"When was the last time YOU had fun blowing up a gigantic baby?"

Half life is a genre that has totally revamped the definition of ‘First Person Shooter’ by introducing aspects like fear that were unseen before it’s dawn. The series had revolutionary graphics and AI superior to that of any game of it’s time. The game has new mods coming out every day that contend with current greats such as Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Battlefield 1942. The fluent story line and creative guns make for a great single player mode, and even when you’re finished with that, there are countless mods that will keep you busy for as long as you want. Moving on to the main review:

Graphics/Visuals: 7
By today’s standards the graphics are dated. They were great back in 1998 but four years later they aren’t as good as new games like the Medal of Honor series. But that doesn’t mean that it’s all bad. The creative monster design will make you rethink about taking the path you just did. The sky textures are normally just a New Mexico brown, but most of the time you spend indoors. The guns look great and the creativity put into their designs really shows. The explosions are cool looking and when you encounter electricity it’s pretty cool to see the electricity jump around like lightning. The voice/audio collaboration is okay if you have an average video card, otherwise their lips are out of sync.

Sound: 10
This is part of where the game shines. The audio quality is amazing and you will notice. The voices are superb and the music is great even though it only kicks in sometimes. The scientists sound like scientists and if I knew what a sci-fi alien sounded like, I would be able to compare the two, but let me assure you it’s scary to hear a bunch of homing bullets closing onto you. People scream in an eerie way and it doesn’t sound good. When you encounter military squads, they even use real military commands. Valve even went far enough to make sounds for you crawling through vents. And even though security guards sound threatening, there’s nothing better than hearing him say ‘Got one’.

Gameplay: 9
Well, this game is long, fun, and challenging. The game challenges your mind as well as your accuracy. During many points in the game you will find Med Packs that will allow you to refill your normally low health and convince you to continue. The challenge of some puzzles is merely flipping switches, while others involve tossing grenades into a cooling fan to loosen debris clinging to the ceiling. The aliens provide a challenge and your large arsenal of weapons provides many creative ways to dispose of each one. Each enemy reacts differently to each gun. If you want to survive the final levels, you better not use the machine gun. That’s used for taking on the treacherous marines and Special Ops. Your intelligence matters, unlike some run-and-gun shooters. You have to find the weak spots on the bosses you encounter and most of them don’t involve shooting a rocket at their face. The only drawback is that the game’s plot is very nonlinear. You are an intern, an experiment goes wrong, and you have to escape.

Fear Factor: 10
This game will scare you. Most of it is either Jump-out-of-the-wall-BOO tricks or ‘I’ve only got 15 health, and I know there’s a monster around the corner.’ But either way, the game will scare you. I played this game at 4 A.M. after drinking coffee because it was too much fun to stop. Every command you hear from the marines will make you jump and every alien scream will put you on the brink of wetting your pants. At least when it’s 4 A.M. and every one is asleep except for you, the aliens, and your machine gun. Uh-oh. You just ran out of ammo.

Rent or Buy? Buy
If you take the word of some guy you’ve never met before… buy this game. It is not only fun, entertaining, and scary, but it’s also original and unique.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/26/02, Updated 11/26/02

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