In 1998, Half-Life was the meeting place of cutting-edge graphics, storyline (which may not have been in-depth; but it was still quite good), and finely honed gameplay. Though there weren’t many tracks, even the music was quite good and it matched the intensity of the game quite well.
True, you may have been shooting aliens and soldiers in other games. Half-Life wasn’t a game-changer in that sense. What made it stand out was the fact that there seemed to be a great emphasis on balance, careful attention to weapon selection, and an AI that wasn’t completely stupid. When you realize that all of these components were wrapped in a shiny graphical coating, you begin to see why it was so well-received.
From that standpoint, multiplayer was probably a no-brainer for Valve. Goldeneye 007 may have been a party favorite around that time, but soon it would be overtaken by a game like Half-Life, and if not Half-Life then Team Fortress or Counterstrike (if you had a PC and a LAN party to attend). I would still gladly play Half-Life deathmatch any day, especially if we’re talking Severian’s Mod.
The graphics certainly aren’t cutting-edge anymore. We have to admit that. In its time, however, Half-Life was a graphical wonder, and it definitely opened the door to many games in the FPS genre.
You don’t even have to go much further back in history to see that games like Quake and Duke Nukem 3D were dominated by dark textures, maze-like maps and pixilated sprites. The open-ended maps in Half-Life were refreshing; finally we were out of the dark underground tombs and into the world.
The Half-Life gameplay is classic. Where the Quake series may have put more emphasis on speed, Half-Life put more emphasis on smoothness and realism. By today’s standards it’s kind of laughable, of course. However, the HEV-suit-wearing Gordon Freeman (the protagonist) could be hurt by hazardous gas and toxic waste. If you wanted to restore his health or armor, you had to use the recharge stations available at various intervals. He could jump, use a flashlight, and break through crates with a crowbar. It was awesome.
Even though there isn’t a lot of music in Hal-Life, what little there is really matches the intensity of the game. I guess it essentially amounts to Techno, but they made effective use of the contrast between long stretches of quietness or eeriness to all-out war, which they revved up with frantic electronic beats.
Yeah, I know I’m biased. Who isn’t? I like Half-Life, and I like the games Valve produces. I think talking about it has made me want to play it again. Anybody up for a deathmatch session?
AS Rating: (10 / 10)