Video Game Thoughts: Half-Life

Half-Life was a 1998 first-person shooter by Valve Corporation for the PC. My first experience with Half-Life was at a friend’s house in high school. It was like watching a movie. The character was stuck in a little tram going to work, but the player could look out the windows to see other people doing their work. A lot of these were hints of later encounters players would have in the game. Meanwhile credits would fade in and out with names of the people that had made the game. Also, an intercom system could be heard giving out various news and instructions to workers. It was put together so well we couldn’t help but keep playing. We only got a little ways into the game before I had to go home.

After a few months when my friend was done with it, he let me borrow the game. I had an absolute blast playing. The game took place in an underground research base. One the experiments the character was working on backfired somehow causing aliens to appear. As I played, I found out this wasn’t an ordinary research facility. There were all kinds of secret things going on. I kept wanting to play to see what else there was hidden in this base. The graphics and sound were both superb, but what was so amazing about this came was this story. No other first-person shooter game I had played ever had any kind of detailed story like this. I guess there was Goldeneye 007, but that was based on a movie. The developers of Half-Life, on the other hand, created their own unique story from scratch. I couldn’t get enough of it.

Half-Life game was close to perfection. The only flaw it had was that there were several platforming sections. These were areas that required the player to jump on platforms or crawl around ledges. They were frustrating, tedious, and out of place in a first-person shooter. When the player has a first-person view, they can’t see where their character’s feet are. It is too easy to misjudge the distance of the character’s jumps and fall down a crevice. On ledges, it was hard to give the character just enough movement to get on the ledge without going too far and falling off.

Other than that one flaw, I consider Half-Life to be my favorite first-person shooter of all time. I don’t normally like first-person shooters because they usually have a focus on competitive play. Not Half-Life. There was a multiplayer mode called Half-Life Deathmatch, but no one bought Half-Life for multiplayer. It was made primarily to be a single player game. This was clear by the amount of work that went into the story. Very few first-person shooters have gone this route. It was rare back then and still rare today, so in general I avoid first-person shooters. Half-Life was one of the few acceptable ones, so I will always appreciate what Valve did.

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