Like the pre-launch trailers said, Alyx really does hate zombies.
The cover art and trailers for Half-Life 2: Episode 1 feature Alyx Vance predominantly and rumors swirled that you would actually play as Alyx, at least for part of the game, similar to the different perspectives in the expansion packs for the original Half-Life.
Throughout Episode One’s five hours of single-player action, the perspective does not change: it stays firmly within that old familiar hazard suit. Yes, in a break with tradition, this expansion continues the story of our favorite handy-with-a-crowbar physicist.
I welcome it. Half-Life 2’s story was so big that it begs for elaboration and continuation, not an alternate point of view. The biggest difference from the full game is that throughout the entire thrilling journey you are accompanied by Alyx. While you had a buddy tagging along for some segments of the original campaign, here Alyx is always somewhere in the picture.
This turned the narrative into one part buddy-cop movie, one part romantic comedy. Now I am talking about narrative, not gameplay, which still bleeds action, but having Alyx co-star makes things more, well, happy.
Take the zombies. During the third of the game’s five chapters, you must wallow through an underground highway system in complete darkness, with only your flashlight to guide you. Naturally, this means there are going to be tons of every kind of zombie. I personally hate zombies. It’s hard for me to accept that I don’t know where all the bad guys are any given time without nervously shaking. But, with Alyx along, it almost became soothing. I had a friend, someone whose eyes would be watching the inky blackness with me—and has unlimited ammunition and health (to some degree).