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The Orange Box

The Orange Box

The Orange Box

The Orange Box is a video game compilation for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Mac OS X and Linux. The Windows and Xbox 360 versions were produced and published by Valve Corporation and released on October 10, 2007 as a boxed retail copy. A Windows-only download through Valve's Steam service was released the previous day. All games run on the Source Engine.

The PlayStation 3 version was produced by Electronic Arts and released on December 11, 2007 in North America and in Europe. Valve has also released a soundtrack containing music from the games within the compilation.

The compilation contains five games, all powered by Valve's Source engine. Two of the games included, Half-Life 2 and its first stand-alone expansion, Episode One, had previously been released as separate products. Three new games were also included in the compilation: the second stand-alone expansion, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, the puzzle game Portal, and Team Fortress 2 , the multiplayer game sequel to the original mod based on the Quake engine, Team Fortress and Team Fortress Classic on the original Half Life. A separate product entitled The Black Box was planned, which would have included only the new games, but was cancelled.

The Orange Box has received critical acclaim and Portal was recognized as a surprise favorite of the package. The PlayStation 3 version of The Orange Box has been noted for several technical shortcomings that were not present in the other versions, only a few of which were fixed through a single patch.

Since its release, The Orange Box has been met with universal acclaim from reviewers. The averaging website GameRankings cites both the Xbox 360 version and the PC version as the highest-rated game of their respective platforms. IGN described The Orange Box as "the best deal in video game history," and awarded both the Windows and Xbox 360 versions with an Editors' Choice Award. All three versions won GameSpot's Editors' Choice Award. Approximately 3 million copies of The Orange Box were sold by the end of November 2008.

Portal has been singled out for praise by reviewers. Official Xbox Magazine admired its unique puzzle gameplay mechanics, stating that it was the first major advance in puzzle gaming "since Russians started dropping blocks." Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, The Escapist's usually acerbically critical reviewer, stated in his Zero Punctuation review that he couldn't think of any criticism for Portal, which has "some of the funniest pitch-black humor ever heard in a game" and concluded that it is "absolutely sublime from start to finish, and I will jam forks into my eyes if I ever use those words to describe anything else, ever again."

The PlayStation 3 version's critical review scores suffered because of the technical issues first uncovered by 1UP.com. While discussing the retail version on a podcast, 1UP.com staff members agreed that a significant number of the frame rate problems had been resolved, but not all of them. They concluded that the PlayStation 3 version was not quite as smooth as the Xbox 360 version and recommended that "if you own both , you should do the 360" version. Kotaku's Michael McWhertor echoed that recommendation, though stated that those who only have a PlayStation 3 should still consider The Orange Box.

While frame rate issues were the main complaint, the PlayStation 3 version was also criticized for unreliable voice chat and excessive network delay or lag in Team Fortress 2, as well as long load times generally. It was, however, praised for featuring anti-aliasing and a quick-save feature, neither of which were present in the Xbox 360 version (but were present in the PC version). After release, the game received further criticism from fans for the lack of surround sound support when using an optical cable. An open letter to Valve, asking them to put pressure on EA to release a fix was posted to the Steam forum. A response was posted by a Valve employee going by the name of "BurtonJ", directing disappointed customers to a dedicated thread on the subject.

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