The revolutionary Half-Life set the standard for subsequent first-person shooters. As each new section or level is reached, the game pauses to load it, making for massive, seamless environments. Nearly all levels are located in or around the Black Mesa Research Facility, including subterranean railroads, laboratories, ventilation shafts, cafeterias, missile silos, and eventually the aliens' home world. The diverse range of enemies includes tank-like warrior spore plants, headcrabs, and possessed scientists, just to name a few. Horror novelist Marc Laidlaw's storyline tells a chilling tale of government scandal and experiments gone wrong.
As if the protagonist of the story, Gordon Freeman, doesn't have enough on his hands with the varying cadre of foes, he's being hunted by marines and government assassins as well. As Freeman, you need to find weapons to survive. The arsenal includes a melee wrench, pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, rocket and grenade launcher, and various alien armaments scavenged off dead soldiers. Unlike many first-person shooters, health and ammunition packs are located in sensible locations. First aid kits are attached to walls in medical laboratories, while ammunition is logically found in weapon depots or on dead marines. Your protective suit acts as armor and can be replenished in certain locales.
Half-Life uses a modified version of id Software's Quake engine (combined with about 50 lines of code from the Quake 2 engine), resulting in realistic levels and locations with fearsome aliens waiting to end your struggle at every turn. While the game is flawless, the online deathmatch aspect suffered initially from high server latency, later fixed through a series of patches. Winning over 50 Game of the Year awards and named best game of all time by PC Gamer magazine, Half-Life is an extraordinary achievement that established the benchmark for future games in the genre.
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