Joystiq hands-on: The Orange Box

Kevin Kelly
K. Kelly|07.13.07

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Joystiq hands-on: The Orange Box

Easily one of the best gaming values to come out in recent memory, Valve's The Orange Box packs a pretty strong punch in terms of content. We got our grubby little paws on it at EA, and while we know there are other games on this disc, we hard a hard time tearing ourselves away from Portal to play the others. However, once someone smacked us in the head with a crowbar, we moved on and got a piece of everything, culminating with a Team Fortress 2 fragfest.

Seriously, if you're trapped on a desert island and can only take one upcoming title with you, The Orange Box wouldn't be a bad choice. You've got team games, a first person shooter (with sequels), and a really unique puzzle game. Where could you go wrong? Just make sure that island has internet access, because the press notes for Team Fortress 2 dropped a mega-bombshell of information* that hasn't been reported at all from E3. We aren't sure why. Ready for it? Here you go:

* Internet connection required for online play.

We're working on a confirmation on that one. Check out our impressions after the break.


Let's break it down and see what we thought about what we played. Due to our obsession with Portal, we didn't get to crawl through all of the Half Life episodes, but rest assured it looks good.

  • Team Fortress 2: It's got cartoony graphics, fun levels, and a slight learning curve for the Team Fortress impaired as far as things like building and repairing turrets and the like are concerned. However, running around and fragging opponents feels natural if you've ever played an FPS before. There are nine different classes in the game: Heavy, Spy, Scout, Demoman, Engineer, Medic, Sniper, Soldier and Pyro. Creepiest of them all? The Spy. He sneaks up looking exremely shady, and will knife you in the ribs before slinking back into the shadows. Ouch. We played it on both the PS3 and on the PC, where we were a bit thankful for the mouse and keyboard, at least at first.
  • Portal: This is an extremely fun game that we had some problems with at first. We wanted to bang our heads on the monitors and cry when we couldn't get the hang of the Portal gun, but a friendly therapist employee from Valve stepped in and gave us a few tips. After that, we had a much better game. Featuring truly innovative puzzles that you'll have to solve using only the door-opening goodness of that gun in order to get from one end of a room to another, we had the most fun in here. Especially when they showed us how to open infinite tunnels, spy on ourselves from above, and even more tricks with the gun. Here's hoping they're able to put this gun in a multiplayer game at some point.
  • Half Life 2: The big news here is -- they didn't screw it up. We played it on the Xbox 360, and it's the same Half Life you've come to love, fear, and respect. We played around in Episode Two, where you get to take your show on the road outside of the city. We drove our dune-buggy ish vehicle (very poorly, we dinged it up pretty badly) to some busted up ruins where we'd spotted a radio antenna. Most of the time was spent figuring out how to activate that antenna, while fending off nasty critters. We still love that gravity gun.
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