Sierra - 1998
Genre: First Person Shooter
Very few things in this world really scare me, least of all games. Alone in the Dark? Not even creepy! Resident Evil? Don't make me laugh (well actually it does which is the problem). Half-Life however... just the very thought of it sets off the hairs on the back of my neck. It's too easy to dismiss Half-Life as just another FPS, it isn't. Despite having no cut-scenes and little in the way of dialogue or plot, Half-Life is close to that fabled genre - the interactive movie. Right from the opening titles, as you enter the bowels of the huge underground complex where you work, you are completely inside the unraveling events. It's not an interactive movie, it's like you are stuck inside, living a movie, and it's a scary one at that!
In the game you are a scientist of a top secret research agency and at the start of the game you find yourself on the business end of an experiment that went terribly wrong. Stuck at the bottom of the underground complex you only mission is to get out of there. Although the game itself is a straight forward FPS, the style and gameplay is much more like an adventure. There are puzzles to solve, often involving you using other characters who are wondering scared about the collapsing complex. That's not to say there isn't shooting to do because there most definitely is. It seems that the experiment ripped a whole into another dimension and a collection of the most horrible monsters now lurk in the darker corridors of the complex. This is where the fear factor comes from; unlike other FPSs there aren't hordes of baddies coming at you from every angle, here every enemy is perfectly placed to get you just when you don't need it or expect it. Luckily there's a fantastic selection of weapons to pick as you go.
What makes Half-Life even more appealing is that despite the real terror and tension it generates, it still isn't overly serious. In fact there are many occasions when the game made me laugh out loud. Not content with being just a great adventure Half-Life also has the obigatory on-line frag option. With some of the best designed fragging arenas and outrageous weapons this isn't just an added bonus, it's worth the cost of the game in itself. If your a dedicated console gamer unconviced by the PCs gaming abilities then this is the one to open your eyes. Half-Life has it all; arcade action, adventure and unlike the majority of PC titles, a hell of a lot of fun.
Jakey 13 Jun '03
ebay - You should find plenty of copies on ebay, go for the Game of the Year Edition if you get the chance.
Demo Download - A site listing places to download the demo version.
Wikipedia's Half-Life page - Lots of great information.