Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode
There's little challenge or development. You use the same skills over and over again: "Ooh, look, I can circle-strafe and look up and down while shooting up into the air." Bang! Another monster fit only for a body bag.
Except Half Life does it differently. And it may well span the genre and bring all those currently nestling in real-time strategy and role-playing and Internet porn back to the fold.
"When we started working on the game, we really felt that the action genre was in a rut," says Gabe Newell, head ofValve. "The gameplay was becoming more and more minimalist-running through spaces that you didn't care about and that didn't do anything, to shoot a bunch of monsters you had already killed 50 times before."
So the 40 or so Valve boys' mandate was to create a richer experience, a better game; something which bent the rules of the genre.
First came the story. The man responsible for the storyline is Marc Laidlaw, a 'proper' sci-fi novelist and writer. He penned an article on id Software and Quake tor Wired and caught the 3D shooter bug in the process.
"The part that really grabbed me was level design," he says. "The no-clipped, God's-eye views you got of new worlds in process... complex areas that just dropped off into a void... It was irresistible."
Laidlaw quickly got into level designing, borrowing tips from the id guys and aiming for an opportunity to meld storytelling and new technology into one cohesive ball of playable nonsense. Getting involved with the genre-busting Half Life was a good opportunity, and the influence of a keen narrator really shows through.
"There are lots of scripted sequences, and characters who are really immersed in the story that's unfolding around them," explains Laidlaw. "And keeping in mind that, from their point of view, it's total chaos and horror, and only you, Gordon Freeman, really get the full picture of what's going on."
The game has shades of zombie films, '50s B-movie horrors and The Bill as it pulls you into an unfolding surburban nightmare, throwing deserted tower blocks, research laboratories, hidden bases and loads of other 'real world' locales. The idea is not to fart around through a bunch of 'hubs', but instead to make a path for yourself through the game.
Unfortunately the monsters are out to do the same. They know the levels as well as you do and they work in groups. The little SWAT team members use cover, run away and dart round corners to toss hand grenades. "And some of them hate each other more than they hate you," says Gabe. "And if you are smart you can use that to your advantage."
The slimy alien scum also come with rudimentary senses - sight, hearing and smell. Then there's a conversational system which enables you and the other characters to interact, either to tell you what's going on or to act out some pre-scripted storytelling scene, some of which can actually be extremely entertaining.
"In just about every room you go into, something will be going on," says Laidlaw, "whether it's seeing someone being pulled into a vent by a tentacle, or two monsters fighting over the body of a scientist, or some new piece of equipment you can operate".
"There are non-player characters (NPCs) in the game who will actually talk to you and respond to what you're doing," according to Newell. "They will travel with you, fight with you, talk about the world around you, heal you and get you into places you couldn't get into on your own."
Originally due in November '97, Half Life, like the rest of the 3D shooters queuing up to be released, has been delayed. The quality of Quake II shifted the goalposts somewhat, and Valve faced the choice of sticking to their design manifesto or meeting their publisher's product schedule and their first quarter spend. In the end they did what you would hope, and went for quality.
"Since Mike Harrington other Valve bossman and I don't get paid until we ship, we are certainly looking forward to getting Half Life into the stores," says Gabe.
Multiplayer-wise, Half Life has a smattering of small surprises. Valve are going for a standard 32-player LAN or Internet option, but with an integrated pager system so you can locate your multiplayer 'pals' no matter which far-flung server they're ransacking. Skins and patches on servers will download-automatically. And the most asked for multiplayer feature - putting your face on the player character - is now seamlessly possible (oh, and you can spray your clan logo on walls while you're playing).
But what of the most important element of any 3D shooter-the levels?
"Half Lifers levels are all seamlessly linked so that you hardly notice when the transition between levels occurs," says Brit boy level designer Dario Casali. "You can move either way over the transitions, meaning you can revisit earlier levels. Monsters will pursue you over transitions, as well as any projectiles you have fired. Half Life is practically one very large level with a couple of exceptions." (Ah, the old 'balancing action with exploration' ploy.)
Overall, however, Half Life looks strong. Very strong. It's definitely the current leader in the 'Game Most Likely To Out - Quake Quake" raffle, and a strong contender for this year's 'Go Away For Two Weeks Honey, Me And My Voodoo II Have Got Some Lovin' To Do' competition.
Optimistic theorists predict that within the next ten years, games are going to 'kick Hollywood's butt', with interactive entertainment usurping the more passive - and more popular - medium of film. It is posited that, sooner or later, a game will come along that does for the industry what Star Wars did for the movie business, achieving universal appeal and spawning the concept of the blockbuster. Half-Life certainly isn't that game, but it is a step in the right direction, evoking emotions on a par with some of the best films, the tension supplemented by some deeply disturbing images. For once, the marketing skunks' soundbites about 'wholly immersive environments' ring true, and at times it is genuinely shout-out-loud terrifying. It is, in short, a good thing.
How have they gone and done that, then? For the last couple of years, the game has largely been shrouded in mystery. Developers Valve have been beavering away at their base in the woodlands of Washington (state, not Tyne & Wear), deep in the heart of X-Files territory, and aspects of this have clearly filtered into the game. Half-Life is rife with conspiracy theory, and the aliens are only too real-not restricted to the archetypal little green men variety, but comprising grotesque monstrosities with a penchant for feasting on your vital organs and spitting you out as giblets. This is one game that certainly doesn't skimp on the gratuitous visuals, and some of the death sequences are above and beyond the call of sickness. It is far more than a straightforward splatterfest, though, and often relies more on the fear of the unknown than on mass butchery.
As is becoming almost a prerequisite these days, the storyline is crucial. For years, the plot of a game was something slapped on the back of the box at the last minute, and a number of old-school developers still maintain this practice. You can't get away with that sort of thing any more, though, and intricately scripted storylines are becoming more prevalent.
The storyline of Half-Life is as intricate as they come, although it begins in a fairly mundane fashion. You are Gordon Freeman, an employee of the Black Mesa Research Facility in New Mexico, and you're late for work. This becomes apparent in the compulsory real-time intro, as a monorail transports you through the labyrinthine chambers of the complex, the title sequence taking up at least a good five minutes of your life. It does give you the chance to come to terms with the scale of the place, though - something that becomes more evident as the game pans out.
As well as having a bad name (see Gordon Is A Moron panel, page 91), Gordon is having a bad day. Of course, this can happen to anyone, whatever soul-destroying, mind-crushing task you perform for desultory financial reward. You've all been there: you're late, the photocopier's playing up, that fax hasn't arrived, you've been ritually humiliated by your superiors and, to top it all, the pie shop's all out of steak and kidney. Small potatoes indeed in the world of Gordon Freeman, who turns up for a day at the office and within the hour is fending off alien beings with a crowbar while his colleagues are eaten alive in front of his eyes. We've all been in a World Of Shit (traditionally around deadline time), but this is in a different class. A very good reason to stay in bed, if ever one was needed.
Talk, Talk, Talk
The way Half-Life sucks you in is ingenious. To begin with, you are genuinely going about your business. You can saunter around the place, go for a piss, get yourself a can of pop and talk to your workmates. Yes, talk. Half-Life employs a character interaction system that elevates it beyond the glorified shooting galleries that make up much of the genre. Strolling up to someone and pressing the 'use' button prompts a series of responses such as Til stay here" or "Let's stick together", enabling you to manipulate your colleagues to do your bidding. Scientists can open private areas, and when it all kicks off, security guards can help repel the alien hordes. Simple but effective, it's an ambitious idea, and the lip-synching is excellent - a far cry from the standard efforts of yore. And as a - perhaps intentional - side effect, it is difficult not to feel a slight pang of concern when you see the walls painted with the blood of someone with whom you were recently chatting. Grim indeed. It would be unfair to give away too much of the story, but suffice to say that when it goes off you had better be prepared to run, dodge, hide and bludgeon, often at the same time.
In keeping with the unassuming opening, you begin the game unarmed - not a situation that will stand you in particularly good stead. You're a scientist, not a fighter, but thankfully help is at hand. Once located, the default crowbar is a master stroke, enabling you to smash through windows and grates, as well as lash out wildly at all and sundry, particularly the despicable face huggers. The damage these parasites cause is clearly demonstrated as they take over the bodies of fellow scientists, forcing you to cleave the skulls of your erstwhile workmates, accompanied by suitably gruesome sound effects. It's not all close combat skirmishing, though - looting the still warm corpse of a butchered security guard yields a rudimentary pistol.
Different aliens cause different kinds of pain, including spitting a poisonous substance at you, and even creating a fatal sonic boom. Twisted. It's a scary business, and approaching beasts can often be recognised by their individual sounds, which is more than enough to give you the habdabs. Those who prefer the stench of charred human flesh are also catered for: in one of the game's many twists, you end up doing battle against what seems to be the entire military, whose weapons you can then pilfer. This gives plenty of scope for more ultraviolence. For instance, tossing a grenade round a corner can often yield the remnants of a human head and a couple of stray limbs, flayed of skin and barely recognisable. For no apparent reason, this is hilarious. And just for fun, you can also shoot at your fellow scientists, forcing them to cower and whimper before you slay them at point-blank range. Again, this is hilarious, although grown men crowding around a monitor laughing maniacally at cold-blooded murder surely cannot be a healthy thing. Were you to witness a similar occurrence in 'real life', you would be scarred indefinitely, the images haunting your every waking hour, and years of intensive therapy would be required to come to terms with the horror. Funny old world.
Of course, a 3D shooter wouldn't be complete without a ludicrous array of unlikely weapons, and Half-Life doesn't disappoint, progressing through the perennial crowbar, a pistol, a very useful magnum, a shotgun and a machine-gun which doubles as a grenade launcher. Satchel bombs also come into play, as do laser mines, a laser gun and a pseudo rail-gun. There's a tranquiliser crossbow that can be used under water, and also a realistic rocket launcher that has to be steadied on your shoulder. The most bizarre weapon of all, though, is actually a living creature which, when thrown at your enemies, proceeds to bite chunks out of them. Another point to note about the weapons is that rather than floating around in mid-air, they generally have to be looted from bodies or discovered in boxes. Likewise, health boosts are administered at first aid centres or via injections from scientists, ably suspending the sense of disbelief.
Furthermore, the levels are largely seamless, melding into each other fluidly. Many of them require a lot of retracing of steps, and getting lost can be annoying, although at no point do you ever actually want to stop playing. This is a game that will steal hours of your life, but you press on regardless because not only is it immensely absorbing, but you actually want to know what's going to happen next in a plot that takes numerous unlikely turns. Something sinister is afoot, and the fleeting appearances of a mysterious besuited man add to the conundrum.
Half-Life is a sensational game, with a massive variety of gameplay. Some parts are in the mould of a psychological thriller, and if we want to get all Barry Norman about it there are clearly nods in the direction of the Alien films or even John Carpenter's The Thing. Other parts are simply all-out war, with tanks and helicopters raining down on you. There is also a good deal of lateral thinking involved, with a bit of Crystal Maze-style box-shifting thrown in for good measure.
The Quake engine has been stretched to its limit and Half-Life has something for everyone. It stays resident in the brain for some time, with rapid eye movement remaining a problem for a good couple of hours after playing, and sinister tentacles invading your consciousness. Half-Life is a virtual world of horror and pain and it toys with your mind. Pull yourself together - it's only a game.
Gordon Is A Moron
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the lead character in Half-Life is called Gordon. For a bit of fun in the office, we've compiled a list of minor celebrities who share this unfortunate monicker. It's a riot!
GORDON BENNET Of debatable origin, his name nevertheless became a surprise alternative to cursing.
GORDON BROWN He may sound like a classic Stranglers song, but he's actually our glorious Chancellor.
GORDON BURNS Not particularly busy at the moment, this fastidious, if somewhat sinister, gameshow host once ruled The Krypton Factor with a rod of iron (not literally, of course).
GORDON COLLINS Brookslde original who struggled to come to terms with both his sexuality and his bouffant hairstyle. Memorably ran over his Dad's dog, Lucky, while drunk.
GORDON GILTRAP Obscure moustachioed folk singer/guitarist, latterly name-checked by Merseyside's premier kitchen sink surrealists, Half Man Half Biscuit.
GORDON HONEYCOMBS Original TVAM newsreader, notable mainly for his unassuming manner and lack of hair (and stupid name).
GORDEN KAYE Not even a rogue spelling could help the rotund 'Alio 'Alio star during the '87 storms, when a large tree invaded his car and made acquaintance with his forehead. Oof.
GORDON STRACHAN Angry Scotsman currently at the helm of hapless Coventry City. Prone to bouts of gibberish.
GORDON... (Cancelled due to lack of interest).
Don't Read The Sodding Manual
Well aware that nobody likes reading manuals, Valve have included a superbly realised tutorial that painlessly teaches you everything you need to know about playing Halt-Ute. It takes the form of a hazard course, with Instructions given by a holographic woman on how to use your envirosuit, the self-contained life support system that you occupy for the vast majority of the game. As well as explaining the communication system, the hazard courses teaches you the rudiments of running, jumping, ducking and so forth, and even include a shooting gallery to hone your skills. It's an excellent idea, and even a games virgin would come away with the basic skills required to have a stab at the game. Other developers take note.
What we thought
"It would be unfair to give away too much of the story, but suffice to say that when it goes off you had better be prepared to run, dodge, hide and bludgeon, often at the same time."
What you think
- "The rating which you gave Half-Life is bollocks. I mean, do you know what you have done? You actually dared to rate Quake II over Half-Life. Personally, I don't like Quake II that much - I get bored with it when I reach the fifth level - and I only play Action Quake II now. Half-Life is an absolutely amazing game, and I don't understand why it didn't get a higher score. " Half-Life is fully interactive, rich and intelligent, whereas Quake II has brown/green shitty textures and lacks gameplay. I mean, what do you see in Qll any more? It's passed on. Forget it. It'll be on budget soon anyway. Make sure you take all the details into account and please reevaluate it. I insist."
- "Multiplayer is a right laugh, with the levels getting more bloodstained and charred as time progresses (it doesn't disappear either). The weapons are good, the crossbow excellent for sniping and the rocket launcher just for pure scariness value. (When the red heat-seeking dot hits you, boy do you sweat.)"
- "The damn thing sucks you in got home, installed it, decided to play it quickly while I was waiting for my tea. Three hours later I was starving, my tea was cold and I was late for the pub - all I could think of was Half-Life. So I left the delights of alcohol and returned to it. Goodbye social life (again)."
Addicted to Half-Lifef? Don't worry, Hall-Life dependency is curable. This, our specialised treatment, will help you come to terms with your addiction and allow you to return to normal living. Good luck...
Once in the chamber, climb the ladder and press the button when asked. Climb down the ladder and push the cage into the beam when the sample appears.
Make your way back up to the computer room. Go out through the vent, get to the ladder and bear right at the top. Drop down the hole, find the valve and flood the chamber. Swim to the other side. Find the goods lift and ride it to the top. At the catwalk, follow the pipes, crawl along the duct and jump across the boxes to the antechamber. Swim to the other end and follow the walkway to the door. Use the boxes to get across the next room, then follow the corridor to a ladder. Ride the lift.
Avoid the wire and use the duct. Turn off the power, go back to the corridor and break the glass. Turn left towards the wooden door and keep going. Turn off the switch, open the grate and follow it. Drop down and run for the exit. Go up the stairs to the office area. Keep going to the boarded doorway, press the switch to get into the meat storage room and head left. Activate the trolley, climb the ladder and crawl along the duct. Get on the trolley and enter the next duct. Jump up to the open conduit, follow it and then go up the stairway. Climb through the window. Find the lift shaft and jump to the ladder on its opposite side. Go right to the top, drop down and open the doors.
"We've Got Hostiles"
Get to the kitchens, climb the crates and keep moving. Go up the ladders, then ride the lift. At the next junction duck right and use the conveyor. Climb the crates up to the other belt. Go round the corner, jump down and head away from the lasers. Climb the stairs and cross the bridge. Ride the lift then head left to the door. Go down the ladder. Now open the door at the bottom and take the ladder down. Take the bottom and then the centre shaft. Press the button to enter silo D.
Ride down on the lift to the train. Jump across to the platform and climb the ladder. Follow the pipe, climb to the balcony and then to the lift. Enter the silo at the top. Leave the Control Room and climb the ladder. Tentacles only respond to noise and movement, so stick to crawling. Throw a grenade down to distract the Tentacle, then climb down and go through the door on the second storey. Get to the Fuel Room, take the ladders down, walk along the conduits, bear left and then climb the ladder. Follow the corridor to the door. Go down the ladders, switch on the fan and dash for the ladder. Jump into the moving air. Climb into the vent, take the first ladder down and push the oxygen and fuel buttons. Climb up to exit and head back across the bridge.
Jump over the breach and cross the bridge. Follow the corridor, ride the lift and jump to the ladder. Walk to the platform and press the button; get across to either of the ladders and climb them. Find and push both buttons to start the reactor. Get back to the entrance and climb up the ladder. Go back to the Control Room and get to the bottom of the pit. Climb down the ladder and swim under the tubing. Walk to the pipeline and turn the valve. Drop down and walk along the pipe; eventually you emerge in a room filled with boxes and trip mines. Make for the corridor.
Avoid the Gargantua and duck right into the passage - follow it until the ground gives way. Make for the Power Generator and open the door. Go up the ladders, down the corridor, up the ramp and then to the right. Throw grenades into the lift shaft to disable the lasers.
Take the stairs after the lift, find the generator and smash the crate. Activate it from the Control Boom. Make for the elevator, go up and back to the Track Control Room. Just before, climb the ladder into the corridor. Get the attention of the Gargantua and run into the newly opened chamber. At the far side, use the stairs and then the switch to zap the monster. Go down, through the door and into the main area. Jump aboard the goods train and chug along to the Track Direction Controller. Now get off and find the Track Control Room. Press the button to swap the points. Get back on the train.
On A Rail
Get off the train and push the button. Drive onto the lift and ride it down. Drive on until you see a small chamber with a stairway. Follow it to the crane controls.
Get back on the train and get going. Shoot the points switcher so you head left. Use the lift and ladders to get to the second storey. Continue your train journey, pushing the button to remove the barricade. Slow the train and get off whenever you see blue lasers. Push buttons to remove the barricades, and take a replacement train at the next opportunity. Stop a long way back from the next obstruction so as to take out the soldiers. Find the switch and get back onto your train.
Drive onto the lift and ride up - but get off before the corner and the traps. Get back on board, and at the next points switch make sure it faces up the track. At the terminus, walk down the track and head upstairs. Press on past the shielded door. Use the boxes as a makeshift ladder to avoid the lasers and stairway. Launch the missile from the button in the Control Room. Go back outside, and through the blast door which is now open. Go down the ladder and climb aboard the transport.
Jump off the transport when the explosive is lobbed at you. Dive into the flooded chamber. Find the opening at the bottom of the pool and follow it. Gulp some air and keep swimming. Find the grate, break through it and swim on to a chamber with plenty of ammunition. Go through the door and get out of the water. Follow the walkway to the ladder, walk the joist and nab the crossbow from the cage, which will fall into the pool. Turn the valve to open the lattice. Swim under, go up the stairs and then left at the top. Enter the hallway, go along the walkways and duck through the hole in the fence. Now find Generator Control.
Take the passage on the right, then activate the generator. Drop down and approach the centre piston. Get onto the bottom pedestal and onto the piston when it drops. Jump off and drop down. Climb the ladder, go down the corridor and up the stairs. Open the door to the freezer and climb down the ladder. Follow the pipework to the lift Climb the stairs and open the doors-be quick to avoid the garbage compactor! Now follow the ledge, climb down the ladder and go through the grating.
Crawl along to the outdoor area, approach the silo and turn the valve. Climb the ladder and ride the lift down. Flick on your torch and follow the tube to the grating. Walk along the corridor to the Observation Area. Now go back to the plant entrance, climb the ladder up the side of the vat and leap across the debris. At the end of the pipe, jump across the platforms and press on. Go along the piping and exit the next room. Go across the toxic waste and onto the conveyor belt. Follow the stream, avoid the masher and make your way along the passage. Go back into the water and swim under the other masher.
Climb out and find a Control Room with the three levers. Get all three conveyors moving away from the water, and go back to the room with the dead security guard. The button stops the hammers - stop them when the centre and right hammers are fully raised. Jump on the right-hand belt ,and move from belt to belt, following signs to the exit. Take out the blue lasers with a well-aimed satchel bomb and avoid the rollers. Drop down as the jaws open, then get off the conveyor and go through into the antechamber.
Climb the ladder and go through the grate. Get over the fence and go down the corridor. Press the red button to free the Grunt. Enter the Control Room and press the button when the Grunt follows you in. Exit, go up the ramp, climb the stairs and go round to the other lab. Open all the cages and dash to the Control Room. Exit, take a right at the junction and walk down. Walk into the open passage, then go up the steps. Get the Gauss gun and push the button. Go to the hallway and push the second button. Go to the room at the end and push the third button. Walk down the corridor and activate the fourth button. Enter the room where all the lasers point, push a box under the laser shield and activate the beam. Go through the hole and down to ground level. Find the room with the surgical equipment and deactivate it. Keep moving.
Get to the opening in the rocks. Wait for the chopper to go, then head for the dam and leap in. Push the turbine control button, go back into the water and turn the valve. Swim through to the ladder, climb it and enter either tube. Climb the next two ladders and enter the small opening through the rocks. Open the valve in the stone hut, then follow the wall round to the right. Enter the opening behind the boulder. Clear the fence and jump down.
Follow the ledge. At the metal doors, head for the cave. Take out the chopper with your rocket launcher and continue to the next ladder. Go up the ramp, and leap from ledge to ledge. Get to the second ladder and climb into the drain. At the junction, turn left. Now head for the pathway and the door at the end. Go around the right-hand side of the building, down the steps and enter the minefield. Get to the far side and shoot the canisters alongside the generator. You can now get to the roof. Walk along it to the opening and press on. Open the metal doorway and find the lift. Go up the stairs and ride the lift down. Grab the hornet gun.
Follow the passage to the truck. Go up the ramp and dash past the armoured transport into the alleyway. Go up the stairs, out onto the ledge and around to the right. Jump to the fire escape and then to the roof. Head for the opposite door. At the hangar, go down the walkway. Open the doors and use the big guns to deal with any trouble. Take the organic trampoline to the next level. Find the duct, follow it and drop down. Lower the big lift when the wall is destroyed, then jump through and blow the door with the gun emplacement. Climb up, across to the walkway and into the antechamber. Go down the corridor and find the V antechamber. Go down the corridor and find the organic trampoline to get W onto the roof. Drop down to the water and follow the pipe to the end. Turn the valve and get to the Control Room.
Climb the ramp to avoid the Gargantua. Trampoline to the tower. Use the map to air-strike the beast, the metal doors and the wall to their right. Aim the last strike at the other tower - this will be your bridge. Go down and through the doors.
"Forget About Freeman!"
Clear the railing, head right, up and open the hatch. Go down the ladder, then across the water to the platform. Push the crate into the water and use it to jump over the gateway. Go round to the left and dive in. Find the passage past the next series of cogs, climb out and go up the ladder. Get to the lift, ride it to the top, go down the corridor and head right. Go up the stairs, then use the tank to blow the door. Follow the passage left to the door. Press the button.
Climb aboard the goods lift, climb the ladder and go through the doorway. Head right, then take the stairs. Follow the left passage to the lift. Open the door, climb the ladder and on to the reactor. Take the lift and turn right. Grab the EGON, leave and go down the hall.
Follow the blue stripe to Pump Station 01, and turn on the pump. Follow the orange stripe to activate Pump Station 02. Jump the gap to the next Pump Station, turning the valve on your way. Push the button and head for the auxiliary tank reactor. Drop into the tank and wade to the core. Turn both valves, then climb the ladders. Get to the lift, climb the ladder and jump to the doorway. Go down the passage and around the corner. Make your way to the level B core. Enter the portal at the base of the core, then portal 2. Go under the ductwork and enter portal 4, then portal 7 into another teleport room. Get to the central platform and head for 0I and 02 - find the switch in each of these areas which half opens a door to the teleporter. Drop from the outer platforms into the centre when it's fully lowered, then get to the central platform. Heading outward, skip the middle platform.
Once out, climb the ladder and go through the glass doors. Get the jump pack and get into the Portal Control Room. Climb the ladder and then duck-jump into the portal beam.
When you enter Xen, you need to long-jump your way across the platforms to the structure in front of you. Use the pools to boost your health. Look for the small opening in the stone - go through and climb through the hole. Activate the mushroom switches, then smash the cage. The contents will activate the portal.
Wait for Gonarch to arrive. Aim your firepower at the sac. When she scarpers, enter the cave and keep up a sustained attack. Chase the monster, and drop through the hole into the portal.
Head for the far cavern. Fall into the pit and bash the web to fall again. Follow the passage, and ride the pillar up. Use the platforms, and hitch a lift with a Blue Manta to the portal.
Run out of the cavern, clear the ridge and get to the opening. Jump across the rocks, into the cave and the passageway beyond. Use the teleporter to enter the factory. Follow the ramp and ride the lift. Gel to the conveyors and follow them to the water. Follow the corridor at the end and use the pistons to get to the next level. Take the passage on your left from the Canister Store and climb into the red ducts. Go up the ramp onto the rotating lift platform.
Get to the spiral ramp, onto the second and third rotating lifts. Step into the teleporter.
Avoid all electrical charges and teleports. If you do get snagged by a portal, you'll end up someplace else. Nihilanth lives off his power source - this is what you need to destroy. Shoot the glowing crystals and then start on the creature. Once his energy has dissipated, use the organic trampolines to get above him and fire into his brain - yummy. Once you've scored enough hits, that's it. You've won!
What we thought
"Every few metres something amazing happens. The whole thing is a series of challenges that keeps on developing. It's brilliant."
What you think
- "Don't believe the hype! The single-player game didn't get me any more excited than the other games you mentioned, and I was soon bored. Something exciting doesn't happen every few metres - more like every few hours. Fair enough, the AI is pretty good, and the game starts off very well, but it just doesn't hold your interest long enough. The deathmatch is annoying, incredibly unbalanced and camper-ific. Don't buy this game, save your money for something like Daikatana."
- "How could you give Half-Life the same multiplayer score as QuakeII? Quake 2 is the best multiplayer game on the PC, and to rank it with Half-Life is SAD!"
- "Not even Quake II has me so hooked. The storyline is out of this world and the graphics just blow me away. I wish to concur with most of the panel in saying that Half-Life walks all over Quake II."
- "The AI and story all add up to make Half-life the best game ever, no argument. It kicks Quake II's arse with its real world locations and immersive gameplay. Every games player should have Half-Life. No joke, it's that good."
- "I thought 3D shooters were a load of crap until I played Half-Life - it's changed my life. I can't stay off my computer or stop thinking about it. It's one of the best games I've ever played. It is truly the king of 3D shooters."
- "While Half-Life is indeed a damn fine game, Valve appear to have taken a few shortcuts in order to get it finished on time. Have you noticed that your gunfire doesn't illuminate the area around you at all? Even crusty old Doom managed that. Another irritating point is the fact that the box shows screenshots of people with flashy looking shadows, when in reality no one has any shadows whatsoever, let alone good ones."
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