1990 Silicon Dreams Games and Movie Reviews: Half-Life review: part 1

Friday, December 30, 2011

Half-Life review: part 1

Share this post on reddit.

These days you can get pretty much anything on Steam. Back in the 90's though our main source of computer games was your run of the mill PC games shop, and even before that we had computer clubs which were nothing more than a garage fitted with desks and eight to ten computers. The 'boss' as we called them would sit at one of the computers and watch movies or browse the web all day, while taking payments of anywhere from 45 cents to 60 cents per hour for each kid that wanted to play the preinstalled games, which numbered from twenty to as little as seven or eight. The 'club' would feature a glass exhibit of the game boxes in one corner, as proof that they were all legitimate copies.

My first experience of Half-Life was in one of those clubs in my neighbourhood. It was as big as a game could be back then with an exciting multi player dominated almost entirely by the Crossfire and Stalkyard levels with the occasional Undertoe. Half-Life made a great impression on me, it was the second FPS game I'd ever played. The first one was Quake 2 which had one of the most memorable level designs, but Half-Life had a sort of feel to it, as if you were in the story, with its long initial ride through the compounds of Black Mesa, the starting levels being an exploration of the lab's inner workings. Before you could kill anything, like in any other First Person Shooter, you could walk around the offices and simply mess with the environment, start and stop the taps in the bathrooms, ruin somebody's microwave meal, jump on top of things, jump on people's heads and in any way annoy the living Hell out of everyone you meet. The selling point of course was getting your HEV suit and heading off to the test chamber, where Half-Life really starts. Before that you may hear a few bits and pieces of conversation overshadowing what's about to happen, and even just before you enter, you witness an electrical board exploding in the face of a couple scientists. After the experiment takes place, there's no doubt that some serious action is waiting for you on the other side of the rubble and smoke, and the whole experience is punctuated not only by the alien invasion from the planet Xen, but by the army trying to silence any witnesses on the site, the special ops, and even various malicious pieces of broken equipment like high powered lasers cutting through the floor and walls, security turrets that have gone into kill-on-site mode, fan blades, broken cables, pieces of the outlying architecture rolling about.

Throughout the whole game there's a sense that nearly everything and everyone is out there to kill you, with the rare exception of your colleagues. And to top it all off most of them are turning into zombies.

The first few levels of the game are your run of the mill laboratory setting, where you're trying to make your way out through a maze of pipes, elevator shafts and corridors, your only weapons being a crowbar, a pistol and later on a shotgun and some grenades. The ammo in the game is sparse owing to the survival-horror atmosphere the game aims at, but if you shoot strait and learn which weapons are most effective against which enemies it shouldn't be a problem to clear through it. The occasional puzzles involve jumping and climbing through the broken lab sections, using buttons to open doors, pushing crates to get to high places, etc. Later on in the game it deviates a bit from the labs into some industrial looking settings, like various access shafts and the final few levels are set in the world of Xen, where you have to face the final boss, which just so happens to be a huge alien baby-like creature with some strange physics-bending powers to hover above the ground, teleport you away from itself and throw balls of energy at you.

The overall Half-Life experience was then that you were completely screwed, something that sort of repeats itself in Half-Life 2, although compared to it, the Half-Life 2 world seems a bit more structured, despite being ran down, with the aliens having settled in and assumed a level of control over the human population. If you've only played the second part of the game, you'd be surprised to find out that the Vertigaunts were not always friendly. In fact in the first game, they are one of the first enemies you meet, and the explanation for their latter conversion is that in the simplest of terms they were about as bewildered to find themselves being teleported en-masse to your world, as you were to find them popping out of the walls and ceilings.

to be continued


Post a Comment

Recommended Post Slide Out For Blogger


Reviews Games Miscellaneous Movies Updates WoW Blizzard comics Mists of Pandaria beta Diablo 3 Minecraft Site News World of Warcraft Diablo TV Youtube Channel Drama Fallout Hack and Slash RPG Baldurs Gate Bethesda Diablo III Gaming annual pass beta codes 1999 Andrei Tarkovsky Arkady Strugatsky Art Battle Royale Diablo 3 Release Date Gametrailers Humble Bundle Lars Von Trier MoP mounts Mojang Music Pandaria Mounts Pandas S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Stalker 1979 Star Wars The Hunger Games battle.net chuck palahniuk fight club iPad racing 2011 4th edition Adam Adamowicz Ally McBeal Alterac Valley Announcement Apple Archer Armour Set Battleground Black Isle Blog Boris Strugatsky Breaking Dawn Charity Colin McRae Rally 2 Countdown Cruel Intentions Culture Daniel Craig Darren Aronofsky Dungeons and Dragons Enhanced Edition Expansion FOX FPS Faction Mounts First Impressions Gameplay Habbo How To Inception Infinity Engine Irvine Welsh Isle of Conquest Jim Carrey Lesson of the burning scroll Let's Play Literature Max Payne Melancholia Melancholia 2011 Minecraft 1.2 Mirror Mirror MoP Open Beta Weekend Overhaul Games PIPA Parody Protect IP Act Raise Dead Raymond Reddit Reddit This Reese Witherspoon Related Posts Roller Coaster Tycoon SOPA Sarah Michelle Gellar Sci-Fi Screenshots Severance: Blade of Darkness Shadowy Figure Skyrim Stalker Starting Quest Stop Online Piracy Act Sweden TPS The Devil Wears Prada The New Girl Training Bell Trainspotting Travel Twilight Tyrael's Charger Wandering Isles Weekend YogCast animated. series brad pitt david fincher edward norton features giveaway gog.com good old games helena bonham carter hunter thompson johny depp novel planescape torment priest PvP set rum diary terms and conditions the lesson of dry fur the matrix woody allen