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Half-Life review

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You all may not know it, but i really like writing game reviews (only ones i tried so far, but might try other stuff as well). I've been posting them mainly on TWC site (total war center, a community based on total war series), but i sorta figured you might want to see this one. I made this back in the june and as i was reading it today, i noticed that i had put lot of references to Freeman's mind in it without me even noticing until now (sorry Ross, didnt mean to copy you here). Do also note, if you read this, that this was still one of my early reviews, i have improved in many ways

Its exact copy-paste what i posted in TWC (cept formating, it uses different one there).




By Meelis13


Where is your hazard suit? You cant progress without it! Too dangerous! Well, at least you have a crowbar... Very well, carry on. As you probably have guessed, i will review Half-Life, one of most well-known FPS games in history.



Basic introduction


A Dam. MP5. Mortars. Have fun


Half-Life is first-person shooter game developed by Valve company (its also their very first game. Founded by Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington) that was released in 19th November 1998 for PC and 11th November for Playstation 2. It was re-released as source version in 1st June 2004 with improved graphics and sound. For first game of the company, i'd say this was pretty much a jackpot.


System requirements for Source version (from Steam page):



Minimum: 1.2 GHz Processor, 256MB RAM, DirectX 7 level graphics card, Windows XP, Mouse, Keyboard, Internet Connection


Recommended: 2.4 GHz Processor, 512MB RAM, DirectX 9 level graphics card, Windows XP, Mouse, Keyboard, Internet Connection



Minimum: OS:OS X version Leopard 10.5.8, Snow Leopard 10.6.3

Memory: 1GB RAM

Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 8 or higher, ATI X1600 or higher, or Intel HD 3000 or higher

Network: Internet Connection

Other: Mouse, Keyboard



Minimum: OS: Ubuntu 12.04

Processor: Dual core from Intel or AMD at 2.8 GHz

Memory: 4 GB RAM

Graphics: nVidia GeForce 8600/9600GT, ATI/AMD Radeaon HD2600/3600 (Graphic Drivers: nVidia 310, AMD 12.11), OpenGL 2.1

Network: Broadband Internet connection

Hard Drive: 8 GB available space

Sound Card: OpenAL Compatible Sound Card


System requirements for original:

Minimum: 500 mhz processor, 96mb ram, 16mb video card, Windows XP, Mouse, Keyboard, Internet Connection


Recommended: 800 mhz processor, 128mb ram, 32mb+ video card, Windows XP, Mouse, Keyboard, Internet Connection




Just another usual day at test chamber


The game places you in shoes of dr. Gordon Freeman, 28-year old theoretical physicist working in Black Mesa research facility in New Mexico. Game is supposed to take place in near future (or alternate late 80-s, depends on source). At start of the game, you just ride the train as you have done hundreds of times before to your work site.... And you are late again.. So you get to your hazard suit and of course because you are late you have been given manual labour part of the test (or is it because of that? i let you figure it out yourself)... You progress with the test but suddenly your only concern is to get out of Black Mesa alive.

You are suddenly hunted by both the aliens and the military. Only ones on your side are overwhelmed security guards and scientists working in Black Mesa. So you get to escape countless safety hazards, see the spectacular box-smashing room, start ww3 and do a lot of other fun stuff.

Story-wise there is not much to add without turning to real spoiler-fest, but i can say one thing- Gordon doesnt speak in this game. At all. Story is told by NPC-s (mostly scientists, but also intercom and even (presuming you dont blast them or alert them) soldiers chatting with eachother). This is one day Gordon probably wishes he'd stayed in bed...





Ingame view of the battle situation


Gameplay is quite typical for FPS games at the time- you had to do a lot of battle, but you didnt have regenerative health (i know some people think "how did you finish it! impossible!"). You had to look out for health packs/medical cabinets and also, for extra protection you also had to look out for batteries and H.E.V charger packs. And naturally ammo. Probably biggest deal was that it had really good mouse aiming, something of real rarity in 1990-s. Big difference compared to modern games was also that Half-Life allows you to pick up (and keep!) every weapon you get your hands on ingame that isnt mounted. Also for darker areas you had flashlight which helped you navigate, but it had limited durability so keep it off when you dont need it!

More about weapons- as you can see from screenshot you have 5 categories for weapons (14 weapons overall): 1- melee weapons- crowbar only. Most iconic weapon of the game, good for destroying something close-range, especially enviroment, if needed.

2- handguns. 2 weapons in this category

3- anti-personell weapons, 3 weapons here

4- Heavy weapons. 4 weapons (including 3 completely fictional ones)

5- disposable weapons (grenades). 4 weapons (inc. alive one)


I tought about detailing weapons further, but it would kill the fun of discovering them yourself, wouldnt it?




Ok, back to gameplay. Large portion of gameplay also involves puzzles, which is quite typical for 90-s game. It doesnt, however, involve keycards so its much more bearable than lets say Duke nukem 3d (i seriously hated when most enemies are dead but i had still one keycard to look for in older games). Puzzles vary a lot, which is definetly a great sight- from simple finding a way trough tracks to crossing a minefield, i found puzzles really entertaining and challenging enough to provide lots of fun.

This game does not, however, have traditional levels, but its basically same level (with loading spots) entire game, which is interesting touch, providing more gameplay and makes you feel more ingame. There are also chapters on screen showing how far you have come in story. Should some part be too difficult, you can quit to main menu and restart chapter you got stuck with lower difficulty (yes, there are difficulties, that made difference. at the time it was usual, but nowadays too rare..). You can also get gameplay basics in special training mission.

Some of the game events are also scripted, such as you have to kill some creatures using enviroment, some aliens do pop up certain way, etc. For its time it was quite interesting and it still is. While you do know its coming, its done so well i dont see anything bad in it.


Music and graphics



Comparison of Headcrab in Half-life 1 (original version) vs Half-life 2

For 90-s game, graphics were quite good. I may be too kind with rating, but if i like graphics, they are good. Same can be said for music (where there is music)- really nice battle music at bigger action scenes, though i cant recall any of music outside of bigger battle scenes. There is one thing sound-wise i honhestly dont like and frankly this is only bad thing about HL i can think of- voice acting. Its horrible for scientists and security guards. For rest its ok, but scientists are awful, like robots.



Half-Life is good game with lots of action in it and also nice puzzles, which are nice change for usual shooting as puzzles arent too hard. Gordon Freeman also makes unusual video game hero as he isnt some crook or cop or soldier, that are usually FPS heroes. It also has great story, though it may seem little bit bland and unlogical at first. Only real issue with it is voice acting for scientists, which is bad.

As for me, i have to admit i first played it last autumn (bought it after watching Freeman's mind), but i enjoyed every moment of it. Half-life also has great expansions (opposing force, where you play as soldier and blue shift, where you play as Barney Calhoun, security guard) and sequels (Half-life 2+episodes), not to mention remakes (Half-life source and Black Mesa mod).

So all in all, its perfect debute for Valve

My rating: 10/10

Jack O'Neill: "You know Teal'c, if we dont find a way out of this soon, im gonna lose it. Lose it... it means go crazy. nuts. insane. bonzo. no longer in possession of ones faculties. 3 fries short of a happy meal. WACKO!!!!!!!!"

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