Half Life

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Named Game of the Year by over 50 publications, Valve's debut title blends action and adventure with award-winning technology to create a frighteningly realistic world where players must think to survive. Also includes an exciting multiplayer mode that allows you to play against friends and enemies around the world.

Customer reviews

95

Three Words: Classic, Historical, and Epic

TheForgery | June 23, 2015 | See all TheForgery's reviews »

"...Welcome to Black Mesa." These are some of the first words players hear in the whole series. They echo in the small transit car where an innocent scientist named Gordon Freeman is trying to reach work on a late schedule. He is employed in a top secret government facility dedicated to science and research. Otherwise, it's an average day and things go smoothly with everyone busy or maintaining the safety of others. This all changes when a seemingly cart with an alien crystal is pushed into an energy beam of an experiment. Chaos erupts in an out of control flow and in a matter of hours, aliens from another dimension have poured in and slaughtered most of the personnel. This is where the fight to survive begins. Half-Life is renowned for a simple narrative; there's no cut scenes and little interaction with NPCs. This permits players to fully control Gordon nearly all the time. Exploring through the maze of enclosed areas with hostile beings tells the adventure and the horror. Go beyond where no man should have witnessed and experience the horrific truth that Black Mesa had concealed. There is hardly anything that won't kill you. Simple (and iconic) headcrabs that latch themselves to unlucky humans serve as the first enemies for the first half of the game. Soon, alien slaves, the intelligent vortigaunts, begin to launch further assault. Then, when it seems that backup has arrived, the ruthless HECU takes the facility by force and indiscriminately kill anyone, be it alien or innocent workers, to cover up the mess. The most frightening enemy to appear in the game, and perhaps any game, is the ichthyosaur. It takes balls, big balls of unparalleled strength, to face these aquatic creatures in water where is little light and when most other weapons are restricted to use. However, with that said, a crowbar is the first weapon picked up and should not be underestimated in close quarters. For ranged fights, there are human weapons, like the Glock, the MP5 SMG with an attached grenade launcher, a SPAS-12 that bizarrely can fire two shells at once, and a crossbow that serves as the only sniper weapon. As Gordon progresses further deeper, Black Mesa is then revealed to have been testing and manufacturing their own particle weapons. One is a Tau Cannon, engineered to fire accelerated beams of energy that can destroy tanks and attack helicopters and another weapon is the Gluon gun that literally disassembles, if not disintegrates, living targets to mere mush/bloody remains. Unlike other games at its time, a good number of friendly NPCs, the surviving Black Mesa personnel, can be interacted with and can follow the player. The scientists can provide medical care and the armed guards can provide limited firepower against assailants. To simply put, the cons I found were bugs. Sometimes, if caution is not exercised, one may be crushed at random times, like a door trapping the player between the wall. Friendly NPCs are almost useless, especially the scientists as they just cower in combat. The guards do better but they tend to not last long. Oddly, if they or a scientist are shot upon, even by accident, guards will turn hostile and do better against the player. Even if this is avoided, followers will eventually cannot travel with the player anymore due to their limitatiosn in movement (ex. human NPCs will not climb ladders and cannot crouch). Occasionally, the HECU marines will try to flush out an enemy with a grenade but this backfires as the explosive bounces off the wall, ceiling, roof, or an obstacle and rather than running when given, they do not move and perish. While I feel conflicted if Gordon should have been a silent protagonist, I must admit it is easier to fill in his boots and gloves when wielding a crowbar and face hostiles in a cold, steel corridor. I still gave this game an A (95 out of 100) because it's a game that everyone must play at least once before they die. It defines what a good game should be and must not ever be forgotten.

96

Rise and shine Mister Freeman

Zozolis | May 13, 2015 | See all Zozolis's reviews »

Half-Life is a revolutionary game among First Person Shooters. The games story is really similar to DOOM. Experiments were made with a portal to another dimension. Differing only that in DOOM there were demons not aliens. And you got to fix this mess… Half-Life was among the first FPS games that included puzzles, different areas to explore and other tasks besides shooting hoards of enemies. This made the game so interesting not even mentioning the fascinating story. The game only has outdated visuals for today’s standard. To fix this there is a remake of the game called Black Mesa (named after the name of the research facility the game starts in). But I think that old school graphics isn’t a problem for enjoying the game.

92

Great but Old

KingTed | May 5, 2015 | See all KingTed's reviews »

Half-Life is quite a revolutionary game among First Person Shooters. Basically it has the same story than DOOM : experiments were conducted in a lab until a portal was opened to another dimension. But this time, the invaders were aliens and not demons. Half-Life has an interesting game-design where the player’s task is not limited to shooting. In fact, there are a lot of things to do beside shooting. There are puzzles to solve, areas to explore and a lot of story-telling during gameplay. The game hasn’t aged well. The visuals are dated. But it’s still an excellent game. However, if graphics are that important to you, you should play Black Mesa (a remake of the game made in Source Engine 2).

83

Hasn't held up well

darkhorse441 | Feb. 23, 2015 | See all darkhorse441's reviews »

I understand that at the time of its release, Half-Life was revolutionary in terms of its graphics, storytelling, and innovative design and presentation. Following in the footsteps of games like Star Wars: Dark Forces, it turned FPS from a run-and-gun game to a game with a story and a sense of adventure. And in that respect, we must always respect Half-Life. But... When played today by someone who was not old enough to be gaming when the game was released, it feels very dated. The graphics haven't held up the test of time as some other games from that era (Ocarina of Time, Medal of Honor) have. Also, the characters' speech is often garbled and hard to understand. The physics engine is also very clunky, especially when compared to later Valve games like Portal or Half-Life 2. Of course this is all seen from the perspective of someone used to newer games, so it is of course necessary to take a step back: The game itself is interesting as it not only reimagines FPS games, but also adds puzzles and environment interactivity. The story also creates its own lore, with memorable alien names and iconic moments, people and weapons. The enemy types are also varied and taking each one of them down is rewarding in its own way. The difficulty of the game is high, but not so high as to alienate less experienced players. However, many problems can be found in the game that are not due to the game's age. The character model is bizarre, and doesn't seem to have legs or normal arms. Also, ladder climbing becomes hilarious as the player climbs without use of his legs or arms. The controls are sometimes a bit clunky when trying to solve a puzzle, press buttons/levers, or crouch-jump. Also, the level design is fairly repetitive, consisting of long hallways that sometimes feature open spaces where you will either receive ammo or be attacked by a group of enemies. Finally, a major problem with the game is, though the storytelling and lore are both revolutionary and impeccable, the story itself is boring and almost non-existent. It has neither the sense of finality or accomplishment as Half-Life 2 or other modern games nor the humor of a game like Portal. It effectively consists of getting from point A to point B, killing anything in between, solving puzzles and hoping that something will happen. There is really no arc or clear idea of what is happening at any one time or what is to come. All in all, Half-Life is a revolutionary game that changed an industry and blew everyone's mind and should be played by everyone the same way every self-respecting gamer should play Super Mario Bros. It just has not survived the test of time well, and does have some flaws which can reduce the amount of pleasure during playtime. It also cannot be ignored for its sequel Half-Life 2 and (maybe) 3.

87

Origin of modern FPS

howard195 | Feb. 4, 2015 | See all howard195's reviews »

On this game, I am slightly prejudiced. I made the mistake of playing Half Life 2 before the original. Half Life 2 may be my first choice for greatest FPS ever. I'm also not always found of playing older games with their simpler graphics of the day. However, the gameplay of this game makes up for any aspect that may be graphically dated. This is the earliest FPS I've played where you departed from just killing everything before progressing. This is the origin of the thinking man's FPS, as far as I know. The story is told throughout the gameplay, instead of with cutscenes. I feel that the level design is solid. You will need to keep an eye on your ammo, instead of doing your Rambo impression. A couple of the enemies are more obnoxious than necessarily fearsome. Otherwise, the gameplay has something new every couple minutes. I can call this a classic knowing it has justly earned the title.