Yet another first person shooter that redefined the genre.

User Rating: 10 | Half-Life PC
Gameplay: 10
Graphics: 9
Storyline: 10
Sounds: 10
Multiplayer: -
Impression: 10

Score: 9.8
GS Score: 10

*Because I played only a bit of its multiplayer, I won't be bothering giving a score for the multiplayer or review it.

+ Storyline
+ Superb graphics (in its times)
+ Sounds
+ Great AI
+ Ingenious puzzles
+ Weapons
+ Makes you want more
+ G-Man
+ Crowbar

- Linear
- Most of the characters in the game are identical
- Few types of aliens
- Some minor bugs


Every now and then a game comes along that has such a significant impact on the gaming industry as to redefine a specific genre. While some genres remain relatively stable, few have seen as much innovation as that of the first-person shooter. This is probably because the genre is still fairly young, beginning with "Wolfenstein 3D" back in the day and then "Doom", which defined the genre and paved the way for other games which used the same formula. Most of these games were focused around navigating through corridors and shooting anything that moved with an assortment of weapons at your disposal. Sometimes keys would need to be acquired before moving on to the next area, usually through the deaths of powerful monsters holding or guarding them.

- Redefined The Genre

Half-Life redefined the genre by doing things differently. Instead of mindlessly gunning down wave after wave of monsters, the game makes you think by impeding your progress through the application of several clever and dangerous puzzles instead of the usual locked door and key system that Doom started. In Half-Life, players are required to think on their feet and react quickly to enemies, which can teleport in randomly as well as blockade themselves in areas with lots of cover. Couple this with an intriguing story that is engaging and unfolds as you play without ever being truly revealed and you have on your hands the science fiction phenomena known as Half-Life.

- Another Normal Day In Black Mesa -

The Half-Life story begins with Gordon Freeman, a theoretical physicist and graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is just an average day for the scientist, despite coming into work a little late. Today is the day he is scheduled to help the scientists in the research lab test a pure sample of some hazardous material of unknown origin. Upon setting the material in the test chamber however, things go horribly wrong, and the energy funneled into the material triggers a catastrophic "resonance cascade" event that not only destroys the lab, but opens a portal to another world that draws the attention of unfriendly aliens. Having survived the destruction of the labs, Freeman must make his way through the ruined Black Mesa complex in the midst of an alien invasion and try to figure out how to put a stop to it. Complicating matters are the U.S. marines, which have been given orders to kill anyone found at the labs.

- Mystery -

The first game in what would become an extensive series in an epic science fiction story, little tidbits as to what actually is going on are revealed as you play, leaving the player to discover the story as he or she progresses through the game. The end result is that several facets are still open to interpretation as the story is never fully revealed to Dr. Freeman (and thus, you, the player). Possibilities as to why the aliens are invading are hinted at, but never revealed, even as you face the mastermind behind the invasion at the end of the game. And then there is the enigmatic G-Man, who can be found behind the scenes occasionally as you make your way through the game. It is clear that he has had a hand in the events leading up to the resonance cascade, though exactly how or why is never revealed. There are many theories regarding the whole story behind the Half-Life series of games, and speculation among gamers of this popular series is rampant, leading more credence to the game's status as one of the legendary ones.

- The Crowbar Is Your Closest Friend -

Initially armed with only a crowbar, Gordon picks up an assortment of weapons along the way, ranging from the standard-issue to the highly experimental. Each gun has certain effectiveness in each of the situations that you might face, and you will find some of them easier to use than others in certain situations. Most weapons also have a secondary fire mode. For example, the shotgun has a double-blast that empties two shots at once, the machine gun comes equipped with a grenade launcher, and the radioactive gauss gun can be charged (but don't overcharge it)! There are frag grenades, trip-mines, and plastic explosives available in backpack form. Even alien weapons are picked up, such as the hornet gun, which fires homing darts that recharge themselves, and bizarre alien "mites" that can be thrown like grenades and savagely bite anyone in their path.

- From Small To Big -

The enemies are varied and lethal. Aliens encountered are completely bizarre, and clearly not of Earth. Tentacled alligators that spit acid at you from a distance, swine-like things that emit piercing sonic explosions and have a single giant eye instead of a head, three armed aliens that command electricity and the iconic headcrabs are just some of the otherworldly aliens you will encounter in this game. Even tougher are the marines sent in by the United States, which use squad tactics and cover. The AI on the marines is impressive, and they will use everything at their disposal to make sure you're dead. The game environments are dark and eerie, and you'll find yourself jumping at shadows as you are forced to navigate through ventilation systems and backrooms with illumination provided only by your flashlight. Environmental hazards abound and some of the game's clever puzzles will need to be worked to get around them.

- Puzzles -

Speaking of which, there are no keys to find in this game. Instead, along with the usual plethora of enemies, you will encounter a series of obstacles that stand in the way. These are the game's puzzles, and where the series really stands out from other first-person shooters. They range from pushing blocks to form makeshift ladders to starting up nuclear reactors or navigating through a trip-mine laden storehouse filled with nuclear warheads! Some of these puzzles will be immediately obvious, while others will make you stop to think about how to work a solution. Since most first-person shooters are mindless gun-fests, the game really scores points for originality here. In fact, it is probably safe to say that Half-Life ended the key system of game play first started by Wolfenstein and Doom. First and third-person shooters today are more dynamic because of it.

- Conclusion -

Valve really hit on a diamond with this game. It has spawned two expansions, "Blue Shift" and "Opposing Force", which tells the story of the Black Mesa incident through the perspectives of other survivors. There has since been a sequel (Half-Life 2 and its episodes) a spin-off (Portal) and an updated reprint (Half-Life: Source). Other games Valve has made using the Half-Life engine have also proven popular, such as the team death match games "Counter Strike" and "Team Fortress". Each of these games are excellent and will probably be covered in future reviews, with the exception of "Half-Life: Source", which is essentially the same game with somewhat enhanced graphics and a slightly better physics engine. Having played both games, I would recommend the source version only to those who haven't already played the game, as veteran gamers looking for new material are only going to be disappointed. Overall, Half-Life is one of the best FPS games in history of gaming and if you ignore it, Freeman will sure break your neck with his almighty crowbar.

Reviewed by: UbberHappyGamer