Requirements and Installation (4 out of 5)
Codename Gordon is a 2D game based on the original version of Half Life 2 (the incarnation that was hacked and distributed online before completion in 2003) that was released as a teaser/promo for the eventual release of the main game in 2004.
Available for free via Steam ever since, it’s a little trickier to get hold of these days due to the bankruptcy of the developers. However although not listed on Steam it can still be acquired by typing steam://install/92 into your browser. This will then force Steam to download and install the game.
A Flash-based game, Codename Gordon will run on a Windows PC or laptop with a 1.6 Ghz processor.
Codename Gordon Screenshots
Gameplay (3 out of 5)
Interestingly despite being a platform shooter, Codename Gordon uses the same mouse+keyboard control mechanism as Half Life 2. This can cause some confusion when reaching the end of a particular screen when Gordon inexplicably starts facing the other way - this is due to the mouse pointer on screen that acts as a crosshair.
Other than this oddity Codename Gordon is a straightforward and fun platform game that is quick and easy to get into, although sadly there is no save function. Like a platform game you’re limited to 5 lives to begin with, but the HEV suit power and health are still there, as are a good selection of the weapons.
Many characters from the main game also exist in Codename Gordon, including the supporting characters of Barney, Alex Vance and Ely Vance.
Sound and Graphics (3 out of 5)
It’s a platform game so the graphics aren’t likely to be anything special, but they are faithful to the original characters. Animation is average and owes a lot to the Flash platform, while the landscape and backgrounds do the job and are well-designed.
Soundbites from Half Life 2 and Half Life are employed, including seagulls and birds, sea, the sound of headcrabs and other monsters. There’s no in-game music, just the collection of samples that enhance the atmosphere.
To replace the clever cutscenes of the original, info-dump moments are used in which Gordon is confronted by characters from the game speaking in a low drone which is then summarised via on screen captions. The drone (a sort of “bluhbluhbluh”) is quite amusing at first although it gets a little tedious, fast.
More Codename Gordon Screenshots
A New Angle (4 out of 5)
What Codename Gordon brings to the world of Half Life 2 is a sense of humour that although present in the original game is largely characterized as a human reaction to the suffering portrayed within City 17 and the outlying settlements.
Codename Gordon employs a cartoony design style and traditional platform elements to turn the world of the Combine into a black comedy of zombie movie proportions. While not entirely faithful to the original game, it nevertheless brings a new angle to the events in the game, representing them in a more digestible and disposable form - the lack of a save function underlines this isn’t a game to replace Half Life 2 but to compliment it, to offer respite to the player who perhaps isn’t in the mood for a long walk through Ravenholm.
It is superb stuff that all Half Life 2 fans should enjoy.