Opening The Orange Box: Half-Life 2: Episode Two

In a winter packed with big-name shooter releases there was never really any doubt who’d win out. In value, pedigree and sheer gameplay magic The Orange Box delivered on every count: TF2 is the funniest multiplayer experience many have ever experienced, Portal is so self-consciously kooky that it has now infected every corner of the internet, and Episode Two continued the Half-Life saga with remarkable aplomb.

While the long delay of the game’s release stretched the idea of what episodic gaming actually is, Half-Life 2: Episode Two remains a triumphant expansion to the universe, taking your character Gordon Freeman and his sassy sidekick Alyx on an epic trek to the White Forest resistance base.

On an eventful journey, Alyx is attacked and left unconscious by a new deadly opponent - a Hunter - while Gordon discovers a complex underground Antlion cave system with the Vortigaunts, and the battle for Earth is taken out into the open with the help of a new super-powered muscle car and a helping of lethal Strider Busters.

The man in charge of bringing Episode Two to your brain was project lead David Speyrer, who joined Valve just as work on Half-Life 2 started back in 1998. Speyrer began our interview by explaining how the development team always examined scenes carefully in Ep2 through playtesting, and ruthlessly cut anything that confused the player - even if it meant changing ideas already revealed to the gaming public...