Half Life, All the Fun.

This holiday season saw to it to bring me one giant time killer in the form of the highly anticipated offering from Valve Software, Half Life 2.

Before I go on, there will be spoilers below. If you like the game and are planning on playing it or are already playing it, do not read. Scan down to the picture below and you can pick up there.

Half Life is the story of a up-and-coming MIT grad who has a secured a job at a facility called Black Mesa. I'm not going into detail about the story because frankly just playing the game didn't make me feel like I knew what was going on, so here's a timeline. Half Life 2 picks up several years later where Gordon is reawakened or brought out of limbo to again pick up a gun and shoot some stuff.

Honestly, if it wasn't for this little website that I just found, I wouldn't have any idea that there was a story behind the game. I mean, I did a lot of shooting and blowing shit up, but if you asked me who the bad guys were, I don't think I could have given you an intelligent answer. I'd have said, "Well, there was apparently this other scientist who sounded a lot like Richard Dawson and looked like The Architect from The Matrix, but I don't think he was actually the bad guy. There were some aliens, but they were friendly. There were head crabs! Yes, head crabs had to have been the bad guys."

Seriously. Now, I'm a relatively smart guy. I'm not Chaucer or Hawking, but I should know after playing 5 straight days of this game, who the bad guys were. Come to think of it, I don't think I knew who the bad guys were in the first Half Life game. It all seems so nebulous.

And I know why. The main character, Doctor Gordon Freeman, is really good at putting hot lead into shit and following instructions. For a first person game, there's really no other alternative. You have to limit the amount of choice the player can make and ultimately make it for him. It cracks me up to see characters in the game say, "You didn't have to be here," or, "This isn't your fight." Well, crap honey, now you tell me. See, there was this cinematic about 20 seconds ago that dropped me off here. I can't make any choices. It's my fight whether I want it or not.

So now, just like when I watch West Wing, the only time I'm sure something important is happening is when the music changes. If there wasn't that cue, I'd be lost. "Oh, crap. Better pay attention, the techno-beat just fired up. Something's gonna go wrong."

Now I don't want to get down on this game simply because I may not have the mental faculties to deal with a complex story line such as this in a video game, but what happens when you reach the end of a game like this is that you don't feel you done much aside from max out your brain from all the pseudo adrenaline you've pumped into it. The game ends with you lobbing energy cores into a portal that the tweed jacketed scientist is trying to open. Where's the portal going? Don't know. What's on the other side? Um, bad shit would be my guess, but I don't have a name. So why are you doing this? Well, honestly, there's the rough and tumble chick who has needed my help and is good with a gun and I'm just hoping she'll take her top off if I win.

Yes, yes. Sad day.

So you blow this portal up. The scientist is gone and there is a massive explosion that is paused suddenly. A G-man shows up and talks some philosphical deepness whilst you wonder what's going on with that explosion and that girl. Then the game becomes the end of 2001: A Space Odessy and the G-man leaves through a white door opened in the blackness, followed by credits. My first thought was that I'm now a bigger pawn than I thought. So I went from being a scientist to a one man killing machine in a hazard suit.

I don't know. I guess the thing that sucks the most is that the game is done. A movie you know has a limited time so you're sort of geared for that. A book you can see how many pages are left and can tell how long you have to enjoy the story and characters. With the game, you can kind of guess how far along you are, but it'd be just a guess and it could end at any time. I honestly thought the explosion was going to open a gate to Planet Trouble and I'd let millions of angry Something-Or-Others in and have to deal with them. The way the game was going, it was a possibility.

Well, maybe that's what they'll do for Half Life 3.

Nothing to see here, just seeing if you'd skip this far down.


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