Wednesday, 17 October 2012

PC Game Review - Half-Life, er, yeah...

I recently came across a cheapo copy of "Half-Life: Anthology" for the PC .
It was £2, and as I'm one of those types of folk who likes a bargain (see:- tight), getting three games for a couple of quid is always a nice prospect.

Over the years I've heard people bang on about how good Half-Life is, what with its supposedly engrossing storyline, interesting characters and challenging puzzles and all that, but my only encounter with it previously was trying to play it on an underpowered system way back in 2003, which I gave up on pretty quick as, like most folk, I tend to dislike skipping, slowdowns and badly rendered sprites.

The disc itself contains the following:-

Half-Life: Game of the year edition
Half-Life: Opposing Force
Half-Life: Blue Shift
High definition add on pack

The add on pack itself isn't an actual game, but installing it upgrades the rendering on all the games various character models, although to be honest, this is debatable, but more on this later.

So, installation doesn't take long, I mean, these are old games designed for use back in the days when most folk were still using Windows 95 or Windows 98 (*shudder*), so no need to leave your pooter running while you make a cuppa and a sarnie like you have to do with some games.

I started off by playing through the original Half-Life, as you do, and first impressions were decidedly "meh".
The overly long "intro" where you are introduced to Gordon Freemans background fluff while riding a monorail to the black mesa research labs is, lets be honest, tedious as hell. Yes, its nice that they included an intro bit to make you feel like you're playing some sort of interactive movie, but after 3 minutes of aimlessly wandering around the cramped confines of the train car with nothing to do but look at the blocky, pixellated rock walls and train track sorta gets you off to a bad start.
Anyways, I'm not gonna beat around the bush, from here on in, the game simply becomes an exersize in moving from room to room and occasionally shooting at things with whatever weapons happen to be handy at the time, and occasionally having to solve some sort of "puzzle" which usually involves having to push some boxes around and/or making some sort of difficult gets real boring, real quick.
I continued to play through though, desperately searching for these "interesting characters" and "engrossing plot lines", but alas, this was not forthcoming, in fact, the non player character roster includes a whopping FIVE different character models, yes, five, one of which is the "G-man" character, other than that, you'll see the exact same security guard dozens of times, and watch him die just about every time, and every time you see a scientist, he will either be the "black guy", the "white guy" or the "guy who looks a bit like Einstein", and all of them are resplendent in their blocky angled rendering which looks barely human, although, lets be fair, the game was originally released in 1998, but still, you'd expect the high definition pack to give a better increase in definition and stuff.
Oh, I forgot about the army guys, all 2 of them "generic grunt" and "guy in black beret" *face/palm* , whose only real use in game is for you to kill so you can pick up machine gun ammo and grenades, at most, they are an annoyance, but after a while a bit of radio chatter reveals that the army are evacuating, so machine gun ammo becomes more scarce. I should also add that the army guys quite difficult to kill, seriously, I don't care that they're wearing body armour, if i shoot you with a shotgun at point blank range, you die instantly in a hail of viscera, other games of the same period (Duke Nukem 3D,DooM, Quake, Medal of Honour) managed to get this shit right, so yeah, I can't think where they went wrong here.

Anyways, finishing off my moan about the in game characters, a special mention has to go to the Interdimensional alien badguys, all of whom are fairly interesting looking, from the teeny weeny "headcrab", right through to the rather badly animated "grunt" creatures. The only problem I have with the EEBUL ALEONZ!1!11111!!! is that many of them are far too easy to kill, unlike the army guys, and considering they make up the bulk of the enemies you'll come up against, the "action" bits of the game end up being a bit of a damp squib, which to be honest, isn't helped by the fact that the weapons you get your hands on are a bit boring.

So anyways, I'm not gonna harp on much longer about this, lets just say that after completing the original game, and then having a bit of a playthrough of Opposing force and Blue shift (and finding them both offering the same bland level of game play) I still find myself unable to figure out why this game is held with such reverance by many gamers.

Its not often that while playing a game I find myself being bored to tears, but literally while working through this game, I literally didn't giv e a shit about any of the characters, nor did I find myself being curious about any plot developments, simply because somebody forgot to include them.

I dunno, maybe Half-Life 2 will hold the answers, but for now, Half-Life 1 gets a big ass thumbs down from me...*uninstalls*

damn, what a waste of £2......


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