I finished Half-Life.
I have some thoughts about this gosh-darned video game. Namely, during the final battle I said “Well, this is boring.”
My favourite boss fights are the ones where the boss can teleport you away so that you’re not actually interacting with them, thrown into a room with annoying enemies you have to kill before making your way back to the boss chamber. I especially like this when it’s the final boss (although that implies there are bosses previously, I suppose) and kills any momentum the ending would have.
After numerous attempts to kill my patience, the boss finally went down in a peculiar manner, not actually when I had shot it in the last few seconds. I can only rationalise it by having one of the summoned enemies (the flying bastards that fire projectiles at you, I think they’re called Xen Masters) accidentally hitting it and dealing the killing blow. I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth though, so that was that. Then the ending cut-scene and, wait, what, that’s it? Really? Huh? Oh, okay. (Yes, I even reloaded to look at the alternative ending too, which, y’know, equally anticlimactic)
The most interesting aspect of Half-Life, for me, was the mysterious G-Man. His infrequent pop-ups without any comment were alluring in a way not often done in cinematic/narrative games. Despite my lack of complete enjoyment playing through HL2 for the first time, seeing how it’s done here does make me want to go on and play it to remind myself how that aspect progressed.
Otherwise I really slogged through it. I made mention of the fact that I appreciated that every space of a room was used, with ledges and pipes being viable paths, but most of the space felt restrictive and confined in a way that wasn’t helped by enemy spawns and some of their attacks coupled with the difficulty mode I was on. The most useful weapons for me were the starting pistol through most of the game and finally the homing alien weapon that sounded like I was shooting bees, if only because that weapon allowed you to cheese certain enemies to make encounters slightly more bearable.
Movement only got worse at end game with Xen, after introducing you to a new movement mechanic and telling you to try it out without explaining to you in any way how you were actually supposed to do this. For such a linear game it missing this detail seemed particularly stupid to me and whilst there is some logic from getting a bounce in using crouch then jump, given you could use this to climb certain platforms, the actual movement didn’t work in the space you were told to test it in so the only way you knew you’d done it is when an NPC had told you you had, but there could also be no way you knew what you did was actually right.
Xen itself, errrm, sucks? I was stuck in the first area for a while because I didn’t notice an obscure notch to crawl through and then there were weird jumping puzzles, a factory-type space filled with inconveniently placed enemies and I really did just want to get to the end there. My limited knowledge going in made me think that Xen was a shortish, but overall annoying space, but it just seemed to keep going with one more thing to do, as well as introducing minuscule versions of the head crabs that were far more annoying.
I said in the last post that I shouldn’t have been surprised that a game older than HL2, which I was never particularly wow’d by, did nothing to help that feeling and whilst it’s easily clear that HL2 is a superior game and built from its predecessor well, I think outside of the story I don’t really appreciate much else about the series. Will I actually go back and revisit HL2? I dunno, maybe? Still, I’ve got this iconic, important old PC title out of the way and that much I’m glad for.