Why am I apologising to Valve? Only because I was so negative towards their ground-breaking game for about a decade.
I've bought this game three times.
1. When it first came out. I was as excited as anyone. I had to wait a while before I had a computer that could run it. Then I played through the game with my brother. And I HATED it. I had nothing but negativity towards it. I hated the scripted sequences, the difficulty, the enemies, the weapons - anything and everything. About halfway through, I just stopped playing as it was making me too angry and let my brother take over. We got to the final boss, but never finished the game.
A couple of years later, angry and wanting to put Half-Life out of my mind, I threw the disc away.
But I couldn't forget. Several years later.......
2. I bought it again, used, for a low-price. I just wanted to finish the damn thing, and make sure that I was correct about it being a bad game. Regardless, I tried to be more positive. I started playing it, still wasn't enjoying it, was highly annoyed by jumping puzzles. Just as I started to get a little more into it, I encountered the infamous 'elevator bug' - which seemed unavoidable, unfixable, increased my hatred towards the game and...
Made me throw the disc away. Again.
I tried to forget. But Half-Life wouldn't leave me alone.
3. Late last year. Finally converted into a fan of at least some of Valve's products (Left 4 Dead, Portal) and finally using Steam, I heard about a weekend sale. Half-Life for $1. And so, for the third time, I bought it. My first ever Steam purchase. I wasn't even sure why. I played it for an hour or two and still wasn't very impressed. Left it alone for about a month.
Then, just a few days ago, I fired it up again. I played it solidly for three nights. I finished it.
And I LOVED it. Yes, there were annoyances. Yes, I fell to my death loads of times. But it's a fantastic game. Not just good: Fantastic. One of the best action titles I've ever played and I'm still astonished at the number of innovative features it has, most of which continue to be ignored by the average FPS developer nowadays.
The spectre was finally left to rest.
And I completely changed my opinion on a game (which almost never happens).
Valve (you're not reading this but), please accept my apologies. And my thanks!
Join the club, my friend :)
Now try HL2, which is in my opinion even better, at least for two reasons: 1) The setting is waaaaay cooler. Dig the old Soviet style! 2) No #$%(&%^ jumping puzzles!
What exactly made you change your mind all of a sudden? I still think of Half-Life as a rather boring title. Reminded me too much of Hollywood action blockbusters.
To be honest, I've played it twice, and the first time I needed God mode once I got to Xen just to be it. Like you, I actually disliked the first Half-Life extremely. The second time I played through it I enjoyed it more, but only because I was playing it on a console with friends to keep me company. However, I only got halfway through. I disliked it for the same exact reason you do: for the difficulty, for the jumping puzzles, and because its a rather boring shooter.
Half-Life 2, on the other hand, I simply CANNOT get enough of. Excellent game. Don't let the first game stop you from trying it. Plus, the Orange Box comes with all the episodes + Portal (which is worth buying just alone).
How was Half-Life boring? It was scarier than most shooters of its time, with far more interesting AI than any shooter out at the time and a quite involving story (for a shooter). The weapons were well balanced as well. The only thing it had really against it (if you ask me) was the horrible colour scheme of some levels, but even that wasn't as bad as SiN for example. And the platform puzzels which were often way too hard (and Xen was the epitome of that aspect of the game).
(Edited by Dr. M. "Schadenfreude" Von Katze (588), Feb 11, 2009)Re: Sorry, Valve
Dr. M. "Schadenfreude" Von Katze (588), Feb 11, 2009
Wow, thanks, I was wondering if I was the only one or what.
Also, I'd add to your points that the design of the maps was better than in pretty much every shooter ever, giving the enemy plenty of opportunities to ambush and gang up against you, which made it about the most challenging shooter I've ever played; probably second only to F.E.A.R.
As much as I love the Half-Life 2 family, they're so easy it's almost insulting. The only time I found a semi-decent challenge (not counting those incredibly lame fights where the only challenge is that they throw in those fucking what-the-hell-where-they-on-when-they-invented-them flying little robots, which borders on the concept of cpu-cheating, GOD I HATE THOSE) was the White Forest ambush in Episode 2.
Seriously, I can't believe how is there people complaining about HL1 being too hard. If you ask me, I blame fucking Halo for this whole shooter-pussyfying thing of the console generation >=(
If you ask me, I blame fucking Halo for this whole shooter-pussyfying thing of the console generation >=(
I don't think so, read some reviews of HL here on MG; there are people who played it way before Halo was even mentioned, and they found it too difficult... I'm talking about hardened gaming veterans here, like Trixter for example.
I can't comment on this myself, since I never reached all those hard levels in the first HL.
HL2 is pretty easy, I agree. Haven't played it on hard, though.
I found Half-Life incredibly difficult and annoying when it came out, but that was because the only FPS I'd really played was Doom - and the two games are worlds apart. At the time, I didn't understand that I might actually have to use tactics in an action game. I didn't appreciate that it could be fun working out how to deal with a turret emplacement that had me pinned down.
There are plenty of things that are still annoying in HL1. There were many times when I fell off ladders, got stuck to ladders, got stuck trying to climb out of water, had to use an annoying variant on a jump (Seriously, *why* did anyone think a 'crouch jump' was a good idea, or even necessary?). Also, the tasks earlier on feel rather mundane and uninteresting. Go here - press this switch - go there - press that switch. And there are plenty of opportunies for instant death.
But (this time around), the more I played, the more I appreciated the game. Historically, it has so many things that were 'firsts' for the genre. But even ignoring that, it has excellent level design with a lot of variety to it. And the puzzles seem to improve as the game continues. You might go from an all-out gun battle to an interesting puzzle section (I particularly liked the warehouse later in the game that's rigged all over with explosive devices linked to a web of laser tripwires). Also, I remembered the final section (Xen - the alien world) as being the worst part of the game. But playing it again, I actually liked it. It looked wonderful and (call me crazy but), I actually quite enjoyed the jumping sections, leaping between floating, moving platforms. The final boss battle is crap, though - as is the ending sequence.
But overall, brilliant. I just bought the two expansion packs (and downloaded 'Decay'). So there's more HL1 action for me yet :)
I didn't even make it as far as Xen. What I remember of "Half-Life" (my experience is a while back) is a standard-shooter with the only difference, that it was back then the first game to have those scripted sequences, where events unfolded directly in the game without any change of perspective. However, the only use Valve made of that technique was to let some aliens jump out of hidden spots to kill some irrelevant scientists every now and then. I really wasn't very scared by that, nor did I think the story or atmosphere were in any other way remarkable.
Further, the Black Mesa Station could have made an interesting setting, but didn't. If you ask me, there's nothing cool about a tubular level-design, where the only way is straight-forward, with hardly any opportunities to explore a location freely. Actually I dislike much acclaimed games like "Max Payne" for exactly the same reason. A linear path that has nothing to offer but countless enemies between you and your goal? No, thanks.
Well, the behaviour of the marines was indeed very smart and realistic. The AI was definitely ahead of its time. All in all, the game didn't impress me, however.
it was back then the first game to have those scripted sequences, where events unfolded directly in the game without any change of perspective
I remember reading that System Shock 2 had one of these (and a big design challenge was to have the player not accidentally fall off his invisible moving platform into the landscape depicted while it unfolded) but from the looks of things HL actually beat them to the punch! Cool beans.