Review by AlCurtis
"A great shooter but not perfect."
Ah yes Half-Life. You see it referred to as one of the greatest if not the greatest shooters ever made. I don't think it quite makes it there but it is a high quality product.
The main problem I have with Half-Life is it's very possible to get totally stuck in the game. If you save when you are low on health or when you don't have an explosive or other item when you need it you can get utterly struck. I got to Surface Tension, one of the last levels of the game and there is a place where there are turrets in windows that are impervious to all weapons and that shoot you dead in a few shots. If you don't have a rocket you can't kill the turret and thus can't ever finish the level. Oh what luck that before that you face two tanks and I used up all my grenades and rockets on them leaving me with no way to ever finish this stage because there no way to kill the turrets without restarting the entire game again. Just what I wanted after slogging my way through hours of this otherwise great and very long shooter How this was make so is anyone's guess. Didn't Valve foresee this and do something about it? No of corse not it seems to have been left in on purpose just to piss people off. This is pretty much the extent of half-life's problems.
The graphics enhanced with the High definition pack you get when you download blue shift which is from off steam are fantastic. The gam looks much sharper with high resolution textures and really cool looking weapons, particularly the crossbow. People also look far better with much less jagged edges, they don't like 70 years old like they used to There are no new character models. But with the amount of memory video cards had in those days, anymore models may have required more texture memory than was available.
One of the greatest things about half life is its very varied environments. The scenery changes very often and one minute you'll be walking along a hallway blasting things with a shotgun before heading into a tiny, dark and claustrophobic vent shaft before coming out on the surface of the complex and being bombed by helicopters before making your way through a huge slime covered conveyor belt driver processing plant and so on the game just keeps throwing you into new places and this goes a lot way to keeping the game interesting. No shooter before it had done anything like this.
There are a good variety of weapons in Half Life from the familiar such as the 9mm Glock and single barreled pump action shotgun and SMG with secondary grenade launcher to the downright weird like the Hornet Gun, a huge clawed glove that fires regenerating hornets at enemies and Snarks little alien creatures that you toss on the ground and let them chew through anyone in the area, (Including you if there isn't anyone else!) as well as the red and silver crowbar that has achieved iconic status as a symbol of half life, even it is really only useful for destroying the copious amounts of crates and boxes to unearth more ammo and the like. The weapons sound nice and beefy and you can feel their power through their sound.
Half-life's sound is excellent and really adds atmosphere to its experience. All the while your walking along you'll hear machinery humming, water flowing, helicopters in the distance nearby monsters making creepy noises marines radioing each other orders and so on. The sound really sucks you in. Monster noise in particular is great with suitably disgusting and crazy noises for them Headcrabs have that trademark muttering and the loathsome sound they make as they jump at you to eat your brains zombies make this crazy laugh while they pummel you with their claws and the marines you encounter constantly radio others with orders and warnings. The sound just seems natural and suits all the action perfectly. The voice acting can be pretty flat at times tho and there only a one voice for scientists and one for all the security guards. Still for when the game was made too much sound would have required more ram and processing power than the computers back then could have provided.
Half-life's gameplay is much like that of any other shooter but the environments and the enemies are what make it so different. The environments are so varied as said in the graphics section that the game remains constantly interesting and fresh unlike a stale corridor shooter. It really compels you forward with the frantic pacing and the urge to find out what's next as well as with cool set pieces and a good story. Half-life is just very addictive and you'll for certain find it hard to stop playing.
All up Half-life lives up to most of its legendary status but I wouldn't call it the best shooter ever. That said it's still a must play for any gamer and it's available for next to nothing nowadays as well! Play this game!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/02/08
Game Release: Half-Life Game of the Year Edition (US, 06/28/99)
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