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Halflife: Game of the Year Edition

Score: 100%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Sierra
Developer: Valve
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: First Person Shooter


Graphics & Sound:

This is one of the most visually enthralling games you'll ever play, I assure you. Based on a heavily modified version of id's Quake engine, Half-Life features strikingly crisp graphics and some incredible light-sourcing effects. The sky textures and interactive backgrounds (especially those of the alien environments found later in the game) are absolutely breathtaking, and, to be honest, practically everything you'll encounter in the Half-Life world will have your jaw hitting the floor quite a few times.

The sound effects and music are equally impressive, with creepy ambient sounds resonating throughout the hallways and a dynamic soundtrack to keep you on your toes. The perfect combination of suspense, fear, and really weird alien noises make HL one of the most immersive experiences in PC gaming history, folks.


Gameplay:

Ohhhh yes. Every single quality about this game just screams perfection. The amazing control, outstanding level design, captivating in-game cutscenes, and ever-deepening plot will have you playing this game for hours without break. Sure, Quake 2 and Unreal were pretty fun when they were released, but make no mistake... Half-Life is a totally different breed.

The single-player missions are some of the most original and inspired creations that we'll ever see in a first-person shooter, and the multi-player action is always fast and furious. While the weapons may not be as balanced as most players would like (the crossbow's alternate fire 'sniper mode' kills with one shot, and the infamous 'Ghostbusters gun' melts anything in a few seconds as long as you keep that crosshair on 'em), you're still guaranteed countless hours of non-stop fun with your LAN party buddies when someone starts up an HL server.

And in the Game Of The Year Edition, be sure to check out Team Fortress Classic and all new multiplayer maps and models.


Difficulty:

Making your way through this game on any level of difficulty is no easy task. A big part of this game's beauty is its incorporation of creative thinking and problem-solving skills in the completion of each mission, and the developers at Valve knew exactly what they were doing in this department.

The numerous puzzles and tricky areas you'll encounter will take more than a few minutes of pondering, and the astounding AI in Half-Life will pit you against not just a few mindless enemies at a time, but clever squads of aliens, soldiers, and assassins using real-time teamwork strategies in order to flush you out and force you to assess and react to every situation. Obviously, saving VERY often is strongly recommended.


Game Mechanics:

Considering that the Half-Life engine was built from id's original Quake engine, the final result is truly astonishing. Certainly one of the most impressive aspects of HL is its skeletal animation system, which gives each main entity an extremely lifelike appearance using a structure of individually animated 'skeletons' to move every part of the model. When a scientist talks to you, you actually see his head turn as you walk around him, and his lips move with every syllable he speaks. Amazing stuff.

As mentioned before, the enemy AI is unpredictable, unprecedented, and totally unforgiving. I haven't seen computer-controlled opponents this cunning since, well, ever. Since you can bet that no battle will be exactly the same in HL, you can have some fun replaying the same scenes over and over, using different strategies each time.

Simply put, if you haven't played Half-Life yet, you're missing out on one of the greatest gaming achievements of our time. There's a reason why just about every gaming magazine in the world rated this one as 'Game of the Year,' you know. Get out and buy it now if you haven't already -- it's impossible not to fall in love with this game after playing it for five minutes.


-Ben Monkey, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ben Lewis

Minimum System Requirements:



Pentium 133, 24 MB RAM, 2X CD-ROM drive, 400 MB HD space, Windows 95/98/NT
 

Test System:



Pentium II 350, 128 MB RAM, Viper 770 Ultra (32 MB Riva TNT2 Ultra video card), Windows 98 Second Edition, 32X CD-ROM drive

Sony PlayStation 2 Unreal Tournament Windows Invictus: The Shadow of Olympus

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated