SUR­PRISE LEV­ITY

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Half-Life 2’ s shoot­ing is still punchy and uber-vi­o­lent to this day, but the best gun in Free­man’s ar­se­nal takes no ammo and fires no bul­lets. The Zero-Point Energy Field Ma­nip­u­la­tor is the fa­ther of game weapons that change lev­els be­yond just emp­ty­ing them of peo­ple. Per­haps what’s less re­mem­bered about it, how­ever, is how it in­tro­duced slap­stick to a tale of des­per­a­tion and geno­cide. While fling­ing gi­ant saw blades and ex­plo­sive can­is­ters are ef­fec­tive weapon­i­sa­tions of the gun’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties, there’s a quirky sur­prise the first time you ac­ci­den­tally scoop up a paint can and sim­ply colour an on­rush­ing head­crab zom­bie white, or fire a card­board box that does lit­tle more than fold im­po­tently on con­tact with a masked ag­gres­sor. GG, Valve.

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