2-3 months later and I’ve finally beat the game. So, Half Life I guess (stylized as HλLF-LIFE), developed by Valve and Gearbox Software who made the PlayStation 2 port and both published by Sierra Entertainment, this is the first-person shooter that is much loved by many, it was released in November 8th 1998 for PC and November 30th 2001 for PlayStation 2, but has it stood the test of time. I’m going to take a look at an updated version of the game with better graphics.
Before that, a story, I went to a Cash Converters in Luton (my hometown) and came across Half Life and it’s expansion pack Opposing Force, they were 99p each so I brought them, I tried to install it on my computer but incompatibility issues are annoying.
I went to my friend’s house and showed him the game, he looked at the back and there was a code, he told me to go into my Steam Account and enter the code there and all of a sudden, I got the Half Life Platinum Pack which had the game, the two expansion packs and other multiplayer games like Counter Strike, Day of Defeat, Ricochet, Team Fortress Classic, etc. that was awesome, so the lesson is, if you find a jewel case Half Life, find the code on the back and you might get more than what you were going to get.
Back to the game, the story is you’re Dr Gordon Freeman, beloved by many gamers, and having less personality than Super Mario, you’re late for work at the Black Mesa Research Facility in New Mexico, but when he arrives, he gets his HEV suit and gets experimenting with a specimen, pushing it like a trolley into an Anti-Mass Spectrometer, but causes an explosion of scientific proportions and somehow opening a portal to a dimension called Xen, releasing a vast amount of aliens and it’s up to you to battle your way through the lab and outside and the whole area to get to the portal and stop the alien invasion whilst being followed by a mysterious figure known by many as The G-Man.
The big part of the game is the game play itself, the thing is, usually there would be cut scenes to get the story going, but in this game, there’s none, the story goes along when you meet scientists and security guards, meaning literally 100% of the game is just playing the game, that was a breath of fresh air at the time, and it’s even more fun that way and it still holds up, the strange thing about this is that no one uses this type of game play, even Call of Duty still uses cut scenes, Half Life flows perfectly when going from a to b.
Did you know? Valve was made up of former Microsoft employees; they had difficulty finding a publisher for Half Life, because most of the publishers found it to be too ambitious of a project. Sierra On-Line found them and agreed to publish it after finding it very interesting.
The story itself is just spooky at times, action-packed, and it’s made even more better when it flows with the game play, but sometimes you can miss a plot point or two because of this but it’s only rare.
You have a vast amount of weapons to kill aliens and the military who want to kill you (and try to make a government conspiracy forever) you have the infamous Crowbar, which is the strangest weapon ever, I mean yes you can kill people with it but then if you use it on anything dead like a scientist, it explodes into body bits, I know it was advertised as realistic, but I think exploded to bits by crowbar isn’t that realistic.
There is a Glock 17 pistol, a Colt Python .357 Magnum revolver which is the coolest gun to own, a Franchi SPAS-12 shotgun, MP5 submachine gun with an attached M203 grenade launcher, a Crossbow for long distant kills and many more that I won’t spoil for you. Usually in some shooters, you will use only one or two weapons to kill despite there are other weapons to use, in this game, every weapon you collect you will use, you need to use each of them to kill specific enemies and this makes it less dull.
Another part of the game are the puzzles, trying to figure out what to do to get to the next area, it’s ok at first, but they get really difficult, that is if you’re playing this game for the first time, this is not noob-friendly, this is my first time playing it, so I needed walkthroughs for half the game, but at least I’ve learned how the game works, where to go and how the puzzles should be solved, special thanks to BigMacDavis from YouTube for the walkthrough, if this is your first time playing the first Half-Life game, check him out.
The graphics, well that’s kind of a problem for me, the original graphics haven’t aged well, but I played the version with improved graphics and that’s aged better, in fact, the version I’ve played looks quite timeless because it still pulls you and immerses you into its gaming environment, in some places you feel quite isolated when there is no people in an area.
Did you know? The game was obviously designed for Windows as the game uses a heavily modified version of the Quake game engine with some portions of code from the id Tech 2 engine called GoldSrc (short for Gold Source).
The music is just kept to a minimum, but I wished there was none because that would fit perfectly, seeing as the music is not that memorable and you completely forget what you just listened to because you’re focusing on the game play, it’s environment and the survivors and aliens that could be friend or foe, despite the fact that all aliens are enemies.
Whilst the game is great, there is a few problems with it, first the saves, there’s nothing wrong with the saves, you can save and load a game anytime, but you might have a save and you go through and you do something and you can’t pass through the next area because somebody died and you should have protected them and you accidentally saved at that point, that’s it, you’re finished, you can’t continue on and you have to play the game all over again and make sure you don’t screw up, this has happened to me once, but all noobs should be very careful.
Later in the game you’ll collect a long jump module for the HEV suit, which allows you to increase the distance and speed of jumps by crouching before jumping, but what if you didn’t stay focused on the instructions told by the scientist, once he tells you these instructions, you won’t get that again and you forget how to reach platforms in the next chapter Xen, but it’s due to the story just flowing, you really need to concentrate on the story and the people, listen carefully to everyone or you’ll miss so much.
Did you know? The plot of Half-Life was originally inspired by Doom, Quake, Resident Evil, Stephen King’s short story/novella The Mist, and an episode of The Outer Limits called “The Borderland”. It was later developed by Valve’s in-house writer and author, Marc Laidlaw, who wrote the books Dad’s Nuke and The 37th Mandala which you can see inside Gordon Freeman’s locker.
Overall, this is a fantastic game, the game play is just brilliant and surprisingly still holds up to me, the graphics are dated and the characters look hilariously weird unless you played the updated version, it’s just a completely atmospheric game, it’s really is an unforgettable experience from beginning to end, the flow of the game, if you play it many times and know where to go is very smooth and very satisfying for the most part, and it has some great challenge.
There have been better games due to this being the inspiration of future titles and changing the way first-person games should be made, most notably its sequel, Soldier of Fortune (despite it being linear), Borderlands, the Far Cry series, even Call of Duty (I’m talking about Campaign mode and due to the linear storyline and game not exactly flowing, this is could be dated compared to the game that was released years before, Half-life), it’s celebrated by many and I’ll celebrate it too. Despite the little problems aside, this really is gaming gold.
There have been many versions, like the original 1998 version, an updated version, Source which is again the same game with Half-Life 2 graphics and Black Mesa, a fan-made game of the original with the Source graphics.
As of now I’m playing Half-life: Opposing Force, then I’ll play Blue Shift, I dabble at Half-life 2, I’m still going.
You can get it on PC, PlayStation 2, Mac OSX and Linux