Half Life 1: Something to play after 20 years?

Half Life 1: Something to play after 20 years?
Courtesy of Valve, image depicts the main character, Gordon Freeman, in his HEV suit

Half Life 1 is a game developed by Valve to run on the original source gold engine, with one of it’s most famous developers Gabe Newell, leading the project (created in 1998). The game takes place in a year known as 20XX ( could be attributed to anywhere from 2010-2099) in a laboratory called Black Mesa, which is located in New Mexico. The main character is a recent PHD graduate from MIT in theoretical physics, and gets sent to do the equivalent of menial labor in a private lab, but things go awry as the portal technology allows an invading alien communion of races to invade the laboratory, and it’s upto Dr.Gordon Freeman to find a way out safely, while trying to fight and survive against the aliens and a military task force sent to silence everyone at the lab, aliens and humans alike. Made by the same people who made Team Fortress 2, this game shares the hallmark of withstanding the test of time. However, most people are exposed to this game through its immense popularity, but where would that popularity come from?

As mentioned earlier, Half Life puts you in a situation where you are not trying to save the world or anything on that grand of a scale. You are merely using the various tools and objects you come across as you try to survive, being relentlessly hunted down by various enemies, but the game truly shines in the more “technical” aspects, and should be a must play for those interested in game design and how games work.

For example, the first major game aspect that is quite noticeable is that the game does not have loading sequences or breaks in the game, instead it provides a continuous experience as you play, giving you the feel of fighting for your life, and not the fact that you are sitting in front of a screen. The next major aspect that really made this game what it is today is world-building. Your character is actually silent and never says anything, making you the main character but he can interact with the NPCs found throughout the game who not only follow you, but will exhibit behavior such as crouching, dodging, healing and suffering when hurt, adding a level of realism.

Another major marvel of the game that can be seen is the overall role the antagonist plays in the game. The main antagonist is not some monster you need to fight, but rather an interdimensional god-like being who goes by the name of “G-man”, who can be noticed observing you as you fight enemies and teleporting away as soon as he notices that you noticed him. You meet up with him at the end of the game, and he decides the fate you are put in. With this sort of character you interact with, you don’t feel like you are the center of attention, but rather you are caught up in a series of events that you have no control over.

So in conclusion, make sure you play this great game and see the beauty of one of the oldest shooters on the market, one in which you can enjoy the source material (pun not intended) that every game has tried to mimic. Make sure to pick up this game before half your life is over.