Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Half-Life Review & Storyline

Half-Life box art
I think PC gaming really got going when Half-Life came out. A Valve game released for Microsoft Windows November 19, 1998 in America. Published and developed by Sierra Entertainment. As of 14 July 2006, the Half-Life franchise has sold over 20 million units. Half-Life was followed by the 2004 sequel Half-Life 2, which also received critical acclaim and praise. Half-Life has had a notable cultural impact with its community mods and sequels spawning a large fanbase and other praising communities. Half-Life is a first-person shooter that requires the player to perform combat tasks and puzzle solving to advance through the game. Unlike its peers at the time, Half-Life used scripted sequences, such as a Bullsquid ramming down a door, to advance major plot points. Compared to most first-person shooters of the time, which relied on cut-scenes to detail their plotlines, Half-Life's story is told entirely by means of scripted sequences, keeping the player in control of the first-person viewpoint. In line with this, the game has no cut-scenes, and the player rarely loses the ability to control Gordon, who never speaks and is never actually seen in the game; the player sees "through his eyes" for the entire length of the game. Half-Life has no "levels"; it instead divides the game by chapters, whose titles flash on the screen as the player moves through the game, I do miss cutscenes though. Progress through the world is continuous, except for breaks for loading and when the game has to save. The game regularly integrates puzzles, such as navigating a maze of conveyor belts, (which is a pain) or using nearby boxes to build a small staircase to the next area the player must travel to, also annoying. Some puzzles involve using the environment to kill an enemy, like turning on a steam valve to spray hot steam at their enemies. There are few "bosses" in the conventional sense, where the player defeats a superior opponent by direct confrontation. Instead, such organisms occasionally define chapters, and the player is generally expected to use the terrain, rather than firepower, to kill the "boss". Late in the game, the player receives a "long jump module" for the HEV suit, which allows the player to increase the horizontal distance and speed of jumps by crouching before jumping. The player must rely on this ability to navigate various platformer-stylejumping puzzles in Xen toward the end of the game. The game is entirely campaign with no multiplayer, which is fine cause this is a really long game. Most of the game's setting takes place in a remote desert area of New Mexico in the Black Mesa Research Facility, a fictional complex that bears many similarities to both the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Area 51, at some point between the years 2000 and 2009. The game's protagonist is the theoretical physicist Gordon Freeman, an MIT graduate. While I personally think is cool, that you get to be someone that hasn't had years of combat experience or handled a gun before, its a new experience Freeman becomes one of the survivors of an experiment at Black Mesa that goes horribly wrong, when an unexpected "resonance cascade"—a fictitious phenomenon —rips dimensional seams, devastating the facility. Aliens from another dimension known as Xen subsequently enter the facility through these dimensional seams (an event known as the "Black Mesa incident"). As Freeman tries to make his way out of the ruined facility, he soon discovers that he is caught between two sides: the hostile aliens and the Hazardous Environment Combat Unit, a U.S. Marine Corps special operations unit dispatched to cover up the incident by eliminating the organisms, as well as Dr. Freeman and the other surviving Black Mesa personnel. Throughout the game, a mysterious figure known (but not actually referred to in-game) as the "G-Man" regularly appears, and seems to be monitoring Freeman's progress. Ultimately, Freeman uses the cooperation of surviving scientists and security officers to work his way towards the mysterious "Lambda Complex" of Black Mesa (signified with the Greek "λ" character), where a team of survivors teleport him to the alien world Xen to kill the Nihilanth, the semi-physical entity keeping Xen's side of the dimensional rift open, really complicated to explain.  The rest is history, which you can find out for yourself, you can get the game on Steam for $9.99 or get the Playstation 2 version, which I haven't played personally. Hope you've enjoyed and I will see you Thursday. This has been Jacob Arnold, signing off. 
Official 1998 Gamespot Trailer 

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