Getting Excited

One of my favorite video games of all time is Half-Life. I first played this game when I was in college. I was at the local supermarket, and I saw Half-Life, Game of the Year edition sitting on the bargain software rack. I'm not one to usually trust software from a grocery store, but I had read several articles that said Half-Life was THE first person shooter type game to play. So I picked it up and went home to play. I was blown away! My computer was barely able to play the game, as it required some heavy duty 3D graphics, but I lowered the resolution and played on.

What made Half-Life so unique was that, not only did it have fantastic graphics, but the story was really engaging. You play as Gordon Freeman, a scientist working in a government lab deep underground. You are performing an experiment on an unstable isotope when something terrible happens. There is a huge explosion, and the facility is plunged into chaos. Strange creatures are appearing out of nowhere, and you are forced to run for your life. You find that some of your fellow scientist have survived as well, and together you work to escape the facility and discover what is going on. As play continues, you learn that the "accident" might not have been an accident after all. Unfortunately, the government is bent on ensuring that you don't get a chance to tell that side of the story either.

I played this game for hours and hours and hours. When I started working at Flexware, I found that the rest of the guys here were huge fans of the game as well. We'd scarf down our lunches as fast as we could so we could get back to our machines and play for an hour. The laptop I had for work blew away our home computer, and I got to experience the game in its full resolution glory. We'd all hunker down and play a multiplayer frag-fest. It was a lot of fun.

As time went on, folks moved on to other projects, and our excitement for Half-Life waned. The game was originally released in October of 1998, and other games had come along in the past six years. Along with that, folks within the company were moving on to different locations, and we got more focused. Our current lunchtime game of choice is euchre. Still, I love Half-Life, and from time to time I'd pop the CD in and play through. It was a lot like watching one of your favorite movies, or re-reading a good book. It was still a lot of fun.

Lately, there has been a lot of hype surrounding the upcoming Half-Life 2. It was originally scheduled to be released in September of 2003, but the Valve network was hacked, and the source code was stolen. Repairs and recovery from this break-in have taken a lot of time, and now speculation is that the game will be released in September of this year. Valve won't commit to any date, but have said they hope for a summer release. I'm really looking forward to the release of the new game. I've got a top rate computer at home, and I'm thinking I just might put in a new graphics card so I can really enjoy all the game has to offer.

In the meantime to the release of HL2, Valve has introduced the Steam engine. Steam is a system for playing Half-Life and Half-Life mods on-line. The system tracks who is playing, what servers are available for multiplayer games, and provides updates and patches to the Half-Life games you own. When Half-Life 2 is released, you can use Steam to buy and download the game. I decided to give Steam a try, and installed it on my machine at home. After filling out the registration, it asked if I would like to configure any games I might already own. I entered the CD-KEY for my existing Half-Life game, and to my surprise, it qualified me for not only Half-Life, but the rest of the Half-Life mods as well. This includes Team Fortress Classic, Team Fortress 2, Opposing Force, Day of Defeat, Ricochet, and a couple of other half-life mods. I had always wanted to play Opposing Force, but I couldn't force myself to spend the $50 to buy the Half-Life collection. I already had the game, and I couldn't see buying it all over again just to get the new single player game. Now I have it for free!! I've been playing it at night, and it is just as good as the original. It seems that the enemy AI is a little tougher. Either that, or I'm out of practice!

So until HL2 comes out, I'm having a blast playing Opposing Force. If you are on the Steam network, feel free to look me up!


Jade Mason