Why Once Is Not Enough

28th April 2013

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

You see that image to the left? It comes from the Half-Life 2 chapter Follow Freeman, which I have just finished playing. It’s the view from inside the Combine Nexus just as a Combine Gunship passes over the roof.

What struck me today, and quite hard too, was that playing a game like Half-Life 2 once is not enough. That may sound obvious to you but as somebody who is only just playing his way through the games for only the second time, it’s a very important point.

When I watch a movie I feel that I have absorbed everything the director wanted me to. I really pay attention when watching movies and hate distractions. That’s not to say I always see and understand everything, I just very rarely feel a second watching adds anything to my original thoughts.

It’s strange though because in other areas I always do things twice. When washing my hair or a frying pan I always do it twice. Perhaps it’s little, quick things but the second time seems to be so much better. There are other examples too, but they are not important.

What happened today was that I was so conscious of missing things I felt a little empty. For example, I missed how the horse column was knocked down as I was looking somewhere else and that’s probably one of many incidents I could have missed.

I was a little shocked to see the combine soldier shoot the rebel behind the bars and that could have easily been missed. The whole thing got me wondering what else I have missed?

Now, this is not just a case of me not paying attention as it’s more than likely Valve made it impossible to see everything first time round. If you see one thing, then you miss another thing that happens at the same time.

These games are not just flat representations on a screen but completely around and moving in time. Just as in real life, we can’t be in more than one place at any one time – we have limited awareness.

I feel a little pressure to post the chapters with the TREE event and hope to replay the games at a leisurely pace one day soon. At the moment, I feel I am playing them for the readers instead of myself. Maybe that will make a difference.

I am now wondering which other games I should replay, books I should re-read or films I should re-watch.

What are your thoughts on this?


  1. Ade

    I couldn’t agree more.. welcome to the dark side, we re-play games 😀

  2. When you watch a film on the big or small screen, you are spending an hour or so watching something crafted over a year or more and the same is true for games. So how could you fully absorb all of the fine nuances present in one sitting?
    How many times have you heard people ask about things in a film they have just watched with you and you know the answer because it was up on the screen, they just didn’t see it!
    Film and game makers love to add little things, like in-jokes, which go unseen at the cinemas but get picked up by people on a DVD viewing at home. Games are the same entertainment media and I have discovered many hidden gems, often prompted by a discovery on a Youtube video!

    If it’s good, watch, read or play it a couple of times at least, even if it is just to catch what you missed the first time.

    I forgot how good Half Life 2 actually is, both graphically and in sound design. But thanks to “TREE” I got to experience it almost new again.

    I also feel pressured to keep up with the levels, but I try to play them when I am in the mood and am enjoying them all so far.

    Is it possible to re-watch a film now before the extended or director’s cut is released? 🙂

  3. I fully agree. I usually only watch movies once, thats why its better to rent it rather than buying it. That don’t apply to The Lord of the rings though, I have watched thos movies 20+ times and I’m on my fifth time on The Hobbit.

  4. Blue Lightning

    Im an emotional player…that is to say, I play because I enjoy the escape from reality that a good FPS offers. I enjoy some of the enviroments created, the feeling of being there. This is why I like mods or levels that offer great atmosphere and enviroments above just having “battle tactics”.

    I also enjoy movies for that reason. I can watch a movie several times…if it conjers feelings or emotions that I would like to experience again. Same with video games.

    Replay value to me, is huge.

    1. Totally agree with you.
      I tried to replay “Return to Castle Wolfenstein” on a couple of occasions but my lack of emotional attachment with the game made me quit. It just seemed an exercise in gaming tactics.
      Not so with Half Life 2.

      1. Blue Lightning

        I know what you mean. Except I loved RTCW because of it’s immersive enviroments and great atmosphere. I got tired of it, but not until about 6 play-throughs :p

  5. Kyrii

    I’ve been playing games twice for years.

    Except when the game was just so awful I didn’t even want to have it on my shelf anymore (IE, Red Faction Armageddon, Hellsforces).

    I tend to notice more things I missed on my second playthrough 🙂

  6. bobdog

    I’m sure some movies and games are perfectly fine with a single sitting, but some are eminently rewatchable/replayable. Movies like The Princess Bride are so rich with dialogue and quotable quotes that multiple viewings will only enhance the experience. While games like Anachronox or Psychonauts are fresh and inviting each time through, even though you know what’s going to happen.

    I think if something makes you feel good, do it again! 😉

    1. The Princess Bride is one of the most underrated films in movie history!

      1. MisterAddy


  7. interesting post… ive played half life 2 around 12 times (178hrs ) and for one reason … I never get bored playing the best pc game ever made…..
    however it does not stop there … “wolfenstein”(2010) is another game ive completed on several occasions,and it seems im the only guy who likes this game … it received terrible reviews which I dont understand …. b j blazkowicz is a great pc game character who,s up there with gordon,lara and captain price !
    bioshock was another game ive just completed for the second time … is it me or are the first 2 bioshock games too short …… anyway I enjoyed bioshock as much the second time as I did the first time …. im now playing bioshock 2 for the second time
    on the other hand ive only completed “half life” once and dont plan to play it again .. ive spoke about this is previous posts,but personally I never liked the game,well not as much as hl2 …. granted it was a turning point in pc game history and a great game but I dont go back to that game like I do with half life 2
    that said I love “black mesa source” which indicates its the visuals that dont appeal to me and not the story …
    mods also have a replayable value … ive played “final project dairy” four times … its by far my favourite mod and leon brinkman done a amazing job creating this amazing mod …. and lets not forget “strider mountain”
    play it again sam !

    1. I have never killed so many combines and enimies as in “Strider Mountain”. Definably one of the epic mods out there!

      1. Yes, they were thick as flies throughout! It is an awesome mod isn’t it? Remember the first time you won your way into the primary strider assembly area? That fantastic animation where the main body was being assembled, and that gorgeous choral music as the BRAIN was installed? Shame we’ll never see the like again…

        1. Leon brinkman(aka spymaps ) is working on a new mod … Episode3:the Closure was due out last year,however leon is keen to release the mod in pristine condition and theres some final beta testing to be done … he has promised to let me know when he,s due to release it ( being leons best fan )
          Episode3:the Closure
          from what leon told me its going to be the biggest mod yet,so its going to be huge if you compare it to strider mountain which was massive
          im sure phillip will also post the mod so keep a eye out !

          1. Hec

            Wasn’t Leon working on Rooftop retreat??

            1. Yes, it’s developed into a fully fledged mod.

  8. MisterAddy

    Absolutely true! Half-Life in particular has so many little details that you are bound to miss the first time through. There are a lot of mods that I would love to replay too, especially MINERVA since it has a Steam release now!

  9. aaron

    hl and hl2 is a must but the recent has been bioshock infinite

    1. JG

      BioShock Infinite has been interesting playing again knowing now what the plot’s many twists and turns are, you see that they actually set things up long before they unravel themselves which is very cool to watch.

  10. The one true sign of a great game is its replayability.
    even with the exact same outcome and storyline,
    A lot of games will offer you different endings etc but that shouldnt be the reason you replay it.

    you should replay it cos its fun.

  11. Unq

    I want to repeat/relive an enjoyable experience when I replay a game. I don’t do it to see the things I’ve missed, although with dense and interesting games like HL and Portal that’s certainly a part of it. Pretty much the same for movies, I don’t rewatch them with the idea of picking up aspects that I missed on the first viewing, it’s to have another enjoyable experience.

    I really only do it for games/movies/books that I intensely enjoy. But that is why I’ve played Half-Life 15+ times. 🙂

  12. Hec

    I understand, replay value is high because games nowdays, and HL2 era is not exception, are highly detailed and present combat, scenes and situations as in real time.

    But the whole RE-PLAY feeling, is something that I don’t know it doesn’t fit for me, I mean i’d replay things but only untill a lot of time has passed, with mods happen to me a bit like that, I replayed Calamity because I didn’t remember I had played it, then I remember, and I mean, it was a good mod, entretaining but nothing more…

    Sometimes I have the feeling to just replay some big and fun battles, but that’s it. Investing time in replay something I really liked is like you know, get back to your old girlfriend, is a pain in the butt once you realized you have to pass for the same experiences all way again!!

    I may sound kind of kill fun, but maybe that’s the way I preffer as gamer, better once to get the charm, than twice or more to realize it’s not cool anymore.

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