My original post about trouble shooting Half-Life 2 Episode One has quickly grown into the most popular page on this site and become a major resource for trouble shooting Episode One crashes and problems.
For those who haven’t seen the original page you can check it out here.
Now it’s time for the follow up as I finally got around to buying and playing Valve’s new release The Orange Box, which features Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2 Episode One, Half-Life 2 Episode 2, Team Fortress Two and Portal.
I’d firstly like to echo most sentiments that the pack represents amazing value. But one can’t shake the annoyance at making loyal games fork out for games they’ve already bought by not selling a hard copy version of Half-Life 2 Episode 2 in a stand alone pack. I probably would have bought The Orange Box anyway because I wanted to play Portal, but the lack of choice gets to me. (I know I’m being pedantic, I could have bought it off Steam, but I don’t entirely trust the whole Steam process and I prefer to buy the physical DVD)
After the troubles I had with Episode One I’d like to say that everything to do with The Orange Box went smoothly without any crashes or errors but alas that wasn’t the case. Fortunately my problems weren’t as bad as with Episode One.
The two problems I suffered when playing Episode Two were a graphical issue and a stuttering issue. But it should be pointed out that the stuttering problem I suffered isn’t the one that most people have had with Source games.
The graphical problem came up from time to time. Basically every now and then, after a loading screen, some of the textures would become all hyper coloured, instead of their normal colour. Re-starting the game or changing the resolution usually got rid of the problem. I never actually fixed this issue. I figured it was probably something that could be fixed with a video card driver update but I never did anything about it. I’ve noticed on other forums similar complaints but I haven’t seen a solution posted yet.
The other problem I had was much more serious. It came at a key point in the game in the chapter called “The Vortigaunt Coil”. Now for those that haven’t played the game I won’t describe what happens but suffice to say that during this episode a significant event occurs which is key to the entire Half-Life story. Unfortunately for me when this event occurred the entire game froze up and began moving at something like one frame a second with sever stuttering and sound issues.
At first I thought this issue was a re-occurance of the looping sound problem that was common in Episode One. So I followed some of the fixes posted in the Episode One thread but nothing seemed to work. I also tried a solution posted by Valve which suggested that AVG anti-virus which I was running at the time uses a lot of memory and interferes with Steam Games. So I completely un-installed it and still no fix.
Finally I came across a different solution posted on a forum. Turns out the problem comes from having too little ram. I only have 512mb of ram. Adding more RAM would have fixed the problem.
Luckily that wasn’t necessary. Turns out you can fix the problem by changing the “heapsize” which allocates memory to the game.
By adding the following line to the launch options: “-heapsize 256000″ (With out the “”) where 256000 is half your RAM, measured in bytes I was able to overcome the problem and play the game through as normal.
Once I’d overcome that problem the game ran fine the rest of the way through and it was an awesome experience. The final battle is one of the most intense gaming battles I’ve ever experienced.
I still get annoyed sometimes by the inability to shake the notion that your playing the game on rails with all your moves laid out for you. I understand that Valve’s intention is to guide you through the story, but my favourite game ever, Deus Ex presented the gamer with genuine choices at various points in the game. It’ll be a mighty game that eventually finds the balance between these two styles.
Of the other games in the pack I haven’t had much of a chance to play Team Fortress 2 and multi-player games aren’t really my thing. But Portal was great and it was fun to play something different and genuinely innovative.
So all in all that was my experience. Like the other post if you have any feedback, problems, advice or solutions please post them in the comments so that others can use this page as a resource.