Stuff I only noticed the 2nd time around

nokori3byo

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I was just reading throught some great old threads on topics such as "scariest moment in HL2", "Most difficult level", etc. in the archives. It got me thinking about some of the game's suberb little subtleties. As I mentioned in another thread, I'm a late-comer to the franchise (having only aquired HL2 last month), but I noticed a lot of stuff on my second play through that made me appreciate it even more. Including:

1. Seeing the Citadel in the distance from atop the dam at the end of Water Hazard. I like the fact that you were mere blocks away from the Citadel a couple of levels earlier, but then travelled in realtime all the way past the industrial parks on the outskirts of the city to see the mighty citadel reduced to the size of a matchstick on the horizon. It's even cooler if you know you'll be fighting the climactic battle at the top. Sublime.

2. Finding the same creepy babydoll from the playground in Point Insertion in a nearby tenement closet in Anticitizen One. This is an awesome throwback to a very atmospheric scene from earlier in the game, and I love the idea of revisting a familiar area at a time when circumstances have completely changed. What do you reckon was with that briefcase, anyway?

3. Seeing the Antlion Guard in the shower room of NP on a monitor, prior to fighting him. I totally missed this great little cinematic of a couple of Combines getting gored in the shower room the first time I played through Nova Prospekt. Noticing it the second time, I immediately knew where the scene was taking place. Frisson by the bucketload.

4. The pacing silouette in a distant window on the menu screen for the urban combat levels. You don't suppose it's...him, do you?

5. The early meeting with a combine soldier in Water Hazard. I was surprised the see the (by then familiar) combine soldier lying dead in a puddle after I downed the chopper in Chapter 4. Then I put it together that he was the pilot and had been thrown from the wreckage. I don't know why this is so cool, it just is.

Who says HL2 has no replay value, eh?
 

Jintor

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You win for a forum newbie.

In fact, you win altogether.

I salute you.
 

Dynasty

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Awww damn he's already hardcore. I was looking forward to the weekly abuse etc
 

el Chi

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5. The early meeting with a combine soldier in Water Hazard. I was surprised the see the (by then familar) combine soldier lying dead in a puddle after I downed the chopper in Chapter 4. Then I put it together that he was the pilot and had been thrown from the wreckage. I don't know why this is so cool, it just is.
I never noticed that! That is cool.
 

Shift

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Yeah i noticed all these little extras when playing through the game again. The coolest thing I saw was at the dam on Water Hazard, I took note that the sun was setting and it would be dark very soon, so a great use of real time from Valve, and what was even cooler, and spookier, was that in the distance, just beyond Black Mesa East, what looked to be the silluette of the gophic buildings of Ravenholm, including the Church tower. I could not look away from it for ages, sent shivers down my spine.

That is possibly one of the coolest things I have ever seen in a game, and possibly the spookiest.
 

nokori3byo

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I never noticed that! That is cool.
For some reason, the third time I played the chopper battle, I wasn't able to find the body afterward. It's possible that he landed in the water and I just didn't notice him.

Anyway, I liked it because you don't properly meet up with those guys until ages later at the tracks in front of Shorepoint. It's cool that you're given an early glimpse of them.
 

Asknoone

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I'm pretty sure you can't see the Citadel from the dam. Isn't that the Ravenholm thingy?

Cool list though, never noticed the downed Combine soldier before.
 

nokori3byo

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I'm pretty sure you can't see the Citadel from the dam. Isn't that the Ravenholm thingy?

Cool list though, never noticed the downed Combine soldier before.
Go to the lever that raises the gate on the dam. Now do a 90% turn to your left and walk over the the chainlink fence. If you use your zoom to look into the distance, you can see three things: Black Mesa East, in the foreground; Ravenholm, a short distance behind it; and downtown City 17 silouetted against the horizon.

I must admit though, I'd never noticed Ravenholm until Shift pointed it out three posts ago.
 

Shift

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Ahh I remember I saw the downed pilot, well a downed pilot anyway, when I took it out of the air, the pilot came crashing out of the cockpit too, his body was left in a very awsome way.
 

Narvi

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There're two different forms of antlion. One has a blotchy thing, the other doesn't.
 

Que-Ever

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The pilot's bodies actually go flying out of the chopper when you do a certain amount of damage to them.
 

W4d5Y

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W00t! :D Gotta try that out !!!11 So, we actually get an areal view of Ravenholm? *shivers* And the sun actually sets?
 

Tollbooth Willie

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You noticed the figure in the window on the "Follow Freeman!" menu screen?!

I thought I was ****ing crazy.
 

Rapstah

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What level name does that background have? Gotta see it for myself.
 

Asknoone

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Go to the lever that raises the gate on the dam. Now do a 90% turn to your left and walk over the the chainlink fence. If you use your zoom to look into the distance, you can see three things: Black Mesa East, in the foreground; Ravenholm, a short distance behind it; and downtown City 17 silouetted against the horizon.

That definately isn't the Citadel...it isn't shaped that way.
 

Deadline

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Ah one of the things I noticed the second... err third time through, was the part where you are fighting the combine near the lighthouse. After you get destroy the gunship and are on the cliff edge, you see a dropship fly past you carrying your car away... I think I noticed the dropship before just not that it stole'd your car!
 

Solver

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The person in the "Follow Freeman" background menu isn't the G-Man, though. Someone checked a while ago, and it was not - though it's an excellent spotting.
 

Que-Ever

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The person in the "Follow Freeman" background menu isn't the G-Man, though. Someone checked a while ago, and it was not - though it's an excellent spotting.
IIRC, someone checked it out, and it was a female citizen.
 

Jintor

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It'd be cool if it was though...
 

kupocake

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A G-Man sighting you can only verify by listing entities in the console or no clipping around a menu map isn't much of a G-Man sighting if you ask me... though the fact that people will see a silohuette of any old Jane Doe and go 'eap! G-Man' is probably a testament to his enigmatic power. People start seeing him everywhere... let's just hope people don't start seeing him in real-life :p
 

nokori3byo

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What level name does that background have? Gotta see it for myself.
It's the one that comes up when you are playing Anticitizen One and Follow Freeman. Basically a citiscape of smouldering ruins. The silouette appears in a set of windows in a tenement building near the center of the screen.

As far as it not being the G-Man, well, it figures. The silouette paces to the right and then appears to duck down suddenly in a kind of evasive crouch. The G-man, while certainly a slippery fellow, is not known for doing things hastily.

BTW, I read on another HL2 site that someone had no-clipped and found the location of the G-man's boat and crow broadcast (one of the creepiest moments in the game, d'apres moi). Does anyone know anything about this?
 

Ridge

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Yeah fighting through in AntiCitizen One and realizing you are in the same neighborhood as you were in when you were finding your way to Kleiner's lab was really creepy for me. You have to wonder what happened to those guys in those buildings you had seen earlier. Were they fighting the combine? Dead? Killed by the Combine?

It really did put a pit in my stomach when I noticed that...like I seriously felt uneasy there...
 

kupocake

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Hmmm. What then? It ain't Ravneholm.
It's the church in Ravenholm. Besides, I'm pretty sure on that game overview map that was made many moons ago (made by taking overhead screenshots of each map and stringing them together), the Citadel would have been in completely the opposite direction
BTW, I read on another HL2 site that someone had no-clipped and found the location of the G-man's boat and crow broadcast (one of the creepiest moments in the game, d'apres moi). Does anyone know anything about this?
All the 'in-engine' television sequences (the exceptions are the broken Breen monitors and the fuzzy Alyx broadcast just before Highway 17 kicks off, which are just animated textures) are effectively filmed 'on location'. That's to say, there's a camera entity pointing at some point in the map that has the actual character doing whatever they are doing on the screen. If you no-clip on most of the City maps, you'll eventually find Breen in a little box jabbering away. Same destruction scenes in Nova Prospekt (like the antlion attack you commented on earlier. You'll notice that there is a loading point between that monitor and the map you actually encounter that monster: it's played out in its own little 'set' if you noclip around the map) and Alyx in Entanglement, Barney in the prelude to Anticitizen 1, the Combine slug thing in the citadel etc. The G-Man on the boat is just another example.

Or the short version: Play Half-Life 2 Episode One with the commentary mode on. They explain monitors and other little mapping cheats (it's interesting how many times you teleport without noticing in order to save on performance or fake movement in these games).

edit: This is the map I was jabbering about For the Citadel to be behind Ravenholm, Ravenholm would need to be between the reservoir and the citadel. But it's in quite the opposite direction (though correctly placed generally the same direction as the village in the reservoir's skybox).
 

nokori3byo

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It's the church in Ravenholm.
Eh? The church in Ravenholm is an Eastern Orthdox Church with onion domes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onion_dome). It looks nothing like the tower we're talking about. Additionally, there is an obvious difference in the textures of the town and the cityscape on the horizon: the former is composed of what look like rendered models in the distance, and I believe those buildings include a church with a Eastern Orthodox-syle dome; the latter is a flat, textureless drawing on the horizon. I don't think it's in the same area.

Also, note that the citadel's peculiar fluted appearance, with the hollowed/convex middle section, is only apparent when it is viewed from the side.

I just replayed the end of Ravenholm and, before reaching Shorepoint, Gordon seems to have returned to the outskirts of City 17 (witness the apartment blocks and factories). I wasn't able to find a building that resembled the one seen from the dam, but that's hardly suprising, given the high wall between the player and the nearby buildings. I'm willing to concede that the tower might be part of an industrial backdrop, but the spire atop the building suggests it's not a smokestack.

I dunno. You and Samon have succeeded in sowing the seed of doubt in my mind, but I'm not convinced yet.
 

Ridge

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Well dont forget the Citadel towers miles into the sky...it'd probably be more than just a smokestack, even from the distance you have gotten away from it...it'd still disappear into the clouds and be a foggy object off in the distance...
 

kupocake

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Eh? The church in Ravenholm is an Eastern Orthdox Church with onion domes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onion_dome). It looks nothing like the tower we're talking about. Additionally, there is an obvious difference in the textures of the town and the cityscape on the horizon: the former is composed of what look like rendered models in the distance, and I believe those buildings include a church with a Eastern Orthodox-syle dome; the latter is a flat, textureless drawing on the horizon. I don't think it's in the same area.
Fair enough. There are other tall objects in the town though (smoke stacks, a clock tower IIRC?) Either, that, or Valve just plain got it wrong :p I'd be careful with reading too much into such a low-detail sky-box.
I just replayed the end of Ravenholm and, before reaching Shorepoint, Gordon seems to have returned to the outskirts of City 17 (witness the apartment blocks and factories).
Again, looking at the overhead map and also taking into account the corresponding maps of the City 17 canals and coastline, I don't see how City 17 can possibly be behind Ravenholm. What it may be though, is another town in the area. Or perhaps the town IS Ravenholm. It's hard to associate that horrid, claustrophobic gameplay space with a full-blown coastal town, but perhaps in reality that's what it is. After all, 'We don't go to Ravenholm' doesn't end until the beach section starts...

Edit: The other problem with the coast section, is the question of how much of the 'Lost Coast' Valve removed and is later present in the HDR mod of the same name. The town of St-Olga could have once been Ravenholm, and the skybox may be said to be something like this more industrial place...
 

Ridge

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True...and you DO see the headcrab pods getting fired into St. Olga...very possible that St Olga becomes Ravenholm...
 

nokori3byo

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Fair enough. There are other tall objects in the town though (smoke stacks, a clock tower IIRC?) Either, that, or Valve just plain got it wrong :p I'd be careful with reading too much into such a low-detail sky-box.
Point taken. And yes, as you say, if we look at Leon's map at the resistance base where the Vortigaunt gives you your Hunter-Chopper gun, then the view of Black Mesa/Ravenholm from the dam would have the player facing south or south west. But wait--if you face Black Mesa East from the dam, the sun is cleary visible on the same strech of horizon, to the left of the disputed buildings. Wouldn't that mean the sun was going down in the east?!?

I knew the Combine had buggered up the environment. I just never realised how much.:O

On second thought. I might just have my directions mixed up. I'll get back. (Can't make head or tails of that overhead map, incidentally).

EDIT: Yeah, it now appears that I was totally confused about the directions on the map. Sorry. Please disregard what I said about the sunset.
 

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In Black Mesa East, if you throw the ball into the open sewer pipes, crows fly out and Alyx laughs and says: "Where's your ball, Dog?" If you wait in the Scrapyard after the Combine assault begins, a Hunter Chopper comes and blastss the sewer pipe with missiles: the only occasion when we see one do so.
 

kestrel7e7

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The texture used to represent the tower and city in the background of Ravenholm is described as "buildingset056a" and there is another one called "buildingset056b" which doesn't have a tall tower, this suggests the tower is of no significant and not a citadel.

The City 17 citadel, when it was in the skybox in previous Route Kanal levels, was in the opposite direction to Ravenholm.

The tower has a small top section and long antenna, which is completely different to the City 17 citadel.

Two nearby skycrapers appear 1/3 the height of the tower, assuming they are in the same plane of reference as the tower, the tower is far too small to be the City 17 citadel. The City 17 citadel is about 3km high and no buildings come close to being 1/3 the height of it.

Speculating, it could be a different city with a smaller version of the City 17 citadel.
 

Ridge

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Perhaps another City way way far away...City 16?! ZOMG! Gordon is going to kick some ass in C16!!

</sarcasm>
 

nokori3byo

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Two nearby skycrapers appear 1/3 the height of the tower, assuming they are in the same plane of reference as the tower, the tower is far too small to be the City 17 citadel. The City 17 citadel is about 3km high and no buildings come close to being 1/3 the height of it.
Not a definitive argument in and of itself, since the "two nearby skyscrapers" could be significantly closer to the viewer than the tower in question. But, yes, (sigh) the bulk of the evidence does seem to weigh against that being the Citadel.

Oh well, I guess I'll change point # 1 to "Seeing Ravenholm from the Dam," now that that's been brought to my attention.

I do, however, like the idea of it being another town with another citadel. I had intially thought the "antenna" was a spire, such as the one that's about to come crashing down on our heroes in the climactic freeze frame that ends the game.

I'm also struck by what a richly detailed place the area around the dam is. First you've got the exciting duel with the chopper with the accompanying dead pilot easter egg. Then there's a much needed breather after which you can mosey over and visit with the All-knowing Vortigaunt. And then after a perfunctory gunfight with Combines, you procede to g-man sighting # 5, take in the slick visuals at the dam (sunset, Ravenholm), then ramp it into the next level. It's also simply a really beautiful, dusk-lit scene. Nice.

(Edit: And how could I forget the helipad at the Combine outpost, suggesting that might've been the chopper's home base. Old Gordo's not one to do things by halves. First he kills the pilot, then he goes over and kills his mates).
 

knut

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I just replayed the end of Ravenholm and, before reaching Shorepoint, Gordon seems to have returned to the outskirts of City 17 (witness the apartment blocks and factories). I wasn't able to find a building that resembled the one seen from the dam, but that's hardly suprising, given the high wall between the player and the nearby buildings. I'm willing to concede that the tower might be part of an industrial backdrop, but the spire atop the building suggests it's not a smokestack.
I think it's just a small residential area for factory workers. Or at least... use to be one, it's just Valve using the same buildings for it. Which is fair enough, because tower blocks like that aren't usually much different in style anyway. Very possibly still an 'Infected Area' just like Ravenholm due to the wandering zombies that lurk in the railyard.
 
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