Half-Life (Windows)

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Critic Score
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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Written by  :  Ashley Pomeroy (233)
Written on  :  Jun 21, 2000
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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We'll make an excellent team

The Good

A modern classic, this is an finely-honed first person shooter with a compelling story, some excellent action set-pieces, great presentation, and a ground-breakingly perfect musical score. It reeks of quality, and stinks of class - the creators obviously cared about making a good game, and that simple fact sets 'Half-Life' apart from everything else. Now almost two years old, 'Half-Life' is still just as good as it was, and it could be released tomorrow and still make the same impact. It's an embarrassment of riches, with too many good things to count - in amongst the seemingly-intelligent soldiers, giant tentacles, amusingly jingoistic security guards and radioactive water the game almost off-handedly solves the problem of how to tell a story with a computer game - and it's extremely immersive. You really need to play it with headphones, or an expensive stereo. Everything from the plausible, gloomy environments, to the metallic chatter of your machine-pistol, fits the atmosphere perfectly, and there's a sparse, scary set of musical cues which mix ambient techno with noisemusic. It's even excellent fun as a multiplayer game, or even in related 'Team Fortress' form. It's rock-hard, too, but in a way that makes you want certain bits again and again. All told, it's a classic, and you should own it already (plus the mission pack).

The Bad

It's not perfect, though, although familiarity has no bred contempt. The narrative flow breaks down in the final, alien-bound levels, which are a disappointment after the recognisably real-world environments in the rest of the game. On the alien world there are a couple of places where you can be inextricably stuck, too, which seems unfair. Some of the creature designs don't seem to fit, either - whilst the mutated scientists and head-crabs are fantastically hateable, the hulking, wasp-firing alien 'sergeants' seem to belong to another game entirely. Play it in the dark, for the first time, and you'll be scared to death, too.

The Bottom Line

It makes 'Blood 2' look amazingly, implausibly bad.