The one factor that’s crazier than the truth that Half-Life was launched precisely 20 years in the past is that I wrote up its 10th anniversary on this very web site… well, 10 years ago. We’ve each aged nicely, I prefer to assume. However Half-Life has already left a legacy.
Half-Life was Valve’s first sport, after they had been a younger sport studio and never the enormous gaming conglomerate we all know them as right this moment. The sport was additionally an enormous danger — its narrative-heavy gameplay, together with the now well-known arrival-at-work intro sequence, was a departure from the commonly easy shooters of the late ’90s.
At a time when most video games had been nonetheless level-based, Half-Life set forth a steady (although nonetheless largely episodic) journey punctuated with setpiece encounters and various terrifying moments. This story-centric, extensive hall strategy can be immensely influential in sport design, as would Half-Life’s scarily good (for the time) enemy AI, notably the troopers despatched to close down the Black Mesa facility and everybody in it.
The tantalizing tastes of a bigger story through which you had been just one half — orchestrated by the still-mysterious G-Man — saved gamers on the hook via its expansions and finally its masterful and sadly unfinished sequel.
The multiplayer, too, was a pleasure. I keep in mind particularly lengthy matches of robots versus scientists in Gasworks, and brutal close-quarters fight making an attempt to flee the air raid in Crossfire. Then in fact Crew Fortress Traditional and all that got here after.
But it surely wasn’t simply Half-Life itself that was influential. Valve’s success with this experiment drove it to make additional forays into gaming infrastructure, resulting in the creation of Steam — now, in fact, the world’s main PC gaming platform. Though there are arguments to be made now that Steam is caught previously in some ways, it’s arduous to overestimate its impact on the gaming business through the years.
I replayed the sport a few years in the past and it principally holds up. The preliminary chapters are nonetheless compelling and creepy, and the motion continues to be enjoyable and frantic. The pacing isn’t so scorching and naturally the graphics aren’t so scorching today, and naturally Xen continues to be a ache — however general it’s straightforward to place your self again in your ’90s footwear and keep in mind how superb this was again then.
For those who’re considering of replaying it, nonetheless, you would possibly do your self a favor and as an alternative play Black Mesa, a full-on remake of the sport with extra fashionable graphics and numerous high quality of life modifications. It’s nonetheless largely the identical sport, simply not fairly as 1998.