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Minimum System Specifications:

Pentium 133, 24 MB RAM
SVGA, high-color ( 16 bit )
2x CD-ROM Drive
400 MB HD Space
Win-compatible soundcard
Mouse, Keyboard

Preferred System Specifications

Pentium 166+ 32 MB RAM
3D Accelerator Card ( Open GL or Direct 3d )

For a while I found it difficult to start this review. How was I to review this product from a non-biased point of view? It has been about a year since Half-Life was released, and since then it has been proclaimed "Game of the Year" by over forty publications. For the purposes of this review, I went back to the Black Mesa Research Facility. This game has never left my hard drive and I have logged more hours playing Half-Life in one form or another than all the other games on my hard drive combined. From the Single Player game, which had onlookers gasping and saying "Oh My God, it looks like a movie", to straight deathmatch, to Team Fortress Classic, to the third party modifications, few games in history can compare. Next time you are in a software store, look for Half-Life's bright orange box, it might just knock your socks off.

The single player game moved the first person genre in a direction that will be hard, if not impossible to give up. The first ten to thirty minutes of game play is in the form of you going to work. You play Gordon Freeman, a scientist who seems to be nothing more than part of a big experiment rather than being part of the science team. On your way to the doomed project room you can interact with a multitude of scientists and security guards. With the big experiment about to start, few have more to say to you than a few polite words. Everything in this portion of the game does a great job of building up the tension. It is obvious that something is going to go wrong, but what, and just how bad is it going to be?

The experiment fails in a flash of eye candy that will make you forget that this game is based on the original Quake engine. Some sort of gateway has been opened up to a place where the inhabitants are far from friendly. So now it is up to you, your Hazardous Environment Suit and trusty crowbar to get to the surface and tell your story. Nothing is ever that simple. Despite the catastrophic failure of the experiment, the converted missile silo that you once called work, held up fairly well. You will be able to find allies in the form of pistol wielding security guards and scientists who will get you by the high security areas.

For each of the friendly staff members, you will have to battle or avoid a host of alien invaders that have come through the gateway. These range from pests smaller than a breadbox to horrors that are bigger than a house. If this was not enough, the government has a contingency plan and has sent in squads of highly trained and well-armed troops to make sure nothing comes out of Black Mesa except in a body bag. At this point I had decided that "my" Gordon Freeman had just had a bad, bad day and he was not going to let anyone stand between him and a good stiff drink in some dive near the river.

The variety of environments you have to walk, run, crawl, and jump over has not been matched in any First Person Shooter. I do refuse to turn this review into a spoiler as there are some really exceptional sections to this game. You will explore your run of the mill hallways, lab sections; you will crawl through venting ducts, dodge assassins in warehouses, sprint across open fields chased by a nightmare variety of opponents.

The game begins like a finely crafted novel, most likely due to Marc Laidlaw's influence, who was lured away from his career as a published novelist to make games. The story does not follow you foot step by foot step, however I found that it allowed me to decide who Gordon Freeman was, all the while reminded by small scripted scenes that there was indeed a script to all this madness. On my second pass through the game I was finding myself eager to get to certain portions of the game just to re-experience just how slick the craftsmanship of this game was in places. While there are some points in this product that reach out like beacons in the night, screaming "this is the way games should be made!" there are few portions where my highly critical eye finds a forgivable fault. Can you tell I like Half-Life yet?

How about some specifics? The graphic engine is based on the Quake engine, however it is very difficult to tell. While the system requirements don't ask for it, I recommend that you have a 3d card for this game. The software renderer is top notch and will allow you to get a great deal of enjoyment out of the game. With top of the line machines right now you will be treated to some of the most impressive visuals found in a 3d game to date. With proprietary effects code you will see explosions, huge arching electricity and other non-earthly effects.

While I had seen similar styles of visuals in "Unreal", the sounds in Half-Life made everyone in the room gasp! Even played through my decent sound card and fifteen year-old ghetto blaster, everyone was floored. In the first couple minutes of gameplay you are treated to a tram ride in which the Black Mesa Facility is introduced to you by the tram's public address system. Moving around the car to try to get a better look at the environments the sound faded and changed so well it was unnerving at first. Beyond great positional audio, the environment will change the sounds. Walk across a metal walkway or a cold tile floor , and you will be able to tell the difference. Fire your shotgun in a tight ventway or large empty room, and there will be a significant change. All of this brings the immersion factor of Half-Life's single player game to a level of realism so believable that if your phone starts ringing in real life, you will be looking for a telephone to answer in the game!

The controls and interface have been changed slightly from its Quake origins, nothing too drastic but enough that I recommend that everyone take the Hazard Course. This small map takes you on a tour of your HEV Suit, some obstacles and weapons you will find on your way out of Black Mesa. Despite the fact that this map was not part of the game proper itself, it really gives you a good taste of what is in store for you. You will be guided through the functionality of the game by a young beautiful hologram. Completing the Hazard Course will allow you to enter the game and, (provided that you can apply everything you learned and be flexible), make it back to the surface.

Replay value of the single player game is higher than most games of this kind. My second run through I played it on the hardest skill setting. My foreknowledge of the maps made the first portion fairly simple. Until I met up with the human soldiers, I had very little difficulty; but then fighting fairly dumb animals with pistols, shotguns and submachine guns should not be all that hard. Dumb monsters are just that; they lurch and stagger towards you, allowing you to pick them off at range. However when you meet the first group of humans, Half-Life's AI comes shining through like the Morning Star. Such is the case with these human death squads. Stop moving, and they will flank you, or flush you out with a grenade. Charge at them they will duck, retreat and take cover. On the hardest skill setting one encounter took me over twenty retries to get it done without crawling out with less than ten percent of health! And I think I got lucky!!

Just the single player aspect of Half-Life makes it is a smashing hit. However, as this is a Quake based game it also has a very strong Multiplayer component. Just a quick rundown of what there is to do with Half-Life online. First, grab your machinegun, your RPG and hop onto one of the many deathmatch servers. The Multiplayer maps are well laid out, and a great deal of fun to play. Looking for a bit of variety? With the newest free patch for Half-Life or the most recent boxes you will get Team Fortress Classic. TFC is a faithful port of hugely popular Quake teamplay modification. This free add-on brings a collection of classes from the heavy weapons guy, the sniper, the spy, and the medic to name a few. Missions include the now default Capture the Flag, to Capture and Hold, and my personal favorite the Hunted. This mission has one player playing the president, his team trying to escort him off the map, and the other team trying to stand in their way.

Half-Life's user community is now starting to mature and show its strengths with a few very well done user modifications. There is Action Half-Life that brings the carnage from the big screen movies to your computer screen. As well as, Science and Industry, that has you guarding your scientists who, in turn, create better weapons for your team. And finally, there's my personal favorite, Counter-Strike, where you play either the Terrorists guarding hostages or the Counter-Terrorists strike teams that must go in and bring them out alive. As Valve Software is trying their best to allow the user community to create their own versions of Half-Life, this list will just get bigger.

Valve was so serious about allowing the end user to modify the game that in the early phases of Half-Life's development they bought the most popular Quake Engine map editor around by the name of Worldcraft. While the manual states Worldcraft has no official tech support it has a huge online community around it to get your started and provide you with enough information to become a master. There is some quasi-official support for Worldcraft now in the form of the Half-Life Editing Resource Center found at http://halflife.gamedesign.net/ . Here you will find the newest patches for Worldcraft, links to many other resources and files to make map creation as easy as possible.

In conclusion, if you are a fan of the first person shooter, or just like action games, you MUST own a copy of Half-Life. Simply put, in recent years it is the best of both genres. If you already own Half-Life dig out your bright orange box, get yourself the newest patches via the auto updater and try to get out of the Black Mesa complex alive. Either that or strap on your night vision goggles, pick your MP5 Navy submachine gun, a full bandoleer of ammunition and hunt down some naughty terrorists. Along side with Need for Speed 3, this is one of the few games that is still on my hard drive from last year. This speaks volumes as I never let anything clutter up my hard drive unless it is used. Believe me when I tell you

Half-Life

 

Half-Life

ESRB: Rating Pending - RP
Platform: PC Games
Category: Action Games
 
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Minimum System Specifications: Pentium 133, 24 MB RAM SVGA, high-color ( 16 bit ) 2x CD-ROM Drive 400 MB HD Space Win-compatible soundcard Mouse, Keyboard Preferred System Specifications Pentium 166+ 32 MB RAM 3D Accelerator Card ( Open GL or Direct 3d ) For a while I found it difficult to start this review. How was I to review this product from a non-biased point of view? It has been about a year since Half-Life was released, and since then it has been proclaimed "Game of the Year" by over forty publications. For the purposes of this review, I went back to the Black Mesa Research Facility. This game has never left my hard drive and I have logged more hours playing Half-Life in one form or another than all the other games on my hard drive combined. From the Single Player game, which had onlookers gasping and saying "Oh My God, it looks like a movie", to straight deathmatch, to Team Fortress Classic, to the third party modifications, few games in history can compare. Next time you are in a software store, look for Half-Life's bright orange box, it might just knock your socks off. The single player game moved the first person genre in a direction that will be hard, if not impossible to give up. The first ten to thirty minutes of game play is in the form of you going to work. You play Gordon Freeman, a scientist who seems to be nothing more than part of a big experiment rather than being part of the science team. On your way to the doomed project room you can interact with a multitude of scientists and security guards. With the big experiment about to start, few have more to say to you than a few polite words. Everything in this portion of the game does a great job of building up the tension. It is obvious that something is going to go wrong, but what, and just how bad is it going to be? The experiment fails in a flash of eye candy that will make you forget that this game is based on the original Quake engine. Some sort of gateway has been opened up to a place where the inhabitants are far from friendly. So now it is up to you, your Hazardous Environment Suit and trusty crowbar to get to the surface and tell your story. Nothing is ever that simple. Despite the catastrophic failure of the experiment, the converted missile silo that you once called work, held up fairly well. You will be able to find allies in the form of pistol wielding security guards and scientists who will get you by the high security areas. For each of the friendly staff members, you will have to battle or avoid a host of alien invaders that have come through the gateway. These range from pests smaller than a breadbox to horrors that are bigger than a house. If this was not enough, the government has a contingency plan and has sent in squads of highly trained and well-armed troops to make sure nothing comes out of Black Mesa except in a body bag. At this point I had decided that "my" Gordon Freeman had just had a bad, bad day and he was not going to let anyone stand between him and a good stiff drink in some dive near the river. The variety of environments you have to walk, run, crawl, and jump over has not been matched in any First Person Shooter. I do refuse to turn this review into a spoiler as there are some really exceptional sections to this game. You will explore your run of the mill hallways, lab sections; you will crawl through venting ducts, dodge assassins in warehouses, sprint across open fields chased by a nightmare variety of opponents. The game begins like a finely crafted novel, most likely due to Marc Laidlaw's influence, who was lured away from his career as a published novelist to make games. The story does not follow you foot step by foot step, however I found that it allowed me to decide who Gordon Freeman was, all the while reminded by small scripted scenes that there was indeed a script to all this madness. On my second pass through the game I was finding myself eager to get to certain portions of the game just to re-experience just how slick the craftsmanship of this game was in places. While there are some points in this product that reach out like beacons in the night, screaming "this is the way games should be made!" there are few portions where my highly critical eye finds a forgivable fault. Can you tell I like Half-Life yet? How about some specifics? The graphic engine is based on the Quake engine, however it is very difficult to tell. While the system requirements don't ask for it, I recommend that you have a 3d card for this game. The software renderer is top notch and will allow you to get a great deal of enjoyment out of the game. With top of the line machines right now you will be treated to some of the most impressive visuals found in a 3d game to date. With proprietary effects code you will see explosions, huge arching electricity and other non-earthly effects. While I had seen similar styles of visuals in "Unreal", the sounds in Half-Life made everyone in the room gasp! Even played through my decent sound card and fifteen year-old ghetto blaster, everyone was floored. In the first couple minutes of gameplay you are treated to a tram ride in which the Black Mesa Facility is introduced to you by the tram's public address system. Moving around the car to try to get a better look at the environments the sound faded and changed so well it was unnerving at first. Beyond great positional audio, the environment will change the sounds. Walk across a metal walkway or a cold tile floor , and you will be able to tell the difference. Fire your shotgun in a tight ventway or large empty room, and there will be a significant change. All of this brings the immersion factor of Half-Life's single player game to a level of realism so believable that if your phone starts ringing in real life, you will be looking for a telephone to answer in the game! The controls and interface have been changed slightly from its Quake origins, nothing too drastic but enough that I recommend that everyone take the Hazard Course. This small map takes you on a tour of your HEV Suit, some obstacles and weapons you will find on your way out of Black Mesa. Despite the fact that this map was not part of the game proper itself, it really gives you a good taste of what is in store for you. You will be guided through the functionality of the game by a young beautiful hologram. Completing the Hazard Course will allow you to enter the game and, (provided that you can apply everything you learned and be flexible), make it back to the surface. Replay value of the single player game is higher than most games of this kind. My second run through I played it on the hardest skill setting. My foreknowledge of the maps made the first portion fairly simple. Until I met up with the human soldiers, I had very little difficulty; but then fighting fairly dumb animals with pistols, shotguns and submachine guns should not be all that hard. Dumb monsters are just that; they lurch and stagger towards you, allowing you to pick them off at range. However when you meet the first group of humans, Half-Life's AI comes shining through like the Morning Star. Such is the case with these human death squads. Stop moving, and they will flank you, or flush you out with a grenade. Charge at them they will duck, retreat and take cover. On the hardest skill setting one encounter took me over twenty retries to get it done without crawling out with less than ten percent of health! And I think I got lucky!! Just the single player aspect of Half-Life makes it is a smashing hit. However, as this is a Quake based game it also has a very strong Multiplayer component. Just a quick rundown of what there is to do with Half-Life online. First, grab your machinegun, your RPG and hop onto one of the many deathmatch servers. The Multiplayer maps are well laid out, and a great deal of fun to play. Looking for a bit of variety? With the newest free patch for Half-Life or the most recent boxes you will get Team Fortress Classic. TFC is a faithful port of hugely popular Quake teamplay modification. This free add-on brings a collection of classes from the heavy weapons guy, the sniper, the spy, and the medic to name a few. Missions include the now default Capture the Flag, to Capture and Hold, and my personal favorite the Hunted. This mission has one player playing the president, his team trying to escort him off the map, and the other team trying to stand in their way. Half-Life's user community is now starting to mature and show its strengths with a few very well done user modifications. There is Action Half-Life that brings the carnage from the big screen movies to your computer screen. As well as, Science and Industry, that has you guarding your scientists who, in turn, create better weapons for your team. And finally, there's my personal favorite, Counter-Strike, where you play either the Terrorists guarding hostages or the Counter-Terrorists strike teams that must go in and bring them out alive. As Valve Software is trying their best to allow the user community to create their own versions of Half-Life, this list will just get bigger. Valve was so serious about allowing the end user to modify the game that in the early phases of Half-Life's development they bought the most popular Quake Engine map editor around by the name of Worldcraft. While the manual states Worldcraft has no official tech support it has a huge online community around it to get your started and provide you with enough information to become a master. There is some quasi-official support for Worldcraft now in the form of the Half-Life Editing Resource Center found at http://halflife.gamedesign.net/ . Here you will find the newest patches for Worldcraft, links to many other resources and files to make map creation as easy as possible. In conclusion, if you are a fan of the first person shooter, or just like action games, you MUST own a copy of Half-Life. Simply put, in recent years it is the best of both genres. If you already own Half-Life dig out your bright orange box, get yourself the newest patches via the auto updater and try to get out of the Black Mesa complex alive. Either that or strap on your night vision goggles, pick your MP5 Navy submachine gun, a full bandoleer of ammunition and hunt down some naughty terrorists. Along side with Need for Speed 3, this is one of the few games that is still on my hard drive from last year. This speaks volumes as I never let anything clutter up my hard drive unless it is used. Believe me when I tell you… You want this game!! Half-Life was reviewed by gameboyz reader, Somberfire on his: Win 98 P200 64 RAM Pure 3d Voodoo 1 Card Win 98 P2-300 128 RAM TNT Video Card



 
 

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