Let’s Play Half-Life, parts 25-29

Time for another installment of Half-Life commentary-on-the-commentary!

This was an interesting episode. Strange that they’d have another boss so soon after the Tentacle…but given how easily he’s defeated (in a few episodes from now) I guess he’s more of a mini-boss. I love the design of this creature, too. He’s like some sort of futuristic, alien cyclops. Awesome.

I really like how they actually make headcrabs dangerous here; I don’t think its simply a lack of skill that allowed them to damage me so much. They are very well placed, and their AI is good enough to be a threat even though they’re pretty weak as enemies go.

Isn’t it funny that, as good as Valve is at creating a near-perfect gaming experience, they didn’t anticipate a player like me that would want to *walk* through all of this big, empty space rather than run? I mean it makes sense; walking is pretty illogical in an FPS, but I can’t help myself. The way these creatures materialize (and the way marines ambush you!) I’d much rather be safe than sorry. Ironic it lead to me getting unnecessarily killed a couple times.

So this seems like a good place to discuss building a player’s trust within a game. You can see how badly I failed for most of the video here; ordinarily (especially with FPSes) I would get quite discouraged, and maybe even walk away. Because of how scrupulously fair the creators have been up to this point though, they’ve gained enough of my trust that I’m willing to stick with the game (and specifically this segment) in spite of how difficult it is. Rather than being frustrated, I feel like I simply haven’t figured out the solution yet. THAT is how you make a game, developers.

I just want to say how well designed this game is. I love all the little detours you have to make, while still ultimately ending up where you started in the first place. This really gives the place a sense of verisimilitude, and helps me buy it being a real building and facility. Incredibly well designed, and really adds to the sense of progress you feel, too.

On another note, I AM curious where all those marines from the last video went. I know I didn’t kill that many. Maybe the game decided that I’m pathetic, and eliminated them all for me?

Well it seems like I’ve finally learned how to make correct use of grenades. The key is pretty much only using them in open areas; they’re inaccurate enough that they’re as liable to kill you as your enemy if they bounce off a hallway wall or something. I need to practice this though, because when they do work, they seem to be one of the best weapons I’ve got at my disposal.

As for the big ugly dude…I don’t like him as much as the tentacle monster, but he’s still got more personality than 99% of enemies I’ve seen in gaming. He’s more traditional than the tentacle boss (who seemed almost as curious as aggressive a lot of the time), but his mannerisms are wonderful–from anger to frustration. Obviously I figured out how to kill him, but I really was at a loss at the end of this video as to exactly what I was going to do next.

Lots of running back and forth here as I solve the track control puzzle. Kind of irritating to have to go back and forth three times, but oh well.

I’m shocked at how fast the boss died here; neither boss fight so far has involved direct combat. I really like that, actually. After all, Gordon isn’t a marine or even trained to fight. It stands to reason he would use his brain and knowledge of the facility to kill these giant unkillable things, rather than his gun. That’s as good a piece of characterization for him as any dialogue they could possibly write.

I love this game.


8 responses to “Let’s Play Half-Life, parts 25-29

  1. As I prefer Half-Life 2 to Half-Life, I find myself comparing your views on this game to how the second is designed. The developers definitely expand on some of the “story by detail” and intricate level work, but they let some of the other things you’re so in love with slide a bit, much to my dismay.

    Luckily, it’s a game that’s built intrinsically for walking rather than running, so you’re in luck when (if 😉 ) you get to the next game.

    • Oh I’ll get to HL2, I promise. You have no idea how much its been killing me o avoid playing it. Its all downloaded and sitting on Steam just begging me to play it…but I promised a Blind run, and so Blind it shall be. I was hoping to finish HL1 before I leave for OCS on July 5th…I’m not sure I’ll make that date; in fact I probably won’t at the rate I’m going. But even with that break, I anticipate being able to being HL2 by say…October/November at worst, and hopefully sooner than that. We’ll just have to see how things go.

      I have heard from nearly everyone that HL2 is a superior game. Without spoiling it, is it possible for you to elaborate on what you mean by “letting some of the other things slide?” I’ve heard very few criticisms of the game at all, and I’m curious (in a broad sense) as to what you’re referring to.

      • They have fewer bits where you double back. Most of the game is entirely linear, with some pieces where you have to go turn on a switch or deactivate a power supply, but not many. This leaves the game feeling large and coherent, but it retracts from some of the immersion (though the slack is quickly picked up the detail and acting, both of which vastly improve.) In any case, Half-Life 2 is a much more cinematic and streamlined experience.

      • The main difference, I think, is that (generally speaking) HL1 focuses on individual threats, while HL2 focuses on collective ones. This is a wild generalization on my part, but I think it’s illustrative:

        In HL1, you’ll see three enemies. To progress, you’ll need to take them all down without dying. Since you’re just one guy, this may take some… delicate handling.

        In HL2, you’ll see three enemies, and you’ll need to take them all down without dying. Unless things go Badly, killing them won’t be too problematic. Except then the Enemy will know where you are, and the Enemy has a lot more than three guys at its disposal, and you will have awakened a sleeping giant by poking it in the eye. To progress, you’ll need to get out of that little jam. THAT is the bit that will take some delicate handling.

        So… less hiding from specific Marines, more fleeing the entire Marine Corps. (Speaking metaphorically, of course. WILL you still be fighting Marines in HL2? You’ll just have to wait and see!)

      • I think you’ve underestimated the length of this game. It’s already October and you’re not even halfway through. More like about a third. Keep it up though, you’ll get there eventually.

        Also note that HL2 is probably about as long as HL1.

        Personally I enjoy long works, whether they be novels, movies, games, etc., as long as they aren’t boring or tedious.

        BTW, if we can’t convince you to do the HL1 expansions before HL2 (OpFor has some pretty cool additions; Blue Shift not so much, but there is a character involved who you meet later in HL2), would you consider doing them after HL2 but before the episodes?

        • Heh, I’ve actually made quite a bit more progress than this. It’s October true, but on my actual YT account I’m actually up to episode 36. I’ll be posting them here (along with commentary) shortly I hope. Working on another article before I get to that.

          As for the order of the games after this…I’m not sure. We’ll have to see. I’m inclined to say I’ll probably end up playing straight through HL2 and ts episodes before I go into BS/OF. Probably won’t make the final call on that til the end of HL2, but if I had to guess now, I’d say I’ll probably continue with that story.

          • Oh, I’m aware of that. I am subscribed to your channel, after all. I was, in fact, saying that where you are after episode 36 is about a third of the way through the game (hardly an exact figure for reasons that should be obvious, but that’s my guess, bearing in mind the sizes of the chapters). Not what you want to hear, I’m sure, but we know you’ll make it.

            Also, I look forward to reading more of your thoughts about the game, now that I’ve read this much. Your observations are pretty sharp.

        • Ah okay! Excellent! The good news is, now that my internet is back up and running (and thank you SO VERY MUCH to my ISP for deciding to cut off service over the two days I needed it the most), I’ll be able to get my next video up shortly, along with another log article and then (god willing) another “commentary on the commentary” post here.

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