I thought HALF LIFE 2 was the best game ever so when buying this I had high expectations, and I am glad to tell you all that I was not disappointed. This has to be the best value in gaming that I have ever seen.
I already own HALF LIFE 2 and HALF LIFE 2: EPISODE ONE so I initially wasn't that keen in buying the ORANGE BOX set (because these two games are in the ORANGE BOX). However when I logged on to my STEAM account, to buy PORTAL, EPISODE 2 and TEAM FORTRESS 2 separately, this would have nearly trebled the price, so buying the ORANGE BOX is the cheaper option, even though you get more with the ORANGE BOX! Valve works in mysterious ways...
Plus, if you already own HALF LIFE 2 or EPISODE ONE then STEAM will let you give them to a friend!
I bought my copy from amazon.co.uk and for value it ended up that I paid five pounds (around 9 dollars?) for each game, which is unbelievable value when you consider that some mediocre console game costs up to 40 pounds.
Here are the games in the ORANGE BOX:
HALF LIFE 2 - arguably the best game ever made! I won't review it as I think that most people who will but the OB will already own it or at least be aware of its reputation.
EPISODE ONE: The next chapter from HALF LIFE 2.Very short game (around 4 to 5 hours). To me, this part is the weakest in the three made so far(HALF LIFE 2, this and HALF LIFE: EPISODE 2). The game offers little new from the original and even the environments and bad guys are the same. However it is still a great game.
EPISODE TWO: A whole lot better than EPISODE ONE. The environments are different, this being in lush forests and underground caves with new monsters (radioactive spiders that spew radioactive mush at you). The graphics are really superb and seem to be improved on the already fantastic looking EPISODE ONE. You begin to realise why VALVE had taken so long in bringing this game out.
The game is short as well, but I think a bit longer than EPISODE ONE. The script is quite impressive for a game (gives a lot of Hollywood movies a run for their money) and the characters are so familiar and believable that you have empathy for them, similar to characters in a favourite movie. This game is the main reason why I bought the OB and I was not disappointed in the least. One of the highlights is a Rourke's Drift like siege and antlions are coming in every direction. In this game you work with others more.
PORTAL: This is a strange game, and to be frank I have never seen anything like it! It is basically a puzzle game, and whilst it is fun and compelling it also has far reaching effects on gaming. The physics and complexity in making a game like this shows how serious games have become in the past few years. Portal is about a hand held device that creates holes in walls and then you create another hole in a wall somewhere else, and this lets you, the character, to walk through the first `portal' and exit the second `portal'. The child like female-electronic voice, a sort of HAL with the added craziness, adds to the quirkiness of the game. The puzzles get steadily harder and harder. I think this is a game will either love or hate but when you first play it is definitely something totally new and fresh.
TEAM FORTRESS 2 - a multiplayer game that is fun, fast and simple. The graphics are very cartoonish (in a good way) and it basically two teams (red and blue) with each team achieving a task to win the round. Players can be sniper, medic, engineer or even a spy, among others. The game is very addictive and because it is an online multiplayer this game has the most repay value of all the games in the ORANGE BOX.
STEAM gets a lot of bad credit from fans of HALF LIFE but I have never had any problems, well, I had one problem: if you are new to STEAM you may get an email/IM chat through STEAM by another user pretending to be from STEAM. He/she may say that your account is being used somewhere else (you need a STEAM account to play these games) and that STEAM requires your password and username to verify your account. DO NOT give your details to anyone as STEAM would never ask for them themselves! This is not very relevant to the actual game review but it is the only problem with STEAM that I have accounted (so far!)
You do need a fairly modern set-up pc to play all the games in the ORANGE BOX. It recommends at least 512mb RAM and 128mb graphics card. Though to be honest, at least a 1 GIG of RAM is needed and a 256mb card to enjoy the games. Games are to be enjoyed not played with sufferance as it takes he fun out of the games.