Review by Ofisil

"If this Is the best I don't want to see the worst"

Half-Life is a FPS developed by Valve. Hailed as the best game of all time, best FPS of the year, it have been given numerous awards and have been praised by every single gaming magazine that ever fell into my hands, Half-Life is supposed to be the best thing when it comes to PC gaming. Somehow, although a FPS fan, the hype never caught my attention, until a friend of mine gave it to me saying the same stuff: Wonderful game, excellent story, blah, blah, blah… about three days later I was at my friend's door asking him to burn it and throw the ashes in the ocean or something.

Story: 4/10
Presentation: 2/10

You are in some secret laboratories where among some other hi-tech stuff, Teleport experiments are being conducted. Well something goes wrong and various hostile creatures start popping out from another dimension. No, no… this ain't Doom! Here you are Gordon Freeman, a nerdy scientist and your enemies won't be cool looking demons but squishy, weird and easy to kill aliens from another dimension. Well I don't care about the total Doom\Duke Nukem 3D rip-off but Half-Life is supposed to have a great story that unfolds as you play the game, so lets analyze that a bit: After a looong intro where you are transferred in the Black Mesa Labs via a small train while a female voice says interesting stuff like, “Keep your hands inside the vehicle”, you reach your destination, the place where you work. So after another long time where you walk among other scientists, (which all look the same), you reach the place where you are needed. There is a great task ahead of you, a task that only someone with a Ph.D like you can handle… you have to… push something… somewhere… Huh?

Anyway you do so and all Xen breaks loose. From now on you'll spend countless hours crouched in ventilation ducts, flipping switches and jumping from platforms. Err, where exactly is the story? I mean, ok, the bad guys are here and you try to protect your hide… what else? Oh, yeah! After some hours you meet a scientist and you can talk!!! You'll have nice conversations like, “Hi Gordon!”, “I'm hungry”, “Oh, Gordon”, “Nice weather”, “Gordon?”, “Is that you Gordon?”, and various stuff like that. Oh and don't get me started on that Gman c**p! I mean, ok we all went through an X-Files period but that isn't creating any mystery… it is an obvious and desperate attempt by the developers to spice things up a bit and I doubt that even they know who the hell he is!!!

Gameplay: 5/10
Replay Value: 1/10

Revolutionary? Full of interesting puzzles? Great gun fights? Are you sure we're talking about the same game??? I've played and I've played and not a single moment in the game was I like, “Whoa! I like that!”. I can't say that I hated the game. It starts ok, the controls are fine and all and you soon realize that this isn't a run & gun game which is fine with me by the way. You'll find a lot of places that need some platform jumping & switch flipping… but… but where is the magnificent game you're all talking about?!? Everything looks good and all but nothing I haven't seen before!

White men can jump:
You'll jump. A lot. And don't expect something fun. Jump from this platform to that one, now climb this ladder, enter one of the 2 ventilation ducts, (you won't believe how many ducts this game has), crawl inside for about 5 minutes, you find nothing, you get out, now go into the other one, but avoid the rotating fan, crawl for a couple of more times, jump on the sewer pipe, now onto the moving platform…. ARGGGHHH!!! Is this supposed to be innovative?

I have a Ph. D therefore I can flip switches & pull levers:
Apart from all the jumping around you'll do a lot of puzzles, but if you are expecting the next Myst prepare yourself for absolute boredom. In order to open this door you have to search the place for about an hour in order to find the switch, then find the level that brings down the elevator, push the button that can kill this big alien, use a scientist in order to open another door… repeat these stuff 1000 times… congratulations, you have Half-Life!

Weapons with fancy names? Cool!!!:
So I wasn't impressed from the “most innovative First Person Puzzler”, but lets see about the battles. There are many weapons in the game and besides the typical machine guns, shotguns and handguns, we have some alien weaponry that are supposed to be the next great thing but I think of them as just some weapons with fancy names. Also the main guns are a bit of a disappointment in my opinion. The Mp5 is almost useless, the shotgun is EXTREMELY powerful but only when you get reeeal close and the handgun is too powerful for just a handgun. But that's nitpicking you know… the biggest problem ain't the guns but the gunfights. The enemies are way too easy to kill and they don't have the great AI everybody is talking about. The aliens just run at you and the marines run around a bit before shooting you… not to mention that most of the time you don't fight but you are crawling inside a duct. Finally forget about the so-called survival horror challenge of the game… I was always full of ammo and health… the only thing I found hard to keep intact was my armor… and my interest in this game.

Roaches ain't the only bugs in the game
This is why I love Id Soft! While not everyone loves their games, they have good programmers and most of all they give their games to the world when and if they are done! I don't know whether Half-Life was a rushed product or something, all I know is that it is quite buggy. Not the need-the-latest-patch-just-to-see-the-main-menu kind of game but buggy nevertheless. Many times I would get stuck between doors and other objects, killed just by entering an elevator or riding a moving platform and stuff like that…

Graphics: 7/10
Design: 5/10

Err… I guess I must show some mercy to the game. The graphics are relatively good. Once again not what people say, but good nonetheless. Other games back then where better. But enough with the nitpicking! Good lighting, nice effects and overall design and high quality models with nice animation, although some of them are ridiculously fast making them look like WB cartoons, like the female assassin or the giant shark-like fish. While the overall quality is very good the game lacks that extra charm games need, especially those dealing with fiction.

Attack Of The Clones:
The game simply has no atmosphere, nothing special in terms of design and –the biggest problem- is too darn boring to look at due to the repetitive and unimaginative level design. 2/3 of the game consist of simple corridors and rooms with little to no extra detail and simple textures and sewers, with pipes, dirty water and toxic waste… what I mean is that you won't see anything special and since most of the areas are quite big and have no differences you'll soon get bored. The last level, the alien world looks ok, but I've seen better… in b-movies dealing with aliens that is… The enemies also lack that extra something I wanted in this game. While they are of high quality, they don't look so dangerous… just… weird. Finally all the scientists in the game have the same 3-4 model types… and the security officers have only one! I don't mean that they should make each character different but they could at least add some more models or make some of the most important ones more distinctive.

Sound: 6.8/10
Music: 6.5/10

The sound effects are just fine with me. Most weapon sounds are just fine, voice acting is not so good but nothing irritating or of extreme bad quality. Ambience effects are nothing special and you hi-tech suit emits sounds when near toxic waste, or when you are hurt… the end.

Needs more cowbell:
The music was a bit of a disappointment, especially for a game that prides itself for its great atmosphere. There are games that sound great WITH music like Doom for example, games that do so with AMBIENCE music like Unreal, (one of my favs in that kind of music), and finally a few that create a great atmosphere WITHOUT any music at all… but not this game. A more creepy game like Silent Hill or F.E.A.R., etc is great without music but not this. What? It's more realistic that way? Shhhhrrriiiiiiight… Sorry but I felt as if I was playing a N64 game without the music.

[+]:
-Fun for an hour or so…
-Good graphics & SFX

[-]:
-Great story??? Pffft, big deal!!!
-Tedious switch puzzles & platforming
-Boring fights too & much ammo
-A bit buggy
-Repetitive level design and too many cloned human models
-Needs music

Also Play:
Doom 3 (PC)
F.E.A.R. (PC)
Halo (Series, various platforms)
Quake 2 & 4 (PC)
SIN (PC)
System Shock 1 & 2 (PC)

Overall: 4.7/10

Why, why, why??? Okay, there are always people that may or may not like a game, its all up to taste after all… but even with the games I don't like I can “understand” why other people love it… now this game… don't know…


Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 01/28/10

Game Release: Half-Life (US, 10/31/98)


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