My favourite type of game is WRPGs...
I like Halo (though it has definitely gotten stale)
I just do not enjoy Half Life 2.
After about 5 minutes, the novelty of the change of pace to that of driving a boat wore off, when I realised I didn't want to drive a boat any-more. It was boring. I drove past lots and lots of the same environment, periodically stopping to go into some random place, to push some random button, guarded by the same identical clone soldiers I had been fighting all throughout the game, so that I would be allowed to carry on moving forward again. This felt to me like it was just padding out the level, for no good reason
When I was actually in the boat, all I had to do was drive past all of my enemies. There was no dodging or chasing or evading involved, as they simply couldn't hit me unless I outright stopped, which I never had any reason to do, except when I had to push one of those buttons I mentioned earlier.
As for storytelling there was none in that boat level. None that I noticed, or cared about, anyways. I got no satisfaction with re-uniting with Alyx because I didn't care about Alyx, or any of her friends, or even Gordan himself. None of them had given me any particular reason to like them.
Well why am I not surprised.
You "like" Halo yet that entire block of text of your spiel against Half Life 2 applies far more pertinently to Halo! You say after ONLY FIVE MINUTES you get bored of the boat ride and chase and gunfight in Half Life 2. Yet you don't get bored of Halo's slow and predictable pace?
This all makes me suspect you dislike Half life 2 for reasons you have yet to admit to. I simply do not believe your excuses as they are contradictory.
Though you have left some hints where you complain about:
"stopping to go into some random place, to push some random button"
"all of the pointless see-saw puzzles"
You seem to have zero appreciation for when the game forces you to stop and think. You see puzzles as "pointless", rather than a mental challenge to feel accomplishment on solving. You dismiss navigational challenges as "random" yet you can't seem to THINK about what you are actually doing. Don't you remember WHY you had to get off the boat and what pushing the button did?
Also WRPGs are well known for their complex conversation trees where you can ask every possible question and get them all answered and explained to you till you understand.
I think you may be WAY too dependent on that to follow a games plot that isn't spelled out to you.
Halo does much the same with unnecessary cutscenes for exposition spelling out what is happening in a very impersonal way. But it is lazy and foolproof way of telling a story. I don't like it when games fall back on cinematic techniques for storytelling especially when they don't do a particularly good job of it.
Cinema used to suffer the same, they'd keep falling back on prose to exposit; long text crawls, banal narration, subtitle aided scene transition. The rule in cinema is "show don't tell" unless you have to.
The rule in gaming should be "Do, don't show".
In fact, you seem to have very flawed ideas of gaming when you say:
"(Gordon Freeman) didn't have great character depth"
He's not Supposed to! He's an empty vessel, his journey is YOUR journey, it is a literal approach to the idea of a role-playing game, you are in his boots, his physicality, you are supposed to be invested in the story via this role like in Bioshock (a game you supposedly like) there is no Jack character, YOU are Jack! The player.
Zabriskie Point said:
Half-Life 2 is the Seinfeld of video games.
I'd say HL2 is more like Arrested Development; really good, got loads of awards but way too many people "didn't get it" because the humour wasn't blatant enough with laugh tracks or awkward pauses.
So the series got put on ice, with a cult following, long awaiting a return, the talent does lots of great stuff in the mean time, while everyone else started copying it but dumbing the ideas down for a wider audience.
Yeah, HL2 = video game equivalent of Arrested Development