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Half Life Review

Arguably one of the most famous PC games of the 1990’s, few titles manage to attain the cult like status that the Half Life series has achieved. A Sci Fi first person shooter, Half Life manages to not only have gripping and tense gameplay and story, but also combines horror aspects and large puzzle sections into its gameplay. Released for Windows in 1998 as the first title published by Valve, the games enduring success not only managed to give gaming one of its most famous series but also catapulted Valve into the gaming mega company that it is today. This success is well earned, as even when played today, Half Life still remains a fantastic entry into the FPS genre which manages to outshine many more modern games.

The now iconic protagonist of Half Life is Dr Gordon Freeman, the silent, bespectacled, alien-killing theoretical physicist who the player takes hold of throughout the game. The central plot involves an experiment at a laboratory going catastrophically wrong, causing aliens from a strange and twisted world to come into our own. As the game goes on the player’s objective is to escape the sprawling underground research facility and battle the various enemies that are encountered on the way. As we progress, Freeman is also being watched by a mysterious suited individual who sticks to the shadows and does not reveal himself until the games conclusion. All of this action is done in real time scripted sequences, with no cut scenes being present.

While its graphics weren’t particularly noteworthy at the time, and look rather unimpressive and blocky now, Half-life’s core appeal lies in its gameplay. It excels itself as an FPS title, and the games makes a great conscious effort not to devolve into endless shooting corridors that characterise many FPS games of its generation. The gameplay remains engaging throughout, with countless different sets of enemies which act in a different manner to each other and require different strategies to beat. These range from your run of the mill soldier mook enemies we’ve seen from countless other FPS titles, to the dark and creepy Headcrab Zombies which shuffle menacingly towards the player. The player also has a vast range of weaponry to pick from, ranging from pistols, machineguns, weird and wonderful alien weaponry and the iconic crowbar that the series is known for.

However, it is not only the great FPS gameplay which Half Life excels at but also its interesting use of puzzles. These puzzle sections are seamlessly incorporated within the environment, and many are sprawling areas that make up large sections of certain chapters. For example, at one point the player must raise the water level in a winding pipe section in order to escape, but by doing so they may drown if they are not quick enough or have not scouted out the right way to go once they have done this. Integrating these puzzles into the game makes each section seem fresh and unique, and each one needs a different strategy to complete.

Overall Half Life well deserves its reputation as an excellent and gripping FPS classic, and is a great edition to any PC gamers collection.

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