Half Life 2 vs. Portal 1 and 2 (am I just an Aperture kind of guy?)

I’m not a huge gamer, it doesn’t define my self-image. I am however, much more into games than the average person of my age on the street. I’ve got beau coup D&D time in, and I’ve been playing video-type games since Pong. I logged some serious hours as Pai Chan in Virtua Fighter, and as various leaders in earlier versions of Civ.

I’ve recently started playing computer games again. I’m on Steam, using a Mac, so I’ve played through Portal 1 and 2, and then recently picked up Half-Life 2 - Half Life 1 is not Mac-available.

Portal was fantastic, a real gem. On occasion I’d get stuck, and have to get help from someone who had figured it out - for instance, that very long vertical tunnel in Portal 2 was very annoying, but in general I was able to sort through the puzzles. The beauty of Portal was kind of like good science fiction - you take a fundamental fact of our existence, tweak it, and see what happens.

I got Half Life, figuring that it would be fairly similar, but I find it’s kind of annoying - the movement is much more finicky, and the puzzles are sometimes quite non-intuitive - that is, you have to find some tiny nook or cranny and crawl through it to turn a faucet so that you can backtrack a quarter mile. As result, I’m not having nearly as much fun, despite the fact that I finally have a gun and a crowbar. I feel like I’m at a job - run down here, bust this, find some ammunition, shoot some guys, run here, pound on the walls till I figure it out, get frustrated, try again.

Is this a fundamental difference in the games? Should I just play something else? Or is Route Kanal where they weed out the weak? Or is it that I am jumping in at HL2, instead of manning-up and using Half Life via parallels on my Mac.

Or is it all Cave Johnson’s fault?

Portal and Half Life are very different games. Fundamentally, Half Life is not a puzzle game. Sure, it’s got some puzzle-like things, but it’s mostly a first-person shooter. So yeah, not really surprising that if you’re a puzzle-type guy that you wouldn’t like Half Life as much as Portal.

You might want to look into more Puzzle type games if that’s what you like. I’m sure there will be a few folks along soon enough to point you in the right direction (I’m not much of a puzzle person, though I do like Portal).

Be warned: not much is like Portal. It’s the best-of-breed right now, and as such, nothing really touches it.

I think to a large extent, this. Those damn water levels really drag on. I found them sufficiently boring (and nauseating) that I quit playing for about 6 months before coming back and finishing them. After that, I had a blast with the rest of the game and beat it and the two episodes within a few weeks. Granted they don’t ever get super-puzzley, but the shoot 'em upping gets a lot better.

Yeah Route Kanal is consistently bitched about as the hardest or longest part of the game. It most definitely gets better after that, so stick with it but realize that you are playing a shooter with puzzle elements rather than a puzzle game.

This is good to hear. I’m actually more than okay with a first person shooter. I fact, what first started to worry me was that I was looking into Call of Duty - type games as a break from my apparent job of slogging through the canals.
If I hadn’t talked to y’all, I’d probably have had an experience very much like Greasy Jack’s, coming back after 6 months.