YMMV / Half-Life 2

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: It's not hard to interpret Breen's actions in different manners. Is he really doing all of this for humanity's sake? Or is he using the Combine for power (given his little slip of the tongue in "Dark Energy", where he uses the term "The Combine" rather than "Our Benefactors", which he stresses the citizens to use because "The Combine" is like a derogatory term.)?
  • Anti-Climax Boss: The last challenge of the game is to stop Breen escaping. Make your way to the top of the tower, and shoot the panels off the rotating thing against a hidden timer, while under enemy fire. The hardest part is working out what you have to do.
  • Awesome Music:
    • Triage At Dawn, an unexpectedly beautiful yet solemn piece that makes your escape from Ravenholm feel all the more rewarding. There's also the extended remix by DJ Dain titled That Long Train Ride, sometimes known as "Path of the Borealis".
    • To Metalheads and fans of Industrial alike, it's "What Kind of Hospital is This". Needless to say, the soundtrack as a whole is very fitting and awesome.
  • Best Level Ever:
    • In the Citadel, once your gravity gun gets upgraded. At first it serves as an Oh Crap! moment as almost all your weapons get taken away. The gravity gun, which up until now has been unable to directly damage anything larger than a headcrab, is now your only weapon. Then you find out that it's been powered up, and can now kill human-sized enemies in a single hit. You can rip computer consoles off the wall, and the environment provides you with an unlimited supply of energy balls, which were previously Too Awesome to Use. Then you find out that the wall chargers, which at best would fill your suit power to 75%, now not only fill you all the way, but boost your suit power to 200% and heal you as well. You are now an unstoppable force, able to take out enemy soldiers effortlessly, and deal with former boss enemies with almost no trouble at all.
    • Highway 17 has the bridge, the most wonderfully atmospheric part of the game. It's beautiful and gives a very intense sensation of being there. Being above the ocean while the wind rushes in your ears, as you barely climb your way over the broken up sections of metal under the bridge, while very quiet atmospheric music plays.....Then, once the fighting starts, it becomes straight badass, especially when a gunship is added into the mix. The surrounding overcast when you're driving alongside the ocean is quite awesome too.
    • The airboat chase in "Water Hazard" is remarkably fun.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: A rare example of a Big-Lipped Alligator Enemy: the Floor Turrets from Nexus. An oddly specific enemy (serving a disputable purpose due to the Combine already having a number of more efficient turret variants), with a Weaksauce Weakness (as long as you're not standing where they're firing, you have plenty of time to roll in a grenade) that still somehow manage to be irritating and frustrating to fight in the eyes of most players. They are only ever seen in the Combine Nexus: never before, and never again, and don't really gel with usual Combine tactics (which seem to favor technology that can be quickly moved and redeployed, rather than inexplicably installing shit IN THE FLOOR.)
  • Broken Base:
    • The We Don't Go To Ravenholm... level. It's either considered the Best Level Ever or That One Level for players, because it goes away from the traditional first person shooting throughout this level; having to rely mostly on the world traps and idle objects thrown by the gravity gun due to lack of gun ammunition. There's other debates regarding the level being if it's out of place for getting in the way of the war against the Combine or not and if the mission is too scary for some players having to fight through a town infested by zombies at night. Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation admitted that in retrospect he considers it the weakest section of the game, in large part due to its confusing, unintuitive level design.
    • Whether it was a Nerf, or not, that Combine Shotgun Soldiers got updated with their own unique character skin by Episode Two. Some will say that it allowed for better differentiation between the soldiers to kill off the more lethal enemies (the shotgunners) first. Others don't feel much of a difference.
  • Contested Sequel: People are very divisive over the quality of the games. While none of the games are bad, per se, which of the games is the best is very controversial.
    • The Episodes are considered by many to be better than the main game, due to their better level design, varied environments and new gameplay additions.
  • Even Better Sequel: Half-Life 1 was seen as one of the best games of all time, for it's strides in storytelling and World Building, along with having fast, challenging gameplay. Half Life 2 is seen as even more of a huge step forward in game design, art direction, facial animation, and general presentation.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • The cat that Kleiner apparently tested the teleporter on. Schrödinger's Cat, anyone?
    • If you know your Greek Mythology, it's fairly obvious that the Vortigaunts' portrayal in this game is based on the classic portrayal of the Cyclops. Outside The Odyssey, most classical Greek writers like Hesiod described Cyclops as wise master craftsmen with control over electricity (they were said to be the crafters of Zeus' thunderbolts), in addition to being one-eyed giants.
    • One Breencast after the escape from Nova Prospekt warns that, without collaboration with the Combine, humanity's history will be reduced to something like the Burgess Shale, an extremely important fossil bed in British Columbia.
  • Good Bad Bugs: When Valve released the Orange Box, that version of the Source Engine came with a fix to bunny hopping, which had long been a mainstay of speed runs. The fix was fairly simple: if the engine detected you were moving forward too fast, it would apply a negative force to slow you down the next time you tried to bunny hop. However, it was possible to trick the engine into applying the force in the wrong direction by turning around in mid-air. This lead to the creation of Accelerated Back Hopping, a technique that dwarfs what you can accomplish with standard bunny hopping. Nice job fixing that, Valve.
  • Homegrown Hero: Taken to a new extreme here, as even though it takes place in post-apocalyptic Bulgaria where any semblance of nationstates has been destroyed, 99% of the surviving humans still seem to be American (including Gordon Freeman himself, naturally). On the other hand, it's been stated that Citizens are constantly transferred around, and as such it would make sense for the Combine to put Americans in Bulgaria. That still doesn't explain why everyone can understand each other though; realistically there would be practically no way of understanding each other without knowing a variety of languages (which is precisely what the Combine want to stop rebellion from occuring).
  • Iron Woobie: Alyx Vance. For the first years of her life, she lives in the dormitories of Black Mesa, a dangerous and accident-prone research facility. Then, her mother is killed during the Resonance Cascade incident. She only survives because the G-Man saves her life, putting her in a debt that she repays in Episode Two. Fast forward to when she meets Gordon Freeman. She is then separated from him by a malfunctioning teleporter, forcing Gordon to get to Eli's compound himself, fighting Combine along the way. Her father is then captured and the rest of the game is mostly spent trying to rescue him.

    In the end, when the dark matter reactor explodes, killing Breen, she only survives because the Vortigaunts teleport her out of the wreckage. In Episode One, the evacuatory train Gordon, Alyx and the gang have worked so hard to get running crashes in a wooded area because of a portal storm. In the beginning of Episode Two, she is stabbed twice by the long blades of a Hunter and survives, once again, because of the Vortigaunts. Finally, after Eli, Magnusson, and Kleiner launch the rocket and Gordon and Alyx are about to get into a helicopter to save their friend Mossman, a pair of Advisors smash through the building and kill Eli (her father) right in front of her.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • The headcrab zombies' painful cries are actually reversed audio of a man screaming things to the effect of "Dear God, help! HELP ME!!," but it's also easy to interpret them as a straightforward Mondegreen: "YABBA! My icing!" (Or "My eyes sting!")
    • The protracted development state of Episode Three that has spanned at least 10 years has led to it being unfavorably called the successor to Duke Nukem Forever.
    • "Pick up that can."
    • Bla bla bla Mr. FreemanExplanation 
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The high, two-tone note that a Metrocop's radio will emit after they die. When a bunch of them play together after a particularly bloody fight, it's like the music of the angels.
  • Narm: The high pitched screams of the headcrab zombies fall into this, particularly if you're familiar with some of the more popular mondegreens.
  • Paranoia Fuel: When the G-Man is no longer subdued.
    G-Man: Doooooctor Freemaaaaaaaaan...
  • Porting Disaster:
    • It's no one's fault, really (the Xbox, while being the most powerful console of its generation, wasn't fit to run something as meaty as the Source engine), but the quality of the Xbox version is simply too far away from the PC original to make it worth playing.
    • The PlayStation 3 version of The Orange Box was pretty shabby, with Valve (at the time) not having that much faith in the PS3 and it being outsourced to another company entirely.
  • Ugly Cute: The Antlions after you get the Bugbait, who follow you like eager puppies and attack anyone you tell them to. Before then, of course, they were pure Nightmare Fuel.