So, I’ve always been annoyed by some terrible aspects of Half-life 2’s story. I’ve already talked about Half-life 1’s being pretty silly, and how I don’t think Alyx Vance is a strong female character, so here we go again.
Are there people who claim that HL2 has a well written story? I don’t know, but here’s why they’re wrong if they exist.
Update: So I received a small amount of comments on this post that annoyed me. They came in 3 flavors: 1) “Stop criticizing this thing that I enjoy. You’re just looking for excuses to complain”, 2) “You’re being manipulative in trying to push some feminist agenda”, 3) “Your use of images is sexist and misogynistic”.
I’ve deleted the comments that annoyed me and have added this message at the start. You are free to dislike and disagree with what I wrote, however, make sure you actually understand the point I’m making in the article before you post some nonsense in the comments.
All art and entertainment is open to thoughtful critique. Just because you enjoy something doesn’t mean it is free from analysis. If you’re having trouble understanding what my point was, or why I used the images that I did, then here’s a clue: at one point in the article I say that there are two different versions of Alyx in the game and immediately follow this up with a screenshot containing two different Alyx’s, hint hint.
So, in a previous article, I briefly mentioned that I think Alyx Vance is a badly written female character, despite usually (although not always) being talked about as a being a well written and strong female character.
So, let’s just dive in.
We’re first introduced to Alyx when she saves Gordon Freeman when he’s unarmed and surrounded. She defeats the Combine police that are beating him up and leads him to safety. So, she’s being introduced as a strong character. She kicks butt and I guess quantity of butt kicked is how we measure strength of character in an action video game. I can go along with that, that’s fine, honest.
There are more moments like this later on (like when Gordon uses his flashlight and Alyx uses her gun) which demonstrate how useful Alyx is to Gordon and how they work as a team. But! These moments really only happen when Gordon is unarmed and vulnerable. Whenever Gordon has weapons, Alyx is really only helpful in terms of unlocking doors with her magic wand, which kind of relegates her to the role of Red Key Card from Doom.
That’s not so bad in and of itself, so let’s continue.
So, sometimes I see people claim that Half-life has an amazing story, one of the best stories in video games.
I think these people must be mistaking story for storytelling technique. Because, while Half-life might have some very interesting story telling techniques, let’s remember what Half-life’s story actually is: