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Fan Commentary

By Shamus
on Wednesday Nov 28, 2007
Filed under:


I recently stumbled upon the work of Mark Gillespie. He has a lengthy series of YouTube videos where he does… I’m not sure there is a proper term for it… fan commentary for the Half-Life 2 series. His video reviews are a lot like my reviews, in that he’s talking in-depth about the experience of playing the game without trying to lead up to some sort of “thumbs up / thumbs down” conclusion or giving the game a number of stars rating. Where I tend to focus on technology and gameplay mechanics, he focuses more on the artistic and emotional aspects of the game, so his reviews will offer a nice counterpoint to the stuff I’ve written on the series.

I’ve created a playlist, so you can see the entire series in a single window instead of rummaging around YouTube trying to find them all:

He starts off by hitting on a lot of themes I talk about here, such as videogames as art. He moves on to talking about the game and pointing out a lot of interesting ideas that I’d missed, or simply never given any thought. I found his work to be both insightful and entertaining.

His commentary series:

Half-Life 2: commentary, Part 1 (YouTube)
Half-Life 2: Episode 1 (Google Video)
Half-Life 2: Episode 2 commentary, Part 1 (YouTube)

I should also point out that it was seeing this commentary last weekend that inspired me to make Push The Button.

Comments (18)

  1. Avaz says:

    That’s pretty interesting to me, especially considering that I’ve never played any of the Half Life games, but have always been interested in them.

  2. mark says:

    I’d watch these, but his stuck up accent really gets on my nerves. Maybe its not as bad if you’re not from the UK, but i couldnt stand to listen to the whole video :P

  3. Rustybadger says:

    LoL @mark…at least he doesn’t have a Southern accent! Now THAT would be atrocious, no doot aboot it! (that was MY atrocious Canadian accent, eh?)

  4. Shamus says:

    I’m surprised his accent sounds “stuck up”. He actually has a pretty self-effacing style if you listen to his work.

  5. RPharazon says:

    I like his commentaries a lot. They have a lot of that dry humor that really reminds me of Britishish accents.

    “Thank you Valve for providing me with a weapon that not only lets me kill my enemies, but defile their corpses.”

    It’s like Zero Punctuation, but without all the violence and swearing.

  6. Shamus says:

    Yes, I thought about the same thing: A lot like Yahtzee in accent, but Mark is a lot more thoughtful and polite. I actually like his humor better. (Yahtzee is often too edgy or mean-spirited for me.)

  7. Volatar says:

    I would really like ot thank you for pointing out this extremely well done set of videos. I really enjoyed watching them all the last couple hours.

    Sadly it interfered with my playing of X-Com :P, man that game is fun.

    But of course, X-Com is only stopping me in the middle of playing through HL2 again. And that is cutting into the middle of a Morrowind game, and that cutting in the middle of this great book I’m reading…

    Well, you get the idea :P

  8. Jeff says:

    Stuck-up accent? That’s just inherently wrong… in a prejudiced sort of way, I mean. His accent reminds me more of a Discovery Channel documentary than anything else…

  9. william says:

    i actually agree with mark.something about his accent gets to me too. however he does have good points and expresses them clearly.

  10. ngthagg says:

    Interesting that he makes a joke about his accent in there somewhere. Dublin, London, and Seattle, I think. (?) Incidentally, my first thought upon hearing the accent was that it was a good thing. Maybe it’s some inherent part of being Canadian rather than American, but I find British accents elicit a sense of trust in me.

    There’s a nature documentary that was just released recently (and apparently is stunning in HD-DVD) that is narrated by Sir Richard Attenborough. I watched a clip of it, and it was amazing.

  11. Althanis says:

    His commentaries are wonderful to listen to. I’ll be referring my boss to you Shamus when he wonders why I got nothing at all done yesterday. =)

  12. I _was_ going to finish up Ep2 last night. Instead I listened to his commentary. Damn you Shamus! BTW: any idea why there’s commentary for HL2, HL3:Ep2, but not HL3:ep1?

  13. Andre (xero) says:

    I discovered this commentary about a week ago, and was surprised to see you discovering it around the same time. It’s weird how ideas tend to travel the ‘net collectively, isn’t it?

  14. Jim says:

    These commentaries are great, thanks for posting about them Shamus. I was up way too late last night watching all three sets. They reminded me of Zero Punctuation as well, though I missed the violence, swearing and mean-spiritedness :)


    RE: @12 Punning Pundit
    “any idea why there's commentary for HL2, HL3:Ep2, but not HL3:ep1?”

    The only place I was able to find the Episode 1 commentary was Google Video, I think Shamus linked to it, but just in case: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7791992304107970746


    RE: @5 RPharazon:
    “It's like Zero Punctuation, but without all the violence and swearing.”
    I’m laughing a bit while trying to imagine what that would be like. I’m thinking it would be the opening song with its static image, followed by the closing song over a black background (as the accompanying images usually involve the little demon guy getting trounced).

  15. MintSkittle says:

    Like Jim said, you can find the EP1 commentary on google video, which is also where you can find the HL2 and EP2 commentaries in their entirety, and not cut into 7-8 minute bits.

  16. william says:

    @ 10 ngthagg

    I myself am british, but if you are like me, when you hear that drawl his accent carries, you immediately assume he rides a white horse everyday to his gentleman’s club for hunting rides on the poorer english like myself. I hate posh people, which is what he sounds like. Attenborough (and i’m fairly sure you meant david) is fine because he doesnt drawl…

  17. Eltanin says:

    Rats. I hate forgetting to enter the anti-spam word.

    Thanks for pointing out these commentaries. I enjoyed them greatly. The author pointed out a myriad of fascinating details which I missed in my haste to get to the next encounter. I appreciated the architecture and environs of the game while I played for their immersive qualities. But Mark’s comments really brought the richness of the environment to life for me.

    I never found his accent to be a problem, though he occasionally let’s a lecherous little “heh heh” laugh out in response to one of his jokes and this caused me to grind my teeth a bit.

    However on the whole I’ve been enjoying this series immensely. Thanks for the tip Shamus.

  18. Quadir says:

    Thank you for pointing this out, I really appreciated it. I think the lack of commentary on the commentary is the fact you have to sit through more then 3 hours to do so.

    Like the in-game commentary I think this guy did a really good job of going through the game and did have some interesting perspectives.

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