Half-Life 2 provides a stark contrast to the events of the previous game in the series. Whereas the apocalypse was just getting started in Half-Life, Half-Life 2 sees Gordon Freeman waking up from 20 years of stasis to a different apocalyptic scenario: a world under the tight rule of the intergalactic empire known as the Combine. The Combine invaded during Gordon’s time out, slaughtering the world in just seven hours before humanity surrendered. Now, the Combine keeps the slowly-dying population under control through all sorts of menacing means: reproduction suppression, executions, raids, all the while draining Earth of its natural resources until it’s sucked dry. Add on top of all of that the wild, roaming aliens from the first game still prowling around Earth, and it makes Half-Life 2’s world look pretty bleak, especially in the face of such a huge adversary. With Gordon Freeman around, rallying a resistance, and the help of some alien friends, the future looks a little brighter; if only very, very slightly.