Friday, 20 July 2012

Half-Life (PC) - Guest Post

This is my 100th post on Super Adventures in Gaming!

For a nice change, I'll play a first person shooter that everybody's heard of so you can all laugh at me as I fall down holes and miss the obvious!

Science is a preference for the habitual voyeur of what is known as...

Cheer up. I've hit my Parklife gag limit already and we're still in the intro.
Click the pictures to view them as clean PNGs!

No, really, I've never played the first Half-Life before! I've played Half-Life 2 before and I didn't like it. Too many strictly themed gameplay zones where You Must Use These Guns, and I felt like Gabe Newell was leaning over my shoulder, pointing out all the great things he made and whispering "Aren't we having fun?" in my ear.


I am playing Gordon Freeman, Ph.D. Age 27. Research Associate. He's on a train heading towards the Anomalous Materials Laboratory deep within the top secret Black Mesa facility in New Mexico. Also, you are now reading this post in his voice.

The train passes through all kinds of themed zones. As the train passes from area to area, there's a loading screen. And usually on either side of the loading screen, there's a giant vault-like door that takes a minute to fully open and close. Gordon passes through the office zone... the industrial zone full of glowing chemicals... this canyon zone. Does Black Mesa specialise in making Sonic the Hedgehog levels?

The train slows down leaving me with nothing to do but watch a suit guy and a scientist watching me through the windows of another train. They look shocked to see me? Are they trapped too?

I jump up and down and hammer all the keys on the keyboard to try and get their attention. Fire! Reload! Flashlight!


Hey, it's a helicopter. Hello, helicopter! I bet I don't get to fly you later! Okay, bye helicopter!

If I put any other FPS on and wrote 'You spend the first five minutes of the game locked in a train and you can't do anything. You can't even shoot a smiley face in the walls and continually reload the gun just to have something to listen to.', you'd be asking questions like 'Did they really think that whatever they showed you in those five minutes was worth it? That's stupid.'.

But no, it's Half-Life and apparently it gets a free pass. (Amazing mecha-neko™ solution to this problem: all games should have a fast-forward button. You can have that for free.)

When the train ride ended, I had to sit for another minute while a guard walked from the other side of a long platform and opened the door for me. When released, I immediately bounced around the elevated platform like a maniac. And then I jumped off the side, down a chasm to my death and had to suffer the entire train ride again.


The next time, I made sure to quick save before trying any impish fun. I had to wait for the guard to walk all the way back to where he started so he could use the retinal scanner and open the door leading to the lab proper. Whatever we're doing really must be super secret if the guys that do the work aren't allowed in. OR OUT!

I tried to lighten the mood a little bit by jumping on his head, but that just made him spin around rapidly and shake me off.

Reception!I leap onto the desk and hammer the Use key on everything. I deftly reach under the guard's desk and press the concealed alarm button, setting off the klaxons and red lights everywhere.

"C'mon Gordon! You try'na get me into trouble?!"

You bet your ass I am! I've just spent ten minutes trying to jump out the window of a moving train! Twice! I'm bored outta my mind here!

"Weren't you supposed to be in the test chamber half an hour ago?"

Oh snap! I'm late! I'm late!

There's coloured lines on the walls telling where I can find important locations like the locker room and the test chamber, just in case I'm a complete incompetent. (How did they know?)

Still I found the time to go the complete wrong way.

"Hey, you got the wrong airlock, Mr. Freeman. You know I can't let you through here."

There's folks hanging around and walking the corridors of the laboratories, and they've all got random daft things to say. It's really, really nice to be able to meet people and have them treat the player like a person. You have folks yelling at you from afar in stuff like Aliens Vs. Predator, but there's rarely any other friendly characters to talk to. Or silently activate.

"Hey, catch me later, I'll buy you a beer!"

It's a tad odd that this guy is an exact duplicate of the guard who opened the train for me and the guy at the reception desk. All the scientists have the same voice as well. If you can get a bunch of 'em together, you can activate them all simultaneously to get them to say the same thing in chorus.

It's the HEV suit stored safely in its shrine. Ain't it cool?

I'm working inside the test chamber itself today, so I'll just instantly snap myself into this thing Iron Man style and be on my way.

There's a voice of the suit initialising all the components. Armor, good. Communications, useful. Defensive weapon selection? Sure why not. Never know when one of these Security guys might suffer from clone rot and go postal. We've even got some dance-y music to get me in the mood for running like a loony through the labs.


There's spaces for two more suits here but I haven't seen anybody else walking around in one. Are there two EVIL SCIENTIST boss fights waiting in my future?

These guys don't look particularly nefarious right now.

When you leave a pair of scientists alone together, they start to ask each other random questions and give each other non-committal responses. Although we're deviating from standard testing procedures in this experiment, a 'resonance cascade scenario' is extremely unlikely. That's a weight off my mind.

"They're waiting for you, Gordon. In the test chamber..."

Gordon's job at Black Mesa is to get inside the Test Chamber and push a small cart containing a shiny thing into the rays of the anti-mass spectrometer.

There's no buttons out here and there's nothing I need to monitor or record so I'm just gonna sit back and let the science men do their work., I'm not. I'm going to get restless and start throwing myself off the balconies to try and get my health to exactly 1. Get on with it!

Of course, it all goes wrong. Again. That's what happens when you're stop paying attention to the dangerous machinery and intentionally try to fracture all the bones in your body.

Gordon is temporarily transported to a dimension of complete darkness... and then an alien planet! Either that or the whole of Black Mesa was an ILLUSION and these two alien monsters are Gordon's real parents who are about to bestow upon him his birthright. No. Not quite.

Mercifully, the random teleportation has landed me right back in the test chamber, fighting for my life and dodging the exploding ruins of the anti-mass spectrometer.

One poor man just got crushed under a collapsing control rack.

Immediately opposite this, one of the Security guys has received a lethal dose of Science to the chest! The scientist administers CPR, but I fear it's too late. Give it up, he's dead! :(

I thought this was a looping animation at first, but then the Security guard got up! Hooray!

And then they just stood there like statues. That was... weird.

"I never thought I would see a resonance cascade, let alone create one."

These guys were fussing over this machine before the experiment and it slightly exploded just before I entered the test chamber, but they decided I should continue nevertheless. A lesson learned.

Well, I think it's high time I used the Communication capability built into my HEV suit to call for help!

Oh, right, mute. Darn it, Gordon.

Crawly potato monsters are teleporting in from God knows where! As if the lightning everywhere wasn't bad enough!

Luckily for me they teleported safely into these handy-dandy jars. I got a bit too close to the one in the cracked jar and it launched itself at me and took off a dozen health. Little buggers must have a grip like a vice if they can crush my arms in this suit.

This is the control room for the anti-mass spectrometer. The two scientists who were just talking me through the experiment were both blasted by this green lightning.

The door at the end of the room is locked, so I hide under a desk until something happens. The green lightning explodes it open and I'm on my way.

This potato monster's got some God-damned teeth and it's flying at my face! Nooo!

I deftly step to the side and watch it hurtle down the corridor and then come to a dead stop as it forgets what it was supposed to be doing.

We chase each other around the room for a few minutes before I get bored and we amicably part ways.

Gotta hand it to Black Mesa, they've mastered all forms of rays. We've got red, green, blue and yellow ones shooting out of everything. We've got straight lines, coils, arcing lightning, the works! They're just not that good at keeping them contained.

I kneel down to check if a downed Security guard dropped a weapon, but then one of the lasers suddenly changed direction and killed me instantly. Blah.

Everybody knows you're not supposed to use elevators in the event of a scientastrophe, but these guys just didn't listen. Gordon can't do anything but watch as they rocket to the ground, screaming.

If you're fast enough, you can get through the door and talk to one of the scientists while they're falling.


If you're faster still, you can accidentally rush out into the lift-shaft, run into the free air and get pulverised by the lift crashing down upon you and have to sit through the Test Chamber sequence again.

I climb the ladder (suppressing the impulse to throw myself off it this time), and find a guard defending himself from some kind of lab-coated monster scientist. All I've got is a crowbar, but that doesn't stop me splattering alien guts all over the walls.

Together, we win the day! And then the guard spins around and shoots another monster I didn't even know was there!

"That'll look good in my trophy room."

Yeah! That's more like it! Me and him, we're gonna bust outta this joint and save the universe! Go, go!

"Roger that, let's run like hell!"

This guy's head was being eaten by a potato. Oh well. We'll have to be extra vigilant to save any other guys we find.

I headed back to the Reception area, hoping to double-back through the main door and ride a tram to safety, but the door wouldn't open. I smashed up the controls with a thwack of my crowbar, and found my way back to the tram station but nothing good came of it. Let's just say it ended with somebody falling to their death while screaming my name.

So instead, I said farewell to my Security pal, crawled through a Conspicuous Vent behind the desk and immediately got crushed to death by this mainframe falling on me.

This gutsy gent is putting up a good fight against a killer potato! Go for it, science man! Just keep 'em busy for a couple seconds longer while I find a way into the room!

I make a racket with the crowbar against the glass, but it's indestructible. Door's locked.

After crushing the enemy potato with a filing cabinet, another potato emerges from behind and latches onto his head. Damn it all!

Here's one they prepared earlier.

Potato zombie. Too much television will do that to you.

Yet another tragedy to add to the pile... this guard died just out of reach of this First Aid machine.

I'll avenge you, Security guard!

Jeepers, it's an evil alien electric dog!

I thought these guys were going to leap at my face too, but they just sat there and went "Woop, woop, wuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr." and then emitted this sort of sonic blast wave.

That was weak. Now you're dead.

YOU! Get your arse down here right now, you sneaky son-bitch!

Ugh, he's gone. My bullets were completely ineffective. I couldn't even get his attention.

Sneaky Freemans like to poke their heads around ladders and shoot exploding barrels. Why are there exploding barrels here?

I met a scientist hiding in an alcove up the ladder. He told me that I looked terrible, and produced a convenient syringe from his coat and injected me with it increasing my health by 25 points. Thanks!

It's true, I'm in terrible shape... the HEV suit's voice has been reading out each injury I receive when I take damage. Lacerations, blood loss, minor fractures. And that was all from running laps in the test chamber!

I ask him to join my team and a bit further on, he opens a door containing pistol ammo and grenades. Thanks again!

And it seems I have to leave him there as he refuses to climb down the ladder with me. Oh well.

These aliens are bloody cheaters. They teleport in wherever they like (usually behind me), and then shoot out huge green lightning beams that take off tons of health.

Knock it off!

Hey! It's a large Metal Gear Solid-like lift! The sides of the shaft are enclosed, so it looks like I won't have to shoot a flying boss while travelling down an endless lift, which is good because I only have a crowbar and this pistol.

All these different kinds of room have different acoustics. Some of them are reverby and some vents have a strange resonance that makes my footsteps sound like guitar strings.

And down the long lift we go!

No boss, but every couple of seconds somebody higher up the chute chucks a crawly potato monster at me. They miss me entirely, bounce off the lift platform and fall into the green goop.

I messed up. I wasted all my ammo shooting the electro dogs and didn't notice that all the potato monsters had survived the fall and were just waiting for the right moment to jump at my face again.

Holding down the crowbar sends Freeman into a thrashing frenzy, smashing through crates, dogs and potatoes alike. These aliens are pretty wussy. A lot of them go down in one or two pistol shots. They only seem to damage me if they hit me from behind.

An acid-spitting lizard monster teleports in! With 6 health left, I figure I've got nothing to lose by running at it and smashing its brains in.

And then the floor gives way and we hover for a second, then fall into a massive pit and splatter on the ground in a cloud of dust like a Road Runner cartoon.

Oh, you crazy scripted thingimabobs. You do crack me up.

I'm hiding from another acid-spitter on opposite side of the sewer.

There's a gully of green goop between me and what I assume is the exit door. I hope I don't have to put together these boxes to make a bridge because that's gonna take more health than I can spare.

There's sticky grabby things on the ceiling here as well. It doesn't look like touching their tongues is a good idea.

I wonder how they got there. If they teleported in, wouldn't they just fall to the ground with a squelch? Maybe they hoisted themselves up the walls with their tongues?

Although there's pushable barrels and boxes on my side of the sewer, falling in the goop isn't instant death. I coulda just jumped right through it!

And for a moment, the game takes some time out of its busy schedule of alien invasion to become Portal.

It's a platforming section, complete with instant death chasm and starting and ending with long, twisty corridors with loading screens!

A series of crates suspended from the ceiling? What is this, Super Mario Bros.? Get outta here!

I've escaped from the sewers and entered OFFICE COMPLEX.

Hey, there's no levels! That's neat.

This is probably the earliest game I've played where the levels all merge together into one long unbroken world (save for the frequent loading screens). As far as I can tell, there's only ever one correct way to go and its never directly stated where it is, only implied. Yet, I've not gotten lost once yet!

On this level, I'm off to a cracking start as even more scientists are dragged into ceilings and vents before I can do anything about it.

Some exposed wires zap a blob monster as it crawls towards me. And then another. And then two more. And then it blasts a chunk out the floor.

I run at it. And then I try creeping past it. Then I try crawling underneath it. Then I try shooting it.

Alright, I get it, jeez. I Suppose I'd Better Go And Turn Off The Power And Come Back Then.


Yaargh! The thing's pulling me up while making a noise that sounds like wheezy choking laughter, and I can't stop it!

I shot it and it vomited bloody chunks over me. Hooray.

Look behind you! It's a monster!

Oh, damn, right. Mute.

It's been a while since I met one of these guys. It's a shame to always have to leave them behind when I have to jump a gap or go inside a vent.

It would be nice if there was some designated safe place to lead them to like in the Abe games. Occasionally leading a scientist to a retinal scanner will get me goodies, but then I have to leave them defenseless while an alien could teleport in at any time. If they said "Thanks, Gordon. I'll wait here and help the Science Team. You should continue on to <reminder of destination>. Be sure to check out <useful plot information>. Good luck.", I'd feel like I'd actually accomplished something rather than leaving it half-finished.

I suppose their pathfinding isn't really up to it. I have to hold their hand to get them to follow me around most corners. Dead Rising fans will tell you that escorting idiots around dangers is absolutely no fun at all. Dead Rising 2 fans will tell you if you give them the ability to defend themselves, it's way more fun.

Two of the first Xbox games I ever played were The Thing and Freedom Fighters, and you can recruit large squads of men in both games and kick loads of butt. This is not them.

It reminds me of something, though. Me and a blue guy, jumping about, shooting aliens until they explode...?

Bubble and Squeak (Amiga)
Yeah... hmmm... no. If being able to save the Security guys turns this game into Bubble and Squeak, I'll just be happy with what I've got.

I've got a plan. I've told my friend to wait for me.

I'm going to dive in through the window...

...and solve this Crystal Maze-esque electrified-floor problem.


Well, I didn't say anything actually. All I can do is somehow non-audibly indicate that I want him to follow me or stand still.

Evil potatoes lie in wait within the darkness. You picked the wrong obvious place to hide, punks! Ha ha ha!

And then SPLAT, Gordon is decapitated by an exposed ventilation fan.


There's a turret on the ceiling out there. Don't stick your head out. It's not clever.

One scientist was chased out into the open by scripted potatoes and now he's a mess.

There's a health kit up there for gutsy people who find a way to get on top of the crates, but I'll pass for now.

Even more scientists getting dragged into vents!

Stay away from the bloody vents already!

It's another guy! Now there's three of us running through the offices, shooting the crap out of anything we see.

Even though they've only got a pistol, the Security guards are capable of defending themselves against most enemies easily.

Outta the way, you! Three heroes comin' through!

The shotgun kills these things in one hit, but the alt fire fires two shells simultaneously in case you want to make absolutely sure.

Most of the people I meet have a bit of information to pass on before they get killed. According to these guys, there are soldiers coming to Black Mesa to save us from the aliens! All we need to do is get to the surface safely.

It's eerie having two identical Security guards with identical voices following me around though.

It was too much for them both to take. One of them snapped and killed his duplicate before declaring "That's one less horror in the world.".

I'm all ready to run out there and gun down that potato zombie on the ledge when a scientist dramatically dives through the glass in front of me.

Then he stands bolt upright and plainly acknowledges me with "Greetings.".

Greetings back at you... I suppose.

There's someone holding on to a ladder up there! I'll save you! Somehow!

Poor guy. His whole purpose of his existence was to show me that I have to use that ladder. And now he's dead.

Now we're at the surface! We just need this guard to open the main silo doors and... oh.

"For God's sake open the silo door! They're coming for us, it's our only way out! Oh my God, we're doomed!"

Well, now I have to get in there. Through the vent. Via the Moon or something. I think Gordon ought to have access to a map of the place where he works. Where's the fire evacuation notices? The ONE DAY you need 'em and you can't find 'em.

HMMM... it's almost like we're NEVER going to get to the surface until the last ten minutes of the game.

I've found a submachine gun, oooh!

Some unthinking sort has left turrets lying around everywhere. These laser tripwires turn 'em on. It'll take a master sneak to get past this lot without becoming cheese. I'm fully Hazard Course certified, so they pose no problem to me!

Soldiers have arrived!

"Don't shoot, I'm from the Science Team!"

Safe at last...

HEY, YOU! Don't shoot my scientists!

That's not on!

And you, stop running into enemy fire!

Ah geez. This is a mess. We could have avoided all this if the scientists just remained calm. I could've talked this whole misunderstanding out. Somehow.

When I was creeping around in a vent I overheard a couple of soldiers talking.

"Twelve dumb-ass scientists and not one of 'em fought back. This sucks."

So they really did just come here to kill us? That's bang out of order. I may be nothing but a short-sighted nerd wearing a tin can, but I'll show these murderers how we do things in Black Mesa!

These soldiers are a pain the butt. Apart from the jumping potatoes, the other alien types all just crawled towards me. These guys run from pillar to pillar and hide all the time. And they've got real guns, which is a real problem for a helmet-less Freeman.

They take a hell of a lot of damage, too. I was expecting a few pistol shots to take them down, but they can withstand tons of SMG fire before they even notice me. They're more like robots... and they yell out one word one at a time in a heavily distorted voice.


I've gotta eat my words. It's the surface!

I really thought I'd be stuck inside the underground base forever.

Gordon's dead.

I think they dropped a BOMB on me. That's a bit extreme, don'tcha think?

Try again.

I'm dead in seconds if I copy their tactics and hide behind the edge of the silo doors and fire carefully. The soldiers can either fire faster than me, or they've got better guns than I do.

All their advance knowledge of the level layout is rendered useless if I run at their face and blast wildly. They simply can't handle a Freeman in motion.

I've emptied more than one clip into these guys! Why aren't they DYING?!

This time, I don't even bother shooting at the men and dash into some kind of bunker on the other side of the yard instead.

This might be the only instant death trap in the game I haven't fallen into!

Alright, where am I going now?

Ha. Would you believe it. I'm completely stuck down here. The vents lead to some bonus areas, but I can't see any way forward. Oh well, the end.

Didn't really think much of this game. Escaping and surviving is always fun, and there probably wasn't enough of it. I know that sentence doesn't make much sense: the game is nothing but wall-to-wall survival... maybe I'm just too used to the circuitous routes that the game uses. Any simpler, and you're just walking through a series of doors to get to the end. Any more difficult, and you're running the full length of the level and back just to get the key to open the first door. As it is, it's rote. Half-Life just can't win.

I felt bad about leaving the men behind. I've got no pressing reason to get myself to the surface ahead of the rest of the Black Mesa staff, so I'm not just going to abandon them like that. A lot of the time, I decided to stick around and move boxes to try and glitch my Black Mesa pals through the invisible barriers that prevented them from travelling with me.

And I enjoyed fighting the aliens more than I liked fighting the men. When the aliens stopped and the men started, I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. I tried hiding, sniping, running at them, using grenades... The men simply didn't die.

Everything good that this game did was nicked and put into Red Faction. If somebody added Half-Life, Requiem and System Shock 2 together, you'd have a really, really good game.

All this game did is remind me how much I hated most of Half-Life 2.

If you'd like to request a game, please leave a tasty and nutritious comment below!


  1. *Metal Gear Solid (psx version better than pc version), or if you want an older one try metal gear or metal gear 2: solid snake, but those two has a completely different gameplay system (because you know, u had not so many options to do and a sight from above).
    *Zero the kamikaze squirrel (why? because it's a kamikaze squirrel).
    * Megaman x4 (I know you had your bad time with megaman 1 but the game evolved in the next releases, adquiring new movements and gun, but better than that, the "X" saga has a second main character called Zero who uses a fucking sword instead of a gun and you will enjoy it.

  2. Here's a bunch of FPS games that you haven't played yet:

    Dead Man's Hand (XBox) - Strangely arcade-esque cowboy game.

    Lifeforce TENKA (PS1/MS-DOS) - The FPS game that came on the PS1 demo1 CD.

    Subsystem (Atari STe) - The only(?) FPS game on the Atari ST series.

    Quiver (MS-DOS) - Another Doom clone.

    3D Labyrinth (VIC-20) - Early Jeff Minter game, similar to 3D Monster Maze.

    Or, if you're sick of FPS games, how about Devil Dice on the PS1?

    1. There's also Insmouse no Yakata on the Virtual Boy. I hope you like red, because it has lots.

  3. Weird. As far as I know, your ending isn't the end. You'd have to reach the alien's planet first before the game ends. It should not end there.

    1. That's not the end of the game, just the end of my post. :) I really couldn't figure out how to get out of that maze of vents, and the post was plenty long already.

      Though you might be the first person ever to complain that Xen has been removed from Half-Life. :)

    2. It's funny, I must have beaten Half-Life at least twice now, but last time I played it I couldn't find my way out of those bloody vents either. Maybe Valve have sneakily patched the game to remove the exit, to get more people playing Left4Dead instead.

  4. So why did you hated Half-Life 2 then? :D


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