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Generally favorable reviews- based on 2019 Ratings

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  1. Dec 15, 2012
    A short little story, but I explained allegedly happened after the explosion of City 17. Back to the Same, ie same graphics, same characters and same gameplay. This does not prevent is good because if it's the same this never bored
  2. CRL
    Jul 25, 2011
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Episode One is in my mind the weakest game in the Half Life series, though still pretty good. For almost half of the game your only weapon is the enhanced Gravity Gun... which is pretty cool but loses its charm after a while. Another third of the game is spent in lightless tunnels full of zombies, which also loses its charm after a while. However the last two chapters make up for the first half's mishaps with a fun and sometimes challenging dash to escape City 17. Expand
  3. Sep 29, 2011
    Running through this only firing 1 bullet isn't too bad considering how easy Half-Life is in general, but is helped even more by the extremely short length. Nothing new or exciting here in terms of level design. The game itself doesn't do much to further advance HL2. Be warned though: 1 bullet means pistol not shotgun. Running through the game twice without firing a gun still doesn't make the gameplay any more exciting. There's really nothing creditble about this game. Expand
  4. Dec 22, 2011
    Since you can practically pick it up for a dollar every other month on Steam I don't know why any fan of FPS games or Half=Life would appreciate this game for what it is. A short, cheap, and nice expansion to the original game which continues the story.
  5. Apr 25, 2012
    This is a pretty decent expansio, but it doesn't hold the same standard as the original game. I kind of just wanted to rush through it, and that's how I still feel about it. Still, a mediocre Half-Life game is better than most other games.
  6. Jul 15, 2013
    My review is simple. Probably, you played the original game Half Life 2 before the episode one (obviously). And I played 5 additionnal hours of the original game. Same ennemies. Same guns. Same ambiance. Practically the same place. The episode one is an extension with nothing of new. You like Half Life 2 like that and you don't need smething of new That's for you. You like Half Life 2 and you want an incredible innovation of Valve's disappointment for you.

    If you dislike Half Life 2, why you played at this ?

    For my rating, the same as Half Life 2 Good FPS, great atmosphere but where is the marking stuff ?
    What makes the game "worship" ?
    I don't find that.

    The game aged so the half life's 2 revolution is past. I expected more for "the game of the decade" but he is pleasurable.

    PS Epic the fight at the end
  7. Oct 9, 2010
    It's hard to come up with a follow up after making what might be the perfect game (HL2) but this expansion or addon is great in itself and if it wasn't for the hype the ratings would be much higher. I would recommend this to anyone, even people that were not huge fan of the original game.
  8. Nov 17, 2011
    I never understood the relatively low scores on reviews provided by the public for the Half-Life 2 "episodes." Honestly, I thought they were delightfully fun, incorporated the same kinds of enjoyable gameplay elements as HL2, and had a pleasurable-yet-brief single-player experience that added more Half-Life fun to the universe. I look back on Episode One in particular with fond memories, but to each his own. Regardless, I definitely give this addition to the Half-Life saga my approval. Give it a try - it may be short compared to HL2, but it's not too short compared to a lot of FPS games these days, and it has a heck of a lot more interesting atmosphere and story to it than trashy modern FPS games do. Expand
  9. Jan 26, 2011
    Half Life 2 left me wanting more, but this just did not suffice. The "episode" was too short and somewhat corny at times. It just didn't feel like the same game-too short and not challenging enough. Is worth playing though to stick with the story line. Esisode 2 was much better.
  10. Sid
    Feb 10, 2011
    Half life 2 episode one, is the first of three episodes in the ongoing adventures of the silent but deadly scientist from Black Mesa, Gordon Freeman.It starts off right where it left off, with the citadel exploding and the mysterious G-Man pausing time and putting you and alyx in stasis.

    I''ve read many other reviews, and this is what i don't get - so many people are saying that it's
    "Just half life 2 all over again!"What?! While i do agree that you don't go to any new locations that you haven't visited before, but I personally prefer this episode to the original one.Don't get me wrong - Half life 2 was amazing, but it was very fast paced according to me.Think about it - One moment you're in te zombie infested Ravenholm, and another moment you're fighting against a stryder.While it was great fun, but it felt a little substanceless.In Episode one, you actually feel like Alyx has an emotional connection with you, and that the two of you will get out of any mess when you're a team.The amount of emotinal connection is what makes this such a great game.I don't think that a FPS has ever made me feel a connection with a NPC. Expand
  11. Mar 26, 2011
    First Half-life game I got. A very good game! A variety of characters, enemies, weapons, and environments to come across in this game. The story line is amazing, you play as Gordon Freeman who was in the original Half - life( which was amazing too) and was in Half life episode two, and half life 2. This game has a horror,action, and drama like game-play style. I recommend this game to anyone who wants a good cheap game to play for hours. Expand
  12. Aug 22, 2011
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Very very gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood. Expand
  13. Dec 6, 2011
    I admit, HL2: Episode One's biggest flaw is that it's too short, but that doesn't matter. A short game can still be great, providing those 4 hours or so are a blast, and with Episode One that's the case. It wasn't really supposed to be another full game, as Half Life 2, it was only meant to be a small add-on, to show the aftermath events, since the ending of HL2 was way too ambiguous. Episode One takes place over 5 chapters, over a variety of locations. I felt the first two chapters were a bit flat, since you only pretty much used the Gravity gun and picked around the dull ruins, but the next 3 chapters were really great and intense in their own way. Although for the most part Ep 1 doesn't add anything new to what we've already seen in HL2, there is one major gameplay element that it has managed to exploit really well that HL2 only briefly brushed upon, and that is teamwork. As you play throughout the chapters, Alyx is pretty much always with you, helping out, with some parts you not being able to do by yourself. And this is done in such a way that you don't just feel like it's a mindless npc providing covering fire, but actually that you and her are trying to survive and escape the post-apocalyptic city by yourselves. Ep 1 is also designed in so much detail that you can play an entire game without ever having to use a gun weapon. One of the in-game achievements challenges the player to do just that, and I would highly suggest for everyone who enjoyed Ep1 to try that on one of the playthroughs, because it really is fun. Episode 1 manages to continue the story from HL2 well and at the same time opens up more of the plot for the next installment. Expand
  14. Sep 26, 2011
    Half Life 2 has obtained legendary status as one of the most flawless modern games BUT the question does need to be asked: is Half Life 2 over-rated? My answer is Yes as all things are flawed (even Half Life 2), that's not saying the game is not one of the best the industry has provided in recent times, it is however just an interactive game with a lot of copied elements of other science fiction, it's not as original as many claim. Half Life 2 has awesome graphics, innovative physics, game play, fabulously designed levels and game moments but my point is that it shows how lacking and unoriginal the rest of the industry is - that many would claim Half Life 2 to be better than it actually is. If Half Life 2 is the best there is in single player gaming - then video games truely are lacking... HL2 is still a real achievement and Valve has something to be proud of.â Expand
  15. Sep 10, 2012
    Even better than HL². If it were possible to give 11, I would do it. This episode has numerous distinct parts, each has its own atmosphere and feeling. Yet everything has been done flawlessly, and you play from the start to the end without realizing it.
  16. Jul 5, 2011
    Episode One what can i say, when i first herd of the title i knew it was going to be a long time before Half-Life 3 Arrived and here were are 2011 still waiting, Anyway this is a great game though i think episode 2 was better. Other thoughts, the story continues for Dr. Gordon Freeman and its of Epic Proportions.
  17. Sep 3, 2011
    It's a lot shorter and less inspired than Half-Life 2, but the new stuff including extremely dark rooms, pushing cars into pits, and running around taking cover from a strider trying to gun you down. Worth the $7 if you're a Half-Life fan.
  18. Oct 9, 2011
    Half life episode 1 its like the two first, fantastic, funny, and one of the best games ever, its a bit more short, but it doesn't matter, its just perfect
  19. Jun 6, 2012
    After the masterpiece that was Half life 2, Valve seemed under a lot of pressure to make Episode 1 live up to its predecessors. Overall, I found episode 1 to be an excellent, if a bit of a flawed entry, in the series. The story remains although NPC's have a tendency to spout plot points that are already quite obvious even to the daftest of players. Nevertheless, despite a lack of innovation, Episode 1 is still a worthy follow up to the timeless classic. Expand
  20. Nov 11, 2011
    I found this episode a very good one, it picks up where the original game stops and as the game its basically the same but somehow i felt bored after a couple of minutes, its mainly because you play almost alone during the chapters, althought i liked it very much.
  21. Oct 26, 2011
    Great fun as a whole and a welcome improvement in graphical quality over HL2 due to the inclusion of High-Dynamic Range and other subtle effects. Valve has worked wonders with the development of Alyx as a character in this game, with the help of industry leading facial animations and voice work. The enemy AI has been improved a decent amount and the level design is tight and intense (not in a negative way). Unfortunately the game is too short for the standard asking price @ roughly 3-4 hours long, however those 4 hours were some of the most intense and fun I have experienced in a shooter in a long time. Recommend you buy it on special or as part of the HL Pack or Orange Box. Expand
  22. Nov 5, 2011
    Half-Life 2: Episode One is an excellent game. It continues the great story started in Half-Life 2, and improves on the experience in multiple ways, such as the shading, lighting, and AI. Alyx accompanies you the entire time, and it makes for no boring and lonely levels like Highway 17 from Half-Life 2. Its only drawback is the incredibly short playtime, at 6-7 hours.
  23. Jun 12, 2012
    If you liked the first, is a safe buy this episode, as history is its strongest point. In this episode there are not many new features such as HDR technology is incorporated and a significant improvement in the facial expressions. The campaign can be very short while somewhere a bit dense when we meet again with the zombies, but still very good because it lets you continue the story.
  24. Jan 1, 2012
    The overall package of this addon could have been bigger but still it is Valve quality from beginning to end. No experiments, nothing too fancy, valve just kept on telling their story further and delivered more of what has already proven as very good.
  25. Jan 20, 2012
    An good follow-up to its mighty predecessor, altough it was very short (but also very cheap). It doesn't really change much from HL2 rather than just continue the story for a few hours.
  26. Jan 3, 2012
    Not quite as well paced as its base game, but still very compelling. The sections tend to blur together, which only a surrealist would appreciate for their representation of a chaotic conflict on the brink of apocalyptic mayhem. The ending hits you like a .22 to the side of your fiberglass placeebo helmet, but it serves its purpose: heading up to the next section in this epic series. Though, my favorite part of this one is actually the recap of it in the beginning of Ep.2. Followed closely by the dynamic dialog between you and Alyx. Expand
  27. May 27, 2012
    Half-Life 2 being my favourite game ever, I loved everything about the first episodic content and think anyone who has not played it should. Excellent game by a great developer!
  28. May 14, 2012
    The is possibly the earliest game in the form of DLC. But a goddamn good DLC unlike the greedy cheap contents offered nowadays. It's short but quite worth it.
  29. Nov 3, 2012
    This was really good add on. Not very long though and storys not as good but its still a really good and recommend if you loved Half Life 2. Half Life 2: Episode One 8.2/10
  30. Jun 18, 2012
    Valve has done it again. The game is a continuation of half-life 2 and takes place after the final event of half-life 2. Though it does end with a cliff-hanger, it still is very interesting.
  31. Aug 6, 2012
    Valve definitely stepped their game up in Ep. 1, which I didn't think was possible. This game is just simply excellent. The difficulty can still be a bit frustrating at times, and VERY inconsistent, but the game gets so much easier every time you play through it. The music, like in Half-Life 2, is timed perfectly, and I'm not kidding, it plays right into the gameplay. The music selection is also perfect, some rock-oriented music here, some spooky ambience there. The most notable improvement in the game is in the NPCs, namely Alyx. The sense of complete isolation that I felt when I was playing Half-Life 2 is not present in this game. You feel like you're actually part of something, and not someone who just goes around doing everything by themselves, although that STILL happens a great deal. My only legitimate complaint is in the gameplay elements that Half-Life 2 had. Whatever happened to the huge amount of puzzles present in Half-Life 2, you know like physics puzzles? Ep. 1 is mostly combat, which is not a good direction for Valve, because it only makes me think of the features not present in this game that other shooters have. The puzzles were what made this game SO interesting, they need to go back to that. However, I would still rather play this entire episode than play the last few chapters of Half-Life 2. Those were mercilessly hard, and particularly brainless. Speaking of endings...Ep. 1 has to have one of the most epic endings I've ever seen in a video game, and it's all because of the excellent graphics and sound. Seeing such an awesome ending was just what needed to happen after the difficulty in achieving it. Expand
  32. Sep 19, 2012
    Date night on the Half Life train. Too bad she had to go home early. Oh well, there is Episode 2 to look forward to. After spending several days with the original Half Life 2, I was disappointed to have completed Episode 1 in just 3 sittings.
  33. Dec 13, 2012
    The equivalent of a filler episode. You could probably go right from HL2 into episode 2 because of how little happens in this episode. It's still a Valve game and has it's moments but it's plot is stretched thin between predictable puzzles and fights. Worth playing if you get it in a bundle but I wouldn't recommending purchasing it on it's own.
  34. Oct 20, 2014
    Being a huge Half Life fan, I finally caved & bought Episode 1 on sale in October 2014. I just finished it. I have to say it sucked. The hardest difficulty was barely a challenge, and it was so short it felt like cut unfinished HL2 content.

    The whole "Half Life 2: Episode X" system has in my opinion failed miserably. I'm going to play Episode 2 next, but I don't expect much better.

    Extremely linear path, boring puzzles. I also highly disagree with the art direction of HL2. It just feels so rusty & industrial 24/7. I missed half life 1's scientific & top secret feel.
  35. Dec 22, 2013
    Looking back on it, the original Half-Life was the best of the bunch, but later HL games and the spin-offs do have redeeming qualities, though not as much as HL1. That said, I cannot bear HL2:EP1. Why? Because it is nothing but a copy and paste follow- up. Weapons? Copy and paste! AI? Copy and paste! Enemies? Copy and paste! Gameplay? Copy and paste! Character animation and design? Freakin' copy n' paste, son! Also, the character of Gordon Freeman is just as one-dimensional as you can get, and if it was for immersion reasons, it dramatically backfired because he has a distinctive appearance, an established backstory, and MOST PEOPLE AREN'T FREAKING PHYSICISTS! He could have been a sewage worker at Black Mesa and the story wouldn't have changed a lot! Look, I think the HL series is great, but i cannot tolerate this awful, confusing mess of a game. In fact, even watching the Citadel explode as you merrily escape on a train isn't satisfying! It makes absolutely ineffective use of what is one of my most despised movie and game cliches: The hero escaping the millisecond before an explosion, because that is just STUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUPID!!! Expand
  36. May 3, 2013
    If you've seen and played Half-Life 2(like I guess) you already know the deal. Episode One is the first in a series of episodes following Half-Life 2. The plot is set where the original ended, right after Citadel's explosion, where the player must re-stabilize Citadel's Core to prevent it from destruction. You're once again fighting your way out of the city, and saving rebels and people pinned down in the city.

    For an sequel, Episode One has some flaws, like it doesn't feature new stuff like characters, and weapons, but it continues the story with the same professionalism as the previous game did.

    However, Episode One comes with an updated engine, with advanced shaders, and even more improved AI.

    I can't say many other things, since is a relatively short sequel.

    Like the sequel and original game, the episode has a great value and deserves to be played.
  37. Jul 17, 2013
    I enjoyed Half-Life 2 despite its flaws. Episode One has precious little of what makes HL2 worthwhile namely, surprises, big setpieces and skilfully constructed levels that funnel you along a path without you realising it. Instead, we have a heavy reliance on infinite enemies streaming out of spawn points, escort missions where the escortees get stuck, and my least favourite feature arbitrary changes in the rules and physics to force you to do everything in one particular way. So one moment the gravity gun works on vehicles, the next it doesn't, because this particular vehicle absolutely *has* to be defeated with rockets. In a ridiculous boss fight against yet another strider (which forces, once more, you to hang around a particular spot for infinite rockets) there's no consistency at all in what you can hide behind and what you can't. The designers just threw in some arbitrary panels that look much the same as other panels but can shield you for a limited time. How limited? It varies from panel to panel.

    Apart from Alex, allies are absolutely useless again. "Defend us, Gordon!" they shout, pathetically, as yet another squad of enemies is magically teleported in to an area I just cleared. How about you get out of the way so I can do that? Or, OK, just stand there and die while obstructing my view.
  38. sft
    May 22, 2013
    Those darn headcrabs!

    EPISODE 1 starts immediately where Half-Life 2 ended. Basically it’s more of the same, and that’s more than welcome to a fan like me. If you want to know what I thought of HL2 I refer the reader to that review. Suffice it to say I loved it and Episode 1, although not as memorable as its predecessor, is still enormous fun to play. The only criticism I have of this
    episode is that Valve haven’t given the narrative development as much thought as they did in HL2 and will do again in HL2 Episode 2. Still great fun though. Expand
  39. AWG
    Jun 4, 2013
    Short, quick, sudden... and fabulous. This game is from 2006 and still its graphics are better than many nowadays titles. Also, Alyx is hotter than usual and totally into you. Terrific.
  40. Nov 29, 2013
    Episode One is definitely the weakest link in the Half Life 2 series. The main problem with Episode One is that not much happens: you go into the Citadel, Alyx picks up a copy of the Transmission, and then you escape the city. Add in the fact that this game is also very short. In my opinion, the beginning of Episode One (inside the Citadel) is a bit boring. The game does get better once you leave the citadel and are presented with numerous puzzles. The hospital portion is also quite good and the new zombine enemy is quite humorous. Episode One is not bad by any means, but having played through all the Half Life games, this stands out as being comparatively weak. Expand
  41. Jul 11, 2013
    Don't get me wrong, this game is not a bad game, but its not a good game, either. The sequel to the original half life 2 has come! And is it a good game? Yes, is it better than the original Half-life 2? Not in the slightest. I think the most annoying part of this game is the overloading of enemies. Zombine are the second most annoying thing on the planet next to ant-lions. Do ant-lions really need to be a thing in the HL universe? The game is fairly short too, only reaching about 2-3 hours worth of game play before leaving you at a cliff hanger, that at the time pissed me off.

    There are good parts to this game, some of them i had a blast playing through, parts like the hospital, the train station part, and the fact that the game can keep you hooked, and the underground segment was a good idea, but executed poorly with the introduction of zombine and antlions. Overall it is a must have chapter that further develops the half life story with some major flaws.
  42. Oct 1, 2013
    The Half-Life series is the best FPS series ever made. This game adds to that legacy. Everything good is still present in this game. Its only downfall is it being very, very short.
  43. Mar 1, 2014
    Episode One is for me as good as Half-Life 2! And Alyx is a nice character (imagine Episode One and Two without Alyx!). My only issue is the short gameplay.
  44. Feb 3, 2014
    Story: 8 out of 10, Graphics: 9 out of 10, Fun: 9 out of 10, Controls: 9 out of 10, Ease to Learn: 8 out of 10, Length: 7 out of 10, Re-play: 3 out of 10, Value: 8 out of 10
  45. Sep 23, 2014
    A good continuation of half life 2. Combat is the same as Half life 2, story is good but not as strong as half life 2. Overall its good and worth getting if you liked Half life 2.

Generally favorable reviews - based on 61 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 58 out of 61
  2. Negative: 0 out of 61
  1. Just like the original Half-Life 2, Episode One keeps the player entertained almost the entire time through perfect pacing and by being inventive, surprising and getting the basics absolutely right. It's a wonderful advert for the excitement that true episodic content can generate when approached the right way.
  2. Episode One is a memorable romp through the Half-Life universe, with gameplay that's even more satisfying than that of "Half-Life 2." The only downside is that, due to its episodic nature, it's over far too soon.
  3. 85
    A brief, stylistically claustrophobic experience whose polish and personality manage to keep things moving.