Wednesday, February 18, 2015

[Video Game] Half-Life

Half-Life
The crowbar was considered too awesome 
(and bloody) for the poster. 
If there's anything Half-Life taught me, it's probably how a crowbar is infinitely more useful than a PhD from MIT.

Half-Life, before I played it, was once one of those elusive titles I always heard about, and one of those games a number of people referenced for memes on the Internet. I've heard about head crabs and the Cthulu-like monsters that came out - heck, I've even heard Gordon Freeman's name mentioned a couple of times - but I've never really known the game. Well, not until I played it myself, that is.

If you haven't had the time or opportunity to go through the game, Half-Life is essentially a First-Person Shooter game where you play the role of a scientist protagonist named Gordon Freeman. You start off with a normal day at work, and end up battling weird specimens, gunning down military men, picking up ammo, crawling through vents, and waving your crowbar all around town. Oh, and Freeman, in his HEV suit, goes through all the surprising events with not a single word escaping from his lips.

As I usually don't go over synopsis and storylines before watching a movie, reading a book, or, in particular, playing a game, I jumped into the world of Black Mesa head on without prior expectations. My takeaway: the experience was mind-blowing.

I marveled over the adventure I went through as I progressed in the game - how I almost always thought that the endpoint was near, only to see, at different goals, soldiers raining their bullets on me, a train destined to take me elsewhere, and a whole army of nasties out to get me. The places and enemies I'd encounter got more and more difficult for me to tackle, too. It always kept me guessing, and I always had to be on my toes, no matter what.

On the other hand, just when I was on my last few bullets and sucking in what little health I had left, I was glad to find supplies just when I needed them. (I could NOT get over that little heavenly place in the Surface Tension chapter. I stayed there for a good while, personally trying to recover what mental peace I was clutching at by that time.)

All of these dismayed, gladdened, disappointed, and overall thrilled me about the experience.

HL_HEAVEN
Pictured: HEAVEN.

I enjoyed as well having the company of the reliable blue security guards and the talkative scientists. I wondered over the mysterious G-Man, and I contemplated over the words I received from the so-called "monsters", especially as I drew nearer to the end. There were also a number of puzzles and hidden areas in the game, all of which where curious in themselves, and made me appreciate how all the little references and small talk were helpful in setting the mood and keeping me interested.

I guess I should note, too, that I learned a lot about different kinds of weapons - particularly guns (pistols, shotguns, sub-machine guns, revolvers, and what not), and which ones to deploy depending on the target, the ammo availability, and the general environment. (I came to love the revolver the most. Well, next to the amazing crowbar - the rather "default" weapon you start off with, which would be useful in many, many pursuits - from killing enemies to opening hatches.) I did always wonder how Freeman carried all of his weapons, but I guess this picture is as realistic as it can be:

Gordon Freeman carrying his weapons (realistic)
Alternatively, I was envisioning him carting around a wagon wherever he goes.

Being an old game (released 1998), there were definitely some issues - like characters getting stuck in certain areas - but I thoroughly enjoyed playing through Half-Life, nevertheless. It deserved getting all the awards it received, and that they called it "game-changing" may not be an understatement at all.

I've yet to get a copy of Half-Life 2 (waiting for a sale), but considering how a lot of people call forth praise when it comes to talk about that sequel, I feel that I'll be in for another great time if ever I do step into Freeman's shoes again.

All in all, Half-Life was a great experience, and I wouldn't mind playing through all the twists, turns, deception, and hazardous materials once more. That's mostly because I know that I could always trust in that handy crowbar wherever I'd be thrown to.

(Oh, and the soundtrack just makes me want to fondly bash some head crabs right there and then. Great stuff.)





Note: Something that really helped me enjoy this game further was the subtitles mod I got off moddb.com. Easy enough to install, and the dialogue is pretty reliable.

Half-Life Poster from moddb.com. "Realistic" photo of Gordon Freeman and his weapons from memecenter.com.

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