Greatest Game of 1998: Half-Life

 

"Mr. Freeman, it's time to choose the best game of 1998. Good choice, Mr. Freeman"

Five reasons Half-Life is the best game of 1998:

 

1 – Crowbar

Previous to Half-Life, the FPS genre was riding a non-stop train to ridiculoustown and their tickets were fictional weapons:

Too much!

Half-Life‘s crowbar stopped that train in its tracks with a swift swing to the grill:

"Say hello to my metal friend"

 

Gordon Freeman’s iconic weapon was the first melee weapon to really deliver a reasonable correlation between the physical item and the damage dealt.  Punching a CyberDemon to death in Doom II just never made a whole lot of sense to me.  BTW the guy in this clip is amazing.  I want to have a coffee with him…or more likely a Mountain Dew.  Let’s do this!

“I’m getting a lot of punches in on him but I can’t boast yet!”

The crowbar was the first melee weapon to really feel right.  The animation, the sound, the blood.  It was all perfect.   Even just how it fit into the story.  The plausibility of that being your only weapon at the beginning of the game due to being a lab scientist was all just pitch perfect.  So much so when I first played Half-Life 2 and the first weapon I found was a crowbar I literally rolled my eyes.  “What are the odds?” I thought to myself.  I suppose that’s the price of melee weapon celebrity status.

 

2 – Down with Cutscenes

Before Half-Life the soup of the day for drama was always cutscenes.  Whenever something dramatic happened you lost control of your character, the camera sometimes changed perspective which literally pulled you out of your character in an FPS.  Those goofy geniuses at Valve had other ideas. “What if we always keep you in character, always keep you in control and then script a bunch of sweet drama around you?”  said Gabe Newell to his team.  “SOLD!” every gamer in the world shouted in unison.  This refreshingly immersive shift combined with a solid story gave Half-Life’s single player campaign the stopping power it needed to blow away gamers’ expectations.

The game’s initial tram ride remains one of the most famous scripted intros in gaming:

These scripted sequences caught on to such a degree that eventually the gaming industry had a backlash against heavily-scripted games i.e. there was a negative implication that you couldn’t really change the action around you as it was all pre-determined.  Fact is , today they still make heavily-scripted games and if they’re good , no one cares.  If anything now we’re running up into another trend that’s starting to get backlash, the antithesis of scripted: sandbox.  But that’s a rant for a rainy day where I’m hate-playing GTA V.

 

3 – Multiplayer

This point is a little more personal to me vs. a general observation of the game.  I played the h e double hockeysticks out of Half-Life’s built-in multiplayer.  I’m not talking about mods, expansions, downloaded maps, nothing. I’m talking about vanilla ice-cream, comes-in-the-box multiplayer and I loved every lick of it.

C4 packs, trip mines, the very rare but exciting gauss gun kill.   PROTECT THE HEV!

But that’s not all there was to Half-Life multiplayer thanks to the following folks…

 

4 – Developer Community

There’s a billion reasons Half-Life deserves credit for creating an amazing developer community.  But let’s just leave it with one hyphenated word:

COUNTER-STRIKE

Alright, one more word: de_dust2

 

5 – Gordon Freeman 

I’m just kidding about this one.  Gordon Freeman always was and is the element of Half-Life I didn’t and don’t give a damn about.  Are we supposed to enjoy how in spite of his glasses and MIT degree he is an amazing one man miltary force?  Is that supposed to appeal to weak nerds who probably throw like girls? Well, you know what would appeal to me more?  An interesting main character.

 

whatever

 

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