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Half-Life

Developer: Gearbox Software | Publisher: Sierra Entertainment
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 11/11/01 | Genre: FPS

In another review that will help seal my fate as the least popular reviewer ever, I'm going to have to say I wasn't impressed with Half-Life, the supposedly stellar game of yore and such. I think I played a demo version of the game a few years ago on my PC, and at the time I thought it was ok. But now it is dated. That is a thought that will be repeated throughout my review. And unlike Pac-Man, I don't feel as though this game has the same classic status that keeps it entertaining for future generations of gamers.

Graphically, I was disappointed with the textures for the levels directly from the beginning--the multi-millennia spanning, tediously boring, unskippable intro. The flat, plain textures filled me with nostalgia from my glory days of playing Doom II. Once this wistfulness subsided, though, I immediately chalked this up to the blandest level design of any FPS game I've played on the PS2, with Timesplitters a close second. Soon after my round trip to Super Wal-Mart for milk the intro came to its finale, and I was greeted by a stumpy-looking security guard. I couldn't really put my finger on the reason why, but the character models in this game didn't seem to be of proper human proportions. Their blocky bodies and machine-like facial expressions, however, perfectly matched the dreadful noises which they emitted that were apparently intended to be passed off as speech.

Which brings me to the sound effects. This is undoubtedly the worst characteristic of this game. The people's voices are creepy, robotic, and slurred, and couldn't have been performed by more than two drunken voice actors or possibly robot stroke patients. Every horrific line of dialogue reminded me of the terrible voice my childhood Teddy Ruxpin bear made after I spilled apple juice on him. The other sound effects, including gun noises and breaking glass, were sub-par, but didn't cause me to cringe in pain.

Now that my shallow graphic and sound demands are laid to rest, Half-Life wasn't an entirely bad game. I progressed through several sections of the game. Loading is frequent, but doesn't take long. The gameplay is similar to that of any other story-based FPS--dispatch enemies and search for the route out of the level you are in. Half-Life adds another strategic element to gameplay though, allowing your character to temporarily request the aid of certain characters scattered throughout the game. Security guards will give you cover fire, while scientists can mend wounds or open higher level security doors. The controls are simple and set up well. The basic controls are the same as for all of its PS2 predecessors for the most part, with one large difference. The inclusion of a lock-on button, like the Zelda games, makes the ungainly targeting of a PS2 controller easier for people who prefer their keyboard and mouse. I believe Half-Life also supports a keyboard/mouse setup, but I don't have the hardware to test this. My only major gameplay complaint is that the developers decided to force me to perform platform jumping to proceed in the game, which I think is an awful idea in any game with a first-person view.

To conclude, Half-Life isn't an awful game. Red Faction was a better one. And if you favor constant blazing guns over puzzle solving and story in your FPS games, I'd pick Quake III first. If your FPS appetite still hasn't been sated, heed a word of warning and rent before you buy.

P.S. If you happen to be deaf, or like to play your games on mute, raise my rating a full letter grade.

By Farmer Monkey - 08/15/01
ESRB Details: Blood and Gore, Violence
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Screenshots for Half-Life

Gallop Racer 2001

Bloody Roar 3