Half-Life - Longplay


This is a mostly blind play-through of Half-Life using the native Linux build from Steam. I am aware there is an updated version of this game with new textures and assets, but I decided to stick with the tried and true original - or at least the Steam version of it, which has received a few tweaks for compatibility. If only there were more games from this era that received such love! Despite having been aware of this game for the past 20 years, it's unfortunately one of many I've never had the pleasure of playing. It's easy to see how Half-Life gave birth to a whole new generation of games as it clearly inspired a great many developers over the years from the likes of Volition's first Red Faction title to Frictional Game's Penumbra series.

Having never played this game before, I didn't really know what to expect. What I know of Half-Life is mostly surface detail gleamed from two decades of life on the Internet. How I managed to avoid any major spoilers is beyond me! Similar to Red Faction, which is a game I played on this channel prior to this - I found this to be entertaining while also being incredibly frustrating. The wide variety of enemies make for a very diverse game, but not necessarily a joy to fight. Pretty much all of the non-human opponents are what makes this game fun. Each with a unique aesthetic, sound design and method of attack gives them personality that few games are able to put together - but when it comes to battling the human soldiers, less so. I found the gunplay a bit grating in Half-Life, the soldiers at times seem to toss well placed grenades like the AI in FEAR, but at other times they seem pretty dumb and on the rails. And then there's this whole thing with placing them in camping positions, behind barricades or similarly well defended positions with high DPS (and unlimited) weaponry. I don't mind having to take out the occasional tank, and it actually encourages you to use other types of weapons when it comes to taking out gun emplacements. But the Helicopters were a bit much to be honest. If you don't have much ammo, good luck getting past that first one.

This game tries to kill you a lot. Like, I mean, a LOT. It's one thing that you can die in combat when taken by surprise, but it's another thing when the game itself tries to kill you all the time. Scripted traps that usually kill every player on the first run, falling objects, broken physics leading to accidental death, precarious ladder mechanics (Oh 90's, how I don't miss your ladders), ledges of doom and those oh so lovely 'you must die now' random deaths out of nowhere. I actually had quite a lot of trouble staying alive in this game, and it wasn't until the final 2 hours or so that I finally got the hang of it. Never in my life have I seen a game try to kill the player so hard that DIDN'T involve combat.

Apart from the problems with the physics which is to be expected given how so few games had this level of detail back in 1998, this game is pretty amazing. It has it all! A myriad of opponents, weapons and locations. Great level design and fairly easy to navigate. I didn't get lost that often, and on the occasions I did get turned around was largely due to the fact I didn't listen to the scientists when they were speaking. I was more focused on looking for the next box to smash, or the next face hugger to swat. This game is a feast for the senses, so it's no wonder I sometimes found myself at a loss for brain power. It would seem Gordon too is in a constant state of mouth-opened shock, as the protagonist never utters a word.

There are a couple of nasty bugs in this game, I'm not sure if they are unique to the Linux version or not - but the two I can remember off the top of my head are the square descending platform (02:03:55) with the four pillars around it and the tight tunnels that have a red glow to them (04:19:55). In the former, the platform seems to cause instant death whenever you use it - I had to spend about 5 minutes figuring out how to work around it. And in the latter, I found myself getting stuck in the tunnel after a loading screen, forcing me to reload (which is one of the reasons I save often).

Frustrating as it may be, and dare I say somewhat over-hyped, I definitely enjoyed this game more than most. I look forward to playing the sequel.
The Expanse. Watch it!
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