Half-Life Anthology PC Review

Most games have a set life span, they are released, win a few awards, sell a few thousand to a million copies, are re-released a year or two later as a special edition, develop and fan base, then fade away into nothingness as newer better games come out.

Few games have the power and ability to break the cycle, notable mentions included Red Alert and Unreal Tournament just to name a few. However one game, Half-Life, could be considered one of, if not the most popular first person shooter ever, and Valve have decided to release the game, along with its expansions Opposing Force, Blue Shift and Team Fortress along with it, all for the low price of $24.99 (Canadian dollars). Why has Valve decided to re-release 4 games the exact same way it was released in 1999? Because they can. Half-Life and its expansions still hold their own in terms of game play and storyline against most games out their today.

For those of you who have been living under a rock and still think Half-Life is the amount of time it takes for radioactive matter to decay to half its mass then here is a quick refresher.

In Half-Life, you take on the role of Gordon Freeman, an innocent scientist who gets caught in the middle of a government experiment that goes tragically wrong, flooding the Black Mesa Research Facility with aliens and monsters. Fortunately, the government sends in the Marines. Unfortunately, they want to wipe out everything, including you.

In Half-life: Opposing Force, you play as a soldier sent in to eliminate Gordon Freeman, you are separated from your base unit and discover a new alien race amidst the chaos. It’s quickly revealed that these highly advanced alien life forms descended upon Earth to pillage the planet from the Black Mesa facility when Gordon Freeman transported to the border world of Xen.

In Half-Life: Blue Shift, you play Barney Calhoun who, as a security guard, has access to far more areas that Gordon Freeman ever did! Find out more about the Alien invasion and explore new areas of the Black Mesa Research Facility, which you never knew existed.

Team Fortress is a multiplayer only online/LAN game centred around the usual CTF, death match etc, game types, players choose a role (medic, engineer, sniper etc) and battle another team of players.

Graphics

Compared to the likes of Doom 3, Farcry, and Half-Life 2, the graphics for these games don’t even compare, then again, it’s the same graphics the game used when it was released 6 years ago. In terms of the graphics when the game(s) where originally released, these were state of the art. Explosions are well done, bullet holes are rendered and environmental effects are also pretty well done. Also on a side note, since this game isn’t too graphically intensive it will run on older machines, so if you own a Pentium 3 or better, you’re set.

Gameplay

For Half-Life, Opposing Force and Blue Shift, the game play is your standard first person, shoot anything shooting at you style that you’ve come to know and love, with the odd puzzle thrown in to use your brain every now and then. However the story is superb, the entire game is told from the first person, no cut-scenes, no CGI renders, you even have control of your view through the whole game. This gives you the sense that you ARE the character you are playing. Half-life has the best story of all the expansions with Opposing Force coming in second and Blue Shift coming in third, all the games have good story lines, its just that Half-Life’s is the best.

For Opposing Force, remove a storyline, add real people trying to kill you and add a flag you must retrieve, it’s still fun as hell though

Sound

Enemy footsteps can be heard and the sounds of the weapons are well done. They sound realistic and the clang of empty shells and the impact of the bullets against either flesh or concrete sounds great, for an older game. Music is also well done and adds to the tenseness of the situations. Enemy radio and voice chatter can be heard, sometimes giving away important information, as far as a game goes, the enemies do sound like real-people.

Lifespan

Several difficulty modes and an online game help make the re-playability of the Half-Life Anthology long, if a 6 year old game can still compete against some newer games out there, it must be good. Although an adept game can make it through the story mode of each of the single player games in a week. They are still worth playing over again at a high difficulty just for the added challenge, and to try different methods of doing things. In this game, hard is HARD.

As for the online game, Team Fortress, if you like team, blow up the other team, game play you’ll love it and play it for a long time, especially if you join a clan.

Overall

Great value with 3 great single-player games and one superb online game, all for the price of an average game. If you missed out on what the original Half-Life was about, played Half-Life 2 and had no clue what was going on, or just want to buy it to relive the good old days, then check this game out, it’s well worth it.

9 out of 10
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