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Half-Life presents entertaining set for gamers

A graphic from the video game
A graphic from the video game


A graphic from the video game
A graphic from the video game

Valve is such a great company. It has numerous great titles that have shaken the industry. But in the beginning while it was a relatively unknown company, with no history what so ever, not many had many expectations for them. However, in 1998 they took everything we knew about the predictable shooting genre, re-examined it, improved it, and then meshed it together to create the consistently entertaining game we know as Half – Life.

It’ll be hard for people who haven’t played the game to understand what’s so great about it. It has your usual arsenal that you expect from a shooter and a few alien weapons to add some variety. The enemies are fairly standard and the levels have also been done to death before this game. So what’s so great?

The secret to Half-Life’s success is the sum of its parts; it amped up the boringly predictable shooting genre by adding improving the reality of it. For example:

In Half-Life, weapons and ammo are taken from dead soldiers or other logical places, like a weapons locker. Ammo isn’t lying around in the form of glowing icons or leather helmets, instead, you’re wearing a battery-powered hazard suit, but since it’s a fairly standard bit of equipment in this secret base, power outlets are conveniently scattered throughout the complex. Doing this makes the game world feel all that much more real. The more real it feels, the more the player is sucked into the game. This is called suspension of disbelief, and while few game developers seem to be aware of it, Valve is and they make it work for them, over and over again.

While the enemies themselves may be a little plain, their Artificial Intelligence makes them one of the toughest creatures you’ll ever face off. They yell things that are relevant to the combat such as: “Fire in the Hole!” or “Look Out!” while the grenades or the bullets are whizzing through the area. Also, unlike other games, they actually cooperate and use teamwork to defeat you, such as, dividing into squads and trying to hit you from multiple sides while one guy keeps you distracted with grenades.

It’s surprising how well intergrated and entertaining Half-Life’s enemies are, but it works, and it would be worth to play just for the combat. But wait, there’s more. How many times have you cleared a gruesome and bloody area just to go into a loading screen and continue into another gruesome and bloody area, just to repeat the same thing? Well, in Half-Life, things like “Levels” don’t exist, instead the world feels like one continuous area with relatively small pauses and loads when you move between one area and another.

Althoug, this sometimes causes problems when enemies are placed to close to the transition between mini-areas and you accidently walk from one area to the other, mistakenly triggering a loading screen. But this problem aside, Half-Life’s mine-areas make a more flowing and realistic world, and at the same time a more immersive one.

Speaking of worlds, Half-Life is a big one. Ranging from labs and warehouses to monorails and gun bunkers to missile silos and parking garages, there is a variety that will never bore you. Virtually every area in Half-Life is interesting and unique.

This variety makes you want to keep playing Half-Life all the way through. Unlike other game where you’re like, “Eh, I’ve probably seen it all. If I keep playing, there will only be more stronger enemies with more weapons and different levels.” This is certainly not the case with Half-Life.

Carefully designed as a single player experience, every event in Half-Life is a new challenge, nearly every room throws something you haven’t seen before, every sound signaling that something horrible is about to happen; the abundant number of hand-scripted events and little scenes that the keep game flowing smoothly, gives you a reason to keep playing. I haven’t had so much fun playing a game in years. I have not been frightened by a game in years. I have not dreaded corners like I have dreaded corners in this game in years. Half-Life is a superbly ambient game.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have problems, however. The elevators have a horrible sticking problem, and ladders are weird and awkward to climb. Plus, the game sometimes slows downs and chokes when something huge, like and explosion, happens. But in comparison to such a great game, these are minor problems.

Honestly the only problem to Half-Life was some of the level designs, specifically in the middle of the game where the tension drops as your forced to navigate dark sewer tunnels in order to locate some switches. However, once you get past the sewers, a train puzzle and the obligatory underwater maze, once you fight your way back out into the open area where you have to mix it up with the camo guys again, the game’s tension rises considerably, and some of the final levels in the military base are truly some of the greatest single player levels ever made.

Anyway, those are some of the things that make Half-Life the amazing game it is. It questions elements of the shooter genre and reworks them or gets ride of them as necessary in order to make a smoother, more engrossing game. It constantly presents you with variety, surprises, and new challenges to keep you hooked. It is one of the pinnacles in game design, the definitive single player game in a first person shooter. Don’t cheat yourself; play this game.

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