Named Game of the Year by over 50 publications, Valve's début title blends action and adventure with award-winning technology to create a frighteningly realistic world where players must think to survive. Also includes an exciting multiplayer mode that allows you to play against friends and enemies around the world.
What Half-Life does well is tell a story through action
HL has no cutscenes because cutscenes are the opposite of action, they are inaction because it takes control away from the player.
One of the key features of a "Rail Shooter", go from point a to point b with few diversions & no backtracking.
Rail Shooter as in like a train, you always keep moving.
Valve knows that backtracking gets frustrating faster than anything else, and is the most artificial way to enhance difficulty (hell increasing the damage the player takes is a better way if only marginally).
Valve is also fond of vent crawling and puzzles which I've never seen much appeal in apart from the initial novelty of vent crawling.
Apart from being very moddable and userfriendly,
Half-Life also does something incredibly well that has helped modders improve their own skills, and thats level design. Each place in the game looks hand crafted. No copy and pasting of sections or randomization here! It also knows how to be challenging without throwing tons of enemies at you, and thats with good enemy placement as well as knowing when to give the player rewards (weapon/ammo/health placement).
Its a game designer's poster child, thats what it is.
Half-life, the beginning of Gordon Freeman and and the reign of Valve as one of the most innovative FPS game developers in the business.
At least once a year I dig out my copy of half-life and give it a run through. By todays standards the graphics are blocky and generally undercooked, its physics engine pales in comparison to its successor but the game is deep, well written and ridiculously immesive, which ultimately makes it one of the greatest FPS gaming experiences of the past 20 years.
The flaws it holds only exist due to its aging an the moore's-law-pace at which computing power is taking us - proof of its play ability comes directly from the eagerlly anticipated full game conversion mod to the Half-life 2 engine 'Black mesa'. If fans are willing to invest their time into just updating the look and fell of the game its hard to deny that the game play and plot are timeless.
You are Gordon Freeman, physicist and tardy researcher at the vast black mesa research facility. Your begin your story on the mono-rail ride to the lab (which in itself is a fulfilling, original way to begin a game) you go about your business testing specimens in the anti-mass spectrometer, when you create a resonance cascade bringing alien and aggressive life for to the facility.
You proceed in your escape attempt through the bowels and plethora of areas in the hugely imaginative in game facility, only to find that the military want no survivor to the 'black mesa incident'.
You are helped along by scientists and security guards alike who increasingly believe you to be their only hope of escape. Battling aliens and soldiers on both sides the fate of this apparent invasion rest on the shoulders of you, Gordon Freeman.
If you want to know how it all began and how one man has spawned a universe and slew of still unsurpassed games, you need to play half-life, forget the graphics and all your preconceptions about modern gaming and get back to some good old fashioned FPS action.
A really groundbreaking and innovative game for it's time. Lots of interesting puzzles, many spectacular action scenes, amazing AI, great atmosphere, interesting plot and storytelling - all this will make you feel like an action movie hero. It's hard to find anything wrong with this game, except a few minor bugs that don't affect the gameplay at all. So, if you're a fan of a more "intelligent" first person shooters, you just can't miss this one.