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And the best NPC companion award goes to...

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Posted 04-03-2009 at 12:51 PM by December Man
Updated 05-05-2010 at 08:56 AM by December Man

Recently I replayed Half Life 2. It's been long since I actually finished the game. 5 years I think. Plus I never got to play the episodes. So when I finally got my hands on the Orange Box, I started to play without hesitation.

Needless to say, I was stunned by Alyx's performance as a combat companion and as a likable NPC. I'm mainly talking about the episodes during which you spend around 95% in ep.1, and 75% in ep.2 of the time with her.

When I started ep. 1 I was like
"God, now I'll have to keep her alive while she blocks the doorways, charges in like a berserker" etc. In HL2 there wasn't that much time with her to judge her performance, but there was plenty in the episodes.

Once again, I have to say she was(is) superb. Combat-wise she doesn't charge in, she seems to stay close to you and tries to stay behind you, without shooting you in the back. She seems to have an extraordinary amount of health and only died once in ep. 1 when she was hit by the Pulse Rifle alt fire of the Combine Overwatch trooper. She deals decent amount of damage, not too low, not too overpowered; she rarely blocks doorways and then only for 2-3 seconds. You can't kill her, I don't think she ever went into my line of fire, ever.
Instead of a burden, she's actually very useful.

Most importantly, Valve decided to develop and show her character throughout both episodes in a quite extensive manner. I think Valve thought that because Gordon is the player himself and vice versa, and thus devoid of any kind of emotion etc., they decided to put all their thought power and character development into Alyx. This worked brilliantly.

All the scripted and non-scripted events are nothing short of being perfect. Her facial animations only add to her already magnificently portrayed character. You begin to care about her, a feeling that's supposed to be in many many other games, but only here it actually worked.

I know this entry is like a couple of years too late, but I think it's still of some worth since I write it from a perspective of having played a lot of newer and really good games in which NPC's accompany you, however not even one of those have even come close in creating this magical link between the PC and an NPC character.

This is nothing short of pure genius.
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