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June 4th, 2013, 02:43
Half-Life

I've been putting off the HLs till now due to being aware of the series being "abandoned" midway-through by Valve and the debacle surrounding episode 3 or HL3. Nevertheless I decided my hunger for sci-fi could be satisfied with a fix by the critically acclaimed FPS series.

So far I feel let down. I realise that hindsight is 20/20 and that there are 14 years separating my playthrough and the game's release but I can't quite wrap my head around Half-Life 1's reputation. To put it simply, to me, the game's gameplay first and foremost, and its (comparative lack of) story/atmosphere as a sidenote indicated its nowhere near the timeless classic the ratings would suggest. My only possible explanation is that the innovating and the otherwise great aspects of the game were so widely adopted by the genre that part of the appeal of the original has suffered (kinda like Seven Samurai in cinema).

My critique has obviously nothing to do with the technical merits of the game. The graphics and the AI are in fact impressive for its age and the high res/poly version that I played looked like a 2002 game rather than a 1998 one.

Gameplay-wise however I expected something that sets it aside from both the other old titles I've played and the random FPS garbage I've layed my hands on throughout the years (I'm not very picky in this genre since the games are short). To my disappointment there wasn't much apart from the usual shooting, button pushing, airvent crawling, jumping platforms all in a very controlled environment and on-rails.

The story/atmosphere on the other hand appear almost nonexistent given how famous Gordon Freeman is as a character and how the HL franchise was supposedly heavy on the story side. Again it's possible that the modern CoD experience has created certain expectations but the lack of dialogue or otherwise verbal presentation of the story really made an impression. Having read a bit on the Internet and thus affirming the very limited information that the game does provide to serve as a story I'm seeing plenty of similarities to the Doom games (scientific facility in crisis, aliens, traveling to other planet/dimension to defeat boss) which is ironic given their reputation as much more straight shooters with HLs being more story centric.

I was initially planning on playing the Source or Black Mesa version of HL1 as well as the expansions/addons to it but I now will dive straight into the sequel in search of a (significant) change in style. Dunno what to expect gameplay-wise aside from more physics but I sure do expect a bigger emphasis on the story and its presentation.

Hope that didn't come off as too strong. I realise the limitations of applying 2013 standards to a 1998 game but I was always trying to assess how well the experience has aged.

I'd just like to interject here and point out that I'm not going to say anything to spoil the mood, Chief. I'll just float here and watch. Don't mind me, just sitting here, floating and watching, that's me.
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