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(Pocket-lint) - Half-Life is back once again, but rather than just offer Episode Two on its own, Valve and EA have decided to bundle it with four other games. Does this show a weakness, or one fantastic offering? We don a hazard suit to find out.

Nothing to do with mobile operator Orange, The Orange Box is made up of five games; Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Portal and Team Fortress 2 and sees you once again play Dr Gordon Freeman battling off aliens and ghouls.

From a Half-Life fan's point of view you get an new Episode which carries on from Episode One. You and Alyx have got to get to the White Forest without getting dead to deliver some information to a group of scientists trying to stop a repeat of Half-Life 2 happening.

Any claim however that this is just more of the same clearly isn't justified, the game, which plays out a fantastic storyline that will keep you gripped has plenty of twists, turns and climaxes to make you keep playing till the early hours. It's only at the end will you become frustrated that like any good sequel there is likely to be another instalment. This is cliffhanging at its best.

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Complete Half-Life 2: Episode Two and the beauty of The Orange box is that you've got another four games to play.

Keeping within the Half-Life family you get Half-Life 2 and Episode One and all three can be accessed at any point without having to unlock them in any particular order. It a great idea and saves those who've been playing Half-Life 2 since 2005 won't have to start from the beginning once again (although it's a nice reminder how good a game the original sequel was).

But The Orange Box isn't just about Dr Freeman and Alyx. Valve has included online only multiplayer game Team Fortress 2.

Looking more like a Pixar animated movie (Think The Incredibles with guns) the sequel to the classic multiplayer holds no punches as it great fun and certainly add to the longevity of the box set, not that you'll need it.

Here you can choose a number of different characters to play and all have their own strengths and weaknesses like the ability to sneak up on people or great armour and the ability to carry heavier weapons.

Although you will need an Xbox Live account event to practice, as there is no bot support so you can get up to scratch before you go online.

Finally there is single player puzzler called Portal that is either likely to have to swearing at the TV in confusion or glued for hours. It's that hit and miss unfortunately but for those who like solving puzzles, you know the ones that see you stuck in a room with no logical way out, the this will be for you. Probably the weaker element of the box set, it's still worth a play.


Where The Orange Box succeeds is that you don't just get one cracking game, but five cracking games with the Half-Life element giving you plenty of hours of gameplay. If you're a Half-Life fan then the outlay for Episode Two is worth it.

It's a cracking game of its own accord, but at least you get the bonus of the other games at the same time, and lets face it, if it had been available on its own it would have cost around £25 anyway.

Top notch gaming, plus great value for money. You can't really ask for much more, well you could, but not from a video game.

Writing by Stuart Miles. Originally published on 19 October 2007.