Half-Life: Has The Classic Aged Well?

The Gamers Game

Sean Miller, Reviewer

Half-Life is considered to be one of the greatest video games of all time, changing how first-person shooters should be made by implementing stories, advancing AI in games, and is considered by many in the gaming community to be a masterpiece. But with the game now being 23 years old, just how well has the game aged since its release?

Developed and published by Valve, Half-Life was the first game to ever be released by the developer. The game follows the story of Gordon Freeman, a theoretical physicist at the Black Mesa Research Facility. After an incident occurs, extra-dimensional beings begin to cause chaos throughout the facility. As the titular character, Freeman now has one goal: escape Black Mesa. Throughout the game, we are able to acquire an expansive arsenal of weapons to defend ourselves with, and along the way, discover what dark secrets Black Mesa had hidden away that led to its downfall.

Now, while franchises like Doom, Quake, and Wolfenstein are considered the original FPS games, Half-Life was the first to have a legitimate story and an enjoyable one at that. Valve utilized the GoldSrc engine to create the game, which was used for the game’s AI and gameplay. Now, for a game made in 1998, it looks incredible. True, games like Banjo-Kazooie, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Metal Gear Solid were also pushing the limits of the new 3D technology available, but Half-Life had taken the technology and seemingly mastered it. Also, the AI implications in the game were considered incredible for 1990s standards, with great dialog to boot.

Now, with all the advances in gaming technology the game has made, there are certain aspects of the game that haven’t aged all that well. The first thing people would point out is the graphics, which were again considered great for the time, but compared to the hyper realistic graphics in modern-day games like Doom Eternal, God of War (2018), and Red Dead Redemption II, it is safe to say that it is dated. Now for personally, graphics have never been an issue for me, but there are those who do care about games looking as quality as possible. The AI in the game is rather dated too, with movements and actions made by NPCs being rather stiff, to say the least. There was also the issue of how little music there was in Half-Life.

There are certain moments that have music composed for it, but they are few and far between. However, I think the lack of music actually adds to the game in a positive way. It gives this certain level of eeriness to the game, with the only sounds being your footsteps and whatever may be hiding around the corner. And though the graphics and AI in the game are now considered dated, for 1998 it was considered revolutionary at the time. Couple all that with an amazing story and it’s easy to see why the game is held in such high regard even today.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend anyone play this absolute classic of a game. If you have access to Steam on PC, I believe the $5-$10 price is well worth it. True in some aspects the game is rather dated, but I do not hesitate to call Valve’s first-ever game a masterpiece.