So I’ve been playing Half-Life and uploading LP videos at a pretty fast pace–so fast I rather neglected to post thoughts on here. (Partly because I was too busy playing to post, and also because I didn’t want to overwhelm the blog with nothing but LP entries.) Those of you who have been looking forward to this, enjoy! Those of you with no interest in LPs or vids, stay tuned, because another installment of “Around World Mythology in D&D Minis” will be coming no later than Friday! But for now, on with the LP:
Part 16: Pwned
Thoughts on the game so far: Not a whole lot to say about this episode, actually–I mostly just had to deal with a big firefight/action sequence, which took…a lot longer than I’d have liked lol. Ah well, at least we’re past it now.
I am curious as to what that (I think) Osprey was doing. It sounded like the place is being bombarded, which makes sense if the bad guys from the government are trying to destroy evidence of the place. I’m not entirely sure–I mean in theory they could have just been doing that to kill me, but that seems like an awful waste; to use all those bombs to take out one person. We’ll have to see.
It was also kind of funny to finally make it to the surface–where we’ve been trying to get for the whole game thus far–and immediately be chased back underground like that. It really gives you the sense that you are, in fact, running for your life and trying to escape. Very, very cool.
Part 17: What the Hell Is a Blast Pit?
Thoughts on the game so far: Ah, so it looks like we’ve been chased underground, to avoid the enemies on the surface. I wonder what this old rail system is actually for–an escape route, perhaps? A transportation system? (An alternate one, anyway, since they do have the trams already.) I’m not sure. The scientist calls it “the old rail system,” so perhaps it was in use before the trams were built.
We also have a new objective–its no longer “reach the surface,” its now “find the guys in Lambda Labs and help them stop the alien incursion.” (Lambda made me smile, too–that is, after all, the symbol on Gordon’s suit, and Lambda is also the symbol that scientists use to represent “half life.” Heh. Clever creators.)
Of course the big reveal (to me anyhow) is the fact that these ‘aliens’ are, in fact, from another dimension, and not simply another far-away planet. This makes sense. Piecing together what I can tell from the story so far, it seems that Black Mesa was trying to build some sort of teleporter, and somehow ripped through to this other dimension (and then couldn’t close it again.) Now I have to wonder if this rip was intentional–were they simply trying to create a Star Trek like transporter that somehow tore through space-time by accident, or were they actually trying to intentionally create a gateway to this place? My money is on the second one, I think; if they were simply trying to create a transporter, they would have been dealing strictly in our dimension, it seems–deconstructing and reconstructing atoms and molecules and such. That’s not to say that some sort of accidental gateway COULDN’T have been opened under those circumstances, but its highly unlikely. I think the Event Horizon scenario is far more plausible–that we stumbled on this dimension by accident (or they stumbled on us), and the experiments were designed to create a permanent gateway between us and them. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps they have resources or technology the government wants to exploit. (Although the place certainly looks inhospitable, if that brief flash we were given in part 3 is in fact the other dimension–which I’m assuming it is, given that the Bullsquid looked quite at home there.) Now that leaves one giant question to be answered…how was this dimension discovered in the first place, and what is its connection to Earth? Its seems very odd indeed that the creatures are so at home here–I mean hell, the headcrabs can interface with the human brain! And our Earth environment obviously supports not just some, but ALL of the creatures. I know that’s obviously necessary for game convention (since we obviously need the alien enemies), but I’m hoping there’s more to it than that too, and we discover exactly WHY the two places seem so closely related. After all, the odds of “accidentally” discovering a PLANET that is exactly parallel to Earth in terms of life support are astronomical, to say nothing of another planet in a whole other dimension!
Part 18: Time to File That OSHA Report
Thoughts on the game so far: Well, also not a whole lot to say about this episode…just a lot of progress made in terms of ground covered, which is good. I AM curious as to where all this radioactive waste is coming from–leaky pipes obviously, but that’s still a HELL of a lot of chemicals (or whatever) being produced. Where is it coming from (or what is it being used for–it may be raw material, not waste; no way to know at this point.)
I’m also VERY curious as to why the Bullsquid seem so attracted to it (and unharmed by it.) Its seems to me they’re somewhat aquatic (they were in water in the brief flash of the other dimension we had back in part 3), and most of their body DOES look a lot like an alligator or a crocodile. Not a coincidence, I think. WHY they seem to love liquid radiation though is a mystery. If they’re reptilian, maybe it gives off heat and they like it? I have to wonder how it is they aren’t hurt by it though.
Watching those two Bullsquid fight, by the way, was absolutely the highlight of the episode. I love how alive this word feels–its like the whole thing would continue to evolve and move on even if you weren’t there to witness it. Awesome.
As for the big and very ominous sounding creature at the end…well I obviously know what it is at this point, since I’m writing this after part 19 is up (see below), but I will tell you that I initially thought on hearing it that it would be a giant fish-like creature of some kind, since it sounded SO much like a whale. (At least those long, deep groans do.) We’ll see what it really is (and my reaction to it) below.
Part 19: Can We Keep Him, Mommy?
Thoughts on the game so far: Well…I was certainly not expecting THIS! Nor was I expecting such a…docile boss. I mean obviously the Tentacle thing attacks (as those poor scientists discovered), but it also looks pretty easy to avoid. I was expecting a giant creature I would have to move quickly to avoid, while firing constantly to kill it. I guess I should know Valve better than that by now, eh?
In the comments of this video, Take3k expressed a bit of surprise that the creature awed and impressed me so much. I think it goes back to, once again, how “alive” it feels. In any other game, the simple scene with it eating the scientist would be enough, and the tentacles could just sit there statically (perhaps swaying a bit to give the illusion of life), and then just attack when they sense the player. That was not nearly good enough for Valve though, oh no–they gave this *thing* a whole set of behaviors, that go on even without the player directly affecting the creature. Its absolutely magnificent. The way it gently taps around to look for prey, the way it rears back and its neck shakes when it gives that deep, low, whale-like call…its just amazing, and a complete and utter pleasure to just sit back and watch. (Especially from that top deck I end the video on. Getting that close to a creature like that and being able to observe it–WITHOUT it attacking or killing you–was, I think, my favorite moment in the game to date.)
This, I think, nails down exactly why I love this game so much, and why its right up my alley: it rewards curiosity, experimentation and observation. In any other FPS, the enemies are pretty static when you are able to observe them before they see you–they might have an animation or two, or some funny lines, but overall, they’re clearly just waiting for the player to show up and blast them. Half-Life, on the other hand, REWARDS a player like me who isn’t the run-n-gun type; who enjoys hiding in the shadows, carefully plotting my next move, and observing the enemies. The humans aren’t that exciting to observe of course–guard and patrolling duty is boring as hell to do, and even more boring to watch, I speak from experience here (they do have some funny lines to overhear though)–but the real treat is in watching the alien creatures. I feel like an amateur anthropologist, trying to figure out exactly what the creatures are, where they came from, and what their survival strategies and ecosystems are like on their home planet. And the creators clearly had people like me in mind when they programed the AI, because there is LOADS to see! I have this whole theory of the alien planet’s ecosystem in fact (which I’m not going to post here because a) I haven’t finished the game yet and more info might be forthcoming and b) its way too long and needs to be a separate post.) Said it before and I’ll say it again: I LOVE THIS GAME!
And with that, are are up to date on Half-Life videos! Stay tuned for more (and for more Doom 3!) as well as more non-LP related articles this week!