Game Info:

Developed By: Valve
Published By: Sierra Studios/Valve
Released: November 8, 1998
Available On: Windows, PlayStation 2, macOS, Linux
Genre: FPS, Horror, Sci-Fi, Adventure
ESRB Rating: Mature for Animated Blood, Animated Violence
Number of Players: 1 offline, 20+ online
Price: $9.99

What can I say about this game that hasn't been said before? If you've somehow been on the Internet and haven't heard of Half-Life yet, I applaud your ability to not hear of one of the most popular shooters of all time. For the uneducated, Half-Life is a game made by Valve, released in 1998. However, it is so, so much more.

Based off a modified version of the Quake engine, which Valve then called GoldSrc, Half-Life was another revolutionary shooter to come out of the '90s. Because it was based on the Quake engine, it had the same beautifully smooth and buttery fast-paced gameplay. As you play through Half-Life, you'll discover that this game encourages daredevil-like speed. Even 20 years after it launched, Half-Life's gameplay is still the template for FPS games. The movement is crisp and almost lag free. The guns are balanced with good hit registration and damage. Not to mention, Half-Life's AI was light years beyond what they had at the time. The enemies don't feel aged, and respond about 2/3 as well as what we have today. Half-Life's gameplay, in my opinion, has aged better than any game in history. Certainly better than other old popular games like GoldenEye.

And just like its gameplay, Half-Life revolutionized gaming with its stunning 3D graphics. And although they aren't the prettiest nowadays, Half-Life set the bar on intuitive textures, and models with their horrific aliens and monsters.

The sound of the game hasn't aged [i]horribly[/i]. Playing with my headphones that, I'll admit, aren't the greatest (not a $200 pair) but can hear really good quality, the game is missing high frequencies, or they sound very dampened. The panning is still great, and you can tell where sounds are coming from. The ominous (and sometimes loud sounds) most certainly add to the atmosphere of this game. It can make it feel empty or packed with action. While the bit-crushed and lower quality sounds are a bit dated, they certainly aren't horrible like some other old games can be, with a very present terrible quality.

The music in this game also is pretty good. While some of the instruments may sound dated or compressed, the melodies are awesome and the music goes great with adding tension or additional feeling to the ambience of this game.

Now onto the actual story. Half-Life follows the life of Gordon Freeman (not to be confused by his uncle from marriage Morgan). Gordon Freeman works at the Black Mesa Research Facility in Arizona. Black Mesa is a giant testing ground filled with creatures, robots, scientists and more. As a graduate in theoretical physics, Gordon specializes in the scientifically unseen. Aliens, time travel, things that no one should mess with.

Science going to far

Strong Points: Great gameplay, level design and character AI
Weak Points: Graphics have aged not as well, and the movement speed/controls can be finicky at times
Moral Warnings: Moderate/borderline severe language (S***, D***, A**, blasphemy), strong violence and bloody gore, light references to cigars/alcohol

When a mysterious object appears in Black Mesa that nobody knows anything about, the obvious answer is to experiment with it! Because they're scientists! When the experiment goes wrong, because, as we all know, all experiments fail in games, a rift between Earth and an alien planet is opened. Gordon now has to find his way out of Black Mesa while battling aliens, monsters, soldiers and even the world around him.

In addition to the graphics and gameplay, Half-Life boasts a huge world full of challenges and enemies at every turn, with ingenious level design (we'll come back to it) and an array of guns. Such as, but not limited to, a shotgun, a pistol, a crossbow, an RPG, grenades, and more. And with Half-Life 2's invention of the Source engine, the gravity gun and more, Half-Life is the franchise that kept on giving.

Half-Life's level design is also as good as its gameplay. With great design choices, Half-Life encouraged players to either run through it at full speed, or take their time to catch their breath, or maybe look at their surroundings. Half-Life's levels were huge and had great ideas such as radioactive waste, pits, low-gravity sections and more. The amazing thing this game did for me, was be able to create a sort of perfect labyrinth of technology and science and tear it apart. It was because of these revolutionary things that made Half-Life an amazing FPS and something that raised the bar for the future of gaming. Now, on to the cons.

While most things aged well, the graphics did not. While they aren't horrible today, they still look like a game from the '90s. Blocky environments, fuzzy textures, lacking detail and washed out colors. Overall, they aren't bad, but they certainly have aged the worst out of this game. The gameplay is also hit or miss. While it is good and still holds alright today, some things about it can be specifically annoying, such as friction and movement speed. The level design is good but sometimes the placement of characters or enemies can lead to things being not so obvious or overly challenging.

Great environments, but poor graphics
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 80%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 3/5

Morality Score - 81%
Violence - 3/10
Language - 6/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 5.5/10
This game displays the consequences of evil and/or messing with the occult. (+3 pts) 

Half-Life does have some moral issues. While the killing of aliens/monsters could be written off, the killing of human soldiers cannot. This game could have simply made them aliens or something else. I understand they wanted to portray a government cleanup, but it doesn't justify it. The game also allows you to kill innocent scientists, or let them go to their deaths.

While very few main characters in the game (if any) swear or use crude language, the soldiers you encounter in the game can drop almost all language except an F-bomb. In addition, sometimes characters or enemies can be blown up, and depending on the character, they may be blown into graphic chunks of 5-10 pieces of flesh. When killed, all characters' bodies hit the floor and don't disappear for a short time.

The aliens in this game can be seen as scary, and this game does have a horror side to it, so it isn't for the easily frightened people. However, if you can handle horror/dread decently, this game won't scare you. Some characters can have cigars, and there are some references to beer.

In closing, Half-Life was and still is a staple of Fast-Paced FPS Adventure games, with amazing graphics for its time, great gameplay and AI, and perfect level design, despite its moral and aging issues.

- God's Gaming's Contempt, signing off.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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