What's So Great About Half Life?

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Avatar image for Maverick6585
#1 Posted by Maverick6585 (220 posts) -

I mean no disrespect to Valve or any fans of the series. I simply want to know why the games are regarded by many as the best games ever made. Is it the graphics? The storytelling? The gameplay? What sets this series apart from all the rest?

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#4 Edited by Maverick6585 (220 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu: Like I said, I mean no disrespect, and I know I make this thread at the risk of sounding ignorant. I'm looking for a legitimate answer.

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#5 Edited by mastermetal777 (3215 posts) -

@Maverick6585: Most fans hold it in high regard because of its then unique approach to storytelling in video games. It was a game that let the environments and actions tell the story as much as some of the dialogue did. Not to mention the fact that the protagonist was silent so players could feel like they were the hero instead of playing a written character.

Me, personally? I think very little of it--and by that, I mean the environments are the best part of the whole thing--works as well as people think. The main problem? Gordon Freeman's incorrigible silence. Why do players even try having a conversation with him if he's not going to respond at all? All it does is make the dialogue more awkward and breaks the immersion when it happens. If he either talked or you had options in dialogue, that would've been okay in my book, but to be completely silent in this kind of game is just jarring.

And as for the immersion argument, he has an established backstory and an iconic appearance. I am not Gordon Freeman, this shell of a man is, and I'm just his puppet master as he awkwardly listens to people trying to get a reaction to him and shoots the bad guys because of course he does.

Oh, and also the gameplay's average, the vehicles control horribly, the gravity gun is a cheap gimmick (though a fun one) and the story is interesting but way too vague for its own good. Sorry, personal opinion over. The answer to the TC's question can be found in the first paragraph if you didn't like my thoughts on what I think is an overrated series.

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#6 Edited by Jacanuk (11591 posts) -

@Maverick6585 said:

I mean no disrespect to Valve or any fans of the series. I simply want to know why the games are regarded by many as the best games ever made. Is it the graphics? The storytelling? The gameplay? What sets this series apart from all the rest?

Halflife is a game that took quantum leaps ahead in the FPS genre, it pretty much laid the foundation for every other fps today, and just to prove how good it was people are still talking about it decades later. Ask most gamers what Halflife is and you wont find a single person who dont know the answer.

And you even prove it today by trying to start a debate about Half-Life.

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#7 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (19564 posts) -

@Maverick6585

Relax... I don't see the big deal about Half Life either... The only great thing Valve has done is PORTAL.

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#8 Edited by Lulu_Lulu (19564 posts) -

Infact I'd actually rather chat to you about Half Life being overated rather than playing it.

Avatar image for Maverick6585
#9 Edited by Maverick6585 (220 posts) -

@Jacanuk said:

@Maverick6585 said:

I mean no disrespect to Valve or any fans of the series. I simply want to know why the games are regarded by many as the best games ever made. Is it the graphics? The storytelling? The gameplay? What sets this series apart from all the rest?

Halflife is a game that took quantum leaps ahead in the FPS genre, it pretty much laid the foundation for every other fps today, and just to prove how good it was people are still talking about it decades later. Ask most gamers what Halflife is and you wont find a single person who dont know the answer.

And you even prove it today by trying to start a debate about Half-Life.

This really helps. I think the reason I never recognized this was that the first FPS I played was Halo 2, and I didn't get really into video games and start appreciating the design aspect until a couple years ago.

@mastermetal777 said:

@Maverick6585: Most fans hold it in high regard because of its then unique approach to storytelling in video games. It was a game that let the environments and actions tell the story as much as some of the dialogue did. Not to mention the fact that the protagonist was silent so players could feel like they were the hero instead of playing a written character.

Me, personally? I think very little of it--and by that, I mean the environments are the best part of the whole thing--works as well as people think. The main problem? Gordon Freeman's incorrigible silence. Why do players even try having a conversation with him if he's not going to respond at all? All it does is make the dialogue more awkward and breaks the immersion when it happens. If he either talked or you had options in dialogue, that would've been okay in my book, but to be completely silent in this kind of game is just jarring.

And as for the immersion argument, he has an established backstory and an iconic appearance. I am not Gordon Freeman, this shell of a man is, and I'm just his puppet master as he awkwardly listens to people trying to get a reaction to him and shoots the bad guys because of course he does.

Oh, and also the gameplay's average, the vehicles control horribly, the gravity gun is a cheap gimmick (though a fun one) and the story is interesting but way too vague for its own good. Sorry, personal opinion over. The answer to the TC's question can be found in the first paragraph if you didn't like my thoughts on what I think is an overrated series.

I agree with you on the lack of a voice from Gordon Freeman.

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#10 Edited by hrt_rulz01 (14348 posts) -

I love everything about it... the storytelling, the characters, the settings, the design of the levels, the graphics for it's time were amazing and just the tone of the game overall still makes it my favourite game of all time.

Sure it has it's faults, but what game doesn't...

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#11 Posted by The_Last_Ride (76371 posts) -

Absolutely nothing, it's overrated crap

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#12 Posted by AutoPilotOn (8655 posts) -

I bet most of the people who say it's overrated didn't play it till later. HL1 came out in the middle of games like quake where the sorry was kill things get key and open door and move. HL felt different with a starting ride on tram to a seemly normal job the.you were put in the middle of action as it happened.

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#13 Posted by Planeforger (17291 posts) -

As revolutionary as the graphics and AI (of the first game) and physics (of the second game) and facial animations and set pieces and storytelling were...it's all about how they were designed.

Simlly put, Valve are masters of their craft. They're perfectionists. They don't just build games and release them to the public - they'll scrap concepts and redesign levels for years until they get it right. I'd seriously suggest listening to the audio commentaries of their games to see what I mean, since many of their great design decisions are completely invisible to the player.

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#14 Posted by AutoPilotOn (8655 posts) -

@Planeforger: I played a leaked early alpha of HL2 way back when and it was pretty cool. They had a lot of things they were planning on adding in the game and lots of things were missing to be added later. It was neat experience to see it that early in development.

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#15 Posted by Yoshi9000 (479 posts) -

I never played half life 1, but playing half life 2 and episodes from orange box about 5 months ago, it was one of the best single player shooter experiences I've had in a while. I mean come on, most shooters released now a days have generic and uninspired level design that is completely linear. Even though half life 2 is a linear and scripted game, I still found myself questioning where to go next and being surprised wherever the level design lead me to. So for me, what made the game so fun was the clever level design. The atmosphere is also a highlight. The only overrated aspect of the game I agree with is the story, but even still, the way to story is told is fun and keeps you engaged, despite the plot being pretty standard. This is my opinion.

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#16 Posted by Socijalisticka (1555 posts) -

Half-Life is the birth of the modern day scripted-linear storytelling-driven action game, with an emphasis on "realistic gunplay" with a high-lethality weapon-set and smart enemy AI. Gone are the exploration, diverse weapon-set, speed, and level design of DOOM. It's both a blessing and a curse for the FPS genre and video games as a whole.

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#17 Edited by alim298 (2747 posts) -

Half life 3 confirmed.

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#18 Posted by Minishdriveby (10520 posts) -

Here's Gamasutra's take on its influence:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/130249/the_gamasutra_quantum_leap_awards_.php?page=9

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#19 Posted by watchdogsrules (541 posts) -

thank you, i've i always wanted to know why people are so in love with these games

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#20 Posted by mastermetal777 (3215 posts) -

@watchdogsrules: I want to blame nostalgia, but it's hard with such well-designed levels overall. I just hate how the story and characters are presented, as well as hating the AI's stupidity.

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#21 Edited by dakan45 (18819 posts) -

The half life series are a benchmark on how to make a linear experiance. You never do the same thing, you fight a bunch of enemis then you jump on some platform, then you solve puzzles, fight bigger enemies then you go to a tottally dififrent area.

Where most games are so godamn repettive, the half life series are an adventure worth playing , while most games result being the same after a while.

Also when either of those games came out they had some of the best graphics, the best character animations and the best physics.

I do think hl2 is overrated, not hl1 though, still if you take a look at halo 2 that came out in the same year and compare it to hl2, you can only laugh your ass off at how pathetic halo 2 is by comparison. Halo 2 was a bunch of linear corridors that you run towards the finish (arbitar flood leveles) wiith trully horrible shooting mechanics, too weak and the level design was identical, there was no platforming or variety in the level design just more shooting of samey bad guys.

The moment it became all about consoles, thats when the fps genre turned into GARBAGE.

Sorry but its true, all fps on consoles at that time where crappy corridor shooters without anything interesting and when x360 and ps3 came with their multiplayer capabilities and cod, fps shifted to either a scripted 5 hour campaign or another generic modern shooter multiplayer.

They ruined everything. Other games that come close to what hl does are singularity, wolfenstein new order and resistance 2.

@The_Last_Ride Says someone who gave killzone 3 a 9.0 not to mention far cry 3.

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#22 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (19564 posts) -

@dakan45

Repetition is not a bad thing. After all thats what Counter Strike, Quake and Unreal Tournament are built around.

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#23 Posted by dakan45 (18819 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu: they are mp games though. Not singleplayer.

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#24 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (19564 posts) -

@dakan45

I use to play Unreal Tournament against the AI. Anyway I'm drawing a blank on Repetitive Single Player Shooters. But I still maintain repetition is not bad, so long as you got great gameplay.

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#25 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (19564 posts) -

Emphasis on the word Great, because good gameplay is not good enough to repeat... It has to be Great Gameplay, Perfect Core Design.

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#26 Edited by Hizang (2808 posts) -

I never really got into Half Life, I find it so crazy that there is such a high demand for Half Life 3 and not Conkers Bad Fur Day 2!

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#27 Posted by dakan45 (18819 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu: At some point it gets borring i was enjoying bioshock infinite for the first 6 hours then it was the same thing all over, i had to push myself to finish it multiple times same with the last of us.

Wolfenstein on the other hand has al ot of variety, that i kinda wish it was longer and had more shoting where fear does not and its basicly the same gameplay all over.

Half life balanced those things well, the devs themselfs said that they put puzzles so the player can relax and doesnt become fatigued form the constant combat.

To me games like bioshock infniite and tlou could have been 8-10 hours and be fine, they didnt have to drag out their gameplay to 15 hours with copy and pasted gameplay.

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#28 Edited by Lulu_Lulu (19564 posts) -

@dakan45

lol. I never enjoyed Bioshock Infinite to begin with, I really had faith in that game, after seeing that E3 Demo I preorder it, the premium edition no less, I wouldve been perfectly happy if we just got a Bioshock 3, I was pissed at Infinite... I still play at though believe it or not... Ironic huh ? :p

Anyway I totally agree, theres no need to pad any game for length especially if its not an RPG.

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#29 Edited by kingcrimson24 (824 posts) -

well , both games had AMAZING graphics for their time , both games are perfect in level design and length . I love the combination of shooting and small puzzles . story and the universe is fantastic . also , it shaped the shooter games as we know it now and had a big impact on the storytelling in games .

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#30 Posted by dakan45 (18819 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu: Yeah bioshock infnite was a disaster.

-Hyping features not in the game in the interviews

-Going to tv and hyping the "narrative"

-calling elizabeth's dog ai "revolutionary"

-lead designers leaving the studio

-scraping the game and remaking it. One of the devs said they cut enough contet to make 5 bioshock games.

-fake e3 demos

-delays, delays more delays

-throwing away everything that made bioshock great, nonlinear maps, mutliplat ammo types etc etc

In the end you got a linear repettive shooter with unbalanced combat and a pretentious 2deep4u story. 10/10 best game ever. Seriously the story is a mess, how that narrative is considered good is beyond me. But hey, apparently ken levine didnt want to make a shooter to begin with and now they closed the studio to go make indie games like gone home.

This industry man...its going to the garbage bin. Hey atleast he screw off and went to make the games he wanted and 2k said that they wont abandon the bioshock ip.

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#31 Edited by sukraj (27231 posts) -

I played some of half life 2 but I never completed the game.

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#32 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (19564 posts) -

@dakan45

You know what wouldve made it better ?...... Co-op ! :)

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#33 Posted by dakan45 (18819 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu: i am againest coop....cough cough dead space....but yeah i agree, coop would have made the game better, it is one giant escort mission, it relies about elizabeth throwing stuff, might as well put coop, infact why elizabeth cant be like e3 2011 and have some actual usefull powers? Seriously throw some plasma balls and what she pulls out of all those tears? junk, pull a freaking laser gun already, you can go to the future so why not. But nooo they decided to cut all the interesting stuff for more repettive gameplay.

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#34 Edited by kingcrimson24 (824 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu: I'll just say this : Bioshock infinite had the best story line I ever saw in a video game . but gameplay vise , it was a let down .

if Infinite had it's mind blowing story combined with original Bioshock's gameplay , it would be one of the best games of all time .

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#35 Posted by mastermetal777 (3215 posts) -

@kingcrimson24: I disagree on the gameplay front, because I didn't like switching between plasmids and weapons in the original game. I rather enjoyed the more streamlined, faster-paced feel of Infinite, combined with the skyline stuff.

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#36 Edited by Darkmoone1 (2845 posts) -

I honestly can't understand why people love it. I tried it years ago and just could not immerse myself into any of the Half Life games or stay interested to keep playing.

I don't know....it just felt so meh....

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#37 Edited by Jacanuk (11591 posts) -

@The_Last_Ride said:

Absolutely nothing, it's overrated crap

Sure, and it didn´t provide a quantum leap for FPS and noone even plays CS today.

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#38 Posted by Jag85 (10679 posts) -

Back when it was released in 1998, Half-Life was regarded as the greatest FPS of all time. However, it's been imitated so many times by later FPS titles that today it's difficult to appreciate just how great it was for its time.

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#39 Edited by The_Last_Ride (76371 posts) -

@Jacanuk said:

@The_Last_Ride said:

Absolutely nothing, it's overrated crap

Sure, and it didn´t provide a quantum leap for FPS and noone even plays CS today.

perhaps on pc, but nowhere else

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#40 Posted by Jacanuk (11591 posts) -

@The_Last_Ride said:

@Jacanuk said:

@The_Last_Ride said:

Absolutely nothing, it's overrated crap

Sure, and it didn´t provide a quantum leap for FPS and noone even plays CS today.

perhaps on pc, but nowhere else

Well, the FPS games on console are pretty much the same as on pc, so your point?

You might sit down today and say that Half Life is overrated but if you look at history and what was before and what came as a result of that game, it's just dumb to claim that at the time it didn´t pretty much make FPS a genre people wanted to play.

Does that mean its the best game ever, no of course not no game is, since luckily gaming advances each year and each game improves most of the time.

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#41 Posted by SovietsUnited (2457 posts) -

The first game is the ultimate single-player FPS. It's a revolutionary game with brilliant design, which holds up even today.
Say whatever you want about Half Life 2, however, not a big fan

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#42 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (19564 posts) -

@dakan45

Thats what I'm talking about ! :D

Oh hey, remember those those different ammo types from Bioshock....... I hate those, there was really nothing significan't about them except for the Grenade Launcher, thats the only one that made sense, the rest of them just to provide a false sense of Depth and Strategy.

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#43 Edited by Lulu_Lulu (19564 posts) -

@kingcrimson24

Bioshock Infinite's Plot was broken, like really really broken.

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#44 Posted by alim298 (2747 posts) -

Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't it system shock 2 that set the bar for shooters to come?

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#45 Edited by SovietsUnited (2457 posts) -

@alim298 said:

Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't it system shock 2 that set the bar for shooters to come?

Not really, even in SS2 you can see the scripted, sequential design HL popularized.

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#46 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (19564 posts) -

@mastermetal777

Hey you noticed that too ! :) I thought it was just me.

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#47 Edited by EPICCOMMANDER (1103 posts) -
@SovietsUnited said:

The first game is the ultimate single-player FPS. It's a revolutionary game with brilliant design, which holds up even today.

Say whatever you want about Half Life 2, however, not a big fan

This. I consider the first half-life to be 5x more enjoyable than half-life 2 and it's expansions are.

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#48 Posted by mastermetal777 (3215 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu: Of course I noticed. I know too much about BioShock not to notice. However, I'm still conflicted as to which game I like more. They're tied in my book.

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#49 Posted by cyborg100000 (2905 posts) -

I think what makes the HL series so popular is how adventurous they feel. The level design changes where you're always in an interesting new area, yet you feel as though you're getting somewhere with nothing cutting the transitions. That coupled with a big sense of being in the moment. There's no big fat objective mark or a map, it's you making your way through the game with vague hints of what to do throughout. That along with being a well crafted all-round game with imaginative characters, story and level designs with fun no-nonsense gun-play. What's not to like.

You'll notice too that very few FPS games are as well made. There's usually something major lacking. Halo suffered from a lot of repetitious level design and few memorable characters. STALKER lacked polish and a strong story. FEAR, same as Halo, but with drab warehouses. System Shock 2 and all the other Shocks suffered from weak combat. Unreal suffered from lack of characters or story.

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#50 Posted by The_Last_Ride (76371 posts) -

@Jacanuk said:

@The_Last_Ride said:

@Jacanuk said:

@The_Last_Ride said:

Absolutely nothing, it's overrated crap

Sure, and it didn´t provide a quantum leap for FPS and noone even plays CS today.

perhaps on pc, but nowhere else

Well, the FPS games on console are pretty much the same as on pc, so your point?

You might sit down today and say that Half Life is overrated but if you look at history and what was before and what came as a result of that game, it's just dumb to claim that at the time it didn´t pretty much make FPS a genre people wanted to play.

Does that mean its the best game ever, no of course not no game is, since luckily gaming advances each year and each game improves most of the time.

i would claim that games like Doom, Wolfenstein, Battlefield 1942 and others are way more important than Half Life ever were