You might not remember a little known game from 1998 called Half-Life. But I do.
I was 7 years old. My brother was 11. I can’t remember how he convinced our dad to buy it but I am so glad he did. I watched him play, as our older sister read aloud a walkthrough from either PCGamer or PCZone, I can’t remember which. Anyway - fuck “On A Rail”.
The sounds are maybe what take the strongest hold in my memory - the metal banging sounds, be they the crowbar, the footsteps, or the cacophonous tentacles from Blast Pit. The echoes. The fans. The raspy glock-17. The placement and activation of the tripmines. The weird fuckin’, accidentally-hitting-the-pan-on-the-side-of-the-sink-as-water-empties-out-ass grenade launcher on the MP5 (I do not know how to describe this I’m sorry). The health stations dying to have a beat behind them. That weird bug where the crowbar hits a corpse a million times a second. Whatever the fuck that noise was when you take fall damage.
And the textures, and the enemies, and the props, and the level design, and so many things which now feel dated but after countless hours spent in it, still feel like a consistent reality, a familiar home.
So what of other games that made use of the GoldSrc engine?
Of course, Opposing Force and Blue Shift had their own charms (it was all downhill for Gearbox from there). Somehow I didn’t realise these were puns until after I’d finished my Physics undergrad 14 years later.
Last year I gave myself the pleasure of replaying Gunman Chronicles - which had for what I thought for its time extremely cool weapon concepts, and also mashes together fuckin. Confederates in space with dinosaurs and rogue AI.
Mods! Mods! What do we want!!
Counter-Strike, before Global Offensive, before Source! When if you were too fuckin’ dogshit at the game to take it seriously, you’d wile away your childhood on fuckin’ Star Wars maps and other things with vehicles and barely functioning objects which could kill you just as easily your enemies if you so much as moved on them wrong. Setting sv_gravity to like 400 or whatever, sv_airaccelerate to -5, and jumping backwards to have a really good time flying around. I liked to do this on de_jeepathon2k especially.
Team Fortress Classic, where I spent hours a day either dying at this spot in dustbowl to an endless parade of cluster bombs, EMP grenades and spy pills, or being the asshole doing that and also occasionally hitting a sentry gun with a wrench. Where I spent many hours watching my brother play conc maps, where I spent many hours playing puzzle maps as:
Sven Co-Op! The magic, the novelty of playing Half-Life 1 with a dozen other people all at once! And many other incredibly buggy maps which required everyone’s co-operation to not press that button, to not open that door! Don’t forget to bind your h key to +hook!
Day of Defeat! The second world war! Stamina bars! Some shithead with an MG42 is ruining your day! Where are they! I can’t find them! I hate this game! I can’t believe I spent all day on this 40MB download! I never got very into this one actually!
And a very, very special personal mention to Natural Selection! This is maybe my favourite asymmetrical multiplayer game, and frankly I’m not sure if I didn’t make this thread just to talk about it. Marines vs Aliens! And the Marines get a fucking commander??? in an FPS??? who can drop ammo and health to them and order them around to build structures??? the aliens can evolve??? this was so wild to me!!! I spent most of my time on combat and siege maps, especially servers with the extra levels mod, but a good classic map could last an hour. I’m sad that I can’t get Natural Selection 2 to run very well on my laptop, and even sadder that there are no longer any active servers for the original. I would love to revive it somehow, I also just found out they released the source code for it.
Shout out to all those people who made maps and skins and models and sprites and HUDs because this game was so easily fuckin moddable. I fondly remember replacing my crowbar with a Pringles can.
“waypoint forums user hideokojima, please, this is a mess of a thread, you’ve just chosen one or two things about your personal experience iwth these things and not actually any of their strengths or weaknesses. not to mention its structured totally nonsensically”
okay you know what i tried really hard i give up im writing too many words im tired its 3.30am here please tell me everything you love about the things i talked about. thank u. half life 2: songs of liberty