ECTSHalf-Life Dreamcast Hands-On

Sierra is bringing the award winning PC first-person shooter to the Dreamcast complete with a brand-new Dreamcast exclusive add-on storyline.


Winner of several game-of-the-year awards, Half-Life is coming to the Dreamcast with new character models, an amazing storyline, and a complete new Dreamcast exclusive side story, Blue Shift. And though the resolution on your television isn't as high as those of PC monitors, Half-Life on Dreamcast actually looks better than the PC version. Sierra gave us the opportunity to spend a good amount of time with the game, and we're pleased to say that Half-Life on the Dreamcast has everything you'd want from a console port.

The game has exactly the same storyline and gameplay as the PC version. You play as Gordon Freeman, a scientist at the Black Mesa Research Facility involved in some mysterious experiments. These experiments go awry, and foul alien creatures begin taking over the facility. From there the plot gets more complicated, and you'll find that this isn't your standard first-person shooter. Half-Life Blue Shift puts you in the shoes of a security guard at the Black Mesa complex at the exact same time as the original game. In fact, you'll find that in Blue Shift you'll run into Gordon himself, and will occasionally do things to help him complete his game. Blue Shift has its own storyline, and Barney the security guard has his own compelling reasons to complete the game.

Obviously the biggest change is the graphics. The Dreamcast version of Half-Life has just as many textures and background details as the PC version. The characters look notably better, and there is now a greater variety between the non-player characters that populate Half-Life's world. The visual effects are stunning, offering realistic lighting and particle effects. The only problem with the graphics at this point is the somewhat longer loading time between areas, and the framerate, which suffers at times. However, Sierra assures us that the code hasn't been optimized yet, and the framerate will scream along and the loading times will be as short as possible in the final version. The sound is just as impressive as it was on the PC version - all the characters talk to you in their distinct voices, and the alien creatures make some disturbing sound effects. There wasn't any music in the build we played, but you can be certain Sierra will have some kind of music in the game.

Left-handed players should be able to jump right into Half-Life and start dishing out the pain. Right-handers, however, might have a bit more of a problem with the game. You'll use the traditional buttons to control your characters movement. X and B strafe left and right, and Y and A move your player forward and back. You use the analog stick to control your aim, and the analog shoulder buttons to fire and open doors. Functions like jumping, crouching, and switching weapons are accomplished through the directional pad. Right now the analog aim is a little too touchy, but Sierra promises that there will be a sensitivity option in the settings. The game will also be compatible with the Dreamcast keyboard and mouse, for people who want the proper PC FPS experience.

The thing that made Half-Life so revolutionary was how well it immersed players into its world, and the Dreamcast version of Half-Life looks like it will accomplish that task even better than the PC version did. With better, more believable characters and environments, amazing sound, and a terrifying storyline, Half-Life for the Dreamcast is definitely upping the ante on console first-person shooters.

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