Half Life: Should you play it in 2020?

Half-Life was considered one of the most influential games of its time when it was originally released. So is it worth playing over 20 years later? Is it all it was hyped up to be? Lets find out.

Half life was released in November 1998 by Valve and was universally lauded for its groundbreaking graphics, gameplay and narrative.

Post the release of the game there were two expansion packs Half Life: Opposing Force which was released in 1999 and Half Life:Blue Shift which was released in 2001

To this day over 20 years later this game is still very popular amongst gamers, and since the release of the game fans have created many mods and it has been instrumental to the creation of many other popular games such as Team Fortress and Counter Strike

The Story

We play the protagonist Gordon Freeman, a theoretical physicist, at the Black Mesa research facility.

After an experiment that catastrophically fails which leads to an interdimensional rift, causing aliens to invade the facility. Freeman then tries to escape battling the aliens and Marine Corps tasked with eliminating the aliens as well as anyone who survived in the facility.

Graphics

Valve has done a great job in ensuring that any system can play this game.  It can run at 1080 on any relatively modern computer and has no compatibility issues.

When Half life was released the graphics were critically acclaimed to be revolutionary and realistic. Today it’s a different story. There is no denying the graphics haven’t aged well. To modern eyes the low polygon models and simple textures just look bad.  Any modern gamer, who hasn’t played the game in the past would most likely not want to give it a chance. After playing the game for a short while though you get past the dated graphics and it simply doesn’t matter. The atmosphere, story and gameplay come together to create an immersive experience.

Gameplay

Back in 1998 the gameplay was top notch.

Today, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The controls seem a little clunky and the character almost seems floaty. Due to which the platforming can be a bit of a challenge.

The shooting is good. As you progress through the game you get a wide variety of guns, and you learn which guns work best for the different enemy types.

The levels are well designed. It’s well paced with a mix of action, exploration, puzzle solving and platforming. At no point do you feel like the game is getting monotonous or a section has overstayed its welcome.

One thing that I really appreciated was that once we get control of the character, there are no lengthy cut scenes or expositions or large walls of text breaking the immersion of the game.

Aside from the technical limitations of its time Half life is a fun experience.

Sound

The Sound in the game is immersive and plays a big part in creating the atmosphere of the game. The subtle sounds of your footsteps changing when you are walking on concrete vs a metal bridge, The directional sound of a helicopter flying by, or of liquid flowing at a distance. Even hearing NPCs footsteps, grunts or conversation. All things that are taken for granted now were groundbreaking in this game.

The background music is subtle, while it adds to the atmosphere and tension it does not stand out and become distracting.

Dialogue plays an important part in the story telling as well, as you pass by NPCs they often provide information pertaining to the story or to the situation at that time.

Worth the hype?

So was Half Life worth the hype? Should you play it?

The answer is yes. Over 20 years later, the game still holds up to its hype. Aside from the graphical and technical limitations, the game has aged well. The gameplay is fun and immersive. The story while not groundbreaking is certainly interesting and will keep you hooked till the end. I would recommend anyone who enjoys First person shooters to give it a chance and experience a slice of gaming history.

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