I’m going to eschew my normal format this week because this is not about a game. No, in case you weren’t aware or are one of those rare individuals who do not own the Orange Box yet I am here to tell you that you’re missing something special.
For $20 you can get an excellent collection of games, one of which is perhaps the greatest puzzle game ever made. Even if you don’t like the puzzle genre you will appreciate this game because it transcends its genre. Not many games can do that. I can count on one hand how many games have appealed to me that have been in genres that I generally don’t touch. I would have fingers left over.
The Orange Box comes with Half-Life 2 as well as Episodes 1 and 2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal. All of these games can be purchases individually on the PC, but for X-Box 360 and PS3 owners this is the only way to get all of these games. Team Fortress 2 is an excellent multi-player only game with a great style and excellent balance, crippled by the fact that roughly 99.3% of the TF2 population is on the PC. Aside from that, the Half-Life games have always been quality productions, even the somewhat short side stories from the original game. By the time you get to Episode 2 it is somewhat repetitive, but even when Valve is bad they’re still better than most other developers out there. Half-Life 2 is not a great shooter, but it is an excellent interactive story.
Portal is the standout here. While all of the games are good, Portal is nothing short of excellent. Pitch black humor and incredibly well done puzzle solving all done from the same dogged first-person perspective of the Half-Life series.
I would hope that at this point anyone reading has already purchased the Orange Box. It was a bargain at $60, but at it’s current $20 it is an absolute steal. If you don’t own it, go get it. Half-Life 2 and Portal are two titles by themselves that should be part of any gamer’s experience.