Kayn reviews probably one of the most innovative FPS games to come along in a long time. On the games beHALF, you could say HALFlife is not HALF done! Hah! I am funny!
"Guy starts out with small gun. Guy runs around with small gun, and finds a larger gun. Guy takes larger gun, pumps demons full of ammo. Guy then finds more guns. Bigger guns. Guy uses bigger guns on bigger demons. Guy continues until there are no more levels. Guy then buys expansion pack with bigger, prettier guns. Rinse. Lather. Repeat. Nightmare mode."
Believe it or not, the foundations of FPS have stayed in that limited boundary for nearly 7 years with hardly any change. Was it the limited technology at that time? Or, was it the popularity of such gore-packed simplicity?
Both, and then some.
Take pong for example: A simple, yet repetitive game of back and forth bouncy-ball. Soon the programmer dishes out some extra features, such as a color changing ball, a scoreboard, and maybe even some music. Thatfs when Pong 2.0 hits the shelves, and people rush out to spend eighty bucks a pop for a souped up version of 1.0. The programmer makes millions, retires, and with an evil scornful laugh, he spews forth, "Har har har! Fools! It was the same game all along!" Actually, it's more like, "Tee-hee-hee! Collections of abdominal extrimate! By modifying the hexadecimal values on the fifth parameter, I easily re-coded the blah, blah, blah"
Err, anyway, gaming trends start this way, and they usually end after countless attempts to copy the same game. This is how the FPS piggy-back took it's toll on the gaming community. From the flat, hand drawn sprites to the texture-mapped polygon, FPS games lacked a truly immersive storyline. Compared to the originality of other genres, FPS were dull, however addicting. Could there be a cure? You bet your sweet mother's anorexic cousin there is.
Enter Half-life. A twisted, exotic change in the FPS scene as we know it.
Browsing the games at Hastings, I couldn't seem to take my eyes off that attractive blonde standing by the new releases. We caught eyes. My heart was pounding. The passion in the room was so thick you could cut it with a hot butter knife. But then, with a roaring zap, an electrical portal tore through the seamless boundary of time and space, sucking her into the void of darkness. The only thing she left behind was a small box lying on the floor.
I began to weep. Other than the fact she was gone forever, the only thing I had to remember her by was this... Quake clone. But her memory must be cherished. I must play Half-Life.
Well, all of that was true; up to the 'I couldn't seem to take my eyes,' part.
I was very skeptical about Half Life at first. There have been countless Quake 2 mods, add-ons, and my bowels shake at the sight of boring, trendy games. So, with a pessimistic sigh, I dragged myself to the cashier.
Half-Life's installation was a breeze. By the time I pulled all the lint out of my pocket, the installation was done. That, of course, depends on your PC's speed and/or the amount of lint you have. The only fault is the storage space it requires, which is becoming more than common with games nowadays. After the installation, Half-Life will test your sound. Big deal eh? Well, yes, due to the fact that Half-Life supports the Aura 3D sound, which is a huge plus.
Minimum System Requirements: Windows 95/98/NT, Pentium 133, 24 megs of ram, 2x CD ROM drive, Mouse and Keyboard, 640x480 SVGA Display, Windows-compatible sound device, 400 MB of hard disk space
Kayn's System Recommendation: Pentium II 233 MMX, 64 megs of RAM, 3D accelerator (3dfx or TNT recommended), A3D compatible sound card, 8x CD ROM Drive
After rebooting, I fired that bad boy up and dove into the setup, configured my controls (be SURE to include a walk key, heh), and was on my way
Half-Life contains one of the coolest intros I've ever seen. So cool in fact, I found myself chuckling like your preverbial gaming nerd. Needless to say, this was the neatest concept I've seen in a very long time.
You, pimp-daddy Gordon Freeman, start off hitching a tram to work. This time, you're not a trained marine getting ready to tackle split-hooved baddies. That's right, you're a physicist. Not just any physicist though; you're a specialized Quantum physics major with HEV certification ready to calculate your way through a something anomaly. And with the name Gordon Freeman, you just shine with intelligence, strength, and pimp-ness.
As the tram takes you through the Black Mesa compound, a soothing female automated voice talks you through safety, gives you advice, and reminds you to keep your hands within the rails. During this time, you are free to move about inside the tram and look outside to see your fellow co-workers do their thing. A friendly security officer greets you at the end, commenting on your tardiness and granting you access to yo' crib, er, facility.
Upon stepping in, dozens of shirt and tie scientists (your hoes) are scurrying about, greeting you and complaining about 'these ridiculous ties.' Of course, being the pimp that you are, you make your impression by not talking and getting down to business. After donning into your HEV suit, you tear down the corridor to the something anomaly lab.
Two scientists greet you and grant access to the testing chamber. With a cracking muffled sound, a fellow physicist speaks through a speaker walking you through the process of testing the anomaly. Your interaction with the test, according to scientists, was predicted all along. But when the anomaly begins to falter, you become somewhat 'warped' to and for from an exotic alien dimension, and wake up in the test chamber...
With id Software's infamous Quake technology, Valve has somehow sculpted a fascinating world of interactivity and artificial intelligence. Most 3d FPS shooters have hollowed, symmetric models, where Valve has taken the liberty to include skeletal-based models. The skeletal animation system seemingly gives a true sense of realism in the character animations. Aliens pulsate, breathe, and move in a frightening fluid, life-like manner.
The texturing is top notch. Never before have I seen such attention to detail since Unreal, especially with the alien skins. If you get a close up look at the underside of the crab-like creatures, you'll see the teeth. Not only the teeth, but the horrendous shape of it's entrails, and how the creature can easily swallow your head. Of course, they're head swallowing technique is shown later on to some of your buddies. That's when you bust out your pimp-stick (crowbar), and dish out a world of hate.
Once you get further into the game, you'll swear they took this game off of the Quake 2 engine. Valve took the original Quake engine and added colored lighting, transparency, shading, real time physics, gradience, wave effects, mirrored textures, and so much more. Probably the coolest looking effect (hyuck, hyuck) are the mirrored textures. First seen on the Security Officers' helmets, then on some big aliens, this effect will leave you in awe. After I mowed down a room full of aliens, it was hard not to go up to their bodies and gawk.
Next comes the best part of the game: The levels. Valve's designers have seemingly chiseled a virtual world of lifelike puzzles and surroundings. Explosions and interactions with the enemy can end up blocking a passageway, forcing you to use your resources to make a near impossible escape. One of the most intriguing (yet aggrivating) puzzles I encountered is a room with 4 laser mines (which you can't destroy) blocking a small stairway. What happens when you cross one of these lasers? Heh, look above those lasers. Rows and rows of dynamite. 'Nuff said. With two crates, one large and small, there must be a way to get around...
Half-Life's soundtrack is ah, interesting. There are many touches of new age, techno, and distortion that delivers a cinematic experience. Not only that, but the music is purely Redbook audio. That's right kids! You can relive your adventure with Gordon Freeman while you cook, clean, or get cozy with your woman (or man)! Oh, the joy! The pure, unadulterated JOY!
Next category: Sound. There's so much clarity and energy oozing from Half-Life's realistic audio; it just makes you feel all warm and grotesque inside. I especially got a kick out of the voices (though there were only 3). Watching the mouths move in conjunction with the speech was something new and original. Every enemy has a specific sound to clarify things like, "Oh boy, I'm gonna need the shotgun for that one, " or, "Heh, the sounds of those marines indicate the chunking of a grenade." Yes, sounds can be an advantage. However, there are times when the clank of a footstep or a shot of a pistol could mean your death. Seriously. One point in the game you come across a gigantic, 3-headed creature that can't see, can't smell, but MAN, it can hear. The slightest noise on your behalf could leave your body for the slicing, dicing, and crunching.
Another neat addition is the training mode. There's no need to dive in the game without familiarizing yourself with the controls and obstacles first. Once you enter the course, you're greeted by semi-transparent collections of polygons, resembling a holographic woman, to hold your hand throughout the, 'Half-Life for Dummies' training course. The course is very detailed and especially informative. There was a special jump I didn't know how to do, and before I let frustration get the best of me, I asked myself, "Wait, dumbass, wasn't there a training course?" The nice lady greeted me and took me through the course, eventually showing me how much of a dumbass I really was. Heh, I had to watch her do that jump about 43 times...for more reasons than one. Kinetics and physics at work, baby.
Half-life is purdy. Very. But like all games, there are a few flaws that could have been prevented. Take the characters for example: The scientists all have the same skin for the body, but different head skins. A little more variety with the ties, shirts, even shoes would have made the game a little less repetitive. When you get to the security guards, there is absolutely NO difference between them, even the voices. Results from radiation? Inbreeds from the south? Hmm...
Some puzzles may be too difficult for novices. I've had a few friends of mine (yes, I have friends) play the game and get incredibly aggrivated and impatient with Half-Life. There have been some cases where I'd hear back from one, getting a response, "I hte hlf-life... I kept getting killed over nd over, nd the gme becme very boring to me. It cn kiss my ft gresy ss." Apparently, he broke the 'A' key after repeatedly slamming the keyboard. D'oh!
And now, the saddest part of Half-Life: Multiplayer. I haven't seen such a lag infested online collaboration since the old, original Quake. Don't misunderstand me; if you're playing on a LAN, or your Internet connection is breakneck speed, then you'll hardly suffer. The variety of weapons add good balance to the fast, violent, and furious action. So if you're opt to live with lag, you will enjoy doing the frag thing
Half-Life 2? A Rumor? Nah. Once the Q3 Arena engine is released, Valve may take the initiative and compile a wonderous sequel starring Gordon Freeman and his estranged alien wife, Yglbkok Freeman as they take on the evil forces of the mutant upside-down cake. Mmm... mutant. Well, it would seem Valve is about to press charges for my uh, voluptuous sequel assumption. Before I take off and call my attorney, I would like to encourage all of you to get Half-life. Everything about it stands out and boldly pushes where no FPS shooter ever has. The standard has been set, so bravo, or something. All we can do now is wait and see what the future mission pack (coming very soon) and the sequel holds in store for the gaming scene. Woot! 'Till then, jump into your HEV suit; it's a long, hard ride.
|Gameplay||I think I had an orgasm.||5|
|Graphics||Woa...there's just too much eye candy to...||5|
|Music/Sound||Music was weird, but the extremely well prouduces sound effects are of the drool nature.||4.5|
|Replay Value||For some reason, I want to play it every day.||4.5|
|Originality||The most original FPS to date.||5|
|Final Verdict: 4.8|