Valve's Half-Life began one of the most exciting Windows game series. It was followed by expansion packs, such as Half-Life: Blue Shift, and then the sequel Half-Life 2 that Valve expanded with additional episodes. Half-Life is a 3-D sci-fiction game that raised the bar for first-person shooters.
The game stars Gordon Freeman, a scientist who arrives at the Black Mesa Research Facility, in New Mexico, via a tram ride. Upon his arrival, Freeman is kitted out with an HEV suit and heads for the Anomalous Materials Chamber. There an experiment sparks a resonance cascade that opens a portal between Earth and Xen.
Aliens invade, and it's left to Freeman to clear out Black Mesa, as well as U.S. Marines, sent in to wipe out the aliens and any other witnesses of the outbreak. Consequently, Freeman emerges as target number one for the Marines. Freeman is later teleported to Xen to close the portal and halt a potential alien invasion of Earth that nevertheless has still gone ahead in the sequel.
The Half-Life saga began there, and the game's engrossing story unfolded. The story expanded with scripted sequences, which was somewhat novel. There weren't any cutscenes in Half-Life, which are a more standard alternative for first-person shooters such as Halo etc.
Half-Life is a game that has no levels. Instead, Valve included various chapters throughout the game. Each of the chapters includes variable locations such as canyon cliffs, labs, warehouses, military bases, and planet Xen, which add a great variety.
A number of guns are also included for Freeman to blast away the aliens and Marines with. Among them more standard rifles, rocket launchers, shotguns, and pistols. In addition to this, Freeman can also pick up less standard alien arsenal, lasers guns, and Tau Cannons.
Freeman can also team up with Black Mesa's security guards and scientists in Half-Life. As the security guards are armed with pistols, they can wipe out some of the aliens and provide Freeman with additional cover. The scientists don't carry any guns, but can still open doors for Freeman to reach new areas of Black Mesa.
Half-Life had a similar game engine to Quake. It included a modified alternative to Quake's game engine, which was not exactly groundbreaking when the game came out. Graphically its sequel was a considerable enhancement, and the original Half-Life didn't have any notable physics engine that was a big part of its sequel. However, it was still very clean; and Half-Life's chapters were full of variety. Half-Life was later ported to a Source engine that enhanced its textures and resolution.
The Half-Life audio does not include a continuous soundtrack. Instead, it has sporadic, but exciting, background music that comes and goes on the various chapters. This YouTube video includes the game's soundtrack.
The multiplayer mode might have been a little overlooked by Valve. Overall, the multiplayer mode included a fairly standard Half-Life deathmatch. However, later additions, such as the Half-Life Counter-Strike mod, added more multiplayer options with a team-orientated mode.
Whilst originally a Window game title, Valve ported it over to alternative platforms. Half-Life is supported on the Mac OS X and Linux platforms. The PlayStation 2 also has its own version of the game.
More than 50 publications selected Half-Life as Game of the Year. Half-Life is game of great variety and a tour de force in game design that revitalized first-person shooters. The game is still available at the Steam site, which includes the Half-Life 1 Anthology along with the original title. You can also relive HL with the fan-made Black Mesa remake retailing on Steam.