Review by creepcolony

"Over-rated Game"

Half-Life came out in 1998, and it is considered by many to be the best FPS ever made. It has won a ton of awards and today it is by far the most popular FPS (mainly due to Counter-Strike). In my opinion, this game does not deserve all the praise that it has received.

Graphics – 9/10
This is Half-Life's strongest point. It has amazing graphics for a game made in 1998. Everything is nicely detailed and even old computers can run this game with high frame rates. Even today the game looks good. With the Half-Life HD (High Definition) pack, the graphics look much better and are comparable to those of today's games. With the HD pack, the Barnies (security guards in Half-Life) don't look pale and blocky, and the zombies look extra freaky. The HD pack comes with Half-Life: Blue Shift and I highly recommend you get it.

There are two reasons why I give the graphics a 9 instead of a 10. The first reason is the in-game loading. Whenever you enter a new area, the game loads for a few seconds. This is a little annoying, although it isn't too bad. The second reason is that there are very few options for the graphics in the game. For example, other than resolution, the only graphical settings you can change for the game are screen size, gamma, and glare reduction. You can't change detail level or anything like that. Still, it isn't a major problem since Half-Life can run fine on almost any computer.

Sound – 4/10
Half-Life’s sound isn’t too bad. Most of the sound effects are actually pretty good. However, a few of the sounds are bad, especially the sound of the MP5. It sounds really weak and wimpy, and you will be hearing it a lot since you will be using it quite often and it is the primary weapon of the Marines. However, the HD pack changes the MP5 sound, which makes it sound much better than the old one.

Although most of the sound affects are good, there isn’t much variety. Each type of Alien makes the same noise when they die. You also hear the same weird sound every time you are in a duct, which gets annoying. Another thing I don’t like about the sound is the Marine voices. They are always garbled which makes them really hard to understand.

The primary reason why I give sound a low score is the music. There isn’t any. I don’t remember hearing any music at all in the game. There is no music at the main screen, no music in the game, and no music in the ending. Boring….

Controls – 2/10
There are a bunch of reasons why I have given Half-Life such a low score for controls. One of them is the weapon changing system. Each time you want to change a weapon, you must first select the weapon, and then hit your fire button to switch to it. This is annoying and makes it hard to quickly change weapons while in battle. It would have been much better if the player didn’t have to hit the fire button to switch to the gun. Another bad thing about controls is the crosshair. There isn’t ANY option to change the crosshair, so you must be able to live with the default crosshair. As any avid FPS player would know, the crosshair is very important in your ability to aim. It would have been nice if you could change it. Also, auto-aim is ON by default. This is really stupid and auto-aim shouldn’t even have been an option in the first place. What the heck was Valve thinking?

Another major control issue is the sniper rifle…or rather, crossbow. Yes, the sniper rifle in the game is actually a tranquilizing crossbow. I don’t know why the heck Valve did this. I mean, not only is it stupid to make a crossbow one of the most powerful weapons in the game, but it is downright retarded to make it the sniper weapon. Since it shoots bolts instead of bullets, it is virtually impossible to snipe moving targets. However, in multiplayer, the Magnum does have a scope and can be used as a sniper rifle. While it is stupid for a handgun to have a scope, it does make it possible to snipe moving targets. Too bad the single player Magnum doesn’t have a scope.

Box pulling is also a pain in Half-Life. To pull a box, you have to face it, hold your use key, and move to drag it. Sounds easy, right? WRONG. The box movement almost seems random while you’re pulling it. Sometimes it moves slowly, and sometimes it will suddenly fly away from you. Very annoying.

Story – 8/10
I feel story is irrelevant to the quality of a game because most games have really bad stories; usually the save-the-world or the rescue-the-person type. Half-Life doesn’t exactly have a story, because the whole game is a story. Everything unfolds as you play the game, which is one of the neat things about Half-Life.

Gameplay – 2/10
Everyone always says Half-Life’s single player gameplay is amazing, but I simply don’t agree. While Half-Life does have some nice elements, like the movie-like story and the NPCs, the actual playing is not very fun. This game is supposed to be a First Person Shooter, but it is more like a First Person Puzzler. There are tons of puzzles in the game, and tons of places to get stuck. I really don’t like shooting games where I spend more time figuring out what to do than actually killing stuff. Some of the parts in the game are really difficult to figure out, such as the part with the huge Tentacles.

When you’re not busy trying to figure out what to do next, you’ll be busy quick saving. Half-Life requires a lot of memorization and knowledge of what is ahead of you. If you don’t know what is coming up, expect to take a lot of damage. Because of this, you will be quick saving and quick loading a lot, which is very annoying.

Another annoying part of the gameplay is the duct crawling. You’ll spend A LOT of time crawling through ducts, which is really stupid. Crouching slowly through dark ducts and being attacked by Headcrabs you can’t even see is not my idea of fun. There is also too much platform jumping in this game, especially on the Xen level. Once you get to Xen, the gravity will make your jumping become very high and erratic, which makes platform jumping even more annoying.

A major problem with Half-Life is the bugs. I have played through the game twice, and both times I have experienced bugs. They weren’t little graphical glitches or anything; they were major bugs that affected gameplay. The bug I encountered the first time was with Gonarch, one of the bosses. I won’t spoil anything, but I got to this part where Gonarch was supposed to do something, but he/she didn’t. I went crazy trying to figure out what the heck was going on. I eventually had to restart the level to procede. The bug I encountered the second time I played was when a scientist didn’t open a door when he was supposed to. I again went crazy trying to figure out what was going on, and I again had to restart that part. If I encountered major bugs both times I have played through Half-Life, I can only imagine how many other bugs this game must have.

Replayability – 7/10
This game is pretty long, and may take you a couple weeks to beat it the first time. After the first time however, you will probably be able to beat it in a couple days. Luckily, since Half-Life is so popular, there are a ton of mods and levels you can download for it.

Final Recommendation
While Half-Life is not that good, it is extremely popular. Since it is so cheap, there is no reason not to buy it. However, you should buy it mainly for its multiplayer mods, particularly Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat. Counter-Strike is a mod that pits terrorists against counter-terrorists and Day of Defeat is a World War II mod. I don’t like Counter-Strike but tons of people do. Day of Defeat is OK, but I prefer other WWII shooters. Don’t buy Half-Life for its single player because you will be disappointed. Without a walkthrough, you will be frustrated beyond words.

If you do choose to buy Half-Life, get the Half-Life Platinum Collection, which includes Half-Life: Game of the Year Edition, Counter-Strike, Team Fortress Classic, Opposing Force, and Blue Shift. Blue Shift includes the HD pack, which I highly recommend because it improves the graphics and sound of Half-Life.

Overall Score – 5/10

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 11/16/03

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