countless hours after work playing network and Internet games including Quake Deathmatch, Quake Superheroes, Team Fortress (also based on Quake at the time), Command & Conquer (an AWESOME real time strategy game for the time), and Command & Conquer Red Alert. It didn't hurt having a T1 Internet connection (1.544Mbps) either which was extremely fast at the time. In 1998, Valve Software, then a newcomer to the genre, released Half Life, a game which has to be one of my all time favorite first person shooters. The graphics were excellent, the storyline very well thought out, and the gameplay superb. Fast forward now to 2007- Half Life 2 has been out now for 3 years, but Valve's Orange Box introduces HL2: Episode One and HL2: Episode Two which are both sequels to Half Life 2- introducing new elements to the game and continuing the rich storyline. Also it introduces Team Fortress 2 which is the latest iteration in the Team Fortress series which I played in the early days. It's basically a capture the flag game with various 'classes' of player, i.e. Sniper, Pyro, Soldier, Engineer, Medic, Scout, Demolition Man. The newest twist of Team Fortress 2 is the characters are purposely 'animated.' It definitely makes for a different game and adds more of a comic element. Also included in Orange Box, is a revolutionary game called Portal. It's not a first person 'shooter' per se, because you don't wield a weapon in the game, you wield a device which creates 'portals.' Portal is not an online game, it's a single player game only, but it is so much fun it's addictive. In Portal, you are a test subject at a company called Aperture Science and have to solve 19 levels of increasingly complex puzzles. This game is a lot of fun, full of humor, and really makes you think. While the entire game can be played in just a few hours, it's a blast and I highly recommend it! Orange box provides a LOT of entertainment for the money (currently $50 for PC or $60 for XBox). Personally, I much prefer playing on the PC, as this is the platform these games were originally designed for. The keyboard and mouse give you much more granular control and computer monitors have substantially higher resolution displays than you can get with any console system. Below is a review of Orange Box from GT Reviews if you would like to watch it.


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