Half-Life 2: Episode Two: This Vortal Coil

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Gordon arrives at a small Resistance outpost within the mines manned by Griggs and Sheckley.

The Vortigaunt has brought Alyx to the outpost and is awaiting the arrival of his kin in order to heal her wounds. Griggs and Sheckley introduce Gordon to the Antlion Detector, and, with the aid of reprogrammed Hoppers and Sentry Guns, are barely able to hold off several Antlion attacks until the Vortigaunts arrive.

The Vortigaunts assist in dispatching the next wave of Antlions and proceed to tend to Alyx. The Vortigaunts are unable to save Alyx, however, without the use of an Antlion larval extract, so Gordon and his Vortigaunt companion travel deeper into the mine to retrieve it.

Gordon and the Vortigaunt discover a Zombie infestation, as well as an overrun Combine troop carrier accompanied by Zombines.

As they travel deeper into the Antlion caves, they encounter the Antlion Guardian, protector of the larval extract.

Gordon is forbidden from killing the Guardian for fear of spoiling the extract and hence must outrun the creature through the caves.

He is able to avoid the Guardian and summon the Vortigaunt to the Nectarium where the extract is obtained.

They deliver the extract just in time, and the Vortigaunts heal Alyx. During the healing process, the G-Man contacts Gordon, stating that he has been prevented from doing so by the Vortigaunts until this point.

He hints at Alyx’s importance to his plans and reveals that he had saved her life at Black Mesa despite the objections of unnamed others (Dr. Breen’s face flickers on the screen behind the G-Man at this point).

The G-Man asks Gordon to escort her to White Forest safely and instructs an unconscious Alyx to tell her father to “prepare for unforeseen consequences.”

After Alyx has recovered, she and Gordon, accompanied by the Vortigaunt, proceed to the surface.

Trivia

The title of the chapter is a reference to the phrase “shuffle[d] off this mortal coil” from Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Screenshots

Click on the thumbnails below to open a 1024 pixel wide image.
WARNING: The screenshots contain spoilers.

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Achievements

I won’t be covering the Episode Two achievements in the same way as I did in the Half-Life 2 TREE event, because they are less chapter based. However, the CombineOverWiki has nice list that is very useful.

The Replay Experience Experiment

This post is part of the The Replay Experience Experiment event. This is a chance to replay all the Half-Life games and discuss them based on our experiences since we first played them.

Hat Tip

The intro and trivia text are taken from the CombineOverWiki, a fan-supported, editable wiki covering the Half-Life series of games.

Walkthrough
A Complete Half-Life 2: Episode Two Walkthrough

On the left is a complete text walkthrough for Half-Life 2: Episode Two.

It has been written by Stanley E. Dunigan and updated with all the tricks and tips from PlanetPhillip.Com readers.

It is in PDF format, meaning you can open it directly in modern browsers or download it and print it.

(Left-click to open and right-click to save)

Do Not Own This Game?

You can purchase Half-Life 2: Episode Two directly through Steam and could be playing in within moments, depending on your internet connection.

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10 Comments

  1. There’s a lot happening in this chapter, with two new gameplay features. Firstly, we have the stand and defend” feature, with the very funny Griggs and Sheckley. It’s a beautifully design area with a real reason not to run – and that’s allow time for ALyx to be healed.

    The banter between the two is well-written and keeps things from becoming boring.

    The next new feature is to NOT kill the antlion guardian. That goes against all our instincts and changes the whole way the area works.

    There’s also plenty of interaction with vortigaunts and even a significant appearance by our old friend, the G-Man.

    I’m not a fan of tunnels and caves but this moved along nicely and I didn’t get bored once. Although I am certainly looking forward to seeing daylight again.

    All in all a fantastic level that really flows well.

    Playtime: 58 minutes

  2. This Vortal Coil was a long chapter. It could be divided in two part but that sould be not interesting.

    So the first one is a survival arena. After Gordon has made his way in the mine he find the Vortigaunt and Alyx, proving existence of a better way. He also meet Griggs and Sheckley, two resistants who are are not very enjoyed to be there.

    Personally I don’t like this style of gameplay, preferring action/exploration phases. But objectively, I must admit that it is well made. It is not too hard thanks of ammo crates and hoppers. On an other hand, defending four entrances with two turrets is a real challenge. Griggs and Sheckley count for a first line but they are not very helpful in sense they always act jointly. So in this part, I had been quickly overload, despite of my usual easy mode.

    Then entering the ” Vortal Culture ” that given the chapter’s name. The goal is to retrieve a mystic medicine in order to save Alyx. I very enjoyed to cross those Antlions gallery and old humans mine. It was mainly action but right in the middle is this elevator and weight puzzle, breaking linearity.

    I particularly like the fall in the shaft that is, in my sense, one the better element, reminding of Apprehension in HL1.
    On an other hand, I have some doubt about congratulations the Vort distribute in the whole chapter. I know Valve made that to encourage players, but it is too much for me.

    Finally, we came to the shaft we leaves some times ago. That was a shortcut, eh !? But of course impossible to use.
    In order to repair it, Gordon continue alone, and must avoid the Guardian. About this enemy I never questioned myself ; I can’t kill it so I will run and hide. Fortunately, the Nest is full of tight tunnels and hiding place. I was surprised to reach the Nectarium so easily.

    And we return to the starting point. The way Alyx is treat is a deep incursion in Vortigaunt manners, probably the main reason of the chapter’s title.At this point, the G-Man intervention is very well placed as we absolutely don’t wait for him. I ‘ll not comment him but on my first play, I had been very surprising. Friend or enemy ? I still can’t answer this question, but it probably announce ” Unforeseen consequences ”

    G-MAN SIGHTING

    No more comment !

    DEATHS

    None

    PLAYTIME

    54 minutes

    MY FRENCH LET’s PLAY

    Notice that G-Man French dubbing has increase in quality. He now have an odd speak like in original.

  3. Gambini

    Every time I see this chapter’s title I think of “Song to the Siren” by This Mortal Coil”.

  4. Ade

    “Ever seen an antlion before?” what kind of a question is that 😀
    And lol giving me an achievement to squish all grubs then the rebel tells me they sense if I step on them 😀 I actually enjoy this new gameplay, wish for more mods to be innovative like that; plus the lines of the rebels are brilliant! and the fight is not one to forget, it’s really engaging.
    Wow never saw a zombine pull out 2 grenades!
    Why do the grubs look like small advisors?
    Being hunted by the guard and not being allowed to kill it is excruciating.

    The G-Man manages to confuse me once again. But a great chapter all in all.

    Playtime: 1h

    1. JG

      “Why do the grubs look like small advisors?”

      You know, I never thought about that before. I don’t think it’s ever really explained where Antlions originate from. Maybe Advisers are related to Antlions, or it is another example of the Combine co-opting alien tech as their own.

  5. Unq

    This is a very strong chapter that really mixes things up. There’s a decent amount of combat, some puzzles, and a hide-and-seek with the guardian that I found to be pretty tense considering I usually solve my antlion problems with a shotgun. I also thought it was surprisingly varied, given that it all takes place in mines and caves.

    While I didn’t much like the turret defense sequences in Half-Life 2, I loved the sequence here with the turrets and Griggs & Sheckley (who are decent comic relief without being too stupid). It’s deliberately paced but gets pretty frantic, and then when the vortigaunts show up all hell breaks loose and it’s just pure chaos. I’m not really a fan of music during combat but I have to say that the music here is just perfect (for those counting, the track is called “Vortal Combat”). I absolutely loved the design of the central area where the defense takes place. It’s not too complicated but quite detailed and I liked the vertical space as well, which you really get a better feeling of only as you’re leaving at the end of the chapter.

    After you finally accomplish your side-quest to find the extract, you’re rewarded not with Alyx waking up (though of course that happens) but of a great monologue by the enigmatic G-man. He’s been absent since the vortigaunts thwarted him at the beginning of Episode 1, but more than makes up for the absence with this appearance. A perfect end to this otherwise mild-mannered chapter.

    Playtime: 1 hour

    1. JG

      “Vortal Combat” is arguably my favorite battle theme of any Half-Life game. It is highly versatile and has a good 10-12 second ramp at the start that you can time events to. It has enough driving momentum to accompany a vehicle scene as well as the standoff battle here.

      Generally speaking, I think the orchestration is far more lush and vibrant in most of the Episodic music compared to the vanilla Half-Life 2, to the point where they often clash when played side-by-side with the original tunes.

      I personally like having music while I play and sometimes I think Half-Life 2 is a little too zealous about the silent treatment. Nature soundscapes are fine and all, but I wish there were more tunes like the “trainstation” music which don’t have any particular melody, but help set the ambiance.

  6. In this chapter, we meet again with the vortigaunt and Alyx. We have to help sheckley and the other guy defend Alyx. Pretty long fighting sequence, then more vorts finally arrive and take care of alyx. Then we move forward with “our” vortigaunt to find some larval extract. We fight, solve puzzles, our alien friend tries some humor, then we run away from the gardian, and finally we get our extract. We go back up, the gman interrupts the healing to speak to us (but in the end we don’t learn anything valuable ._.)
    Then we can finally et out of the mines, yaaaayyyy

    I actually skipped the entire chapter using a turret and a pallet

    Five words or less review:
    *jump* *jump* *jump* *boom* *crash*

    Deaths:
    If I hadn’t changed my plans while playing to throw the medkits up there, I would have died. my planned route didn’t include throwing the medkits up.

    Playtime:
    1 minutes 44 seconds 250 milliseconds

    You have to watch the video to understand 😛

    1. Wow – I think you broke it, and by “it” I mean everything – map included! What caused the turret to detonate in the end? Just you jumping up & down on it? Impressive exploits! How many goes did it take to get that one right, then?

      I would love to have heard the two Stooge’s reactions!
      “Have you ever seen an antlion before? …oh, he’s gone..”

      1. I’ll answer those questions 1 at a time

        What caused the turret to detonate in the end?

        If you look closely, you can see that the turret didn’t explode or anything. I used a smg grenade just as I hit the pellet, in order to gain even more speed and height. That is why I was surprised when looking back at the video to see that the turret did not fall over from that explosion.

        Just you jumping up & down on it?

        I don’t recall jumping up and down on it, do you mean when I was pushing the pellet while crouched? well anyway it was only to place it correctly, it didn’t affect it’s behavior other than giving it the right angle.

        Impressive exploits!

        Thanks 🙂

        How many goes did it take to get that one right, then?

        As for other TREE chapters, this was my only try while recording. I spoke with fellow speedrunners in order to get this trick that I didn’t know (never attempted any run of episode two before TREE), and they showed me some demos on how to do it. I loaded a save they had, and tried to find the optimal placement for the pellet. I figured this would take a while, but I got lucky and found it on the second try, so I just remembered where to place it and then loaded my save from last chapter, recorded, invented the medkit technique on the go, and survived 😀

        I would love to have heard the two Stooge’s reactions!

        I bet they just kept on waiting for me to get near the tunnel so that they could teach me how the sensors work. So I guess they’ll be repeating their few sentences for a while.

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