The story in Half-Life is very convoluted, and not all of it makes sense, but it’s overall pretty good. I won’t go into a huge amount of detail, but the gist of the story is that Gordon Freeman, a scientist, is involved in some kind of experiment (the nature of the experiment is kind of vague). The experiment goes horribly awry and creatures from an alternate universe start invading the research complex. The military is called in to assess the situation (i.e. kill anything that’s still moving) and you, as Gordon, have to fight your way out.

The story is much longer, and much much more convoluted than I’ve gone into here. You have to kind of piece everything together using clues given to you by listening to the conversations between the remaining scientists, the security guards, and the hired military force.

I guess I like this game because it’s not your typical first-person shooter. It actually tries to tell the story as you’re playing it rather than in cutscenes in strategic places. This makes it a lot more immersive and really puts you in the shoes of Gordon, the silent protagonist. In fact, you never see Gordon in-game, and he doesn’t make a sound (other than some heavy breathing at the beginning), which kind of makes you mentally fill in the blanks with yourself.

The single-player portion of this game is really good, but I really had a lot more fun playing multiplayer. Sure, it’s pointless running around and shooting anything that moves, but the sheer amount of weaponry available makes a lot of play styles viable. One of my favorites was using the Gauss Gun to shoot people through walls. Hard to do, but oh so satisfying.

This was also the game that taught me the correct definition of the word ‘irony’.

As it happens, I had obtained this game in a … less than reputable method. I decided that it was a good enough game that I really should go out and buy a legal copy. So I went to my local Wal-Mart one evening and purchased it. When I got home I opened the box only to find that in the box was a jewel case (with a key), but in that jewel case was a CD-R with a pirated copy of the game on it. Someone had opened it, copied the disc, put the disc in the jewel case, kept the manual, and re-sealed the box. So, yes, in an effort to legalize my copy of a game, I purchased an illegal copy of said game. That was one of the more difficult things to explain to the cashier at Wal-Mart. Trying to convince her, and eventually the store manager, that I had bought the game less than 15 minutes prior (I lived real close to Wal-Mart at the time), and that with current CD writers that there was absolutely no way I could have gotten the game home, copied it, and then tried to return it. And even if I did, why would I tell them I did it? They eventually capitulated and let me exchange my game for a good copy, but I made sure that I opened it in the store to show them what the box contents should look like.

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