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… properly, 10 years in the past. We’ve each aged properly, I wish to suppose. However Half-Life has already left a legacy.
Half-Life was Valve’s first recreation, after they have been a younger recreation studio and never the enormous gaming conglomerate we all know them as at the moment. The sport was additionally a giant threat — its narrative-heavy gameplay, together with the now well-known arrival-at-work intro sequence, was a departure from the widely easy shooters of the late ’90s.
At a time when most video games have been nonetheless level-based, Half-Life set forth a steady (although nonetheless largely episodic) journey punctuated with setpiece encounters and quite a lot of terrifying moments. This story-centric, huge hall method can be immensely influential in recreation design, as would Half-Life’s scarily good (for the time) enemy AI, significantly the troopers despatched to close down the Black Mesa facility and everybody in it.
The tantalizing tastes of a bigger story wherein you have been just one half — orchestrated by the still-mysterious G-Man — saved gamers on the hook by means of its expansions and finally its masterful and sadly unfinished sequel.
The multiplayer, too, was a pleasure. I bear 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 after all 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, after all, 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 onerous to overestimate its impact on the gaming trade over time.
I replayed the sport a few years in the past and it largely 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 nowadays, and naturally Xen continues to be a ache — however general it’s straightforward to place your self again in your ’90s sneakers and bear in mind how wonderful this was again then.
When you’re pondering of replaying it, nevertheless, you would possibly do your self a favor and as an alternative play Black Mesa, a full-on remake of the sport with extra trendy graphics and a whole lot of high quality of life modifications. It’s nonetheless largely the identical recreation, simply not fairly as 1998.