Half-Life (abbreviated HL1) is a science fiction first-person shooter video game developed by Valve Software, being the company's debut product. First released by Sierra Studios on November 19, 1998 for Microsoft Windows,[1] the game was later ported to the PlayStation 2, and released for the console on November 14, 2001.[2] In Half-Life, players assume the role of Dr. Gordon Freeman, a recent MIT graduate in theoretical physics, and also a recent employee at Black Mesa. However, when an experiment on a mysterious crystal goes horribly wrong, he must fight to escape the now alien-infested Black Mesa.

The game had its first major public appearance at the 1997 Electronic Entertainment Expo. Designed for Microsoft Windows, the game uses a heavily modified version of the Quake engine, called GoldSrc.[1][3]

On its release, critics hailed its overall presentation and numerous scripted sequences, and it won over 50 PC Game of the Year awards.[4][5] Its gameplay influenced first-person shooters for years to come, and it has since been regarded as one of the greatest games of all time.[6] As of November 2008, Half-Life has sold 9.3 million copies.[7] As of July 14, 2006, the Half-Life franchise has sold over 20 million units.[8] According to GameSpy, Half-Life is the most played online PC game (excluding MMORPGs), ahead of Half-Life 2.[9] In celebration of the game's 10th anniversary, Valve lowered the price of Half-Life from $9.99 USD to $0.98 on November 19, 2008 for three days.[10] Contents [hide]

[edit] Overview

The game is set in a remote area of New Mexico at the Black Mesa Research Facility; a fictional complex that bears many similarities to both the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Area 51, during May 1998. The game's protagonist is the theoretical physicist Gordon Freeman, a survivor of an experiment that goes horribly awry when an unexpected Resonance Cascade (an apparently completely fictitious occurrence) rips dimensional seams that devastate the facility. Aliens from another world — known as Xen — subsequently enter the facility through these dimensional seams.

As Freeman tries to make his way out of the ruined facility to find help for the injured, he soon discovers he is caught between two sides: the hostile aliens, and the Hazardous Environment Combat Unit, a military force dispatched to cover up the incident — including eliminating Freeman and the rest of the scientists. Throughout the game, a mysterious figure known as (but not actually referred to in game as) the G-Man regularly appears, apparently monitoring Freeman's progress. Ultimately, Freeman uses the co-operation of surviving scientists and security officers to work his way to the mysterious Lambda Complex of Black Mesa, where a team of survivors teleport him to the alien world Xen, where he must kill the Nihilanth, the creature keeping Xen's side of the dimensional rift open.

Half-Life's plot was originally inspired by the computer games Doom and Quake (both produced by id Software), Stephen King's novella The Mist, and an episode of The Outer Limits called "The Borderland". Valve’s in-house writer and author, Marc Laidlaw, who wrote the books Dad's Nuke and The 37th Mandela, later developed it. However, the most distinctive aspect of the game is not the plot itself, but rather the way it is presented to the player.

The game tells the story by flowing into scripted sequences that are integrated as part of the game rather than as cutscene intermissions. These sequences range from the introduction of major plot points such as the Resonance Cascade to bringing the player into a particularly difficult part of a level. Two of the intended results of this style of presentation were to increase immersion and to maintain a contiguous narrative that keeps the player's interest.

Valve implemented other factors to heighten the feeling of immersion, including that the player never sees nor hears their own character, who remains a 'silent protagonist' throughout the game, and that the player rarely loses the ability to control Gordon, even during monologues. The scripted sequences help flow by keeping the player in the game, whereas cutscenes in other contemporary games had often been a diversion from previous segments of their gameplay. The levels for Half-Life were also divided into small sections to minimize long interruptions from loading.

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