Developer:Valve Genre:Action Release Date: Download Games Free Now!

About The Game

You are Gordon Freeman, a young research associate in the Anomalous Materials Laboratory. You have limited security clearance and no real idea of just how dangerous your job has become, until the morning you are sent alone into the Test Chamber to analyze a strange crystalline specimen. A routine analysis, they tell you. Until something goes wrong. In this legendary FPS, players enlist the help of traumatized scientists and trigger-happy security guards to get through high-security zones, sneaking and fighting your way through ruined missile silos and Cold War cafeterias, through darkened airducts and subterranean railways. When you finally come in sight of the surface, you realize that the inhuman monsters aren't your only enemies-for the government has sent in ruthless troops and stealthy assassins. Their orders seem to be that when it comes to the Black Mesa, nothing gets out alive... and especially not you.

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Half-Life Review

By Jimmy Vails |

You've got to hand it to these guys. Valve Software is a start-up, a relative unknown, with no track and, really, no business making such a mighty game. But mighty it is, the best single player shooter I've ever played.

It will be hard for some--mainly those who haven't played the game--to put their finger on exactly what everyone is raving about. There's nothing exceptional about the engine--it's a heavily modified version of Id Software's Quake. Its genre, the first-person shooter, has nearly been beaten to death. Its design couldn't be simpler: get some guns, run, shoot, jump; no laborious cutscenes or misplaced RPG elements here.

The weapons aren't spectacular either, just your usual array of realistic modern firearms and a few alien gadgets with some new twists. The creatures in some respects are fairly standard, and many of the levels have been done before. Taken separately, no particular element in Half-Life shines above the rest, nothing makes or breaks the game.

No, the real secret is that Half-Life is truly the sum of its parts. It takes every element in this oh-so-predictable genre, re-examines it, improves it, and then meshes it with the rest to create a constantly surprising, internally consistent, and always entertaining game.

Here are some examples. How many games have you played where health packs, armor, ammo and guns are simply lying around as if some Power-Up Santa Claus had emptied the contents of his pack on the floor? You can almost hear the level designers saying to themselves, "Okay, a health pack would be a good item to put in this otherwise empty room."

In Half-Life, weapons and ammo are taken from dead soldiers or other logical places, like a weapons locker. Armor isn't lying around in the form of glowing icons or leather helmets--instead, you're wearing a battery-powered hazard suit, but since it's a fairly standard bit of equipment in this secret base, power outlets are conveniently scattered throughout the complex. Doing this makes the game world feel all that much more real. The more real it feels, the more the player is sucked into the game. This is called suspension of disbelief, and while few game developers seem to be aware of it, Valve is and they make it work for them, over and over.

How many times have you shot at a monster only to have it either grimace at you blankly, perhaps firing off a few tepid shots, or slouch and drool while you pick off his comrades? Well, not here. The teams of soldiers you'll fight in Half-Life have to be the toughest, most convincing enemies yet seen in an action game. Where other opponents grunt incomprehensibly, these guys actually yell stuff relevant to the combat, such as "Fire in the Hole!" or "Look out!" as the grenades go flying. Then they actually try to get away from your grenades. And what's more, they also throw grenades at you.

Grenades might sound like a simple little thing to add to a game, and perhaps it is, but it adds such an extra dimension to the monsters' combat ability that it's almost like playing a whole new genre. Strafe, fire, strafe, fire just simply doesn't work every time. But in every other game, monsters either attack hand to hand, with area affects, or most commonly, with linear shots. It doesn't matter if they're shooting lasers, M-16s, or dollops of hot blue manna, it all comes in a straight line, and it all can be dodged. But change the angle of attack, and it's a whole new game. One little detail--one huge difference.

But that's just part of the appeal of Half-Life's enemies; unlike other games, they also cooperate. Teamwork, for monsters in other games, is if they all happen to be in the same room shooting in the same direction. Here, the infantry squads will split up, trying to hit you from several sides while one guy keeps you pinned or lobs grenades. It's surprising how entertaining well-implemented artificial intelligence can be, and it's probably worth it to play Half-Life just to fight its infantry. There could be a whole game based on nothing but fighting Half-Life's infantry.

Wait, there's more. How many times have you cleaned out one filthy, gory techno-dungeon, only to find yourself at a door that obviously leads to yet another, even filthier, techno-dungeon? How realistic is it to have obvious entrances and exits to levels--and what is a "level" anyway? An archaic holdover from Dungeons & Dragons? A convenient way of breaking up the game world so it can be loaded into memory?

Half-Life does away with the arbitrary concept of levels. Instead the world feels like a continuous whole, with small pauses and loads when you move from one area to another. This does create some problems when monsters are placed too close to the transition between mini-levels and you inadvertently strafe from one area to the other, accidentally triggering a load screen. But this problem aside, Half-Life's mini-levels create a more flowing and realistic game world, and so a more immersive one.

And freed from the stereotypical notion of levels, the designers were free to experiment with a wide variety of environments, logically linked and fun to explore. Every room isn't another corridor or another slime-filled dungeon. There are labs and warehouses, monorail stations and gun bunkers, missile silos and parking garages. The bulk of the action takes place in a deep underground military base called the Black Mesa Facility, but it is not confined there. You'll scale a canyon cliff and scamper through a military base. You'll ride weird monorails and climb through pipes full of waste. Virtually every location in Half-Life is interesting and unique.

This variety makes you want to keep playing Half-Life all the way through. How many times have you gotten half way through another game, only to say to yourself, "Eh, I've probably seen it all. If I keep playing, there will only be more monsters, with more guns, more hit points and more grubby levels." This is decidedly not the case with Half-Life.

Carefully crafted for the single player experience, every encounter in Half-Life is a new challenge, nearly every room throws out something you haven't seen before, every sound is a worrying cue that something horrible is about to happen. The sheer number of hand-scripted events and little scenes keeps the action moving, giving you a reason to keep playing, if only to see what could possibly happen next. I haven't had so much fun playing a game in years. I have not been frightened by a game in years. I have not dreaded corners like I have dreaded corners in this game in years. Half-Life is a superbly ambient game.

Is the game perfect? Of course not. Some of the elevators have a horrible sticking problem, and the ladders can be awkward to use. Occasionally the game chokes when a huge explosion happens. But these are minor problems.

Slightly more serious is the character of Gordon Freeman, who is rather flat and dry. I realize that the mood and feel Half-Life is very somber, very much in the mold of The X-Files, and a wisecracking Duke Nukem type wouldn't have worked. As a scientist and a specialist trained to deal with hazardous materials, Freeman is the right kind of character to serve as the story's alter ego, but his near total lack of personality--as far as I can recall, he never says anything in the game--leaves a little to be desired. Still, you could make a case that giving him a personality could actually detract from your ability to identify with the character. And certainly, the use of cut scenes or any of the other crude crutches of computer game storytelling would have detracted from the relentless pace of the game and the freedom and control you have over your character.

Internet play is more troubling. There's a built-in server list that works kind of like Gamespy, letting you find free servers quickly, which is a classy touch, but the matches themselves feel laggier than Quake. More to the point, it's obvious that Valve spent all its time and energy perfecting the single player experience, and so as far as deathmatches go, Half-Life's is just that, a standard deathmatch. But who cares? You shouldn't be buying this game to play deathmatch.

Really, my biggest problem with Half-Life was some of the level design, particularly in the middle stages of the game. Here the tension seriously sags, as you are forced to wander around some dreadful tunnels looking for switches in retro-gaming land, as jumping puzzles, switch hunts, and all the tedium of a dozen other games returns in force.

Pacing is important in an action game, since you want to break up the intense, heart-pounding shootouts with some stretches of creeping caution, even moments of relaxed calm. But in my view at least, too many of the middle levels rely on jumping puzzles, instant death traps, and almost sheer rote exploration via the save/load buttons.

However, once you get past the sewers, a seemingly interminable rail train puzzle, and the dreaded, obligatory underwater maze--once you fight your way back out into the open area where you have to mix it up with the camo guys again, the game perks up considerably, and some of the final levels in the military base are truly some of the greatest single player levels ever made.

Anyway, those are some of the things that make Half-Life tick. It questions genre elements and reworks them or discards them as appropriate in order to make a smoother, more engrossing game. It constantly presents you with variety, surprises, and new challenges to keep you hooked. It is a tour de force in game design, the definitive single player game in a first person shooter. Don't cheat yourself; play this game.

-- Jason Bates

Half-Life Cheats

Here’s how to get a real active following chase-cam style third person view and not the annoying side view. NOTE: All commands are to be typed WITHOUT the quotes.

Get into the console. Make sure cheats are on (command: "sv_cheats 1"). Next, put it in third person (command: "thirdperson") Now change the camera angle to behind the player instead of to his right side. To do this, you have to change the camera's yaw angle number. (command: "cam_idealyaw 1") Now you have an active chasecam third person.

There are more camera commands that you can play around with for whatever reason. -"chase_active 1" changes the view to a more passive style ("chase_active 0" to turn off) -"cam_idealpitch 90" changes standard camera pitch angle. The command "cam_idealdist 64" changes the standard camera distance. To return to your normal first person shooter, simply use the command "firstperson”.

  • Load the game using the "-DEV TOCONSOLE" command line parameters. Your command line should look like this:


    (If the text does not disappear, then press the tilde key [~].)

  • During the game, press the tilde key [~] and type "sv_cheats" at the console window to activate cheat mode. (The underscore "_" denotes a space.)You must either die or reload your game before you this code takes effect
  • (Note: To use cheats on a saved game, enable Cheat mode and load the saved game.)

    To enter these codes you must edit the Half-Life icon on your START menu.

  • Right-click on the START icon on the Windows task bar.
  • Click on OPEN.
  • Find the Half-Life icon and right-click on it.
  • Click on PROPERTIES.
  • Add the desired parameter to the end of the field that says TARGET or CMD_LINE. For example, to enable developer's mode you would change the line to read: "C:SierraHalf-Lifehl.exe -dev"
  • Without further ado, we bring you the codes:

    • -console
      Enables the console. To access it, press tilde (~) while playing. See "Console Codes" for information on using the console.

    • -dev
      Developer's mode. Enables the console and displays debugging information while playing. Useful if you're having technical difficulties and want to find out why.

    • -heapsize x
      Tells Half-Life how much RAM (memory) it can use. For example, if you want it to use 32Mb of RAM then enter the parameter "-heapsize 32768". CAUTION! Do not request more memory than your computer has.

    • -nointro
      Skip the introduction movies.

    • -noip
      Removes the D.U.N. box for playing on LAN's (local area networks.) Remove this command whenever playing on the internet. If you don't you won't be able to play on-line.

    • -noipx
      Use this if you receive an IPX error when playing on a LAN.

    • -numericping
      Replace's the Half-Life server browser's "green dot" latecy info with real numbers. Only available in v1.0.0.8 or later.

    • -startwindowed
      Start Half-Life in window instead of fullscreen.

    • -wavonly
      Disables Direct Sound and plays SFX in wav files. Try this if your sound card stutters or you don't have DirectSound drivers.

    Enable Cheat mode. Then press ~ (tilde) and enter "give item" at the console window, where item is the object you wish to create. Example:

    Give item_airtank

    Object list

    • Ammunition
    • Items
    • Weapons

    If you have a crossbow, you can get sniper mode on any weapon, and here's how: Simply quick-save your game, go to the crossbow and zoom in, and then quick-load. When the game pops up again, you will be zoomed in on the weapon you had when you saved, and can cycle through the others as normal. To zoom out, just go back to the crossbow and press 2nd attack.


    Enable the console by typing "-dev" or "-console" (without qoutes) as mentioned in one of the above codes.

    Start up the game, and enter a new game, or load a saved one. Now hit the ~ key to bring up the console. Type the following, where * is the key of your choice. (Keep in mind, you must bind all three commands to different keys.

    bind * "fov 20"

    bind * "fov 50"

    bind * "fov 90"

    The first will bring you in to a very close zoom. Second is mid-range, and third is the command to bring you back to the normal view. It works with any weapon, though it will not change the mode of fire or increase/decrease accuracy.

    Half-Life Game Walkthrough

    Escape From Woomera modification for Half-Life (PC)
    Walkthrough by Last_Ninja_Gaijin (coreanti | Hotmail)
    A Half-Life modification
    WARNING!! Below is SERIOUS SPOILER material so use only if you get stuck. If
    you just go through it you will finish the game in no time, and that's no
    fun, is it?
    Level 1
    Exit the dorm and go diagonally to the right. Talk to Amir, he is in a yellow
    shirt. Talk to him until you hear the bell, he mentions he needs a pair of
    Walk past Amir and his friend and turn left around the corner of the building.
    Walk straight to the door. When you get there, don't bother talking to the
    guard, just left click on the ID tag board next to him, and left click again
    to place your ID there.  
    You can now move to the next area. Turn left and go to the woman by the phone
    with the long queue, Elika – ask her about escaping. She will tell you to
    talk to Laleh, as she has a friend that found a way to hide outside at night. 
    Continue past the phone queue and on the right is Laleh. Speak to her and ask
    if there is any place to hide. She tells you someone once had someone get
    their ID card off the board for them, so that the guards wouldn't know they
    were still there.
    Go back to the first area, when you get to the board with your card, left click
    on the hand icon to take it. Go straight to Gholan standing out the front of
    the first shed on the left. Ask him about taking your ID card for you. He says
    he will do it but he has a mobile that needs a SIM card. 
    Keep walking away from the entrance to the next area, on your right is a shaded
    area between two dorms. Speak to Shala about pliers, she will tell you that a
    kitchen worker name Fahid saw an electrician undertaking repairs in the
    kitchen, so we should go look there.
    Go back to outside the admin office, which is just next to the phone queue and
    the dining hall. Talk to the roster guard, ask him if this is the kitchen. He
    will ask if you want to work. Say you want to work. He says he will put you on
    the roster.
    Go to the back of the dining hall and enter the kitchen. Speak to Mouhtaz and
    ask him about the pliers, about escaping and then about the bins. Ask him how
    he is. He tells you he feels so dirty without any washing powder to clean his
    Go to the back room in the kitchen, and stand near the toolbox. Wait until the
    electrician's back is turned and pickup the pliers. Now you have the pliers,
    talk to Mouhtaz about them, and then put them in the bin. RAR-124 is said over
    the loudspeaker, go to the admin office.
    Talk to the mail officer and get the sim card and washing powder. They burned
    the photos of your family!! Go back to the kitchen, and give Mouhtaz the
    washing powder. In return he gives you a metal lever.
    Go back past the guard board and get your ID. Go and give your SIM card to
    Gholan. He says he will take your ID for you next time you go in the compound.
    Go back to the other area, and turn right after the first shed. Follow the wall
    until you are behind the shed, you should see a hole in the wire under the
    building. Click on it to hide under there.
    Level 2
    Now it is night-time and you need to get the pliers. Proceed with a bit of
    stealth (but don't worry too much, these ACM guards aren't that good at
    spotting you! Head to the bins, and use the lever to open the door. Go to the
    bin and get your pliers. Head back to the hiding place.
    Level 3
    It is day again now, and you feel a little weird after staying under that
    building for a day…everything is a bit dark but you should be able to find
    your way back to the first area. Get your ID, and head to Amir. Give him the
    pliers, and you are out of the compound. 
    Who knows what will happen next? Will you get picked up in the town of Woomera,
    or will you walk across the desert? Will someone help you get to the city?
    Bugs found in this prototype/beta:
    I am running the latest half-life version on steam pre-load, and upon the first
    load through steam it didn't play the intro pictures with the matching text,
    but the second time it worked.. I haven't been able to get it to work again.
    It only shows the first picture. Not the one in the airport and I think there
    was another.
    The .bat file didn't work with steam, came up with the error "could not find
    filesystem dll to load". Now it doesn't do anything, just closes the .bat
    DOS dialog.
    With Steam there is no background picture for the menu (options, new games
    screen) - at E3.1b I saw a pic..I have this trouble with most mods for half
    life with the new Steam versions. 
    There is a spelling error (or maybe it didn't render or something?) in the
    intro text - third page - "You only one chance less" I think you need to put
    have in there. 
    After playing through the first level, I get up to giving the sim card and
    washing powder to people, then I go back to the mess hall and find I can get
    the pliers again - I get them, then put them in the bin, then I go speak to
    someone and it crashes..seems that I can take the pliers twice and it doesn't
    like this.
    Also you can get the pliers from the toolbox/rubbish bin by standing just left
    of the bin OUTSIDE. You can get them through the wall, meaning you can go back
    and give Amir the pliers and beat the game without playing level 2 or 3.
    I also get numerous errors in the console, sprites not being loaded and such.
    This is probably another Steam issue, or perhaps just coding?

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