The current free 2 months of the Half Life franchise prompted me to start playing Half Life: Opposing Force.
I, naturally, loved HL1 back in the day, but I never played any of the expansions. They pop up super cheap in the steam sale every time, so they’re always a bit tempting - but I’ve never been sure how they’d have aged and there are so many new games. So it’s great to have something actually prompt me to give them a spin.
Instant impression (intro): Wow. Those canyons look much less impressive than I remember! 20 polygons with a repeating rock texture.
Instant impression (gameplay): Holy crap, I’m on rocket powered ice skates!!! It took me 3 tries to get through the door because I kept overshooting it!
I never really noticed it happening, but FPS movement has gotten slower and slower over time, I guess mainly due to the influence of consoles. Halo was probably the turning point. It’s weird to think that they all used to be this fast and slippy and that was normal.
To jump ahead, much to my surprise, I’m mostly really loving it! There’s some weirdness, but it’s amazing how quickly I’ve adapted to things like the movement, and the graphics. It’s partly because the engine does a much better job with indoor areas than when it tries something really ambitious like a canyon, and it’s partly the way that our brain will get us sucked in and we’ll soon stop noticing the fidelity. (also known as the vhs-movie effect).
I think it’s also because I’ve kinda missed this form of FPS design, and because from what I can tell it does a pretty good job of replicating the things that made HL1 great. It’s decades since I played that, so I can’t really compare that directly, but it seems like what I remember.
I decided to give it a quick try for 20 minutes last night, and then it was 1.5hrs later and I needed to go to bed! Which is what HL1 did to me all those years ago.
The thing I’d half forgotten about HL is that it’s more about navigating the environment than about combat. It suddenly makes a lot of sense that Portal is a Valve(-ish) game.
I’ve probably played over an hour, and I think the first 30 minutes had almost zero combat (Other than a few head crabs). It has increased a bit recently, but I’m still spending far more time on navigating, jumping and puzzles than on shooting.
I’m enjoying the jumping puzzles, but good grief the ‘crouch jump’ seems like such a dumb idea with modern eyes. Basically every jump needs to be a crouch-jump, and they’re a pain to pull off consistently, so why not just make it the regular jump???
I skipped the Tutorial because, duh, it’s an FPS. I now think this might be a bad idea as I was ridiculously low on health and ammo for the first 40 minutes… and then I remembered you can break crates! That’s where most of the health and ammo is! Doh.
I wonder if there’s some other stuff that I’ve forgotten.
The environmental hazards are way more dangerous than the enemies. Most lasers, fireblasts, electrified items seem to kill you instantly, which seems really harsh by modern standards. That might just be because I was so low on health though.
The main enemy this far has been Vortigaunts - who are kinda annoying enemies as they can one-shot-kill you. Not quite sure on dodging yet, but you tend to have to take them out before they kill you, which isn’t super fun.
The wrench is a rubbish melee weapon. It feels like you’re waving it at them and it’s doing nothing. Was the crowbar that bad?
 I wonder if the one-shot-kill-ness of it is because i was low on health, or because it was in a time of Quicksaves rather than Checkpoints (though it does do those).