Half-Life is a classic first-person shooter (FPS) that is regarded as one of the best video games ever made. It was Valve‘s first game and was first published in 1998 by Sierra On-line. Half-Life came out at a time when the market was becoming saturated by FPSes, and it completely changed the way video games were made by developers – and were perceived by the general public.
In Half-Life you play a research associate called Gordon Freeman, about to embark on an experiment at the top secret Black Mesa Research Facility. The game famously opens with a tram ride through the facility, with you (as Freeman) preparing for your role in the experiment. You acquire your protective HEV suit, then make your way to the test chamber where you must then push the sample (they don’t say what the sample is, only that they “went to some lengths to get it“) into the “anti-mass spectrometer“. On your way you witness various equipment malfunctions that foreshadow what’s to come.
When the experiment goes wrong you’re then thrust into an epic adventure of survival, exploration and combat, punctuated by the acquisition of a variety of weapons, starting with an iconic crowbar. From there you have to deal with the initial disintegration of the research facility, which allows you (unauthorised) access to the wider Black Mesa compound, and beyond.
As the story unfolds you must deal with a variety of killer monsters, and also an army of soldiers that have been sent into Black Mesa to neutralise any survivors. Eventually you discover that research there had even involved the visitation of an alien world, called Xen, that you later go to yourself, in an attempt to stem the invasion of monsters.
From the outset, Half-Life is a truly absorbing and fascinating game, packed full of detail, challenges and puzzles. You, as Gordon Freeman, don’t actually say anything to anyone during the entirety of the game, but the story plays out in front of you in dramatic fashion and is divided into chapters that are captioned on-screen and give you clues as to what to expect in each section. It’s safe to say that Half-Life was – and still is – a brilliant game that marked a turning point in video game design.
In fact, Half-life is so highly regarded that it’s been re-made a number of times. Firstly by Valve themselves, in 2004, using the Source Engine (Valve‘s in-house engine, made for Half-Life 2), and later by an external team as “Black Mesa” in 2020.
The screenshots shown here are from Half-Life: Source, the later Valve remake.
More: Half-Life on Wikipedia
Steam: Half-Life on Steam
Steam: Half-Life: Source on Steam
Steam: Black Mesa on Steam
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