Gordon Freeman Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Gordon Freeman RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Beloved YouTube Series, Freeman's Mind, Returns on the Worst Possible Day https://www.gameskinny.com/5uglh/beloved-youtube-series-freemans-mind-returns-on-the-worst-possible-day https://www.gameskinny.com/5uglh/beloved-youtube-series-freemans-mind-returns-on-the-worst-possible-day Sun, 02 Apr 2017 11:27:59 -0400 Dan Roemer

From the brilliant mind of YouTube user Ross Scott of Accursed Farms comes the potential and unlikely return of the beloved Freeman's Mind series.

If you're sitting there scratching your head, not sure what the Freeman's Mind series is, here's a quick run-down. Imagine if Gordon Freeman was self-narrating in his head during the events Half-Life -- Ross Scott delivers exactly that in an almost “Let's Play” style format. It's incredibly witty and funny (at least in my opinion...).  

The series originally started on the Machinima channel on YouTube back in late 2007 -- but since then, Ross has left Machinima and has re-uploaded the videos to his own channel, Accursed Farms.

 

 The series was so popular it even inspired other YouTubers to create spin-offs for Half-Life: Blue Shift and Half-Life: Opposing Force, in the form of Barney's Mind and Shephard's Mind.

So of course, on April 1, as I was casually going through my YouTube subscriptions and noticed the thumbnail and the episode “Freeman's Mind 2: Episode 1," I immediately thought, “Oh wonderful, another prank video.” But then to my surprise and confusion... There wasn't any sort of prank present in the video. Instead, it was a full and complete 10-minute episode.

So now, I'm left wondering, “Is this still a prank? Is the bit that it's the only episode we're getting!?” I can't say for sure, and obviously, Ross isn't about to spill the beans quite yet. So ... we may have to idly stand by and simply wait to see what may come out of this.

Imagine the Potential, Though ... 

If this is going to be a real full-fledged series covering the events of Half-Life 2, with the prank simply being the date it started on, just think of the potential commentary and comedic gold we could get from this series. From Gordon going to Ravenholm for the first time and meeting Father Grigori to meeting Dog for the first time and using the Gravity Gun and jumping on random bits of metal and garbage to avoid antlions, Half-Life 2 is filled with pure comedic potential for another Freeman's Mind. We could even potentially see a crossover from Ross Scott's other Half-Life 2 series; Civil Protection!

So what do you guys think? Is this all just a big prank or the start of something wonderful? If you're a newcomer to the series, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the series down below in the comments!

As always, stay tuned to GameSkinny for everything Half-Life.

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Rewind Review Special! Half-Life 2 trilogy video review (feat. Unabridged Gamer) https://www.gameskinny.com/bc2eh/rewind-review-special-half-life-2-trilogy-video-review-feat-unabridged-gamer https://www.gameskinny.com/bc2eh/rewind-review-special-half-life-2-trilogy-video-review-feat-unabridged-gamer Fri, 15 Jan 2016 07:43:35 -0500 David Fisher

Hello, and welcome to the final piece in the Half-Life Rewind Review series! Today's a special occasion as I was invited to do a video podcast review with YouTube video game controversy stirrer and GameSkinny reviewer, Elijah Beahm, otherwise known as Unabridged Gamer on YouTube. Together we decided to wrap up the Half-Life 2 trilogy into one hour-long discussion on the highlights and flaws of the series. The video can be found in the header of this article, or you can follow this link to watch it on YouTube.

As with all Rewind Reviews, Half-Life 2 underwent a review process through the eyes of a modern critic. No nostalgia glasses, no excuses, no rationalizing hardware limitations, and no sparing myself from angry fans and readers. Nothing will excuse the game from anything that we - as modern gamers - would expect to see in the genre today. Mixed in with the typical RR-sama content is Unabridged Gamer's unique reviewing style that focuses on the game's context and history.

For those who would rather read than watch, here's a brief summary of the highlights!

The Story

While Half-Life 2 tries to be more story driven than previous titles in the series, it ultimately creates more holes in the plot than it attempts to fill.

  • G-Man's existence is changed from omnipotent inter-dimensional creature, to something that can be stopped by vortigaunts without much effort (all within the same trilogy at that).
  • Character depth is poor at best, many of the characters lacking even the most basic archetypal qualities. While this wouldn't be much of a problem if the characters grew in some way, most of them seem to have already done all their growth before the game starts, and so the result is underwhelming at best.
  • The environment bland at best. In fact, City 17 barely resembles a city in any shape or form. The lack of unique architecture - aside from the Citadel and Plaza Square - suggests that this was never a functional city to begin with.
  • The use of technology, and the supposed threat that the Combine represent, is vastly undermined by various occurrences within the game itself. Humans seem perfectly capable of using Combine technology, and human tech has no trouble taking out even the most powerful of Combine weapons.
  • There are actually fairly few ties to the original Half-Life game, the only ones being: the crowbar, Gordon Freeman, Headcrabs, and the G-Man. Should these be removed, the game would be unrecognizable, and this, in turn, causes many internal issues with the storyline.
  • Betrayals, battles, and other major story events are greatly undermined by various in-game, writing, or other lore-based issues.
  • Numerous other story issues are discussed in the video!

The Gameplay

While certain portions of the game can be fun, some sections are difficult to digest without wearing a strong prescription of Nostalgia Glasses. Many of these faults are simply due to the age of the game, however, others are purely design failures that should not be there to begin with, such as:

  • Nova Prospekt highlights the extreme lack of enemy diversity in the game as it presents every single enemy in the game in one area (aside from some zombie varieties). While this is expected in end-game segments to this date, the fact that this occurs barely halfway into the game (and only 1/5th of the way through the trilogy) shows a severe lack of effort to create an immersive world.
  • Weapon variety is shallow at best. Many weapons serve as direct upgrades to others, and many of the unique functions that each weapon has are never used during gameplay.
  • The Gravity Gun gimmick is fun. However, its novelty wears thin quickly. This is namely due to its inconsistency as a reliable weapon.
  • Enemy AI is weak, and they lack diversity. Combine and other ranged enemies fail to take cover, while melee enemies simply charge at you without any other attack patterns to choose from. This is a serious downgrade from the original Half-Life, which came out six years earlier.
  • Game difficulty settings are merely numbers changes, as the AI is no smarter in Hard than it is on Easy.
  • Ally AI acts similar to the Combine AI, and they often rush to their deaths. The exceptions to this rule are Barney and Alyx, but the only reason they survive is thanks to rapid health regeneration.
  • Other gameplay issues can be found in the video!

The Presentation

While Half-Life 2: Episode Two's graphics look much more impressive than the other two games in the trilogy, the series as a whole lacks character. This isn't entirely a fault of the game's age as certain areas still look good. Instead, the fault is on the game's overwhelming reuse of props, textures, and more.

Considering the fact that the art director for Half-Life 2 moved on to work on games such as Dishonored shows the restrictive nature of the game's presentation as a whole. Music in the game sounds amazing, but it is rarely played, and is often drowned out by the sounds of the weapons in the game.

Half-Life 2 and Half-Life 2: Episode One have received visual updates as of the release of the Orange Box. However, they simply took character models from Episode Two and threw them into the previous games. This actually results in the game looking worse, primarily due to the newer models clashing heavily against the older ones.

The Verdicts

Unabridged Gamer explained that his score of 4.5/10 was due to the fact that the game is very much still playable, and the faults are not so terrible that the game does not deserve revisiting. He remarked further that the game works well as a base for new developers to learn from, but that the lack of game studios that still use the Source engine will result in negative yields.

As for the RR-sama score, the game received a 3.5/10. Those who have read Rewind Reviews before will understand that a 3 is reserved for those that are playable, but lack anything particularly impressive by today's standards. The reason that the game gets a 3.5 is that Half-Life 2 sets a standard for gaming that isn't completely irrelevant as of yet. While the game's difficulty and AI are considered weak nowadays, the gameplay mechanics are still sound. As such, it still functions as a "standard" for gaming, albeit on the lower side of the scale.

I hope that everyone who watched the review enjoyed it as much as I did recording for it, and if fortune is on our side this may be the first in a running line of collaboration videos!

Do you agree with this review? Do you think that the points raised are too harsh? What is your own experience with Half-Life 2? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

Reviews in this Series:

The full Rewind Review series can also be found here.

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Rewind Review - Half-Life https://www.gameskinny.com/sk7jp/rewind-review-half-life https://www.gameskinny.com/sk7jp/rewind-review-half-life Wed, 09 Dec 2015 05:20:13 -0500 David Fisher

You asked for it, and now RR-sama delivers. At the end of my Legend of Zelda Rewind Review I asked you - the readers - to suggest the next series for me to take on, and an overwhelming number of people suggested Half-Life. While others voted on the Star Wars: Dark Forces/Jedi Knight series, Half-Life won with over 76% of the vote. Considering Half-Life's almost cultist-level following, I can't imagine a better game to put under the Rewind Review lens.

So what are we waiting for? Cue the intro!

As with all Rewind Reviews, Half-Life will undergo a review process through the eyes of a modern critic. No nostalgia glasses, no excuses, no rationalizing hardware limitations, and no sparing myself from angry fans and readers. Nothing will excuse the game from anything that we - as modern gamers - would expect to see in the genre today.

Now let's play with some anomalous materials and cause a resonance cascade so we can whack headcrabs with a crowbar in Half-Life for PC!

The Plot

NOTE: For the sake of this review, Half-Life 2's retcons will not be applied to the base material. If you want to complain about this, do so in the comments. This is a Rewind Review, and all games are studied as if they had been released now as-is.

For those who have never heard of the series, Half-Life is a first-person shooter based in a science facility known as Black Mesa. Players assume the role of Gordon Freeman (above), a character who has the personality of a plank of wood with a weapon hot-glued to it. I suppose it is to be expected of a silent protagonist, but even Link had his moments of being a person. Heck, the game itself admits that he's a rather lame character on paper when the intro states the following about his profile:

SUBJECT: Gordon Freeman - Male, age 27

EDUCATION: Ph.D., MIT, Theoretical Physics

POSITION: Research Associate

ASSIGNMENT: Anomalous Materials Laboratory

Clearance: Level 3

ADMINISTRATIVE SPONSOR: Classified

DISASTER RESPONSE PRIORITY: Discretionary

What does the above tell us about Gordon Freeman? Well, he's a well educated man. That's about it. The rest virtually confirms that Gordon is a nobody in terms of his position at Black Mesa. Despite his education, he's barely got a high-level clearance (as the game states there are at least 10 levels of research clearance), and in the case of a disaster he's on "discretionary" status - meaning he could be left for dead and no one would care. Essentially speaking, you play as a nobody in the grand scheme of things.

The story begins on this charming note, then proceeds to take you through what I can assume is a routine thing at Black Mesa. You get your HEV suit on, you go to the lab, and you basically push buttons for people. What isn't routine, however, is the anomalous material that you are told to push into the reactor. I'm not entirely sure what the workplace safety standards surrounding pushing a trolley into a giant beam are, but I'm pretty sure they aren't what it's like in Half-Life.

Considering the fact that the trolley pretty much slingshots into the core when you interact with it, I can't imagine the experiments at Black Mesa qualify under the term "safe working conditions"

That said, this event is responsible for the events that take place for the rest of the game. After a brief moment of cut-to-black flashes, as well as brief moments of being transported to Xen, Gordon wakes up - I assume - to see that Black Mesa has been completely and utterly destroyed. Almost everyone is dead, and the place is a complete mess after the resonance cascade happened.

After one of the scientists asks you to find help on the surface, you spend most of the game running around trying to get there. Seriously, that's all there is to the story. Sure, you have Black Ops groups and soldiers trying to gun you down, but otherwise there's little else to be said.

In fact, the only real story elements from this point forward are as follows:

  • The Hazardous Environment Combat Unit throws Gordon into a trash compactor after disarming him
  • The scientists tell Gordon that the satellite launch failed to stop the resonance cascade, so he has to go to Xen to kill whatever is keeping the portal between the worlds open
  • G-Man talks to you at the end

I won't get into further detail because of spoilers, but let's just say that it's nothing particularly awe inspiring. To be frank, Metroid (NES) had a deeper story to it than this game did - and it didn't have the luxury of voice acting either. I'm going to suggest that you skip on this one if you're a story/plot lover, since it doesn't really give you much in this field.

The Gameplay

The Passable:

I've never written this kind of section before, but I think now is as good of a time as any. Half-Life is what I would call a "passable shooter". In fact, the game reminds me a lot of Halo: Combat Evolved where the game can be pretty much summarized as: shoot until it's dead, and then push some buttons to move forward. There may be a wall or two to destroy, or maybe a scientist or security guard to escort, but otherwise there's not much else to do. It is a tedious and repetitive formula that gets boring fast, especially since there's little to no story elements to break up the action moving forward.

Gameplay gets repetitive as your only real options for progression are: shoot it until it's dead, or find a bigger gun before shooting it dead. Oh, and maybe you need to push a button for it to be dead. Real innovative...

I suppose the one thing that Half-Life has on its competitors is an AI that isn't flat out stupid. However, since this is the first Half-Life title, the AI is far from superior to modern ones. Enemies tend to be smart enough to avoid traps (sometimes), and come around corners to shoot you instead of simply standing and waiting for you to arrive. It's nothing particularly special.

As for the allied AI, the scientists and security guards only know how to follow you. If they need to survive, well... hopefully you saved recently. These situations are particularly annoying later on in the game, as the AI can often follow you into danger. While this can be averted by telling the scientists or security guards to wait in their place, it gives me little to no assurance that they will survive since something could easily go after them by sheer coincidence if an enemy was following me and decided to get lost.

The scientists are the worst culprits as they are basically walking accidents waiting to happen. Their only benefit is that they do not walk straight into walls or traps - a common problem even with today's AI characters.

The Ugly:

The game is simply outdated, and it shows. A lot of buttons, levers, and other interactable items blend in with the backgrounds with the exception of the recovery devices for your HEV suit. Enemy AIs aren't particularly intelligent as much as they are designed to follow you and shoot. If this is considered "intelligent AI", then you may as well mark down Super Mario Bros. as being ingenious for having Bowser shoot fireballs in your general direction.

What really hurts this game, however, is the engine itself. Without a proper physics engine, weapons don't fire or drop where you'd expect, they simply go where you aim. This is best seen in example with the grenades that don't roll, and instead roll a set distance. What's worse is the flashlight which just changes the texture in a given spot to what it would look like if there were lights on. This leads to only a select area where you can see while everything else is quite literally pitch black.

This is how flashlights work in Half-Life. If I pointed this upward a little bit then I would see the wall just above the last grate there. Yeah, it's pretty terrible...

In Half-Life Source and the Black Mesa mod most of these issues are addressed. However, this is the original game, and it is terrible. The game has not aged well at all, and if not for the fact that the game functions at the level of a basic first-person shooter then it would be virtually unplayable. In fact, if not for the intense nostalgia tied to it, I imagine this game wouldn't get a second glance as it offers little to nothing for the modern gamer.

As for other features of the game, interacting with objects is poorly executed. Whenever you grab onto an item, it tends to fling itself toward the direction you move (such as the aforementioned trolley). This can cause some frustrating scenes if you need to move an object to reach a higher area.

Weapons are poorly balanced, and most early game weapons are pointless after retrieving alien weapons later in the game. Enemies are poorly designed as weak points haven't been properly integrated into the game. Only the Apache Helicopter and the final boss have to be shot in a particular place to deal damage, but that is nothing special.

In the end, it's easier to come up with what's bad with the game nowadays as opposed to what it did well back in 1998.

Literally puke:

Don't play the Dreamcast version of this game... ever. The controls are impractical at best, aiming is near impossible, and it suffers from all the issues presented here. There is literally no reason to ever play this. Please, spare yourselves.

The Presentation

I said this before in earlier reviews: 3D models do not age well. While things look okay at a distance (such as above) the real age of the game is apparent when not viewing an object up close. In fact, the images used in this article aren't a fair judge of the original game since most images found on the internet - or snapped by yours truly - use the high-resolution texture update. I can only shudder at what the game truly looks like by today's standards without this pack.

The game does have one redeeming factor in terms of presentation, and that is the music. While some soundtrack pieces can feel out of place depending on the situation, the music is generally pleasant to listen to - even to this day. However, it should be noted that the music does suffer from being composed on old soundboards that do show their age at some times, since you can clearly tell that the sounds are all synthesized.

I'll let you judge for yourself using the Youtube video below:

The Verdict

This game simply hasn't aged well at all. In terms of presentation, you'd best hope you are one of those crouch-hopping speed runners, as you will not want to "take in the scenery" unless you want to stare at what looks like a painted cardboard box. The plot is certainly nothing worth staying for, and the gameplay offers little to the modern gamer. There are simply so many better titles out there to choose from nowadays, and there is no reason to come back to this other than pure nostalgia.

Supposing that someone actually wanted to return to Half-Life as a means of catching up on the story for Half-Life 2 is absurd as well, since this game offers little in terms of story. In fact, so much of it is implied or referenced to in the sequel - other than that which is completely changed in retroactive continuity (retconned) - that there is no need to return.

The guy on the right was retconned to be Eli Vance. That's all you need to know to understand everything in Half-Life 2. Okay? Okay.

As such, I recommend this game to people who are simply nostalgia nuts, or are in desperate need of something to do. The game is playable, but just about nothing else is worth mentioning about it. As such, this game gets a 3/10.

What do you guys think? Am I being too harsh on the original Half-Life? Do you think that this rating or the review is unfair? Is there any redeeming qualities you can think of? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below and get the conversation flowing!

 

Reviews in this Series:

The full Rewind Review series can also be found here.

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Valve will never release Half-Life 3, and it's gamers' fault https://www.gameskinny.com/cs27v/valve-will-never-release-half-life-3-and-its-gamers-fault https://www.gameskinny.com/cs27v/valve-will-never-release-half-life-3-and-its-gamers-fault Tue, 18 Aug 2015 10:30:36 -0400 David Fisher

"Half-Life 3 confirmed!" ...is what I would like to be screaming at the top of my lungs around this time next year. Or the year after that. Actually, anytime before I die. In fact, I'm certain that these are the same words that many Half-Life fans would say if they were asked about their thoughts on a future Half-Life 3 release.

Unfortunately, this article isn't a theory on why Half-Life 3 is coming out, or what the game will be like.

Instead, today we will be taking a look at why Half-Life 3 will never come out, a harsh slap of reality that we - as gamers - must accept. This isn't just about Half-Life 3, either. This goes for just about every game sequel that we've ever wanted. The worst part? A lot of this is our fault.

Rumours From Alleged Ex-Valve Employees

Reddit, and all of the internet, is a well-known breeding ground for fake accounts claiming to be ex-FBI agents who claim to be releasing footage of UFOs, and other such rabble. The same goes for employees of major companies, and Valve is of no exception.

One such Reddit post includes a rant from a self-identifying ex-Valve game tester. According to his/her post, testers have not seen anything remotely resembling a Half-Life 3 build. In fact, the game "rarely gets mentioned inside the HQ." The Reddit user - who has since deleted their account - then went on to claim that Half-Life 3 has had a deadline for release for late 2017, or early 2018. Supposedly Left 4 Dead will be getting a third sequel earlier than that, and the characters have already been decided upon.

The source's legitimacy comes into question since they did not release their name, ID card, or even a time-stamp from the company. Furthermore, I have come to question the legitimacy of the user's claims due to the descriptions of L4D3's campaigns sounding too familiar to past maps, and user-generated content.

However, a much more reliable source came to YouTube channel The Know. According to their video found here, a current Valve employee claimed that the reason the game won't be released is due to the fact that Valve:

  1. Earns far too much money from Steam sales and micro-transactions to warrant development of Half-Life 3
  2. Only has 10 employees working on the game
  3. Fears Half-Life 3 would suffer from the hype and expectations in a similar fashion as EA's Mass Effect 3

With the claims from two separate sources in mind, I decided to do some theorizing of my own, and came to the following conclusions based on The Know's research on the subject...

Claim #1: Valve earns too much money to warrant a Half-Life 3 release

Image courtesy of VGCats.com

According to The Know's research, Valve has a revenue estimate of about $730 million a year. They also estimated that if Valve sold 12 million units of Half-Life 3 - an estimate based upon past Half-Life series sales - they would earn about $720 million. While I agree with their calculations, I disagree with their earnings estimate for Half-Life 3. The reason is that in their video they failed to account for development costs.

According to Valve's own press releaseLeft 4 Dead 2 had a $25 million advertising campaign. Supposing that Left 4 Dead 2's development costs were on the lower end of the scale, I used a list compiled by Kotaku journalist superannuation to estimate the game's development budget to be around $10 million dollars based on similar games. Supposing that Half-Life 3 had a similar budget, it would cost about $35 million to release the game.

If The Know's calculations - as well as my own estimates - are correct, Half-Life 3 would still earn around $685 million in sales. As such, I can only conclude that there are two reasons why Valve would not release Half-LIfe 3 based on earnings alone:

  1. They are perfectly comfortable with their current earnings, especially since Valve is a private company
  2. Unknown production, marketing, or distribution costs subtract a significant portion of the remaining earnings

Claim #2: Valve only has about 10 employees working on Half-Life 3

Both the Reddit user, and the anonymous Valve employee interviewed by The Know share one thing in common: they claim that Valve has few resources poured into Half-Life 3's development.

In my opinion, this claim holds the least amount of water out of the 3 major claims. The reason for this is that I cannot fathom any company putting any number of employees on a project that they do not intend on releasing in the near or distant future. Valve supposedly has around 330 employees, 28 of which work exclusively on DotA2. While 10 employees only amounts to about 3% of Valve's workforce, it is equal to a third of DotA2's team.

With that in mind, it would seem that Valve is interested in developing the game at a steady pace, putting some credit in favor of the Reddit poster's statement of a 2017-2018 release. However, I find the claim to be unlikely.

Half-Life 2 had a team of 84 people - and that's excluding face models and voice actors. As such, I would assume that Valve would need at least half of that team before considering designing anything remotely resembling a game as complex as a Half-Life 2 sequel. I may not be in game design, but as far as I understand you wouldn't want to have a team of 10 working on a game, and then suddenly pour on a bunch of extra hands once that team's about a fourth of the way through development. The chaos in management that would come as a result of such a move is uncharacteristic of a well-operating company.

As such, I believe that the claims of an abysmal amount of workers on Half-Life 3 are unrealistic for the development of a game of its magnitude. Instead, Valve is likely keeping these extra workers on hand for any projects they already have going - assuming these 10 workers exist.

Claim #3: Valve fears the potential backlash

Of all the claims you can find on the internet, I believe this one holds the most water.

Why? Because the internet is a horrible place. It may not be as terrible as a destructive riot, but it can get pretty darn close.

In my shared opinion with The Know, the results of a Half-Life 3 release would be astonishingly negative. Comparing the game to Mass Effect 3The Know claimed that Valve fears releasing Half-Life 3 since employees who worked on Mass Effect 3 were harassed and doxxed to the point of ruining careers and lives. Developers and employees were literally told to "kill themselves" by fans of the series, and this is quite likely the fate of any Half-LIfe game that could ever be released in the future by Valve.

Doxxers represent some of the worst people the more toxic side of internet gaming culture has cultivated

While I would like to imagine that people would not be so toxic toward Valve if they ever released Half-Life 3, I cannot for the life of me believe that it wouldn't happen. Gaming culture has become extremely toxic ever since online gaming became the norm.

Gamers and non-gamers alike know that the internet is a breeding ground for hate and general delinquent behavior. With hacking, DDOSing, and doxxing being so simple that even a teenager can do it, who can say that Valve wouldn't be afraid of releasing a game as hyped up as Half-Life 3?

Like it or not, the most compelling argument against Half-LIfe 3 ever being released is the fan base itself.

While I am not point fingers at anyone in particular, we know - as gamers - that anonymity on the internet can be a very dangerous thing. People's lives can hang on the balance of something as simple as their Facebook page getting doxxed. SWAT teams have broken into the homes of innocent Twitch streamers, so what's stopping some overzealous gamers from SWATing someone as impersonal as a game company employee? 

With this information at our disposal, if Valve employees are happy with making millions on Steam and micro-transaction sales alone, then who are we to judge? I wouldn't risk making an extra million if it meant putting my family's life in jeopardy. Until the government finds a way to protect people from these sort of attacks or people learn to just grow up, we may never see Half-Life 3.

Claim #4: What can Half-Life 3 really do?

This claim is one of my design. As I understand it, each Half-Life title was used to display the innovations of each Source engine Valve released. Back in the era of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, game engines were mostly designed to create new gameplay mechanics such as gravity, breakable objects, and so on. However, Half-Life 3 would be running in Source 2.0, an engine that... makes things prettier?

The truth is that modern game engines are designed to make games look good as opposed to making them more diverse mechanically. As a result, Half-Life 3 would need a new gameplay mechanic that would forever change the gaming landscape, just like the Gravity Gun in Half-Life 3. But can Valve do this?

They can't.

While I imagine Valve had plans to use the portal gun in the Half-Life series, I believe that the popularity of Portal actually ruined the prospects of making a Half-Life 3. I theorize that Half-Life 3 was originally intending on releasing sometime between Portal and Portal 2. The game would have used the portal gun to create new gameplay mechanics while aboard the Borealis, as well as interesting new ways to fight in later stages in the game. 

However, after the release of Portal 2, the creators were running out of ways to use the portal gun in a game. Furthermore, the creators of Half-Life realized that the quirky world they wrote for the Portal universe no longer fit into the apocalyptic mode of Half-Life. With Eli and Gordon out of commission as well, the developers accidentally wrote themselves into a hole that no amount of storytelling could repair.

But that's just a theory.

So will Half-Life 3 never happen?

Never say never, but for now it is certainly does not seem in the realm of possibility. One day Valve will release a Half-Life 3, likely to put their flagship series to rest or when their current microtransaction games slow down. Until then, Half-Life should be remembered as what it was, and what it still is for the gaming industry: a beacon light of innovative gameplay and storytelling that still burns in the hearts of gamers to this day.

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Valve's Original Classic Half-Life Still A Delight, Even In the Shadow of PS4 and Xbox One https://www.gameskinny.com/b51v4/valves-original-classic-half-life-still-a-delight-even-in-the-shadow-of-ps4-and-xbox-one https://www.gameskinny.com/b51v4/valves-original-classic-half-life-still-a-delight-even-in-the-shadow-of-ps4-and-xbox-one Fri, 23 Aug 2013 19:24:42 -0400 Brian Armstrong

The year is 1998. I’m a freshman at the University of Idaho and my roommate and I are getting really tired of Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s a great game, but we spent most of our senior year of high school playing the heck out of that game and it’s time to move on. Our other roommate walks in and says, “Hey guys, you gotta see this new game.”

That's how it all began.

15 years later I still regard Half-Life as one of the best games I’ve ever played, and the game that truly got me into gaming as more than just a hobby. I’ve spoken to a number of people lately who haven’t played it, which in my mind is a complete travesty as the game still holds up today (at least through its Source update, available on Steam). Sit back and relax, because today I’m going to send you on a journey to discover a remarkable game.

Half-Life

Perhaps one of the best parts of Half-Life is the very beginning. You are riding a transport train that weaves you deeper and deeper into a mysterious laboratory where, if you are observant enough, you can see some of the sinister creatures (and people) that await you later in the game.

You are theoretical physicist Gordon Freeman, and you work at the Black Mesa Research Facility. As you exit the train and enter the facility, you get to wander around, chatting with the various people milling about, and eventually making your way into the Anti-Mass Chamber for an “experiment". Fortunately, something goes wrong (If nothing went wrong it wouldn’t be much of a game, would it?) and you awaken after the lab and much of the facility has been destroyed.

From there you begin a wild sci-fi journey to escape the facility, running from terrifying monsters, uncovering corporate conspiracy, and solving puzzles along the way. It’s a fantastic first-person shooter, and it set the groundwork for many games to come in its wake. What made this game so special at the time was the sophisticated graphics, smooth gameplay, intriguing story, and excellent combat. It was the first FPS I ever played on PC, and from that day forward I would prefer playing that genre on a computer rather than console.

Half-Life holds up today as one of the better games from yesteryear. After being reworked using Valve’s Source engine, it is even more playable now thanks enhanced graphics. Though Half-Life 2 was released a few years later, looked amazing, and received fantastic scores, the original version still holds a special place in my heart. It was one of the first games I not only beat, but beat repeatedly. It remains the only game I have revisited more than a decade later and beat yet again.

Recently I have wondered why this game held up so well for me. Why, rather than all the other great games from the past, does this one register with me so strongly?

So I sat down to play it again to re-live the experience, and right off the bat I noticed one thing: that intro. The entire train ride is eerie, weird, and a little scary. It really sets the mood for what’s to come. If you aren’t intrigued by what you see during this ride, you aren’t going to like the game.

Once you begin combat it again becomes clear why this game is amazing. You start with a simple crowbar as a weapon, by oh my God does that crowbar rock! There are many instances throughout the game where you’ll find yourself switching back to the crowbar thanks to its reliability. Even monsters don’t last long when taking a crowbar to the face. But even the other weapons pack a punch, and using the Franchi SPAS 12 shotgun and the MP5 sub-machine gun with attached grenade launcher are absolutely unforgettable experiences.

The enemies range from tiny little crab-like monsters to angry human soldiers, and their combat styles vary greatly. While the enemies may be dated by today’s standards, they still provide a nice challenge.

Taking out challenging enemies would be nothing if it didn’t take place in a beautiful, impressive environment, and Half-Life has that. Whether it’s the Black Mesa lab, clinging to the edge of canyons, or creeping through the underground rail system, Half-Life looks amazing. Even today, while it’s not Bioshock Infinite, it holds up pretty well.

Half-Life is absolutely worth your time and money if you’ve never played it. If you have, maybe it’s time to revisit and see if you agree with me about it standing tall even today. There’s even a ton of extra content to explore like Blue Shift and Opposing Forces that flesh out the story even more, answering so many questions you never knew you had after finishing the main game. For the best experience, check out Half-Life: Source on the Steam store, turn off the lights, and get ready for a great ride.

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7 Game Heroes you Could Probably Take in a Fight https://www.gameskinny.com/4rvi8/7-game-heroes-you-could-probably-take-in-a-fight https://www.gameskinny.com/4rvi8/7-game-heroes-you-could-probably-take-in-a-fight Sun, 04 Aug 2013 13:00:33 -0400 Eli "The Mad Man" Shayotovich

Game heroes are usually big, bad, and downright brutal. But not always. Let's take a look at seven of these less than macho "heroes" to see exactly why you could probably take them in a fight without breaking a sweat. 

Gordon Freeman

As much as we all love the protagonist from the Half-Life series, Gordon Freeman is not your prototypical game hero. Basically, he's a big nerd. In fact... is that white tape holding his glasses together?

Strengths:  Gordon graduated from MIT with a Ph.D. degree in Theoretical Physics and likes to work on experiments that open interdimensional portals which bring aliens to our world, so his big brain is his biggest asset. The Hazardous Environment (HEV) suit he wears is pretty nifty, but beyond that... 

Weaknesses:  He's a freakin' theoretical physicist! Do you think he spent a lot of time in the gym or at the Black Mesa gun range?  Plus, his "weapon" of choice is a crowbar! Well, until he gets his mitts on the gravity gun in Half-Life 2.  Although Gordon has a Ph.D. we don't actually see him do a lot of smarty pants type stuff. In fact, Barney (the security guard) cracks on Gordon for only being able to flip switches and plug things in. And as much as we may like that stoic "no talking" schtick of his, not saying a single word is actually a big red flag. Everyone knows that in order to be a good hero you must be able to drop witty one-liners. Just look at Duke Nukem (who you could not take in a fight)... and virtually anyone in The Expendables movies. Wait, scratch that last comparison.

How You Can Take Him:  There are a few ways you can go about this. Gordon, being the nerd that he is, never really knows what to do with Alyx Vance. So try bringing a pretty woman to the fight and watch him get all twitchy and nervous. Or, ask him to explain Albert Einstein's (one of his heroes) theory of relativity to you. As he's writing out lengthy quantum physics equations on the chalkboard, knock him over the head... with a crowbar. 

Pac Man

The dude - we'll we're assuming he's a dude since "Man" is in his name - is basically a sports ball with a mouth.  'Cept we really don't know what the frak he is... which makes him kinda creepy. 

Strengths:  Never-ending hunger for dots. If he downs a "power pellet" he can temporary eat his ghosty enemy things ( Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde). He also has the uncanny ability to move, despite...

Weaknesses:  Not having any arms or legs! Or eyes for that matter!  

How You Can Take Him:  When Blinky, Pinky, Inky or Clyde touch him... he dies. That should work for you too.  If not... stick your foot in his gigantic pie hole and kick him like a soccer ball into the nearest garbage can. He can't climb out because he has no appendages! Seriously, how did this "man" get so damn famous?

Sonic The Hedgehog

In real life, hedgehogs are smaller than cats. They have no offensive moves because their spines can't detach like porcupines. To defend itself the 'hog "heroically" rolls up into a tight ball causing the 6,000 or so spines on its body to point outwards like a Koosh ball made of needles. Oh, and they have incredibly poor vision (they're actually born blind). The hedgehog known as Sonic though... is a freakin' legend. Why? 

Strengths:  Apparently this little blue bastich is capable of running faster than the speed of sound, which is ironic since real hedgehogs move slower than a dinosaur through a tar pit (they have short little legs). Thus, Sonic must be a mutant along the lines of the X-Men's Beast.  Hmmm... they do have the same blueish hue.  Under no circumstance should you let him collect the seven Chaos Emeralds.  If he does... you are screwed. These shiny green stones turn him into "Super Sonic", which makes him faster, gives him the ability to fly, and turns him invulnerable.  Like we said... screwed.  

Weaknesses:  According to the folks at Sega, Sonic's only weakness is his inability to swim. But that's not his only weakness. Sonic is a daredevil who can't pass up showing off his mad skills. He also becomes incredibly impatient with things that are slow... like turtles, lines at the DMV, and load screens. 

How You Can Take Him:  He's not very big, so if you can sneak up on him and drop an Acme Corporation anvil on him you can turn him into a blue pancake.  Stepping on him will probably work too.  If you're not fond of up close and personal wet works like that, be sure you stage the fight near a large body of water, say Lake Erie. Set up a ramp at the edge of the water and dare him to jump to the other side. He's an adrenaline junkie... he won't say no.

Nathan Drake

Hey, we all love the guy, but for the most part, Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series is a bumbling fool who only manages to avoid getting killed (repeatedly) through sheer luck. It's like he has an enchanted, Tibetan rabbit's foot in his pocket or something. 

Strengths: Quick witted, athletic, fairly proficient with guns. Still seems like he'd shoot off his own toe as much as hit an enemy though.  He's also persistent, resilient, and tough as nails... kind of like the John McClane character from the Die Hard movies - always in the right (wrong) place at the wrong (right) time. 

Weaknesses:  The ladies. It's bad enough that he's running around ancient ruins in hostile jungle environments with bad guys chasing him, but he lets his lady friends - who he's obviously been romantically involved with - get him in all kinds of unwanted, extra trouble.  Nate doesn't know when to say when.  He's gotten so used to luck carrying him through certain death situations that he doesn't realize that he only has so many lives left... and someday those lives will run out (see what we did there?).   

How You Can Take Him:  All you have to do is stand in front of him... and wait. Probably not for very long either.  Something, or someone, is bound to try to kill him.  

Mario

Despite being one of the most iconic "heroes" in gamingdom, Mario is nothing more than a short, portly, plumber from the Bronx.  When's the last time this guy actually threw an effective punch in a game? 

Strengths:  He jumps.  A lot.  So he must have some pretty strong leg muscles. But when your only offensive weapon is jumping... really?  As with Sonic, collecting certain items (power-ups) gives ole Mario additional powers.  Don't let him collect them and you'll be fine. His power-up item of choice is the mushroom, which comes in all shapes and sizes. For instance...  the Super Mushroom makes Mario grow bigger; the Fire Flower lets him toss fireballs; the 1-Up Mushroom gives him an extra life; the Mega Mushroom allows him grow very large; while the Mini Mushroom shrinks the lil plumber.

Weaknesses:  He's two feet tall (or thereabouts).  He doesn't throw punches, and has a nasty addiction to shrooms. 

How You Can Take Him:  Since he's a fungus freak drop a few "magic mushrooms" (of the hallucinogenic kind) in front of him and tell him they're some new power-up.  Once he gobbles them up wait until the psychedelic effects kick in and bonk him on the cabeza.  If we're being honest here... there isn't a single "hero" in the Nintendo pantheon that you can't take out with a good pair of steel toed boots and a sturdy bat. Right? 

Max Payne

Max Payne has been through a lot of... pain (sorry, we had to) in his life, and we feel bad for putting him on this list, but just look at him.  Is that a Clint Eastwood scowl... or is he constipated? 

Strengths:  Since Max is a former NYPD cop and "renegade" DEA agent he's been extensively trained to handle firearms and knows hand-to-hand combat. He also possesses the superpower known as "Bullet Time", which he uses with great effectiveness.  Sounds like someone you simply don't want to mess with, right? 

Weaknesses:  He's addicted to alcohol and pain killers, and is still haunted by the ghosts from his past.  Max has been shot so many times there probably isn't a square inch of his body that hasn't been hit, so he's all kinds of mentally and physically beat to hell.  

How You Can Take Him: Give him a fifth of Jack Daniels and a bottle of Percocet. Sit him down in front of an episode of The Mentalist... and walk away.  He'll beat himself up for you. 

Sackboy

What can we say about this cute, mischievous "boy" made of sackcloth, fluff, and ice cream (yes, ice cream) that inhabits Little Big Planet?

Strengths: Sackboy is a chameleon, capable of changing his appearance at the drop of a hat... which he'd probably pick up and wear.  Since he has no bones you can't "break" him.   Don't worry about the version of Sackboy you see in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale either. He has a few good wrasslin' moves, but he'd rather slap you (literally) and dart around the ring with his jet pack than actually fight you.  

Weaknesses: He's an 8-centimeter tall puppet made from sackcloth. And ice cream. 

How You Can Take Him:  Pull out a BIC lighter and torch his ass. 

We thought about putting a few gals on here, but since we're gentleman gamers... we don't hit women. 

So, what do you think?  Agree with this?  What other "heroes" should be on this list?  Let us know!

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I Want My Half-Life 3! https://www.gameskinny.com/1mm4m/i-want-my-half-life-3 https://www.gameskinny.com/1mm4m/i-want-my-half-life-3 Fri, 16 Nov 2012 20:49:11 -0500 Imayen Etim

Or, Crowbars for Nothing and Headcrabs for Free.

Ever find yourself asking: “What would Gordon Freeman do?”

I'll tell you what he would do: go to work, cause an alien invasion, in turn causing a military takeover of the science complex where he works, get thousands of people killed, get teleported all of the damn place and still have time to sit down and smack Isaac Clarke and his dead girlfriend with a crowbar.

Whew!

 

Why, Dr. Freeman? Why would you do such things?

Because Dead Space 3 is coming out, and Gordon isn't happy about it. He, like many of us, are greatly anticipating his return. But as we log on to Steam, get shot in the head in Counter Strike and every so often put a new hat on in Team Fortress 2, we look for the flagship that gave us all of these great games.

Well, good news for everyone: “Source 2” is in development. Gabe Newell confirmed this last week:

"We've been working on new engine stuff for a while. We've just been waiting for a game to roll it out with."

They'll need a game to properly showcase the engine and draw a mess of attention to it, so what better choice than a game that would be a blockbuster title: Half-Life 3.

 

Speculation is swirling that it may become a reality.

Only a few points about game play have been released about this third installment, like the upcoming open-world format (with 50% more vents! I kid.) Other than that, all we've gotten are cryptic messages or blatant proclamations that the game is in the works, but with no satisfying explanations.

 

Both at opposite sides of the spectrum, neither filling the void.

I hope that all of this anticipation isn't in vain (I'm looking at you, Duke Nukem Forever). It has been 5 years since Half-Life 2: Episode 3 was originally supposed to have been released. At this stage, the game deserves a proper sequel. I'm giving the good folks at Valve the benefit of the doubt and hoping that they're focusing on making a quality game worth the wait, and not just enjoying the sight of their fanbase squirming in anticipation (although I'm sure they are).

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