Review by Bobo The Clown

Reviewed: 09/17/00 | Updated: 09/17/00

One Of The Few Times You'll Be Stalked By Monsters And Like It... Well, Hopefully

Every once in a while, there comes a game like DOOM that makes you want to leap away from your computer screen, running down city streets screaming obscenities after a demon claws you to death, scaring the #### out of you and turning your new orange boxers into slighty old brown boxers. This is one of those games.

In Half-Life, you play the role of Gordon Summers, the newest scientist at Black Mesa Nuclear Installation. Unlike the usual first person shooter, Half-Life has a GREAT story, with twists and turns coming in the game. I won't divulge them here, but the game centers around an experiment gone bad. This releases many mutated lifeforms in Installation, and you'll have to fight your way out.

Luckily, you don't have to use your fists. Weaponry is found in realistic places, such as barracks and ammo rooms spread around. Your choice range from a crowbar to a machine gun to a shotgun to hand grenades. More exotic weaponry is also available, of course.

It's all needed to dispatch the nasty baddies that will savagely rip into you. The AI is some of the most fericious in any first person shooter. The enemies are relentless, sneak attacking you from shadows with claws flawing and electricity shooting.

All of the enemies have the potential to scare the hell out of you. None of them are particularly strong if you have the right weaponry, but they can cause massive damage. The first enemies you'll encounter will cause memories of the great ''Aliens'' line of movies. They'll jump up and try to eat your head out, like the face-eaters. And remember, these are the ''easy'' enemies.

There's a variety of actions you can preform besides the standard in first person shooters (shoot, sidestep/strafe, jump). Controls are well-done, and allow you to customize. Therefore, it's easy to control your character whether you're playing with the mouse or the keyboard. The only new action is that fact that there's a primary and secondary attack for some weapons.

For example, with the primary attack, the shotgun will only use one shell. If you use the secondary attack, two shells will be used. The reload time will be increased, but it's much more powerful. The other weapons also have secondary attacks, but some such as the crowbar don't.

Half-Life is fairly impressive graphically. It has since been passed by games such as Quake 3 Arena and Unreal Tournament, but in 1998, it was very far advanced and only approached by Unreal. There's no pixelation at close-range, unlike the Quake games. There's several resolution modes that can be changed, varying on your system and video card's speed levels.

The sound in Half-Life is outstanding. Guns click when you run out of ammo, you can hear clips reloading, and you can hear that monster leaping out of the vent as he makes his way to claw your heart out of chest. Playing with the sound on is vital if you want to survive, and thankfully, it's a strong point of the game.

Half-Life handles multiplayer ping (the time it takes to get data from a remote computer) pretty well. It's more streamlined then Quake and Unreal, allowing for faster gameplay with the low-speed connections (28.8 to 56k modem range). There's several different options for multiplayer, ranging from the normal free-for-all Deathmatch, to the classic schoolyard game Capture the Flag, to Team Fortress (see Quake Team Fortress if you want a review, they're basically the same game). If you liked the single player game, you'll probably love multiplayer.

The requirements for Half-Life are flexible. The minimum listed on the box is 166mhz, 32meg ram, and 4 meg video ram. To be honest, I can't imagine anyone playing on that sort of system. I'm running a 233mhz, 64meg ram with a Voodoo 3 and it runs full-speed barely on the medium range graphics options. If you want to enjoy Half-Life, a 200mhz computer is a must. You'll also need 500 meg open hard drive space, and a 28.8 modem at least for multiplayer gaming.

If there's an annoying thing about Half-Life, it would have to be the HUGE update patches. Granted, you don't need them to play the game; I got through the entire game without patching, it's not that buggy. But if you want to play Multiplayer, you have to go through around 50 megs worth of patching. It's another 69 meg if you want to play Counterstrike, the hottest modification around for Half-Life.

Get Half-Life. Now. It's an outstanding game, and it's available at many places for only 20 bucks. This is the best game since Starcraft.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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