The Orange Box – Valve on Consoles

Never has a greater game collection been produced. There have been many compilations and ports, bundling together a plethora of older games. While they have ranged from middling (anything with Museum in the title) to surprisingly good (Sonic Mega Collection), they always featured game a generation or two removed. Developer Valve has dabbled with console games before, but never had much of a presence outside PC. The Orange Box changed everything. Valve brought one of it’s most popular game, HalfLife 2, to consoles while packaging in the next chapter in the story, a new multiplayer game that’s still going strong today, and possibly the most creative game of the generation.

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The Half-Life series has been revolutionary with it’s story deliver and in game physics. HalfLife 2, released in 2004 on PC, was considered a pinnacle of achievement for the over the top story, superb characterization, and the gravity gun. Being on PC, many gamers missed it. Valve intended on rectifying that with The Orange Box for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. Included were ports of HalfLife 2, and the first follow entitled Episode One. Debuting along with it was Episode Two, Team Fortress 2, and Portal.

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Episode Two continued the Half-Life story after the somewhat lackluster Episode One. Featuring the same mechanics while adding new layers, such as driving. Again, the best part of the game was the story. Then again, that might be the worst. The game ends with an astounding cliffhanger that seven years later has not been resolved. Apparently content with their billions from Steam, Valve has stopped making games.

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Team Fortress 2 a sequel to a Quake mod. The gameplay is simple, red vs blue multiplayer with nine different character classes, each with distinct abilities and looks. The game still has a thriving community on PC with countless character customization unlockable on numerous other games (Poker Night at the Inventory for example). The console version of the game never took off. Server issues plagued the initial release however. Console FPS are a fickle bunch. With games like Halo 3 ready to play, the potential audience moved on long before the issues were corrected.

Finally, there’s Portal. Rather than belabor the point as I’m wont to do, please read my previous post.

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While the Xbox 360 was a solid purchase (server issues aside), the PS3 had some problems of its own. Valve handled development of the X360 and PC incarnations, outsourcing the PS3 build to EA. Aside from releasing weeks later, there were significant technical issues hampering the experience.

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Developed along side The Orange Box was The Black Box. This was to include only the three new titles for owners of the other two games. However, this version was cancelled at retail, only being released digitally. You could surmise the kerfuffle this caused.

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The Orange Box is a fantastic title that should be in every gamers library. Aside from the astounding Half-Life games, it gave us Portal. Now it should only be $10. Buy it.

Did you pick up The Orange Box? Why not? Wish more developers would do something like this (mixing old and new)? Comment below!

I wasted a holiday on this game.

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