Since the Black Mesa Mod is still being reclusive, I decided to boot up Half-Life again after not having played it in several years.
And although this game is now 13 years old, it is amazing how fresh it feels and how it manages to still be more engaging that doays mega-sellers.
- There are tons of incidental detail. Enemy Barks, textures explaining stuff, conversations, all add details to the gameworld, which I missed the last times. Probably because I couldn’t speak english then. And was 12.
- Fast movement, long jumps, no gun-recoil. They don’t make shooters like they used to.
- Firefights are harder than I imagined. I though I would be able to sleepwalk through everything, what with my 10+ playthroughs and 13 years of shooter-experience. But here were several points were I had to stop, figure stuff out, and retry, until I wasn’t crushed to death by a giant blue alien.
- Leaving lone, alive enemies behind you, never to be killed, feels kinda strange.
- There are indeed women in the game. There is Dr. Collette/Gina on the tutorial-level, and the female black-ops soldiers. Also, we don’t really know the sex of any of the aliens, so there’s still that possibility. It seems since then Triple-A games have taken another step backwards (while tripping on a rock and falling off a bridge), as most games barely even pass the first stages of the Bechdel-Test. There are virtually no female generic enemies in current games. Half-Life 2 made half the (friendly) NPCs female, which was much cooler (and realistic, but I try to avoid that word).
- Very little apparent scripting. Although this has always been a positive about Valve Games, in HL2 it got more obvious.
- It is LOADS of fun going in with the details of Opposing Force, Blue Shift, Decay and all info from HL2. Hey, that’s “the” barney. There’s Kleiner. That’s Eli, I guess. Breen is mentioned (although not by name). Here is Gina (Hazard-Course Hologram) supposed to show up. Here I would have met Shephard, would he have been put in retroactively. Also, just nuked Magnussons casserole.
- I am SO glad that Steam lets me play in english, not only in language, but also with the content. Which means: No green blood. No Robot soldiers (which were stupid in so many, many ways). No stupid mistranslated and mispronounced dialogue. No Barney-hologram on the Hazard-Course.
- Jumping-puzzles are a lot easier than I remember. Maybe it’s the 13 years shooter-experience paying off.
- At several points I thought “gravity gun”, followed by “damn it”.
- Snarks (those little bugs you can sic on enemies) are sill awesome. I miss them.
- Watching battles unfold between guards, aliens, and the military is also awesome.
- There is a surprising amounts of jets, tanks and helicopters here.
- In multiplayer, you can play as a woman, and customize the color of your uniform. This was way back in 1998. THIS IS AMAZING. WHY WASN’T THIS A BIGGER DEAL. You can’t do these things in current Shooters.
- There are several points where you can land in a dead end, from which there is no escape. DO NOT press quicksave instead of quick-load. FOR GODS SAKE, do not do it. Luckily, quicksave and quickload are now three buttons apart, instead of being next to each other. I am still programmed by Tomb Raider, however, to press f5 to quicksave. Got me some screenshots though.
- It’s much shorter than I thought. Back in the day you could boost with 20-30 hours play time, but now I ran through it in 5 hours. Okay, I knew were to go, and knew how to solve all puzzles. I didn’t backtrack, looking were to go. I didn’t die needlessly several dozen times. I didn’t flinch at spots I used to be afraid of. I didn’t, upon hitting a roadblock, ride to the next games-store to browse a game-guide (before gamefaqs days).
- It is amazing with how few resources are sometimes used. Moving hexagon: Crusher-thing. Particle-Effect: Sci-Fi-gizmo. Moving Crates: Train with stuff.
- Half-Life Blueshift added a hd-pack, which replaced all textures, 3d-models and sounds with versions which are 7 years newer/better. They haven’t been added to Half-Life since then. Interesting.
Well, apart from graphics, this game has aged incredibly well, and in gameplay and story it still outdoes what passes today as a blockbuster.
Go have a try. They are throwing it practically away on Steam from time to time.