With it being over 20 years old now, I’ve decided to revisit Half-Life.

What was once a revolutionary game, with amazing graphics, a great story and fantastic puzzles is now a depreciated mess. We’ve had 20 years of games come out after this, and with that much hindsight I can say with a straight face, this game is not as good as people make it out to be.

Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first, guns. The gun play is fantastic but shows it’s age, the animations are overly exaggerated and the damage doesn’t always make sense. The shotgun and assault rifle feel very underwhelming and inconsistent, sometimes needing more bullets to kill enemies than the base pistol. The distance you can throw grenades feels very short but the damage they deal seems adequate. The only weapon I actually find overpowered is the revolver; when your pistol can one shot an enemy that would normally take 4-6 rifle shots, it may be a little broken.

The beginning of the game, while possibly being great when it first came out, now feels drawn out and extremely annoying. If you don’t pay attention to the minute details of the markings on the walls, even getting your H.E.V suit and starting the game can be confusing. The dialogue of the game takes far to long to get the point across, and makes the game move at a snails pace.

With the dialogue the way it is, it causes a major problem. The story is already a convoluted and confusing mess, unless you listen to absolutely every second of dialogue; and listening to the dialogue takes annoying amounts of time causing the story to stall, and become dull. There’s a lot of the story that isn’t elaborated on and confuses me; like why the military instantly starts shooting you when the last thing you were told was that they were on their way to save you.

The textures of this game did not age well at all, and nor did the lighting. A lot of the poor textures add to the difficulty of some puzzles. The bad lighting only really hurts the maneuverability of vents which doesn’t amount to a lot, but when it does you can really notice it. A lot of the puzzles are easy enough to solve, only a few causing me to spend more than a few minutes on them. I did get stuck at multiple points in the game due to poor checkpoints, the game not saving on chapters or loading screens, and pure stupidity on my part.

Getting through the puzzles and into the actual story, it is excruciatingly long. It took me over 10 hours, from start to finish to complete the game (on easy, mind you). When the military starts to intervene they kinda just forget to tell you what to do from there on out, and make you figure it out yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind having to figure out what to do next, or where to go next, but in this game it gets really annoying.

There’s a section with a giant fan in the Chapter Blast Pit, that is probably what tripped me up the most, causing me to have to completely restart the game. It’s nowhere near obvious enough as to what you’re supposed to do, having multiple platforms that make you think you’re supposed to go through them instead of straight up. There’s also a fall in the same chapter; where a large pipe that you’re walking through collapses and is near impossible to beat if you have less than 100 HP.

As you’re making your way top side in the Chapter Apprehension, for some reason there are ninja’s? This is never elaborated on, it’s just out of nowhere and completely baffling. This leads into a confusing laser level that literally finished itself for me; the door opened extremely early without me having to finish the puzzle, causing me to waste time on said laser puzzle. Once outside I got stuck with 1 hp against multiple military personnel causing nearly a half-an-hour of frustrated Quick Saving and Quick Loading. In the later game before Xen there’s an Overpowered tank that took me a few minutes to get around. That coupled with the lack of health packs is a real detriment to how fun it is, not to mention the snipers that can some how shoot you from around a corner.

After entering Xen I got lost for about 20 minutes because of how un-obvious the way to progress was. I played through the ending as normal in a nice cycle of; getting lost for a while before progressing.

After finally getting to the Nihilanth I quickly destroyed all the Crystals needed before getting stuck in an almost endless 40 minute loop of; attack, show brain thing, die to stray laser beam. OVER AND OVER AGAIN for 40 minutes.

Half-Life is not a fun game, it is definitely a mentally challenging game. It sits in this weird Limbo in my mind, because I enjoyed it more than Half-Life 2, but it holds absolutely no candle to it’s sister series Portal. I will not criticize all the bugs, or the textures because the game is 20 years old, but I do not think this game is worthy of the 96 that it has on Metacritic. It’s story is odd, and feels like an after thought, having possibly made levels before thinking about how they line up, or join together. In saying this, I am excited for Black Mesa and plan to play it.

7/10 – Now that I’ve beat it, I probably won’t play it again.

Garry’s Mod

Garry’s mod is one of my all time favorite games, in my top 5 for sure.

It’s a literal sandbox game that started out as a mod for Half-Life 2; with no point, no story, and almost no minimum requirements to play. The game can play comfortably on a literal potato computer. The graphics are nothing to write home about, and the base game can get pretty boring pretty fast. Like I said, the Base game; the modding/workshop scene is amazing. Almost every game mode in the game is “fan-made”; Hide and Seek, Prop Hunt, Murder, DarkRP, all of them are fan made, and the most used game modes in the game.

I’ve wasted hundreds of hours in the game, some of those being the best memories I’ve ever had. I’ve made tons of friends through the game and it’s fun team-player game modes. If you get the game and only play it for the sandbox mode, you’re going to get bored really quick, and probably lose interest. If you play the game for the fan-made content and to have fun, you’re can easily waste hundreds of hours. With even just one friend playing the game, it can be the best game in your library.

I do wish the game would get an update to improve the look of the User Interface, but it’s based on Half-Life 2 so there’s a limit to what they could do before it loses focus on what it came from. After wasting over 200 hours in the game, I can’t really say anything bad about it.

9/10 – I shit in the sandbox.

Skyrim – VR

Skyrim VR is not worth the $60 it asks for if you already own the original game or the Special Edition. If you get the game on sale it is completely worth it. The game is hard on your legs because it’s, as we all know, an enormous and extremely long game. The game can easily be over 50+ hours, and that is A LOT of standing. If you want to play Skyrim VR from a chair you can EASILY change the one setting in the ‘.ini’ file.

The graphics mostly hold up; I definitely recommend some mods to make it look better, and you can’t really play the game without a better lighting mod. The standing-over-the-map way you look at it is honestly a great idea, but you move way too slow in it. The Level Up system is just as horrible as in the original game, and the only thing that actually gives me motion sickness. The running/stamina feels a lot lower in this instead of in the original game, but that might be because I’m “immersed” as the character.

The independent movement of the arms during combat is absolutely the best; you can use 2 separate spells at the same time, or a one-handed weapon and a spell at the same time against 2 different enemies. The fact that you can’t remove someone’s limbs when fighting (especially in Virtual Reality) is disappointing, but there’s a mod for that. Being able to shoot arrows as fast as you physically can make even hard, overpowered bosses easier to deal with. Sneaking is ABSOLUTELY where the game’s immersion takes the cake, especially in a mission that requires you to sneak like; Diplomatic Immunity, being in Dwemer Ruins, or any of the Assassin/thieves guild missions.

I’ve noticed myself using the horse drawn carriage far more in this version of the game than any other version of the game. Combat is one of the strongest things in this game, and you can easily immerse yourself and forget about the real world. Overall I love this game, and can’t wait to waste a sh*t ton of my time in it.

8.5/10 – It’s alright.

Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind

I’m a person that started their RPG video game “career” in The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion, and TES5: Skyrim, so ‘forcing’ myself to go back and try Morrowind is something new. The game is very dated with a great story, complex DnD style combat, and incredibly bad movement. The character creation and DnD aspects of this game are amazing and play perfectly into the story. The combat desperately needs an explanation if you’ve never played this game before.

Starting out the game is very similar to the 4th and 5th games; A prisoner that gets released some way or another and starts their journey as this great god amongst men. You start in a small town, and if you don’t pay attention to the ‘tooltips’ or read your journal, you will get lost and waste a lot of unnecessary time. There’s a lot of things in this game that I wish they would bring into the later games; the persuasion button when you’re bartering, the minimap, the journal and building custom spells. I know there’s technically a journal in the later games, but they’re not used or nearly as necessary as the one in this game.

I love the way you get directions and the fact that you absolutely have to read notes. Directions are fantastically bad in this game and it makes it so much more fun. You’re told “There’s a tree to the north east that looks like a fire hydrant, to the left of that about 400 feet there’s a lever that activates the next mission” you really have to pay attention or else you’re not going to get anywhere. Having to rely on yourself and the way you interpret things allows you to feel like you’re actually doing something, rather than just following a waypoint on a map, and completing a mission.

Going through the story, you’re sooner or later going to need combat; with the game made to simulate DnD, it’s very hard for a new player to get into. When making your character you have to abide by DnD rules. You’ll only hit your target depending on that skill, even if you’re less than a foot away from your target. Magic is awesome in this game, same as basic combat it’ll only hit if your perk is high enough, but you can build your own spells. If you have enough skill in your magic, and enough money you can make a spell that never misses, one shots anything, and costs way too much Magika.

The game is f*cking amazing; with a great slow story, awesomely boring combat, and even better magic. The game also has an amazing modding scene, almost as good as Skyrims, and is getting a mod/style remake INSIDE Skyrim. I recommend this game night and day, but it’s still got it’s flaws.

8/10 – Kill those f*cking Cliffracers for me.

Fallout: New Vegas

For a game that came out in 2010 the graphics, story, music and voice acting all hold up extremely well. With a long drawn out, but moderately captivating story, the game can hold your attention for a few weeks. The only thing I would complain about with the story is the intro; it’s BORING, but once you get passed that, the story starts to ramp up. The music compliments the story and game-play perfectly, hiking up during a climactic fight, or sitting ambiently to the side while you roam the Mojave, even when the music that sounds just as confused as you when you’re completing a puzzle.

Just like the music, the gun-play is incredible, most guns feel like they should; shotguns have the right amount of kick-back when you shoot, pistols seem to sway the amount they should when you’re walking. The melee weapons have the weight and swing they would in real life, taking more time to swing heavy weapons, and the way swords slice through the air almost effortlessly is flawless. Explosives have a punch, and power to them when used properly; landmines can be used beautifully to stop a group of enemies, grenades/grenade launchers can cripple a large enemy, and how they feel is just so awesome.

The story of New Vegas is the amazingly different from the other two; Fallout 3 and Fallout 4 (I know there’s a Fallout 1, 2, and Fallout Tactics, but those are about as nice to play as a game of Dominoes with no fingers). The progression of the story is highly involved and only slightly confusing. Having newer progression locked behind older lines of dialogue. The controls are not too dissimilar from other games, that it’s pretty easy to adapt; however not being able to sprint is annoying. The cinematic zoom that’s forced on you when a companion gets a kill is irritating at best, and immersion breaking at worst.

Due to the incredibly boring intro, I didn’t start the game, or even attempt to start the game for months. After getting passed the intro, I did enjoy the game immensely. I do think the game is incredible, fun, but I don’t see the game as the masterpiece everyone else does. 7/10 – I’ll probably play this game again.