If Half-Life 2's nerdy protagonist Gordon Freeman is going to save the world, he's gonna need more than the crowbar he began the last game wielding. Thankfully, weapon upgrades in this first-person shooter come lightning quick. Gordon barely gets to take in any the sights and sounds of City 17 (a quarantined, run-down district ruled by gas-masked soldiers apparently called the "Combine") before he starts blasting, bashing, and exploding the living hell out of everything in sight. It's not his fault; he just attracts those unruly types who can only be reined in with blissful doses of gory, cutting edge gameplay. It must be those geeky glasses of his.
Regardless of whether you play on PC or console, what remains both intact and amazingis a highly believable alien invasion story, great pacing, and a whole gamut of other gameplay activities. This includes the ability pick up just about any object in the game and heave it directly toward the nearest enemy's cranium.
Wait, varied gameplay in a first-person shooter? Yes. Half-Life 2 is not just about blasting look-alike zombies into oblivion. It's not a puzzle game or anything, but there's a realistic physics system that really changes things.