In a time when many companies are content to slap a new coat of paint or throw in a couple new maps or unimpressive features on games, call them sequels and ask consumers to pay full sticker price for them, Valve’s The Orange Box is a bargain of incredible proportions. For a mere $60, The Orange Box includes first-person shooter classic Half Life 2, its quasi-sequels Episode 1 and Episode 2 (the second of which hadn’t been previously released), the wildly inventive puzzle game Portal, and last but not least, Team Fortress 2, the best team-based multiplayer shooter on the Xbox 360 not named Halo 3. Half Life 2‘s reputation is well-known, and Team Fortress 2 is a sequel to a cult favorite a long time coming, but the biggest surprise is Portal. Combining first-person shooter mechanics with simple-to-learn, difficult-to-master puzzles, Portal is arguably the best of the entire batch. But even if puzzles aren’t your bag, just about everyone will find something to love in The Orange Box. Other video game companies be warned, Valve may have just raised the bar on giving gamers their money’s worth.
// Notes from the Road
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