The Half - Life series made it's first entrance at 1997 it was made by valve and released by sierra. several small expansions and years later Half-life 2 was released (2004) it had an episode one in 2006 episode and two 2007.
Now why has Half-life made such an impact on me ?
I was already partly game addict back in those days. Spoiled with Wolfenstein, Doom and Duke Nukem ( had the demo that before half life) i was already shooting away left right and center.
However Half-life was new. This was heavily proven in the first few minutes of half-life while your in the train on the way to black mesa. A memory i will never forget. the life hood around me, cargo being transported, soldiers running around, heli's flying by.
By the these days impatient generation called the longest train ride. this impressed me heavily when i was young.
It brought so much more believability to the game that it completely sucked me in. The first few minutes the experiment goes wrong and you walk by the several research rooms where you see scientists being attacked by headcrabs... awesome stuff !
For half-life this was also the main source of narrative. Where other games generally had cut-scene's or text Half-life had in game events that were up to the player to be seen or ignored.
The greatness of this was continued in Half-life 2 and even more story got put into small events such as citizens being arrested, combine soldiers being attacked or conversations npc's have. One of the most likelly most ( and probably without realizing) noticeable things i found was at the start when the player just arrives in city 17 before the negotiation the player walks by an interrogation room where one of the combine soldiers shuts the little window only to beat the citizen up.
Long video where you can see how valve does it's story telling ( start of the game )
The story itself was also one of the great things. These days a lot of games have implemented this technique ( though valve is still well known for NOT including any cut scene in the half-life series) but the unlike the load of spin offs and world war 2 First person shooter games that followed in it's time Half-life seemed to have a lot more depth and more unique than most of it's spin offs. The fact the player has never gotten to see or hear Gordon freeman ( of course there are some "photo's " hidden around and in half-life 2 the front cover suggests how Gorden Freeman would look like. but in game itself he's the faceless hero making it easier to emerge in the story. Another good thing about the story is the setting. The environment subtly changes and all makes sense. valve has done it's research and makes things the way it should be. A good example one of my previous teachers on game-design once gave was: The fact the Half Life series ( actually valve in general) Has a good sense of Visual Rhetoric. So for example a warehouse containing heavy objects must have wooden pallets to move them around. If they are there must be a forklift to pick them up. If there is a forklift, there must be a floor/ramp/doorway that allows the forklift to have access. This is something that amazes me and something that even to date MANY MANY MANY game developers can learn a lesson from. Because how often do i see games where there's this massive boss standing in a room with a tiny door/entrence and/or random items that don't fit the setting( invisible walls anyone ? )
What i liked the most about Half-Life 1:
Probably the Start seeing black mesa in it's work and the 3 headed Tentacle part in half life which took me ages to get through.