When the original Half-Life appeared in 1998, gamers hailed it as the most gripping and realistic first-person shooter ever. Half-Life 2 is the long-awaited next chapter in the saga of Gordon Freeman and the alien menace from Black Mesa. It brings back the heart-pounding gameplay and engrossing storytelling of its predecessor, and its graphics set a new standard. The textures have never been better. The details are crisp and clear; allowing the characters to express subtle emotion. You'll need a modern DirectX 9 graphics card to take advantage of all the eye candy, but the game scales down surprisingly well for older systems. The sound also is extraordinary. Playing with headphones is as nerve-racking as watching a good movie thriller. You'll cringe as zombies clamber up a drainpipe to your rooftop position, or helicopter gunfire slams into the earth all around you. If you're a fan of first-person shooters and your system can hack it, download this game. It's that simple.