Half-Life (video game)

Half-Life (video game)

Infobox VG
title=Half-Life


caption=The box art for Half-Life shows the title on a rusted orange background, below the Greek lambda letter.
developer=Valve Software
publisher=Sierra Studios
Electronic Arts
Valve Software
designer=
engine=GoldSrc
released=PC:
vgrelease|NA=November 19, 1998cite web | url=http://storefront.steampowered.com/v2/index.php?area=game&AppId=70& | title=Half-Life at Steam |accessdate=2006-09-03|publisher=Steam ]

PlayStation 2:
vgrelease|NA=November 15, 2001cite web | url=http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/ps2/halflife?q=half-life | publisher=MetaCritic| title="Half-Life" for PlayStation 2 at Metacritic | accessdate=2006-09-03 ]
genre= First-person shooter
modes=Single-player and multiplayer
ratings= BBFC: 15
ESRB: T
OFLC: MA15+
PEGI: 16+
PEGI (FI): 15+
USK: 16 (cut version) [cite web|accessdate=2008-03-27|url=http://schnittberichte.com/schnittbericht.php?ID=3232 Schnittberichte.com|title=Schnittbericte|publisher=Schnittbericte]
USK: 18
platforms=Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 2
Dreamcast (Unofficial)
media=CD, DVD, download
requirements=Windows 95, 98 or NT; Pentium 133 (166+ recommended); 24 MB RAM (32 recommended); 640x480 SVGA high color (16-bit) display; Windows-compatible sound device; 400 MB hard drive space; 3D accelerator card recommended
input=Keyboard and mouse

"Half-Life" is a science fiction first-person shooter computer game developed by Valve Software and the company's debut product. First released by Sierra Studios on November 19, 1998, the game was also released for the PlayStation 2 on November 15, 2001. Valve, set up by former Microsoft employees, had difficulty finding a publisher, with many believing that the game was "too ambitious". Sierra On-Line eventually signed the game after expressing interest in making a 3D action game. The game had its first major public appearance at the 1997 Electronic Entertainment Expo. Designed for PCs running Microsoft Windows, the game uses a heavily modified version of the Quake engine, called GoldSrc.cite web | url=http://www.gamespot.com/features/halflife_final/index.html | title=The Final Hours of "Half-Life": Behind Closed Doors at Valve Software | publisher= GameSpot |accessdate=2006-09-03 ]

In "Half-Life", players assume the role of Dr. Gordon Freeman, a recent graduate theoretical physicist who must fight his way out of a secret underground research facility (Black Mesa), whose research and experiments into teleportation technology have gone wrong.

On its release, critics hailed its overall presentation and numerous scripted sequences, and it won over 51 Game of the Year awards.cite web |url=http://www.valvesoftware.com/about.html |title=About Valve |accessdate=2008-02-28 |publisher=Valve Corporation] cite web|url=http://www.valvesoftware.com/awards.html|title=Awards and Honors|publisher=Valve Corporation|accessdate=2005-11-14] Its gameplay influenced first-person shooters for years to come, and it has since been regarded as one of the greatest games of all time.cite web | url=http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20060901/quantum_01.shtml | title= The Gamasutra Quantum Leap Awards: First-Person Shooters | accessdate=2006-09-03|publisher=Gamasutra ] As of November 16, 2004, "Half-Life" has sold eight million copies.cite web |url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A52849-2004Nov15.html?nav=rss_technology |title=Half-Life 2's Real Battle |author=Mike Musgrove |publisher=The Washington Post |date=2004-11-16 |accessdate=2008-02-28] As of July 14, 2006, the "Half-Life" franchise has sold 16 million units. [cite press release |title=First in Half-Life Episodic Trilogy Debuts at Number 1 |publisher=Valve |accessdate=2008-02-28 |date=2006-07-14 |url=http://www.steampowered.com/v/index.php?area=news&archive=yes&id=691] According to GameSpy, "Half-Life" is the most played online computer game (excluding MMORPGs), ahead of "Half-Life 2". [cite web |accessdate=2008-09-26 |url=http://archive.gamespy.com/stats/ |title=Top Game Servers By Players |publisher=GameSpy]

Gameplay

"Half-Life", a first-person shooter, requires the player to perform combat tasks and puzzle solving to advance through the game. Unlike its peers at the time, "Half-Life" used scripted sequences, which ranged from small events, such as an alien ramming down a door, to major plot points. While most contemporary first-person shooters relied on cut scene intermissions to detail their plotlines, "Half-Life"'s story is put forth entirely through scripted sequences, keeping the player in control of their first-person viewpoint. In line with this, the player rarely loses the ability to control Gordon, who never speaks and is never actually seen in the game; the player "sees" through his eyes for the entire length of the game. "Half-Life" has no "levels"; it instead divides the game by chapters, whose titles flash on the screen. Progress through the world is continuous, except for breaks for loading.cite book|title=Half-Life : Prima's Official Strategy Guide|author=Bell, Joe Grant |date=1998-11-25 |publisher=Prima Games |isbn=0761513604 |url=http://www.amazon.com/Half-Life-Primas-Official-Strategy-Guide/dp/0761513604 ]

The game regularly integrates puzzles, such as navigating a maze of conveyor belts. Some puzzles involve using the environment to kill an enemy. There are few "bosses" in the conventional sense, where the player defeats a superior opponent by direct confrontation. Instead, such monsters occasionally define chapters, and the player is generally expected to use the terrain, rather than firepower, to kill the "boss". Late in the game, the player receives a "long jump module" for the HEV suit, which allows the player to increase the horizontal distance and speed of jumps by crouching before jumping. This is used for platformer-style jumping puzzles in the later portion of the game.

For the most part the player battles through the game alone, but is occasionally assisted by non-player characters; specifically security guards and scientists who fight alongside the player, assist in reaching new areas and impart relevant plot information.cite web | url = http://planethalflife.gamespy.com/View.php?view=HLGameInfo.Detail&id=6&game=4 | title = Half-Life allies | publisher = GameSpy | accessdate=2007-04-22] A wide array of enemies populate the game including alien lifeforms such as headcrabs, bullsquids, headcrab zombies and Vortigaunts. The player also faces human opponents, in particular HECU Marines and black ops assassins who are dispatched to contain the alien threat and silence all witnesses.cite web | url = http://planethalflife.gamespy.com/View.php?view=HLGameInfo.Detail&id=7&game=4 | title = Half-Life enemies | publisher = GameSpy | accessdate=2007-04-22]

"Half-Life" has a large array of weapons the player can use. The iconic weapon of the game is the trademark crowbar which can be used for melee fighting as well as a tool for clearing obstructions and breaking apart vent gratings. The game also features numerous conventional weapons, such as the Glock 17 pistol, SPAS-12 shotgun, MP5 submachine gun with an attached grenade launcher, Colt Python .357 Magnum revolver, and rocket launcher as well as abnormal weapons ranging from a crossbow to alien weapons such as Snarks. Two experimental weapons, the tau cannon and the gluon gun, are built by the scientists in the facility and are acquired by the player late in the game. With the installation of the High Definition Pack, the weapons' appearances are substantially updated, mainly due to a larger number of polygons in the models. Although their appearances have changed, they perform exactly the same as their original counterparts in terms of gameplay. The Glock 17 and MP5 are the only two weapons to drastically be changed in appearance, being replaced by the Beretta M9 and M4A1 assault rifle respectively.

ynopsis

etting

Most of the game is set in a remote desert area of New Mexico in the Black Mesa Research Facility, a fictional complex that bears many similarities to both the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Area 51, during May 5 to 15 (as seen on calendars in the game and on the second page of the owner's manual) of 200-, meaning it takes place sometime between the years 2000 and 2009. The game's protagonist is the theoretical physicist Gordon Freeman, a graduate of the Institute for Experimental Physics and the University of Innsbruck, in Innsbruck, Austria, (and also received a Ph.D as a theoretical physicist from MIT) and a survivor of an experiment that goes horribly wrong when an unexpected "resonance cascade" – a fictitious phenomenon – rips dimensional seams, devastating the facility. Aliens from another world—known as Xen—subsequently enter the facility through these dimensional seams (an event known as the "Black Mesa incident").

As Freeman tries to make his way out of the ruined facility to find help for the injured, he soon discovers that he is caught between two sides: the hostile aliens and the Hazardous Environment Combat Unit, a United States Marine Corps Special Forces division dispatched to cover up the incident by eliminating the aliens, as well as Dr. Freeman and the other surviving Black Mesa personnel. Throughout the game, a mysterious figure known (but not actually referred to in-game) as "G-Man" regularly appears, and seems to be monitoring Freeman's progress. Ultimately, Freeman uses the co-operation of surviving scientists and security officers to work his way towards the mysterious "Lambda Complex" of Black Mesa (signified with the Greek "λ" character), where a team of survivors teleport him to the alien world Xen to kill the Nihilanth, the creature keeping Xen's side of the dimensional rift open.

The game's plot was originally inspired by the video games "Doom", "Quake" (both PC games produced by id Software), and Resident Evil (game published by Capcom), Stephen King's short story/novella "The Mist", and an episode of "The Outer Limits" called "The Borderland."cite book | author = Hodgson, David | year = 2004 | title = Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar | publisher = Prima Games | id = ISBN 0-7615-4364-3 ] It was later developed by Valve's in-house writer and author, Marc Laidlaw, who wrote the books "Dad's Nuke" and "The 37th Mandala".cite web|url=http://www.valvesoftware.com/people.html|publisher= Valve software|title=The Valve team (staff bios)| accessdate=2007-04-27]

Plot

Gordon Freeman rides a tram from his dormitory deep into the heart of the Black Mesa Facility, on his way to the Anomalous Materials Lab to begin his work. He arrives at the lab and has the front door opened by a security guard. Inside, Freeman learns that a computer systems failure has complicated communications between the Black Mesa scientists and that he must acquire his Hazardous Environment suit (or H.E.V suit) before proceeding to the test chamber, where he is to assist the more senior scientists with an experiment. Freeman reports to the Anomalous Materials Lab, where he is tasked with pushing a "specimen" into the scanning beam for analysis. Following that, he inadvertently causes a time-space catastrophe called a "resonance cascade,"cite web | url = http://planethalflife.gamespy.com/View.php?view=hlstrategies.detail&id=2&game=4 | title = Chapter II: Anomalous Materials| publisher = GameSpy | accessdate = 2006-07-15 ] opening a portal between Earth and a bizarre world called Xen.cite web | url = http://planethalflife.gamespy.com/View.php?view=hlstrategies.detail&id=2&game=4 | title = Chapter III: Unforeseen Consequences| publisher = GameSpy|accessdate = 2006-07-15 ] Freeman is sporadically teleported there and catches glimpses of various alien lifeforms, shortly before blacking out.

Freeman awakens in the ruins of the Anomalous Materials lab and stumbles through the wreckage, strewn with the bodies of scientists and security personnel. After discovering survivors, Freeman learns communications with the outside world are down, and decides to gradually make his way to the surface for help, in the process sidestepping Black Mesa's structural damage and defending himself against hostile aliens randomly teleporting in from Xen. The survivors, including Eli Vance, initially claim that a rescue team will be arriving shortly, only to discover that the Hazardous Environment Combat Unit, which has taken control of Black Mesa, is killing both the aliens and the employees there as part of a government cover-up.cite web | url = http://planethalflife.gamespy.com/View.php?view=hlstrategies.detail&id=5&game=4 | title = Chapter V: “We‘ve Got Hostiles“| publisher = GameSpy | accessdate = 2006-07-15 ] Freeman fights the Marines before finally reaching the surface of Black Mesa, where he learns that the secretive Lambda Team may have the means to solve the problems brought on by the cascade. Gordon must then reach the Lambda Complex at the other end of the facility to assist them.

The player is subsequently faced with several tasks, such as killing a giant, rapidly growing tentacle creature,cite web | url = http://planethalflife.gamespy.com/View.php?view=hlstrategies.detail&id=6&game=4 | title = Chapter VI: Blast Pit| publisher = GameSpy | accessdate = 2006-07-15 ] riding across the facility on a railway system in order to reach a satellite rocket that must be launched in order to reverse the resonance cascadecite web | url = http://planethalflife.gamespy.com/View.php?view=hlstrategies.detail&id=7&game=4 | title = Chapter VII: Power Up| publisher = GameSpy | accessdate = 2006-07-15 ] and fighting a group of mysterious Black Ops,cite web | url = http://planethalflife.gamespy.com/View.php?view=hlstrategies.detail&id=9&game=4 | title = Chapter IX: Apprehension| publisher = GameSpy | accessdate = 2006-07-15 ] before being captured by Marines and dumped in a garbage compactor. In "", the protagonist, Barney Calhoun, saw Gordon being captured by the Marines. Gordon escapes without being crushed and makes his way to an older, secret part of the Facility where he discovers an extensive collection of specimens collected from Xen long before the resonance cascade.cite web | url = http://planethalflife.gamespy.com/View.php?view=hlstrategies.detail&id=11&game=4 | title = Chapter XI: Questionable Ethics| publisher = GameSpy | accessdate = 2006-07-15 ]

Gordon again reaches the surface, which has become a warzone. The Vortigaunts, along with Alien Grunts and a giant monstrosity, have begun fighting the Marines, who are beginning to lose. They call in reinforcements, but it is not enough to turn the tide.cite web | url = http://planethalflife.gamespy.com/View.php?view=hlstrategies.detail&id=12&game=4 | title = Chapter XII: Surface Tension| publisher = GameSpy | accessdate = 2006-07-15 ] The player must scale cliffs and navigate bombed out buildings while avoiding both sides. Finally, Gordon reaches relative safety underground.

The Marines begin to evacuate Black Mesa and airstrikes begin. At one point, the player must use the military equipment to call an air strike to re-enter the base. Gordon navigates underground water channels and tries to avoid scores of alien soldiers as they pick off remaining Marine stragglers.cite web | url = http://planethalflife.gamespy.com/View.php?view=hlstrategies.detail&id=13&game=4 | title = Chapter XIII: Forget About Freeman| publisher = GameSpy | accessdate = 2006-07-15 ] After much struggle, Gordon finally reaches the Lambda Complex, which is revealed to be the location where scientists developed the teleportation technology that allowed them to travel to Xen in the first place.cite web | url = http://planethalflife.gamespy.com/View.php?view=hlstrategies.detail&id=14&game=4 | title = Chapter XIV: Lambda Core| publisher = GameSpy | accessdate=2006-07-15] Gordon reaches the handful of surviving personnel, who are holed up in a small stronghold, and discovers that the satellite he launched failed to reverse the effects of the resonance cascade because an immensely powerful being on the other side of the rift is keeping it open. Gordon must kill this being to prevent the Xen aliens from taking over completely. The scientists activate the teleporter and Gordon is relocated to Xen.On the strange border world, Gordon encounters many of the alien speciescite web | url = http://planethalflife.gamespy.com/View.php?view=hlstrategies.detail&id=15&game=4 | title = Chapter XV: Xen| publisher = GameSpy | accessdate=2006-07-15] that had been brought into Black Mesa, as well as the remains of HEV-wearing researchers that came before him. The player engages in one of the game's few boss-style battles against Gonarch, a giant headcrab with a huge egg sac.cite web | url = http://planethalflife.gamespy.com/View.php?view=hlstrategies.detail&id=16&game=4 | title = Chapter XVI: Gonarch‘s Lair| publisher = GameSpy | accessdate=2006-07-15] After fighting his way through an alien camp, Gordon arrives at a huge alien factory complex, which engineers and builds the Alien Grunt soldiers.cite web | url = http://planethalflife.gamespy.com/View.php?view=hlstrategies.detail&id=17&game=4 | title = Chapter XVII: Interloper| publisher = GameSpy | accessdate=2006-07-15] After fighting his way through mysterious levitating creatures, he finds a giant portal and enters it.

In a vast cave, Gordon finally confronts the Nihilanth, the creature who was maintaining the rift, and destroys it.cite web | url = http://planethalflife.gamespy.com/View.php?view=hlstrategies.detail&id=18&game=4 | title = Chapter XVIII: Nihilanth| publisher = GameSpy | accessdate=2006-07-15] As the creature dies, it explodes in a giant green blast that overpowers Gordon's senses. Gordon awakens unarmed in the presence of the G-Man. Both are transported to various locales around Xen, while the G-Man praises Freeman's actions in the border world. The G-Man explains that his "employers", believing that Gordon has "limitless potential", have authorized him to offer Freeman a job. The final teleportation takes the player to the original tram car, which is depicted as flying through space. If the player refuses the job offer, the G-Man teleports him to a location in front of a considerable number of alien enemies, stating, "No regrets, Mr. Freeman," as the screen fades out, saying "Subject Freeman. Status: Acceptance terminated." If the player accepts, by stepping into a portal, he finds himself floating in nothingness and hears the G-Man's voice one last time: "Wisely done, Mr. Freeman. I will see you up ahead." At this point it says "Subject Freeman. Status: Hired. Awaiting assignment."

Development

"Half-Life" was the first product of Kirkland, Washington-based developer Valve Software, which was founded in 1996 by former Microsoft employees Mike Harrington and Gabe Newell.cite web | url = http://uk.gamespot.com/features/halflife_final/part2.html | title = Final Hours of Half-Life: The Microsoft Millionaires| publisher= GameSpot | accessdate = 2006-09-12 ] They settled on a concept for a horror-themed 3D action game, using the Quake engine as licensed by id Software.cite web | url = http://uk.gamespot.com/features/halflife_final/part22.html | title = The Final Hours of Half-Life: The id visit| publisher= GameSpot|accessdate = 2006-09-12 ] Valve eventually modified the engine a great deal, notably adding skeletal animation and Direct3D support; a developer stated in a PC Accelerator magazine preview that seventy percent of the engine code was rewritten. The company had difficulties finding a publisher at first, many believing their project "too ambitious" for a studio headed by newcomers to the video game industry. However, Sierra On-Line had been very interested in making a 3D action game, especially one based on the "Quake" engine, and so signed them for a one-game deal.cite web | url = http://uk.gamespot.com/features/halflife_final/part24.html | title = The Final Hours of Half-Life: The Right E-mail, the Right Time| publisher= GameSpot| access date = 2006-09-14]

The original code name for "Half-Life" was "Quiver", after the "Arrowhead" military base from Stephen King's novella "The Mist", which served as early inspiration for the game.cite web | url = http://uk.gamespot.com/features/halflife_final/part3.html | title = The Final Hours of Half-Life: The Valve Difference | publisher= GameSpot|accessdate = 2006-09-14 ] Gabe Newell explained that the name "Half-Life" was chosen because it was evocative of the theme, not clichéd, and had a corresponding visual symbol: the Greek letter λ (lower-case lambda), which represents the "decay constant" in the half-life equation. According to one of the game's designers, Harry Teasley, "Doom" was a huge influence on most of the team working on Half-Life. Subsequently, according to Teasley, they wanted Half-Life to "scare you like Doom did".cite web | url = http://5years.doomworld.com/interviews/harryteasley/page3.shtml | title = Five Years of Doom at Doomworld| publisher= Doomworld| access date = 2008-02-11]

The first public appearances of "Half-Life" came in early 1997; it was a hit at Electronic Entertainment Expo that year, where they primarily demonstrated the animation system and artificial intelligence.cite web | url = http://uk.gamespot.com/features/halflife_final/part34.html | title = The Final Hours of Half-Life: The Public Debut | publisher= GameSpot|access date = 2006-09-14] Valve Software hired science fiction author Marc Laidlaw in August 1997 to work on the game's characters and level design.cite web | url = http://uk.gamespot.com/features/halflife_final/part3.html | title = The Final Hours of Half-Life: The Valve Difference | publisher= GameSpot | accessdate = 2006-09-14 ] "Half-Life"'s soundtrack was composed by Kelly Bailey. "Half-Life" was originally planned to be shipped in late 1997, to compete with "Quake II", but was postponed when Valve decided the game needed significant revision.cite web | url = http://uk.gamespot.com/features/halflife_final/part4.html| title = The Final Hours of Half-Life: Reassembling the Pieces | publisher= GameSpot | accessdate = 2006-09-14 ]

In a 2003 Making Of... feature in Edge, Newell discusses the team's early difficulties with level design.cite news|publisher=Edge|title=Making Of...|date=2003-01-01] In desperation, a single level was assembled including every weapon, enemy, scripted event and level design quirk that the designers had come up with so far. This single level inspired the studio to press on with the game. As a result, the studio completely reworked the game's artificial intelligence and levels in the year leading up to its release. At E3 1998 it was given Game Critics Awards for "Best PC Game" and "Best Action Game".cite web | url = http://uk.gamespot.com/features/halflife_final/part4.html| title = The Final Hours of Half-Life: Reassembling the Pieces | publisher= GameSpot | accessdate = 2006-09-14 ] The release date was delayed several times in 1998 before the game was finally released in November of that year.cite web | url = http://uk.gamespot.com/features/halflife_final/part5.html| title = The Final Hours of Half-Life: Reassembling the Pieces | publisher= GameSpot | accessdate = 2006-09-14 ]

The demo for "Half-Life" was released on February 12, 1999. Entitled "Uplink", the demonstration featured many of the weapons and non-player characters in "Half-Life". Set 48 hours into the game, "Uplink"'s levels are heavily revised variations of levels cut during "Half-Life"'s development phase, and are not present in the end version of the full game.

Name

The titles of "Half-Life" and its expansion packs are all named after scientific terms. "Half-Life" itself is a reference to the half-life of a quantity (such as a radioactive material), the amount of time required for the quantity to decay to half of its initial value. The Greek letter lambda, which features prominently on the game's packaging, represents the related decay constant, as well as the Lambda Complex featured in the game. ', while it could be named because the player assumes the role of one of the enemies in the original game, is also a reference to , while ' refers to the blue shifting of the frequency of radiation caused by the Doppler effect, in a similar parallel reference to the name of the shift your character takes. In "", the title again references the half-life equation with the Lambda symbol being the decay constant.

Ports

"Half-Life" was ported to the PlayStation 2 by Gearbox Software and released in 2001.cite web | url=http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/ps2/halflife?q=half-life | title="Half-Life" for PlayStation 2 at Metacritic | accessmonthday=September 3 | accessyear=2006 ] This version of the game had a significant overhaul in terms of both character models, weapons, and more advanced and extended levels and general map geometry (see Half-Life High Definition Pack for a model-comparison). Also added in is a head-to-head play and a co-op expansion called "" that allowed players to play as the two female scientists Dr. Cross and Dr. Green at Black Mesa. Another interesting feature allowed players to use a USB mouse and keyboard, a feature previously unmatched on the platform.

Versions for the Dreamcast and Macintosh were essentially completed, but never commercially released.cite web|accessdate=2008-03-27|url=http://www.planetfortress.com/syndicate/files/HLmac1.txt|title=Sierra Studios to deliver best-selling Half-Life to the Mac] The Dreamcast edition was eventually leaked onto the internet. [cite web|accessdate=2008-03-27|url=http://www.gamestats.com/objects/014/014107/index.html|title=Half-Life |publisher=GameStats ] cite web | url=http://dreamcast.ign.com/articles/095/095905p1.html | title= Not Given Half A Chance: The Cancellation of "Half-Life"| publisher=IGN | accessdate=2006-09-03 ] The Dreamcast version uses the same models as the Half-Life High Definition pack.

Gearbox Software was slated to release a port to the Dreamcast under contract by Valve and their then publisher Sierra On-Line near the end of 2000. At the ECTS 2000, a build of the game was playable on the publisher's stand, and developers Randy Pitchford and Brian Martel were in attendance to show it off and give interviews to the press. However, despite only being weeks from going gold, it was never commercially released; Sierra announced that Half-Life on Dreamcast was cancelled "due to changing market conditions" onset by third-party abandonment of the Dreamcast.cite web | url = http://uk.dreamcast.ign.com/articles/095/095905p1.html | title = IGN Article on Dreamcast port cancellation| publisher= IGN | accessdate=2006-07-30] That year Sierra On-Line showed a PlayStation 2 port at E3 2001. This version was released in North America in late October of the same year, followed by a European release just a month later. Around the same time, "Half-Life: Blue Shift", which was intended to be a Dreamcast-exclusive side story, was released on PC as the second "Half-life" Expansion Pack.cite web|accessdate=2008-03-27|url=http://www.gamespot.com/pc/action/halflifeblueshift/|title=Half-Life: Blue Shift |publisher=GameSpot ]

Expansions and sequels

Expansions

Two expansion packs by outside developer Gearbox Software have been released for the PC version: ' (1999) and ' (2001)— both titled with double meanings relating to physics phenomena. The former returns the player to Black Mesa during the events of "Half-Life's" storyline, but this time from the perspective of Adrian Shephard, one of the Marines in the Hazardous Environment Combat Unit sent to cover up evidence of the incident. It introduced several new weapons, new non-player characters, both friendly and hostile and new, previously unseen areas of the facility. The expansion is shorter than "Half-Life", having 11 chapters to the original's 19. [cite web|accessdate=2008-03-27|url=http://www.gamespot.com/pc/action/halflifeopposingforce/index.html|title=Half-Life: Opposing Force |publisher=GameSpot|date=1999-10-31 ]

"Blue Shift" returns the player to "Half-Life"'s Black Mesa timeline once more, this time as Barney Calhoun, one of the facility's security guards. The expansion was originally developed as a bonus mission for the canceled Dreamcast version. "Blue Shift" came with the High Definition Pack, that gave the player the option to update the look of "Half-Life", "Opposing Force", and the new "Blue Shift" content. "Blue Shift" had relatively little new content compared to "Opposing Force": aside from a few variations on existing models, all content was already present in the original "Half-Life".

"" was another expansion by Gearbox, released only as an extra with the PlayStation 2 version of "Half-Life". The add-on featured cooperative gameplay in which two players could solve puzzles or fight against the many foes in the "Half-Life" universe.cite web|accessdate=2008-03-27|url=http://planethalflife.gamespy.com/View.php?view=Previews.Detail&id=67|title=Half-Life: Decay |publisher=GameSpy|date=2006-11-12 ]

In 2000, a compilation pack titled the "Half-Life: Platinum Pack" was released, including (with their respective manuals) "Half-Life", "Counter-Strike", "Team Fortress Classic", and '. [cite web | url=http://www.gearboxsoftware.com/index.php?p=games&game=hlplat | title= Half-Life: Platinum Pack | publisher=Gearbox Software | accessmonthday=February 5 | accessyear=2007 ] In 2002, the pack was re-released under the new titles "Half-Life Platinum Collection" and "Half-Life: Generation". These new iterations also included the ' expansion pack. In 2005, "Half-Life 1: Anthology" was released, containing Steam-only versions of the following games on a single CD: "Half-Life", ', ', and "Team Fortress Classic". [cite web | url=http://www.valvesoftware.com/news.php?id=451 | title=Counter-Strike: Source and Half-Life 1: Anthology available now at North America retail outlets | publisher=Valve Corporation | accessmonthday=September 9 | accessyear=2006 ]

equels

The sequel, "Half-Life 2", was merely a rumor until it was finally revealed at E3 in May 2003, which ignited a firestorm of hype surrounding the game. The player again takes the role of Gordon Freeman, this time several years after the Black Mesa incident in the dystopic Eastern European "City 17" where he must fight as part of a rebellion against an alien regime. After a series of controversies and delays, "Half-Life 2" was released on November 16, 2004. [cite web|accessdate=2008-03-27|url=http://www.gamespot.com/pc/action/halflife2/similar.html|title=Half-Life 2 |publisher=GameSpot|date=2004-11-16 ]

To experience firsthand the processes mod-makers would have to go through with the new engine, Valve ported "Half-Life" (dubbed "Half-Life: Source") and "Counter-Strike" to their new Source engine. "Half-Life: Source" is a straight port, lacking any new content or the "Blue Shift" High Definition pack. However, it does take advantage of vertex and pixel shaders for more realistic water effects, as well as "Half-Life 2's" realistic physics engine. They also added several other features from "Half-Life 2", including improved dynamic lightmaps, vertex maps, and a shadowmap system with cleaner, higher resolution, specular texture and normal maps, as well as utilization of the render-to-texture soft shadows found in "Half-Life 2"'s Source engine, along with 3D skybox replacements in place of the old 16-bit color prerendered bitmap skies. The "Half-Life" port possesses many of the Source engine's graphical strengths as well as control weaknesses that have been noted in the Source engine. "Half-Life: Source" is available with special editions of "Half-Life 2", or separately on Steam. [cite web|accessdate=2008-03-27|url=http://www.theinquirer.net/en/inquirer/news/2004/09/18/half-life-2-release-candidate-goes-to-vivendi|title=Half Life 2 release candidate goes to Vivendi |publisher=The Inquirer|date=2004-09-18|author=Harris, Wil ]

"Half-Life Source" has been criticized for not fully utilizing many of the features of the Source engine found in "Half-Life 2", as it still uses textures and models from the original game. Due to this, a third-party mod remake called "Black Mesa" is also under development. [cite web
title=Black Mesa - About
url=http://www.blackmesasource.com/about.html
archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20070710132703/http://www.blackmesasource.com/about.html
archivedate=2007-07-10|publisher=Black Mesa Source
accessdate=2007-08-08
]

On June 10, 2005, Valve announced through their Steam update news service an upcoming port of "Half-Life Deathmatch", the multiplayer portion of the original game, much in the same fashion as the earlier released "Half-Life: Source". No exact release date was given, simply the words "In the coming weeks..." On July 2, 2005, "" was released. [cite web|accessdate=2008-03-27|url=http://www.steampowered.com/platform/update_history/index.php?id=320&skin=0|title=Update News - Half-Life 2: Deathmatch |publisher=Steam|date=2007-11-12 ]

On June 1, 2006 "" was released. It is part of a trilogy of episodes, of which the was released on October 10, 2007, as part of "The Orange Box".cite web | url = http://www.gamespot.com/pc/action/halflife2aftermath/news.html?sid=6151796l | title = Half-Life 2: Episode One gold, Two dated, Three announced | publisher= GameSpot | accessmonthday = 4 27 |accessyear = 2007]

Third-party mods

From its release in 1998, "Half-Life" saw fervent support from independent game developers, due in no small part to support and encouragement from Valve Software. Worldcraft, the level-design tool used during the game's development, was included with the game software. Printed materials accompanying the game indicated Worldcraft's eventual release as a retail product, but these plans never materialised. Valve also released a software development kit, enabling developers to modify the game and create mods. Both tools were significantly updated with the release of the version 1.1.0.0 patch. Many supporting tools (including texture editors, model editors, and rival level editors like the multiple engine editor QuArK) were either created or updated to work with "Half-Life". [cite web|accessdate=2008-03-27|url=http://www.cstrike-planet.com/news?s=Valve+SDK|title=Valve SDK |publisher=CStrike Planet|date=2006-11-08 ]

An SDK for "Half-Life" has been released and is being used as a base for many multiplayer mods such as "Counter-Strike". Other multiplayer mods include "Team Fortress Classic" ("TFC"), "Day of Defeat" (DOD), "Deathmatch Classic" ("DMC"), "Action Half-Life", "Firearms", "Science and Industry", "The Specialists", and "Natural Selection". "TFC" and "DMC" were developed in-house at Valve Software. "Counter-Strike", "Day of Defeat", and others that began life as the work of independent developers (self-termed "modders"), later on received aid from Valve. There was even a free team-based multiplayer mod called "Underworld Bloodline" created to promote the Sony Pictures movie "Underworld". [cite web|accessdate=2008-03-27|url=http://manke.planethalflife.gamespy.com/uw_bloodline.htm|title=Underworld Bloodline |publisher=Planet Half Life ]

Numerous single player mods have also been created, like "USS Darkstar" (1999, a futuristic action-adventure onboard a zoological research spaceship), "The Xeno Project 1 and 2" (1999-2005, a two-part mod starting in Xen and again including spaceships), "Edge of Darkness" (2000, which features some unused Half-Life models), "" (2000, which brings back Gordon Freeman for four additional episodes and another encounter with the G-Man), "They Hunger" (2000-2001, a survival horror total conversion trilogy involving zombies), and Poke646 (2001, a follow-up to the original "Half-Life" story with improved graphics). [cite web|accessdate=2008-03-27|url=http://www.gamesover.com/walkthroughs/darkstar_uk.htm|title=Half Life Single Player MOD: USS Darkstar |publisher=Games Over ]

Some "Half-Life" modifications eventually landed on retail shelves. "Counter-Strike" was the most successful, unexpectedly becoming the biggest selling online game to date and having been released in five different editions: as a standalone product (2000), as part of the Platinum Pack (2000), as an Xbox version (2003) as the single player spin-off, ' (2004), and the newest addition, ', which runs on "Half-Life 2"'s Source engine. "Team Fortress Classic", "Day of Defeat" and "Gunman Chronicles" (2000, a futuristic Western movie-style total conversion with emphasis on its single player mode) were also released as stand-alone products.

Reception

VG Reviews
MC = 96/100
IGN = 9.5/10.0
GSpot = 9.4/10.0
GamePro = 5.0/5.0
PCGUS = 97/100
"Half-Life"'s public reception was overwhelmingly positive in terms of reviews, acclaim and sales. As of November 16, 2004, eight million copies of the game have been sold. The game had won over 50 Game of the Year awards.

"Half-Life" was critically acclaimed, earning an overall score of 96% on review collection website Metacritic.cite web | url=http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/pc/halflife?q=half-life | title= "Half-Life" on Metacritic | publisher= Metacritic | accessdate = April | accessyear = 2007] IGN described it as "a tour de force in game design, the definitive single player game in a first person shooter."cite web | url = http://uk.pc.ign.com/articles/153/153107p1.html | title = Half-Life Review | publisher= IGN | accessdate=2007-04-25] IGN has also respected the game as one of the most influential video games.cite web | url = http://games.ign.com/articles/840/840621p2.html | title = Top 10 Most Influential Games | publisher= IGN | accessdate=2008-01-06] GameSpot claimed that it was the "closest thing to a revolutionary step the genre has ever taken".cite web | url = http://uk.gamespot.com/pc/action/halflife/review.html
title = Half-Life Review | publisher= Gamespot | accessdate=2007-04-25
] GameSpot inducted "Half-Life" into their "Greatest Games of All Time" list in May 2007.cite web | url = http://www.gamespot.com/features/6171044/index.html | title = Gamespot Hall of Fame | publisher= Gamespot | accessdate=2007-05-22] In 2004, GameSpy held a Title Fight, in which readers voted on what they thought was the "greatest game of all time", and Half-Life was the overall winner of the survey.cite web | url = http://archive.gamespy.com/titlefight/matches/0601.shtml | title = Gamespy Title Fight! - Championship Final | publisher= GameSpy | accessdate=2008-02-22] In the November 1999, October 2001, and April 2005 issues of "PC Gamer", "Half-Life" was named "Best Game of All Time"/"Best PC Game Ever". [cite book | title = PC Gamer US Edition - October 2001 | publisher = Future Publishing | date = 2001] The popularity of the "Half-Life" series has led way to an array of side products and collectibles. Valve offers "Half-Life"-related products such as a plush vortigaunt, plush headcrab, posters, clothing, and mousepads.cite web | url = http://store.valvesoftware.com/productshowcase/productshowcase_HL2HeadCrabPlush.html | archiveurl = http://web.archive.org/web/20070826233327/http://store.valvesoftware.com/productshowcase/productshowcase_HL2HeadCrabPlush.html | archivedate=2007-08-26 | title = HL2 Headcrab Collectible | publisher= Valve Corporation | accessdate=2006-05-20] cite web | url = http://store.valvesoftware.com/index.html | title = The Valve Store | publisher= Valve Corporation | accessdate=2006-05-20]

The immersive gaming experience and interactive environment was cited by several reviewers as being revolutionary. Allgame said "It isn't everyday that you come across a game that totally revolutionizes an entire genre, but Half-Life has done just that."cite web|accessdate=2008-03-30|url=http://www.allgame.com/cg/agg.dll?p=agg&sql=1:14496~T1|title=Half-Life review |publisher=Allgame ] Hot Games commented on the realness of the game, and how the environment "all adds up to a totally immersive gaming experience that makes everything else look quite shoddy in comparison." [cite web|accessdate=2008-03-30|url=http://web.archive.org/web/20030201114816/http://pc.hotgames.com/games/halfli/review.htm|title=Half-Life review |publisher=Hot Games ] Gamers Depot found the game engaging, stating that they have "yet to play a more immersive game period". [cite web|accessdate=2008-03-30|url=http://web.archive.org/web/20060114191839/http://www.gamers-depot.com/games/rev-game-half-life.htm|title=Half-Life review |publisher=Gamers Depot ]

Despite the praise that the game has received, there have also been some complaints. The Electric Playground said that "Half-Life" was an "immersive and engaging entertainment experience", but cited that this only lasted for the first half of the game, citing that the game "peaked too soon". [cite web|accessdate=2008-03-30|url=http://www.elecplay.com/reviews_article.php?article=204|title=Half-Life |publisher=The Electric Playground ] The Cincinnati Enquirer complaints focused on the problems stemming from the puzzle-oriented gameplay, saying that "on several occasions, you'll be forced to make almost impossible jumps" and that "the frustration distances you from a story that should have absorbed you." [cite web|accessdate=2008-03-30|url=http://www.cincinnati.com/freetime/games/reviews/halflife.html|title=‘Half-Life’ a whole experience |publisher=The Cincinnati Enquirer ]

Guinness World Records awarded Half-Life with the world record for "Best-Selling First-Person Shooter of All Time (PC)" in the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008.

ee also

* List of "Half-Life" mods
* , an unreleased short film adaptation.
* Metamod
* .smd

References

External links

*
*


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