Zero Punctuation: Half-Life

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Gotta say I disagree this time. I tried the original half life when the orange box came out, never really had the chance to play it when it did come out and I wasnt interested in it at the time either.

That said, I didnt like the game after the first hour or so. It all happened pretty early in the game when you get on a jet ski to go through military unites and aliens to get somewhere and do something (Ive forgotten what). During that sequence it just dragged on so long that it wasnt fun or interesting. So I turned off the game and have never picked it back up.

Before that I found the game had a problem that most games with poor storytelling have today. That is to drop hints and not give an actual explanation as to whats going on in a reasonable time frame.

Im not going to say its a bad game because that would require me to play the whole thing through to form that kind of complex opinion. However what I will say is that of what I played it was tedious, boring, and just not any fun. I did not enjoy playing Half life so I fail to see why it is this shining messiah that will lead us to the promised land that so many claim it is

Pearwood:
In a bit of a self indulgent mood are we Mr Croshaw? ;)

I initially read that as "Mr Crowbar". My subconscious is apparently getting the better of me this evening, it seems.

Ah, Half-Life, one of the last great FPS's, until things turned to grey-brown samey shite. I died so much in that 1st game and Opposing Force, especially in Surface Tension. EAT SCIENCE!, indeed! I thought this would be a retrospective of the whole series to show how FPS's lost their way, but there's next week.
Now, Yahtzee blames Counter-Strike for inspiring what's wrong with multiplayer shooters, but who's to blame for the CoD's nonsensical single player stories? I think HALO's at fault for the two-weapon-maximum mechanics that plague us (I'm an armor-clad super-soldier who can flip over an overturned Warthog or Ghost and cave in my opponent's skull with one butt from my gun, but I can't carry more than two at a time?!) and HALO 2 for no health pick-ups.

malestrithe:
I don't blame Watchmen for ruining the 90s, I blame the Dark Knight Returns for that.

Watchmen added a complex narrative structure that only appeared in comics in the early 2000s.

Too true. Could you elaborate more on that early 2000's part? Could it have to do with Grant Morrison's New X-Men or his JLA work?

Windcaler:
snip

Well the answer is obvious. You played the sequal (which was also awesome) not the original.

OT: I was genuinely shocked to see this review. I thought it was gonna be like that DNF review only with HL3.

Possibly the only Valve obsessed fanboy who doesn't like Half Life.

I never really understood why Half Life was so popular. I got up to that bit with the big thing with 2 flamethrowers before stopping because I didn't know whether I had to shoot at it or somehow sneak past it or find a button which destroyed it. My weapons didn't 'seem' to be doing any kind of damage to it.

And then there was the story, I couldn't find one to follow. First you're a Scientist, who pushes a cart into a glowey thing to complete an experiment which goes wrong and there's a big explosion and a few blips with teleportation back and forth and when you get back everyone's dead and there are lots of aliens running around. Then it all gets a bit vague.
You're escaping, I gathered that, then the army comes in and starts shooting at you too. Umm.. a big thing with tenticles you have to sneak back and forth to and from while you gather the resources to burn it. And that's about as much as I remember.

Same thing with Half Life 2. Lost interest when after almost 2 hours of gameplay I still didn't know why I was running around. It just dragged on and on without any other human interaction to give direction.

I generally don't like single player games too much. They get old after a while whereas multiplayer games like TF2 and L4D(2) are different every time you play.

That was insanely unexpected! And awesome.

EAT SCIENCE!

I like how he talked about the HL engine graphics without bashing them. The very reason I find HL very difficult to play today.

Sober Thal:
"Counter Strike. Game of choice for the first generation of realistic military shooter Gutter Cunts, who's hate filled whims now dictate half the fucking industry."

Well said Yahtzee. Well said.

Ah yes, I still remember the days before Halo and CoD, when the Counter-Strike community was the prime source of bile-filled assholes. Though in many ways, it wasn't that bad. Not as many people had mikes yet, so the douchebaggery was mostly limited to just text.

Anyway, back to Half-Life. One of the many things I liked about it were the many mods and total conversions, some of them high-quality enough to be called a game by themselves. In fact, yesterday I got myself a whole bunch of my old favorites and some new ones I didn't know about and set out to get my fill.

Yay, retro August is once again upon us! I always love to hear Yahtzee talk about older games and like others have already mentioned, I almost enjoy them more than the "regular" reviews. As for the game itself, Half Life was just one of those games that really fascinated back when I first tried it. I've spent so many hours, not only playing Half Life, but also all of it's assorted expansions and mods.

I got half-life when it came out in the Orange Box, and got bored in the first hour. It seemed very linear and the graphics looked bad. Portal more than made up for it, though.

As an actual game Half-Life is really average, extremely linear and pretty boring. Yahtzee usually comes down pretty hard on a game that's not actually that much fun. But I feel he's blinded a little by nostalgia and the story he remembers so fondly. The story and setting and voice acting might still be all right but the actual game play was unbelievably average. I guess the story and his immersion in the world and character because of that is selling the rest of it for him, but normally he's objective enough to see when there's just not enough to do in most of a game to keep it interesting.

(I played Half-Life when it came out, though I was a lot older than Yahtzee when I did so).

DVS BSTrD:
We weren't blinded by Nostalgia
We were blinded by SCIENCE!

And Thomas Dolby is blinded by his own fucking stupidity.
Guy honestly believes the world is flat...

Lancer873:
"Eat science!" needs to be a t-shirt. Get on that, Escapist. Now.

Seconded

If this does get on a shirt:
image

OT: Nice to see that the gameplay stands the test of time. Now here's hoping we don't have to wait another 15 years for HL3!

Matthew Swircenski:

1nfinite_Cros5:

jmarquiso:

Techincally, so did Breen, and he's regarded as the almighty Judas.

I think we're onto something here.

That's because Breen sold out.

Well, so did Gordon, albeit he was forced...

At the end of the day, Breen and Freeman are just working for different alien agencies. Breen for the Combine, Freeman for whatever the G-Man's agency is. It's just that the latter's goals are much friendlier for the human population.

CardinalPiggles:
I played Half Life for about half an hour or so. I rode the long boring train ride in, I messed about with the broken machine then I started doing jumping puzzles and just thought fuck it, I'm bored with this now.

Well at least I got a few laughs out of Yahtzee's review.

Practically every game AAA copies Halflife's "boring train" and other Halflife elements.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EODbHVySFWM&feature=plcp

Ah, the old classic. It wouldn't be appropriate for Yahtzee to do all of these retro-reviews and not do one for the titular title that influenced so much since it's release.

RJ Dalton:
You know, the only thing that ever bothers me doing replays of old games is your ladder complaint. That really annoys me.
But other than that, the jumping bits really don't bother me at all. I've always been very good at them and I'm one of the very few freaks who actually enjoyed Xen. And the older graphics don't bother me in the slightest. I notice the difference, obviously, but they don't bother me or make me constantly think about them.

And here I thought I was alone.

I too quite enjoyed Xen and it's affiliated level designs. The jumping bits were never hard, and I liked the completely alien feeling of the world. It was an almost shocking departure from the dark, military-industrial look of the rest of the game.

I especially loved exploring every little nook and cranny of Xen, looking for little easter-eggs and other interesting tid-bits.

Awesome, now he just has to review God's Gift to Man... er, I mean Half-Life 2.

Ummm. Metroid Prime? The series did just get murdered last year and you did say it had good shooting compensation. Not the best compliment ever I admit.

You know it's weird, I hear so much praise for Half Life 2, but I never really hear much about the first game.

I might actually play that game someday, if I ever get a desktop. I guess I technically could play the game on a laptop considering how old it is, but I don't really trust my laptop right now. Lately it seems like it's just barely running TF2 at a decent framerate.

scorptatious:
You know it's weird, I hear so much praise for Half Life 2, but I never really hear much about the first game.

I might actually play that game someday, if I ever get a desktop. I guess I technically could play the game on a laptop considering how old it is, but I don't really trust my laptop right now. Lately it seems like it's just barely running TF2 at a decent framerate.

If you can run TF2, even with a crappy framerate, you can definitely run Half-Life at maximum settings. The game is 14 years old, after all.

Vigormortis:
And here I thought I was alone.

I too quite enjoyed Xen and it's affiliated level designs. The jumping bits were never hard, and I liked the completely alien feeling of the world. It was an almost shocking departure from the dark, military-industrial look of the rest of the game.

I especially loved exploring every little nook and cranny of Xen, looking for little easter-eggs and other interesting tid-bits.

That's what I loved about Xen, too. I guess if you suck at jumping sections, then it's going to be a pain, but since I was always good at those, it never bothered me.

yep, HL is still one of the best FPS around. it has its flaws, true. you have to jump around a lot, thats actually true as well. but i still enjoy this game tremendously.

Darth_Payn:

malestrithe:
I don't blame Watchmen for ruining the 90s, I blame the Dark Knight Returns for that.

Watchmen added a complex narrative structure that only appeared in comics in the early 2000s.

Too true. Could you elaborate more on that early 2000's part? Could it have to do with Grant Morrison's New X-Men or his JLA work?

Neither. Grant Morrison was a part of it, but he was not the only one that did it. It was all the late 90s/early 2000s writers, Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, Judd Winnick, Mark Millar, and so on, all developed a form of storytelling that was different than what came before it. This style owes its existence to Watchmen and Longbow Hunters, the overlooked 3rd important work.

There are exceptions, but in general, new characters in the 90s were either Batman, Wolverine or the Punisher.

...Seriously Yahtzee? You did Half Life this week? Well, I guess there was nothing good to review this- Oh wait there was KINGDOM HEARTS DREAM DROP DISTANCE FOR THE NINTENDO 3DS THAT YOU COULD HAVE REVIEWED THIS WEEK!!! Yahtzee, you have been dodging Kingdom Hearts games for years! Since you have mentioned Kingdom Hearts in your reviews several times in the past, why not dig into their newest game!?!?!

Oh and Portal series > Half Life series. This is a rare case of spinoff game series being better than main series. Deal with it.

Odd. An honest review of Half-Life from the most cynical game reviewer on earth and not even a token mention of Xen? Far be it from me to tell him how to do his job but come on. That's like reviewing The Phantom Menace without mentioning Jar Jar Binks.

And does anyone else expect/hope next week's video to cover Half-Life 2? It's almost as revered as the original (certainly by him considering he's mentioned it far more in his other reviews) and he didn't even mention it here like he did with the Thief sequels or Invisible War, so I can't help but suspect that's the plan. I'll be pretty disappointed if it isn't.

bigdork:
I got half-life when it came out in the Orange Box, and got bored in the first hour. It seemed very linear and the graphics looked bad. Portal more than made up for it, though.

Half-Life was never in the Orange Box. You must have played Half-Life 2, and if you thought the graphics of that game were bad enough to complain about only three years after its release, there is no help for you.

Good on you Yahtzee! It's all well and good dissing out contemporary games but if you don't realize that they're all based off an awesome starting point or two then you're wasting everyone's time!

You didn't waste my time!

You know, I've always had this nagging suspicion that Half Life 2 wasn't as good at Half Life 1. That the first game was actually really cool and the second one felt forced and schizophrenic.

After watching this review I kinda understand why.

Like Yahtzee said, Half Life 1 is a game where you decide your level of immersion. Gordon can be either the Doom level kill gun spree guy or the Final Fantasy level story guy... With kill gun spree moments.

Half Life 2 didn't have that option. You are very much forced to be a part of the story. It's much less subtle. Plus, having everyone regard you as a Jesus-like figure is... Well... Forced! There's no level of immersion here. You have to go through the story whether you like it or not.

Plus, with Half Life 1 trying new and interesting things with the shooter genre, (giving it a well-told story, including jumping puzzles, being more "realistic" than the average shooter, including tactical mercenaries alongside crazy aliens and monsters) Half Life 2 felt like it needed to try a bunch of new things as well. Vehicle sections, survival horror sections, stealth sections, RTS sections, and again had to include a military opposition alongside an alien one.

Half Life 2 isn't bad, but it is not nearly as good as HL1. It feels like a game that tried to do everything it's predecessor did. Granted, it was still fun and still had a lot of creativity behind it, but it's obsession with "innovation" was in the end, the part that made it fall short for me.

Good review!

Never really got why people loved this one so much. I find it somewhat boring and i canīt really agree that the story works in any way. Back in the day i loved First person shooters (and i still do, Blood and Doom are still highly entertaining games) but Half-Life changed everything from fun to boring. Might have enjoyed it more if the visual style and setting was more interesting or if the feel wasnīt so flat. And i really hated the segments where you fight against soldiers.

But then again, i canīt really see why Valve is so highly regarded, just really donīt like their style, their games seems about as exciting as MS Excel to me. Not exactly a popular opinion, but oh well^^.

klaynexas3:

What would that make Barney, Kleiner, and Vance? I find Vance the most amazing, as everything that went on in the first game was like a horror movie, and he was the only black guy. I think that's quite an accomplishment to survive that as a black man. Though I can understand Gordan getting the Jesus status as he did survive it, take out most military and alien forces and destroyed the controlled leader of the aliens. And he only became big in Half-Life 2 after he had taken out a few hundred soldiers, he was just well known among his friends because he was a genius and he kicked some ass. And the beard, that is his claim to fame.

This is my issue with Half Life 2. Everything revolves around Gordon, despite the fact that he's basically been absent for quite some time. The fact that Barney finds him randomly (though not so random, considering who put Gordon there) is the only thing that introduces Gordon tot he world. Vance - by all rights - should be as highly regarded, if not moreso.

Everyone is telling you how important you are in Half Life 2. It's an issue with the game, that others have copied so often. I understand why, but it's something games need to grow out of. It's not far from old Romantic literature or Greek mythology, where the protagonist is always the most important person in that world in some way (the most brave, the strongest, the most beautiful, etc.) This doesn't just apply to Gordon, but Master Chief, the Vault Hunters in Borderlands, Sam Fisher, etc.

I'm more interested in the everyman against all odds, which Gordon has in Half Life 1, but loses in Half Life 2 with all the hero worship.

Great video on the subject:

http://www.errantsignal.com/blog/?p=151

By contrast, Portal 2 still makes you very important, but by berating you. That, and you have reason to be important after the first game.

Edit: Oh, and Vance is obviously John the Baptist, Barney is Peter, Alyx is Mary Magdellin, and Breen is Pontios Pilot. Sorry for the spelling.

Truthfully, the reason why people read the Jesus myth in everything is that it's incredibly influential ON anything, and the journey is vague enough that it could really apply to anything.

I would like to point out that the restrained narrative had the same effect in KOTOR II on Peragus. And yet people bitched about that til the cows came home. I love that though, it had this great build up feeling.

Over the steam sale this summer I finally bought half life, (yes, I basically did live under a rock for the first 14 years of my life) and I found that it still holds up today. I found the campaign much more fun and exciting than call of duty, battlefield, or any of that other bs. Now I see why Yahtzee holds it as the standard for games.

I always think about the "Freeman's Mind" series whenever Half-Life 1 comes up :P def helps keep it interesting throughout

I can't say I dint enjoy HalfLife, but only the mid part. 1st time I tried I got so bored by the dozens of platforming and crowbar smashing that was just so blawww. So goes for the end of it. And 2nd I dont know whats with his "Great" story? Ok their is a pretex failed experiment, portal and mosters, then the cleaning party. But didnt get what conn had the story with the bosses: tentacle one, bruiser, the final boss. I felt really disconected from the story. At mid when u fight soldier was really good(lifelike) AI.
And we should not forget we had Unreal and QuakeII before. Yes didnt have story at all (almost), but they shined in other parts.
I have to saty its a little overrated this game. Its a milestone? Yes. Its the greatest of his time? Definitely a NO.
In 1998 there were so many good games, that for me, HalfLife didnt get in the top ten.

Scarim Coral:
We all know what Gordon Freeman is really like thanks to Ross Scott (look up Freeman Mind on Youtube).

Oh yes i can suggest watching that too, its amazing-squared.

Yes indeed, it's good to see Yahtzee give me some professional confirmation for my firm belief that Half-Life is still fucking awesome! Seriously, I took literally YEARS to beat this game, I bought it as part of a reduced price collector's box in the mid-2000s and never actually got around to finishing it until I'd actually acquired the Orange Box (again, years after its original release when I found it for a seriously reduced price) and needed to finish Half-Life 1 to properly contextualise the sequel. So I was actually playing the original Half-Life and its 2 expansions literally more than ten years after their original release and I was shocked at how BLOODY INCREDIBLE the games still were! The action was intense and exciting, the setting was tense and immersive, the story was fascinating and the overall package was brilliant.

Still, I am a bit surprised that Yahtzee didn't take a shot at Xen, the level that coined the term "Xen Syndrome" for inexplicable late-game drops in quality as it really was startlingly inferior to the rest of the game, despite its fantastic art direction. Or make a joke about Gonarch, the 12-foot tall spider with a huge ball sack hanging off it.

"Science-hating jocklecocks" is my new favourite thing to say, it will henceforth replace the word "creationist" in my vocabulary at all times :P

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