Insurmountable Frustration

<rant>

So, given that it was crazy cold last night, I decided that rather than go out with friends I would stay home and play Half-Life 2 Episode 2.  I had put in some time on it this weekend and was fairly certain I’d be able to put it to bed, so to speak, relatively easily last night.

It seems I was wrong.

<Tangent>

Being an old-school PC jockey I find that I hate console controllers.  No matter how much I play with them they never come close (not counting the Wiimote) to the precision and functionality of the mice/keyboard combo (with a G5 laser mouse with a resolution of 2000 dpi this is doubly so).   The Orange Box on 360 has been even more an issue; not only because of some layout issues, but because of several precision-requisite events.

The button layout is well done; save for the god-damned thumb stick buttons.  I don’t know how many times I’ve crouched/zoomed/called for a medic (TF2) when I didn’t want actually mean too.   There are two main “precision-requistie” scenes.  In Episode 1, we had the falling debris elevator scene  which, as far as I can tell, I sucked at because my spastic hands can’t aim for shit.

</Tangent>

Then there is the big strider fight in Episode 2.

Here is where my controller nearly went through the wall.  Using the gravity gun you have to launch “sticky” mines at oncoming Striders.  Simple enough.  Wait.  You also have to dodge Hunters who love shooting the damn mines before you can even launch them. What? The mine dispensers are spread out all over the map and you have to destroy the Striders before they reach the main camp?  F*** you Valve! A mission like this just isn’t fun.  I might be more forgiving if this had come around the midpoint of the game, but this close to the end, when you can almost taste the endgame, is just a f***ing pain.

Will I beat it?  Eventually.  Will I pick up Episode 3?  Yes, I love the characters in this game.  I love the story in this game.  I just wish, and here is the key issue I have with where I am right now, that gameplay elements wouldn’t get in the way of my enjoyment of the story.  A level like this takes me out of the story and makes playing the game a chore rather than the experience it should be.  The lack of synergy between story and gameplay just flat out leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

</rant>

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