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SummaryPleased to make your acquaintance Mr. Half-Life, but haven't we met before?
The GoodInteresting weapons with good variety, great sound and graphics, some impressive stages and good ballistics for an arcade game. Also there's great interaction in the game and there are some truly excellent action sequences, like a whole episode where you are on a little train and one where you have to sneak past a giant tentacle. The game also can create one hell of an atmosphere.
The BadWell, the npcs look like the same two guys all through the game, and the AI in the game looks amazing, but that's because it merely follows some clever pre-programmed steps, you'll quickly learn it's "holes" and how to take advantage of them. Also the final boss sucks, it is merely a puzzle-like exercise with zero challenge to it.
But the real bad thing in Half-Life is that it is completely over-rated. Half-life is a great game, but let's not confuse the issues, that doesn't mean it does anything new or innovative, it merely does everything we have seen before better. For instance, the storyline is a piece of crap, it's the usual "bad aliens come to kick ass" thing but updated to our current times (cue in the government cover-ups and X-files references). Why does it seem better then? Because it is made a part of the game. In previous games you played through a level/mission and then you sat back to watch the story unfold in cutscenes, on Half-Life the story unveils before your eyes in the game!! Revolutionary you say? I say System Shock, just because it's the first one that comes to mind. The gameplay itself is also unninspired, and shows the true nature of the game, for instance: take the giant tentacle sequence: what's it really about? flipping switches, and shooting anything in the way... However by lots of inventive designs and atmosphere tricks, we get duped into thinking it's actually a deep non-linear affair, millions of times I was fooled into thinking "wow, there must be hundreds of possible ways to finish this game" Wrong, Half-Life is a shooter pure and simple, and though it may seem deep it is actually Doom Redux: kill everything in the room, flip the switch, move on... ad infinitum.
As such, it is very easy to understand the reason Half-Life is so successful. Half-Life is nothing but a sophisticated Doom, yet everyone hails it as the next coming in terms of level design, storyline, etc... Don't get me wrong, like Doom, I love Half-Life! But I know what the game is REALLY about. In the end it is all about illusions really, you may say that I'm being overly cynical, and that illusions is what gaming is all about anyway.... but still, I can't help but think that the gaming industry can provide something different that just newer, better versions of Doom. I'd like to think that they can provide original storylines and true depth of gameplay instead of pulling quarters out of our ears, showing us a series of nifty tricks and making us believe we have had the time of our lives