Half Life 2: Episode One* was rather disappointing, especially since I had just finished playing Half Life 2 -- it's basically the last two sections of HL2 in reverse order. That alien fortress we just blew up and escaped from? -- you have to go back in. And the besieged city we snuck into to get to that fortress? -- now we have to sneak out. For a game that really impressed me with its varied level design, it felt rather lazy.
Episode Two satisfied my expectations, however. There's several interesting new environments -- a mine overtaken by alien insects and some nice cross-country travel -- new enemies, and some new game mechanics. And more importantly, the story is really chugging along. I can't wait for Episode Three. (And I'm really impressed/frightened by how easy the Steam online service makes it to buy a game and just have it.)
* Surely one of the most confusing sequel names ever. Doesn't it sound like Episode One should come before Half Life 2 or is part of it or something?