25 years of Half-Life, the video game that made shooters what they are now

Five years ago, The Guardian wrote that “Half life “It’s the most important shooter ever created.”. Five years later we can safely confirm that this is the case, but also say that it is much more than that.

Half life It’s a video game, a first-person shooter, released on November 19, 1998 by Valve, a then-unknown software house (incredibly, that was their first title) and which has now become one of the giants of the industry. Above all thanks to Half life.

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New update for Half-Life, 25 years later

To understand how special this game remains today, one thing is enough: there is still a lot of interest around it. Half life That Valve has decided to update it again. That’s right: despite the fact that it is 25 years since its launch, and precisely on the occasion of the anniversary, Half life has benefited from a major update that introduces support for gamepads, adapting the interface to large screens (“we created it for 640×480 cathode ray tube screens, but it seems that many of you have evolved a bit since then,” they wrote ironically the developers), integrates some additional content and missions and generally makes this version of Half life the definitive version. Which among other things can be downloaded for free from Steam right now.

Not only: Now Half life Is Steam Deck Verified?, that is, it is fully optimized for Valve’s portable console. To confirm that Half life (along with its sequels and spin-offs) remains one of the main reasons people buy it, after being the Reason why people created a Steam account.the video game distribution platform created by Valve in 2003. Because it was (and is) the only way to play it.

youtube: the documentary about 25 years of Half-Life

What Half-Life is about and why it is important

As mentioned, Half life It is a first person shooter. But it is a first-person shooter different from all the previous onesseveral lobostein, Condemn, Earthquakes AND Duke Nukem: is a first-person shooter game that tells a story. A great story, by the way.

Without going into too many details and without giving spoilersThe story is that of a certain Gordon Freeman, a scientist at Black Mesa, a mysterious research center, who after an accident caused by an experiment gone wrong, is first forced to survive an invasion of creatures of another size and then (in Half life 2) be part of a resistance movement against an alien invasion who are colonizing the Earth.

Half life AND Half life 2 They were the first shooters to demonstrate that these titles can and should also tell a story, which players are interested in following him and they are passionate about it, as long as the story is good, well told, with credible characters, capable of moving and engaging. Again: it is thanks to Half life six principles of physics they ended up in the world of video games, if we may move objectsIf the traces of the bullets remain when we shoot at a wall, if the initial sequence of aura (and many others after him) this is how it is instead of being a static and non-interactive movie, if the game world reacts to our presence and gives the feeling of being in a lively and realistic environment.

Alyx, one of the protagonists of Half-Life 2

Alyx, one of the protagonists of Half-Life 2

A scene from Half-Life 2

A scene from Half-Life 2

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Is Half-Life worth playing today?

To remember all this and the fundamental Impact that its creation has had on the gaming industry.Those at Valve have published on YouTube, also on the occasion of the 25th anniversary and in a very surprising way, a documentary lasting more than an hour that tells the story of how Half life was conceived, planned and created.

Filmed in 4K and viewed over a million times on the first day aloneThe documentary is a unique way to go a little behind the scenes of such a significant production, meet the women and men who made it possible, see what they are like today, insert Half life in its historical context and listen to the words of Gabe Newell, the histrionic co-founder of Valve. In short: definitely worth watching.

as for “Is Half-Life still worth playing today?” the short answer is yes. but the matter is more complex. To say that Half-Life is still beautiful today would be a lie: graphically and also in terms of game mechanics it has aged a lot, but it couldn’t be any other way. After all, the game weighs about 0.6 GB, that is, it is about 130 times smaller than eternal damnationlaunched in 2020. And yet, it is an experience that must be lived, even more so for players who are younger than those who are equal Half life has on his shoulders: It is the only way to realize what the world of video games was like back then, how this title changed things, the evolutionary impulse it was able to provide. For being there, despite never having actually been there.

He The same arguments apply to Half life 2, but with an added bonus: the game, released in 2004, extensively updated in 2022 and again a few days ago, is still beautiful and absolutely fun. And the sensations it produces, from a visual and emotional point of view, are more or less the same as then: the feeling of disorientation during Alien raids on the streets of City 17.the fun of buggy racing, the anxiety and terror when entering Ravenholm, when you realize you’re disarmed and surrounded and have to totally rethink your approach to the game. Everything as it was then, almost twenty years later.

Everything as then and waiting for a Half-Life 3 which has been talked about for years and which will probably never arrive, despite the hopes of millions of people around the world. At the moment, once the main series is over, the only other way to return to the world of Gordon Freeman is alyxwhich was launched in 2020 but for which a virtual reality viewer is absolutely necessary. Because Valve’s innovation drive has evidently not run out.


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