One of the reasons why Half-Life was so popular was due to the plot of the game. Most of the FPS games from the same decade didn’t have much of a focus on plot or an interesting main character. Gamers stepped into the shoes of Gordon Freeman, a scientist who works at the Black Mesa research facility. Gamers quickly discovered an experiment went awry that opened a rift between dimensions. The rest of the game has Gordan battling aliens and Marines who were sent in to clean up the mess. Players were solving puzzles from a first person perspective, rescuing and interacting with NPCs, traveling to other dimensions, and they were doing all of this while following a fantastic storyline. The game really pushed the Quake 1 engine and it looked and sounded spectacular for the time. The graphical effects, the sounds, and the few surprisingly scary moments were just a few of the other elements that made the game stand out from all the others.
Not only was the game different from other FPS games, Valve made it very easy for anyone to create their own content. The modding community had a heyday with this game and this might have been another reason why Half-Life was so popular. Gamers were lucky enough to receive some fantastic mods. Some of these were single player and others were multiplayer. Some of the more notable and better known mods included Day of Defeat, Science and Industry, Firearms, Team Fortress, Counter Strike, and Action Half-Life. Two of my favorite mods are They Hunger, which redoes the single player game with a total conversion featuring zombies. I also really enjoyed Half-Life: Absolute Redemption, which was another great single player mod. Some of the mods such as world renown Counter-Strike spawned retail releases and spinoffs. Games saw retail expansions such as Opposing Force and Blue Shift. Eventually, the game made itself to PS2 and Mac and was rumored to come out on the Dreamcast.
Half-Life was extremely popular and the sales followed. The game was a commercial success. As of 2008, Wikipedia reports the game has sold over 9.3 million copies and has won over 50 game of the year awards. Guinness World Records awarded Half-Life with the world record for "Best-Selling First-Person Shooter of All Time (PC)" in the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008. Due to the success and popularity of Half-Life, gamers received a fantastic sequel in 2004. Half-Life also helped push Valve to develop and move forward with Steam. Ironically, looking back, Valve had a hard time finding a publisher due to being a new studio and wanting to develop such an ambitious game. Sierra Online took the gamble and it paid off big time for everyone, the company and the gamers.
Half-Life will be one of those games that is remembered for influencing and shaping the gaming industry. Due to all of this, gamers are hungry for more Half-Life. If you haven’t played it there are several versions readily available on Amazon via download or disc format.
Valve, you have teased us enough over these years. Where is episode 3 already?