Well, who ever thought the day would come for me to review a masterpiece of human art?
Because that is what Half-Life truly is. Nothing more than an explosion of emotion, detail, and enjoyment. Let me tell you why.
Half-Life, from the beginning, starts in one of the most innovative ways ever. You are 'toured' through the Black Mesa Research Facility. This 'tour' is not a simple intro to the game, it is much more. From that single train ride, the player starts to realize what kind of world he is in. He sees the robot-workers, he sees the guards, and he tries controlling around his character. Nobody tells the player to do this. He instictively feels that he can't just stand there. He (I'm sorry for neglecting the 'She'-s, but it would be too tiring 'He/She'-ing every time) gets accustomed with his new controls. And that is one of the smartest moves that Valve has ever done. This simple 5 minute tour, is more effective than any other tutorial level, be it in Half-Life itself, or in other games. The player learns how to play, and he learns it while having F*U*N, not having to go through a monotonous level of jumping through tubes, and running back and forth in a tutorial room.
But the train ride can't last forever, can it? Gordon Freeman eventually has to get off. And so he does.
Every NPC around Gordon Freeman, during the whole game, has been scripted in order to be as interactive as possible. In fact, Half-Life was the first game to ever do this. And it certainly paid off. You just have to move through the corridors, and you hear scientists and guards talking to you, expressing a somewhat familiarity. And that actually works. The player actually starts feeling some sympathy towards these NPC-s.
And so Gordon Freeman goes on through his quest, faced with some of the most viciously designed monsters and aliens in the history of computer games. No, this is not an exxageration. Let me give you an example. There is a sequence in Half-Life, where your character is running through a hallway (the hallway is extremely long, so the user once again feels instictively the need to run. And that was exactly what the designers wanted). You are all concentrated in running in a as straight line as possible, when Wham! a whole part of the left hallway wall is ripped off, and something that looks like 3 incredibly huge scorpion tails appears. The choreography, the timing, and the horror that this sequence gave to me is something impossible to be forgotten. And the whole game is cramed to the throat with similar experiences.
The Graphics are some of the most beautiful ever seen. True, they may not use the latest techniques of the latest games, but that too is a point in favour of Half-Life. With the limited technology available at the time, they managed to create such a perfect game, that even today, nobody would be able to add anything worthy, high-technology or not.
The Level Design is perfect on its own. The simplest example. When you first enter the Black Mesa, you notice that on a right-hand wall, there are 3 lines with different colors. Inside every line, there is a description of different places where you can go. So, in order, for example, to go to the lab, you can just follow the green line, and you will not get lost! Isn't that a perfect touch? More realistic than any radars or anything else designed in later games.
The Sound. Oh, the sound! Chilling to the bone, or easing as a nursing rhyme. A tornado of brass, or a pillow of cotton. Hats off.
Final rating : 110%
sasha: Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go have sex with my boyfriend.