Me and my Gnome

Half Life 2: Episode 2 is possibly the low point of the series. Linear, the plot isn’t really there and the locations are slightly bland. In fact strider battle aside it’s positively forgetful. That is forgetful for most people who play the game, for me it’s one of the most incredible gaming experiences ever… and it’s all because of one little guy.

Ah an old picture of Gnome, just after we met

That’s my gnome. I found it. I took it through the entire game. Past headcrabs, agents, striders and mines we trooped through. We saved Alex, fought alongside Vortigaunts and ran down the trainlines under helicopter fire. I love the little guy so much I took a picture of him on my old TV nestled in his eventual resting place. You see, after developing a deep emotional bond with him I loaded him into the rocket and he left the world of Gordon Freeman, plugging the hole in the universe that lay in the sky giving me possibly the most satisfying achievement ever. I’d assumed that he’d died in a fiery blaze, saving the world as part of an amazing fireworks display. That was until I played Left 4 Dead 2 and look who I found as the prize of a fairground game!

My "crew". Kat, Duncan, my lovely girlfriend and Gnome!

Yes, it’s the little guy himself. How he got into a prize casing in a funfair just outside of New Orleans is beyond me, but I wasn’t for leaving him to be destroyed by a rogue charger with a hate for garden furniture. After all, we beat Black Mesa together… I couldn’t just abandon him. So into my hands he went, and with a sympathetic yet slightly baffled team I went on my second adventure with my gnome! Now granted I had impetus to do this, given the achievement link but I felt a genuine emotional link to this graphic. It’s not just a gnome, it’s hours of memories and patient gaming… in a weird way it’s my past and leaving him felt like betrayal. I know achievements change the way you play, but never did I think it’d make me care about a game and deliver a story within a story.

I reckon we could sneak him onto the ride…

I ran holding him, flanked by my team who defended the little guy like marines. We fought through zombies, witches, tanks, fire, rollercoasters, dodgems before it all ended in front of a firework display… holding off zombies waiting for a chopper. We all made it, the five of us. An unbreakable team bound by love of a gnome. It made the game matter that bit more, made everything feel that little bit more frantic. Usually you can trust the guys you are with but this felt like an escort mission and did exactly what achievements always intended, it changed the game. Kudos Valve, these two achievements are my proudest and (like the actors from Lord of the Rings) my crew and I have a memento thanks to the achievement award system.

Duncan was not available for the group picture.
Duncan was not available for the group picture.

So when you ask me my gaming moment of 2009 it won’t be doing the Abbey Road Medley on The Beatles: Rock Band. It won’t be any of the twists and turns of Modern Warfare 2 and it certainly won’t be winning the league in Fifa 10. It will be the hour I spent in an adventure with an old friend. See you all in Half Life 3, I’ll be the guy holding a gnome in one hand and a crowbar in another.







6 responses to “Me and my Gnome”

  1. Ben avatar

    That’s awesome, I didn’t realise the Gnome had returned!

    *In Crowbars and Gnome’s we trust*

  2. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    The Gnome who liked to jump out of moving cars. Turning him into a Rocketman was indeed a great achievement to pop. That and the one free bullet.

    So we have the Gnome and Portal’s Still Alive song in L4D2. Any more Valve gaming memories in there?

  3. Duncan avatar

    RIP Gnome #1. :'(

    Sorry I missed the group photo! This was a proud journey for us all. Never forget. <3

  4. MrCuddleswick avatar

    I remember Kat telling me about gnome 1.


    The Rook (who I look up to more every day) beat me to the One Free Bullet mention.

    I’m not with you on the appraisal of Episode 2 as the series’ low point. I thought it worked better on its own than Episode 1, and, (more relvantly) when taken in context it packs a meaty emotional punch that’s a bit different from anything else so far from Half Life.

    You’re right about the gnome though. Love that guy. Despite his reluctance to STAY ON THE BACK OF THE BLOODY CAR in the earlier game.

  5. Lorna avatar

    I had heard of this achievement and lve the fact that it has turned up elsewhere too…gaming in jokes and nods – great stuff.

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