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Half-Life 2: Episode One (stylized as HλLF-LIFE2: EPISODE ONE) is a first-person shooter video game, the first in an intended series of episodes that would serve as the sequels to Half-Life 2 (2004). It was developed by Valve Corporation and released on June 1, 2006. Initially called Half-Life 2: Aftermath, the game was renamed Episode One after Valve became confident in using an episodic structure for the game. Episode One uses the same game engine, Source, as Half-Life 2. The game debuted new lighting and animation technologies, as well as AI sidekick enhancements.
The game's events take place immediately after those in Half-Life 2, in and around war-torn City 17. Episode One follows scientist Gordon Freeman and his companion Alyx Vance in humanity's continuing struggle against the alien civilization known as the Combine. When the story begins, Gordon wakes up outside the enemy's base of operations, the Citadel, after being left unconscious from the concluding events of Half-Life 2. During the course of the game, Gordon travels with Alyx as they attempt to evacuate the city. As the game comes to an end, Gordon and Alyx are caught in a major accident, and their fates are revealed in the sequel, Episode Two.
Valve views episodes One through Three tantamount to a standalone release. Episode One is available as part of a bundle package known as The Orange Box, which also includes Half-Life 2, Episode Two, Team Fortress 2, and Portal. Episode One received a generally positive critical reaction, and the co-operative aspects of the gameplay received particular praise, although the game's short length was criticized.
In Episode One, players make their way through a linear series of levels and encounter various enemies and allies. The gameplay is broken up between combat-oriented challenges and physics-based puzzles. Episode One integrates tutorial-like tasks into the story to familiarize the player with new gameplay mechanics without breaking immersion. A head-up display appears on the screen to display the character's health, energy, and ammunition. Throughout the course of the game, the player accesses new weapons and ammunition that are used to defend the character from enemy forces. Unlike in Half-Life 2, where Gordon's first weapon is the crowbar, Gordon first acquires the Gravity Gun, which plays a crucial role in the game by allowing the player to use physics to manipulate objects at a distance in both combat and puzzle-solving scenarios.
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Half-Life 2: Episode One System Requirements
- Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP
- Processor: 1.7 GHz
- RAM: 512 MB
- Video Card: DirectX 8.1
- Hard disk space: 6.5 GB