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Half Life 

 Half Life, who hasn’t heard of it?  One of the most famous games ever made, released on the PC way back in 1997/’98- it was considered groundbreaking and winner of 50 awards, including ‘best game of the year’.

 You should already know the basic story- but Ill tell for those that have been living in a small cave in Afghanistan.  You are Dr. Gordon Freeman a research scientist working at the Black Mesa Federal Research Facility, a decommissioned missile base.  You have been assigned to assist in an experiment involving a new substance, a crystalline specimen.  It’s meant to be a routine experiment. But surprise, surprise, something goes wrong.  Now you are the only hope (plus a few remaining scientists and security guards) to save all survivors and find out what actually happened.

 

 

Blue Shift:

Blue Shift, no doubt you’ve heard of it, but not so many people have played it or own it.

This time you go back to the setting of the original Half Life game, when it all happened.  But you take on the role of B. Calhoun one of the many Security Guards working at the Black Mesa Federal Research Facility.  You start the day as normal, check in, and pick up your equipment.  You go to the Armoury and pick up your trusty handgun, fire off a few shots at the targets in the range, then report in for duty.  It seems that some scientists have managed to get an elevator stuck, yet another malfunction in the facility’s system, and you’ll need to go and see to it.

  Another day on the job, until, you are invaded by aliens and have to try and save the day.

 

Graphics:

  The PC version of the game was revolutionary with state-of-the art graphics and gameplay- winning an award for ‘near perfection’.  The Dreamcast version of the game is very similar to the PC version- the graphics have not really been updated, apart from the character modelling.  When I first started playing the game, I realised that the characters that you meet looked different, but I wasn’t sure what it was.  So I turned on my friend’s copy of the original Half Life to compare the two.

  The scientists you meet in the original game are quite wooden, they look good, but their movement is lacking and the detail on their faces wasn’t particularly smooth.  The Dreamcast version, however, has smoother faces, slightly different textures and mapping used.  The really noticeable thing is that the scientist’s clothes move.  Their ties, lab coats, body armour and jackets move freely, as if independent from their bodies, its nothing major but it is a nice little update to the starch tight bodies in the original where the jackets and ties were just drawn onto the characters.

  The scenery is basically the same as the PC, good solid graphics, but nothing amazing.  There are few different light effects incorporated into the game, but overall they did not use any of the Dreamcast’s power in updating the game.

 

Gameplay:

  I find that the game is quite jerky in some areas-nothing too big, its just that it is very disappointing to see that Valve didn’t try to use the Dreamcast’s power properly and the loading times do seem to become longer the further you get in- though only a little bit longer than the PC version.

  I do remember some original previews of the game (when they were going to release it) and the magazines complained that the game was jerky in areas with long loading times between areas.  This, to some extent is true.  But, it’s no different to the PC version.  Occasionally the game will have a very sudden pause, for a split second- barely noticeable in some circumstances.  This too happens on the PC version, my PC is more than capable of running the game (2Ghz Duron Processor, 384Mb RAM, 64Mb Geforce 2 MX graphics card) and the game still jerks most of the time, even with settings down low.  And yes there is loading between areas, but the same as the PC version. 

  It would have been much better if they did sort out these problems, but its not a bad conversion, the game is the same as the original (so far) and runs well on the Dreamcast.

 

Presentation:

  One very annoying thing about the game is the saving.  When I first started the game I needed about 40 blocks free on my memory card to save.  Then I managed to get pretty far in the first chapter, then suddenly, when I tried to save I needed 80 blocks.  What the?  O-k so I deleted a save game to compensate for the difference.  The next time I tried to save it was 106 blocks!! 

  But don’t worry it doesn’t always go up, later when I saved it had gone right done to 26 Blocks.  It doesn’t really hold you back- but you will need a lot of free space if you wish to save a Half-Life file and a Blue Shift file.  Though it does mean that you will play more carefully- if you can’t save a file- wait until a moment when the game says you need fewer blocks.  But then again that can be annoying- if you get quite far but can’t save and then fall to your death or are kill by a big thing. Frustrating.

  I hope Valve did not think they would be sending this game out onto shop shelves with this ‘bug’ still in it and it was only for the preview copy.

  The sound is good- they have implemented new music and effects to the game. For example when you first put on your bio suit, instead of the normal speaking that you hear and sound effects, a decent ‘pumping’ tune kicks in (for no real reason) and you find that game becomes instantly more livelier because of it.

 

Replay Value?

  I haven’t completed the Dreamcast version, but if it’s anything like the original, you probably won’t find yourself replaying it much.  The game takes a very long time to complete and has no real bonuses, though PC games rarely do. 

  What made Half Life on the PC so popular were all the mods that you can get with it.  Counter-Strike, Opposing Force, Firearms etc…  The multiplayer was extraordinary, unlike anything in any game-literally millions of players connecting online to face opponents from across the globe.  Unfortunately the Dreamcast version has no such multiplayer, which is a shame, because it would have been very good if they made one it.  Whether Valve wanted to include a multiplayer in the final version is unknown, it is possible that they did, but because of the Dreamcast’s imminent production closure they decided not to.

 

Worth Buying Now?

  Well it is quite hard to get hold of.  But because you cannot buy an official copy (unless you can pick up one of the few preview discs around) it is very cheap.  I bought mine for £4.95 on Ebay.  But it is possible to download the game and special software, so that you can burn it to disc using your PC.   I would say that it is worth buying, for the price I paid, but I would not spend £30 on the game unless it were official.

  If you own it on the PC then it is really not an essential buy, but it is worth it for the Blue Shift, if you don’t own it, its very good fun- I actually prefer it, so far, to the main game.

 

Summary: 

 Not a bad conversion, I have played conversions that are worse- DOOM on the Saturn.

  It would have been good if little bits and pieces were ironed out, or if they hadn’t canned the game at the last minute.

 

Graphics: 8

Gameplay: 7

Presentation: 9

Replay Value: 6

Worth Buying Now? 8

Overall: 8

 

~G~

Yes, your favorite DC fansite was able to score a copy of Half Life and review it. We are so good to you. 

 

Say hello to my little friend!

 

This is just a pic to show you what the VMU screen looks like.

 

I didn't know that Jason Alexander was in the game. Oh well, frag that mofo.

 

Sigh, another day at the job.

 

I would kill to get a ride like this to work.

 

It looks like there is a triceratops at the bottom of this pit.