Now that Steams recent sale extravaganza has come and gone, it’s time for me to share my highlight! Something that slapped me in the face, took over my mind and coughed up a whopping £2.24 to purchase!! I speak about, of course, the Half Life Anthology. A compilation of the original Half Life, complete with expansion packs Opposing Force and Blue Shift. This game, originally released in 1998 and, up until 2008 sold 9.3 million copies worldwide, has managed to wiggle its way back into my ever large gaming heart for one reason. Memories. In the year 0f 1998, I was nothing but a small, 4 year old child sat beside my father as he gamed his way through tunnels with a crowbar, or disintegrated hideous aliens with what can only be described as a peculiar prop from the set of a Ghost Busters movie.
The memories have stuck with me through the whole of the 14 years since their origins, and still very few games have affected me as much Half Life. This game is one of the highlights of my childhood, and one very fond memory of many in which me and my dad would sit down together and play. Many may think that this has nothing to do with the game themselves, and it’s true, it might not, but games that are lost like this can easily be retrieved using Steam. I implore any gamers out there who have memories of games like me to repurchase, you’d be surprised at how much you remember and love the game!
Despite its aged graphic’s, which to me, are still rather impressive, the game still scores excellently in its story! Although there are very few NPC’s present, with many being forgotten within 5 seconds of meeting them (except Barney, you gotta love Barney!), the story manages to captivate players. A theoretical physicist named Dr Gordon Freeman who takes part in an experiment which accidently creates a rift in space, allowing hundreds of aliens to enter the Black Mesa facility and murder all its inhabitants must find a way of destroying the source of these aliens as a means of saving the world! However, not only must he face off against aliens, but also marines sent in to quarantine and kill all inhabitants, in an effort of containing the catastrophe! Half Life not only acts as a first person shooter, but also as a puzzle platform, with there being many different ways of passing steam vents, high voltage gates and oceans of acid! All situations can be analysed, and done in different ways, which simply adds to the ability to engage in the game, getting to a point in which you truly care about the welfare of Gordon Freeman. This is an element the modern gaming industry is trying desperately to dive deeper into, but a plucky game from the late 90’s has managed to do in one game what Infinity Ward can’t do in 3!
The expansions of the game simply act as different points of view throughout the story of Half Life, but still manage to keep the experience fresh by introducing new weapons, characters and challenges. In Opposing Force you take control of a Marine who has been sent to kill Gordon Freeman and everyone else in the facility, whereas Blue Shift focuses on a security guard of Black Mesa facing a similar situation as Gordon, escaping with his life. Although not much has changed in game play, these expansions will strike the hearts of any Half Life fans out there, simply because of the new characters, and it means that we can jump right back into the game we love!
For those unfamiliar with Half Life, I implore you to give it a try; very few games have the playability present in Half Life and its sequel. The comedy, the horror, the suspense, the drama and the action should attract all gamers, and hopefully by buying it, we can bring some much deserved recognition back into a game that has been present in my heart for nearly all my life.