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  Half-Life Review @ GU
  June 14th, 1999 by Zero

DEVELOPER: Sierra

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS:

  • P 133
  • Windows 9x or NT 4.0
  • 24MB RAM
  • 2X CD-ROM
  • SVGA 16 bit video card.
  • Windows compatible sound card

MY RECOMMENDED SYSTEM:

  • PII 266
  • 64MB SDRAM
  • 2X CD-ROM (it's only used for CD music)
  • TNT video card (or faster)

TEST SYSTEM:

  • PII 266
  • 64MB RAM
  • Diamond Stealth G460 video card (I740 chipset)
  • 36X CD-ROM drive
  • Creative AWE 64 value edition
  • Win98

SIMILAR TO: Quake II, Unreal etc. etc. etc.

CATAGORY: Action/Adventure

Overview

Originality is always been lacking in these sort of games. Half-Life solves this by using traps to encourage people to think. Unfortunately that's all that's original in this game. You can use allies (like in Shogo:MAD); the story line isn't original (scientist gets to his work, starts an experiment with an unusual specimen, the whole thing goes wrong and he has to save his skin and the earth while he is at it). We have all heard it before. Then why is this such a great game?

In Depth

Let's start with the worst thing in the game. What bothered me most is the storyline. You don't know what you are doing. In Heretic II you got cut-scenes with subtitles. Here you stay in the first person view all the time and you can move when people are talking. Added to this is 3D sound. When you aren't facing a person you can't hear what he is saying. So you just run around doing missions while you don't know what you are looking for.

What I liked most about this game was its human enemy's. The commandos throw grenades at you, whilst hiding themselves, when you are hiding somewhere. The ninjas walk when you are, shoot at you and when you're turning their way jumping for cover. Also a strong point is the movement. Your character can do long jumps as well as a crouched jump. Unfortunately there are a few bugs in the game that have got to do with these 2 points. First of all you can get stuck in walls sometimes (making movement impossible). The enemies don't see you when you're shooting from them at a large range (they just stand still until they are killed.)

What also makes this game so good is the variety in gameplay. Blowing things up all the way isn't a way to get to the end. You need to use people to open doors, make smart weapon choices to survive and have a good control over your character.

Sierra has released a great patch for this game (free!). It's a large 23 MB (1.30 hours on a 33k6). But it's really worth it. It's a multiplayer add-on called Team Fortress Classic. It contains a variety of multiplayer games, like capture the flag and kill the hunted. In it you can choice between 9 classes. All of them have special abilities and some rare weapons that aren't available in the normal game. This is much better then the original multiplayer game. It allows for strategy and teamwork than rather than blowing each other to death. Also the 9 classes will ensure that everyone gets his (or hers) favorite roll. I for one really like to play the sniper. The bad thing about this is that you need a lot of people to play this game. It's much more fun to have at least one of a class in your team. Since there aren't any bots you should be at least with 19 people.


Ratings

Graphics 17/20

The game has 2 options. Direct3D or OpenGL. My primary choice was Direct3D. That was a very stupid thing. The game slowed down now and then and didn't recover from it. It also crashed a lot. The OpenGL mode is very fast. Too bad the game has some glitches in polygonal lines. It is hardly noticeable, but it's there.

Sound 18/20

The sound is great. The monsters scream very good when dying, when drowning you hear a very realistic gurgling sound and the electrical charges seem very real. There is a 3Dsound. It's great, but it isn't when people are talking. I can't hear them unless I face them with my ear. The soundtrack (CD music) is very good. Too bad it doesn't play 99% of the time (another bug?).

Control 10/10

Great. Not too many keys, but the basics are all there. Even long range jumping and crouched jumping. Everything is configurable of course. In TFC you can set 2 keys for dropping a specific grenade. Also there is only one weapon under one key. (Long switching between weapons there would result in death).

Gameplay 18/20

The lacking of the cut-scenes is sad. But that doesn't mean that the game isn't any fun to play. I loved it. That's basically because there is a wide variety in terrain (You get in mines, on the surface, in the water and even on an alien planet), weapons (more on that later) and enemy's (shooting down helicopters and tanks is great fun). Also a strong point are the traps in the game. Especially the scene in the explosive warehouse is excellent (you're trapped inside a warehouse, one false move and KABOOM!!! worst of all there are dump enemies walking towards you...). TCF adds a whole new dimension of strategy to the game. Unfortunately there aren't any bots so it's multiplayer only.

Weapons 10/10

The weapons in this sort of games make or brake them. Half-Life has some great weapons. A bio-arm that shoots out tiny flying bees, a laser guided rocket launcher, a colt and explosive packages that detonate with a push on a button (great for blowing up artillery). Furthermore there are a crowbar, a pistol, a machinegun with grenade launcher, a shotgun, a crossbow with a lens, a laser, a sort of constant firing laser, grenades, laser mines (they are placed on the wall) and even some sort of bugs... In the multiplayer you get 2 new weapon accessories. A zoom function on the colt and explosive arrows on the crossbow. TCF has got quite a few new cool weapons. A minigun, a flame-thrower, a knife, some cool grenades and a whole lot more.

AI 8/10

This game has one of the worst AI bugs I have ever seen. Some of the enemies don't move when they are under fire from a long range. When activated in battle they respond better. The commandos use grenades when you are sheltering, monsters that can shoot stay back until you approach them. Then they attack you with their fangs. Also the security guards really assist you.

Multiplayer 18/20

Multiplayer modes in games are getting more and more popular every day. The best AI system can't compete with a human player. One problem is that human players aren't around all the time. Unfortunately there aren't any bots in Half-Life. You can practice your skills against the enemies in the single player game, but I didn't have any practice in teamwork in TFC. So I was totally blown away by my friend's team. The multiplayer levels of Half-Life (not in TFC) are great. They are very varied and have some great features. (there is a fast boat ride on one of the levels). Too bad there are only 10 maps. As for TFC, there are only 6 maps. That's way too little for a flag capture game (you know where the flag is on every level). That's really a shame.


Overall: 90%

Nearly spoiled because of the bugs. They can easily be fixed with a new patch. Unfortunately I don't know if the bots can be implented that easily.....

Questions, comments, suggestions? email me!

+ Pluses
  • Great engine
  • Not just blasting
                    

 
- Minuses
  • Lot's of small bugs
  • No cut-scenes
                               

 
 

screen shots

The screen shots were taken at different resolutions. 800*600 ran smooth except on one of the last levels (too many polygons to render).


The game has some great lightning effects. My video card can't this game in Direct3D, but can handle it in OpenGL (I really got to get a TNT).

Those things on the wall are fun in multiplayer games.

I think the Quake II rail gun looks better.

I'm stuck in the wall, one of the bugs...

Nice graphics, nice weapon.

Shooting down the helicopter is fun.

At 1152*864 the game runs a little slower than usually (the frame rate is still above 25!). (TFC)

The pyro class can do some pretty nasty area damage. (TFC)

Some of the new weapons in TFC.

TFC is well worth the download.

The engineer can build weapons and supply depots. (TFC)


Added:  Monday, June 14, 1999
Reviewer:  Zero
Score:

 1  

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