09 Jun, 2004 reviewed by TomSamson

codename gordon
by nuclearvision

(visit the game site)

As codename gordon is available in a rather uncommon way in the flash world,first a few words on this: You have to download steam ( http://www.steampowered.com/ ),valve´s game distribution system,install that and when you connect there a panel shows up in the right corner of the screen which features a list of the new games for download. You can see codename gordon there,download and play it. The good side is that its free, and you can play fullscreen,the bad side is that you have to download steam and the game through steam (and steam downloads are not the fastest either),the game is also quite big for a flash game (about 39 mb) but to that part a bit more later.

I also found a link to a download site of a german pc magazine which allows directly downloading the game without the need for steam (you can then also play the game without steam),you can see it here:


(choose the low speed bandwith as that is free,you have to register for the speedy version,still downloading the game directly there took less time than downloading steam and then the game from within steam)

This might of course be an offer for only a short time so you may have to go the steam way i explained above in case you read this review at a later date.

All in all its of course nice to see that a flash game gets distributed by a big player from the commercial game developer scene but i´m a bit unhappy that steam is used for the distribution and for playing the game.

Ok,now to the game itself:

As with the normal half life games there have been lots of rumours about it before its release and it has also been hyped a lot just like you´d expect it from a normal commercial game title.

Gordon hadn´t the best chances right from the start,the extreme hyping beforehand and the quite long download time raised expectations a lot,

well now its here and time to see if the hype was deserved =)


The intro sequence and startscreen are a good start,on the start screen you have several features to choose from which are not all standard in nowadays flash games:

There´s the Options menu in which you can turn on and off sound,adjust the graphic quality and customise the control setup.then there´s the credits option,which isn´t great but still executed in a nice way

One of the more remarkable options i´d like to see in each bigger flash title was the training feature: you can learn the controls easily with a bit of instructional aid.

Now to the actual reason for this review,the game:

When playing the first level a bit, the hyping seemes to be quite undeserved,it only features two enmey types throughout the whole level (and one is actually just the head of the other one running alone without body) and both enemy types only have one attack mode and both also aren´t done that impressive. Gameplay isn´t smooth all the time either,when several enemies are onscreen at once,it often lags (= frame rate gets unsteady and jumps up and down a lot)  and controlling your character and aiming gets tricky because of that.

I´m a flash developer myself,so i know that for a game without scrolling a much higher and solid framerate can be achieved.

Speaking of that,you see one screen at a time,when you leave it you see the next one.

Often you leave the current screen using doors which can cause difficulties as in many cases you have to use jump close to the door.

Using doors and jumping is both done with the same key,so that you often catch yourself swapping between scenes by using the door although you actually wanted to stay in the current scene and jump somehwere.


While we´re at it,right away to the rest of the controls: there are quite alot of keys to use compared to other flash games,you can walk in four directions,climb and jump,use things,use your flashlight,reload and  throw a grenade and each of that actions has its own key.

there are several weapons and you can choose them by pressing the keys 1-5,aiming and shooting is done with the mouse.

Being able to have so many control features is nice of course but the aiming sadly isn´t implemented very well: you don´t have the ability to aim freely 360° but instead always just a small range (and you can´t aim at some angles at all). This lowers the overall rating a bit as the whole game is about aiming and shooting,so you´d expecet a better concept here.

So,up to now,chances weren´t high for a good rating,but well, let´s talk about the later levels ;)

Gladly the level two and the ones later are quite a bit better than the first one,they feature more different enemy types,better and less repetive background graphics and even a few creative fun and unexpected moments (well,unexpected in case you hadn´t seen one of the dozens of promo videos for the game).

There are six levels in total, seven or eight enemy types and five weapons.

The magnet gun is my favorite: there´s only use for it four or five times during the game but it still adds a nice touch to the game:

You can use it to move metal objects out of the way or just towards enemies.

there´s also the crowbar,one of the standard weapons in several ego shooters,still good to see it in a 2d game.

Its just fun to smash walls blocking your way ;)


In one of the levels you drive around in a buggy,basically the whole level is a bossfight in which a big robot insect mixutre flies around above you and you have to shoot it and avoid its shots while the level scrolls on automatically.

That level is extremely laggy,so,far away from being smooth and controls lag there,too, but it is still a nice distraction from the other levels and it has the best backgrounds of the whole game

(lots of broken vehicles are scrolled by in the background while your buggy jumps around on slight hills in a  dune scenary).

Another sweet feature is (even more for half life fans) that you meet some characters known from half life in between levels and have some small chattery with them (you choose the right moody emoticon to reply).


Those sequences don´t port an impressive vast storyline but have a nice self ironic humour to them.

Playing through the game took less than 20 minutes,which isn´t as long as expected,especially having the big filesize in mind.

The game places enemies and detects collisions in a way known as artbased system in the flash developer world,which means that each object is made up of one graphical piece or several layers of graphics and each piece is checked for collisions individually using hittest (a rather cpu intensive way to go ).

This is probably also the reason for the at times heavy lagging,which is not acceptable having in mind that the game was tested on a 1.53 ghz pc which still is far superior than the lower standard machine of people playing flash games.

The filesize is also heavily influenced by this game engine concept. The other currently popular engine type for 2d flash games is the tilebased approach,meaning the game map is made up of many equally sized quadratic tiles and only those are attached/turned visible which are on screen right now.

Tiles can be plotted together in a way in which many shapes can be constructed using the same few tiles.

Tilebased engines also tend to run much smoother than artbased engines.

So,using a tilebased engine for such a game type would have allowed way better performance and also much more different graphics (and adding more sounds) in the same or much lower filesize

(that doesn´t mean artbased engines are all bad,i´ve seen several ones featuring equal amounts of moving objects which performed better than this).

At the end of the day codename gordon can´t compete with 2d console game classics like metal slug and the contra series but its diversity in weapon and item set,different levels and several endbosses raise the bar in flash jump´n´shoot gaming. 



by Kdsh7
Codename Gordon is not without its problems, but it exudes a level of polish and charm rarely seen in flash gaming. Yes, there are performance issues, and the game’s filesize and method of distribution does prevent it from being appreciated by everybody, but there is plenty here for any fan of action games to enjoy while the quirky, yet intelligent, use of the Half Life license will have Half Life devotees chuckling.
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