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YMMV / Half-Life

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Is Freeman's aptitude at combat and his willingness to kill an indication that he is more than just a scientist caught in the middle of extraordinary events? G-Man's mention of his "employers" being impressed by Freeman's "limitless potential" also seems to hint at such.
    • Are the HECU and Black Ops really as ruthless and cold-blooded as they seem, or were they, in their own way, attempting to protect earth from an invasion by the The Combine (as ultimately happened before the start of Half-Life 2) by terminating the science team because They Know Too Much.
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  • Arc Fatigue: "On A Rail" is a Marathon Level which who's main gimmick (the trams you can drive) will probably get old long before you get to the end.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The "background crying noises" that are heard twice during the On a Rail level.
  • Disappointing Last Level: Xen. Previously known as Xen Syndrome, Half-Life was the founder of this trope due to its annoyingly-designed jumping puzzles seen throughout the alien world levels. A drastic Difficulty Spike due to the overuse of Alien Controllers spawning in to fight against didn't help either.note  The remake Black Mesa took fixing the issues with Xen so seriously that they decided to completely rebuild the entire area effectively from scratch, which is why it's delayed the completion of the game for over half a decade (the first half of Xen, up to Gonarch's Lair, entered public beta in July 2019).
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  • Ensemble Dark Horse: The Barnacle Grapple from Opposing Force, due to the fact it turns one of the series staples into a surprisingly useful tool, and for making an otherwise creepy enemy kind of adorable.
  • Fridge Logic: In Opposing Force, how exactly is a Marine recruit a corporal?
    • The G-Man did it.
    • Shephard might be new to the HECU (essentially a Special Forces Unit) while being a seasoned Marine. Calling him a "Recruit" is less literal then "You've got to prove yourself to us before you get any respect". This attitude isn't uncommon in the military, especially in selective communities.
  • Funny Moments: In the PlayStation 2 version of the Hazard Course. "I, Gordon Freeman, hereby agree to the following terms, Blah Blah Blah, in any case of serious injury, dismemberment, toxic poisoning, burns, rashes, blah blah, etc. etc..."
  • Genre Turning Point: For the First-Person Shooter genre. Prior to Half-Life, First-Person Shooters were generally "shoot everything you see" with no sense of tactics or strategy, and the extent of puzzles were just simple "search for the key and lock" puzzles. Half-Life changed that with a stronger narrative focus and more complex enemy A.I., requiring much more care on how you progress.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • Near the end of Surface Tension, you reach a map layout that requires you to find, and escort, a security guard to open a door to the next area. Getting stuck in doors usually does a slight bit of damage to you. However, due to an error in the scripting for this map, the doors instead do the exact opposite and HEALS you instead; to the point that purposefully getting stuck in the door will allow the player to obtain health levels ''beyond'' the 100 health limit. Want 4000+ health? Just get yourself stuck in the doorway.
    • While the act of destorying a body is itself intentional to help give more impact to explosions, if one uses the crowbar to attack a dead body in a specific spot (Which has an added bit of hilarity of being around the crotch on humanoid characters. then the Crowbar will start hitting them as fast as the framerate will allow. The end result is Gordon hitting someone in the crotch so fast that he reduces them to chunks.
    • Due to the game using scripting quite often, scripted behaviour can be heavily abused. Especially useful with one Gargantua - it's spawned neutral and if you remove trigger of chasing script (what can be done with pistol, FYI), it will remain as so. This can be done twice in whole game. Miniboss fight easily averted.
    • Ichthyosaur. There are generally two strategies for how to fight it: either jump after it into the water and start frantically firing your crossbow while avoiding being eaten, or bug it above your head and kill it with the crowbar.
    • Tricks that allow the player to skip entire sections of the game:
      • Near the end of Office Complex, you can push a security guard towards a locked exit door to open it from the locked side, allowing the player to skip having to traverse through the freezer portion of the level.
      • At the very beginning of We've Got Hostiles!, you can glitch the scientist to open the security door which will allow you to click the button to open the silo door to the Blast Pit; effectively skipping the entire chapter.
      • You can climb the cement divider barricade at the start of Power Up to skip the entire level (While this is still possible in the Source version of the game, you can no longer squeeze your way through the tram-drop elevator to get to the next area, so you'll need to go back to get the tram working this time around anyway). Also, due to an overlap oversight between the first map sections of Power Up and On a Rail. It's possible to glitch the crate items from the Power Up area to duplicate into the On a Rail map for extra health and trip-cameras.
      • Hell just watch the World Record speed-run video.
    • In Half-Life: Source, there's a glitch where the friendly NPCs will repeatedly scream even while moving. This is mostly notable on the scientist NPC, however...
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In order to defeat the Pitworm in Opposing Force, you need to activate a Gear Box and open a pressure Valve, counting as a Visual Pun. In order to get to the Pressure Valve, you need to use a Steam Vent... making said Visual Pun go even further than intended.
    • The final boss of Opposing Force, the Gene Worm, is trying to take over Earth and ruin it for humanity. When fighting it, it plays a backwards-masked audio clip that, when reversed, states, "To win the game you must kill me, Randall Pitchford!" Upon release, it was a mildly amusing reference to Doom II. Now, after Randy Pitchford "took over" two beloved franchises—Aliens: Colonial Marines and Duke Nukem Forever—earning himself widespread scorn and ire for extremely lackluster games, seeing him as a parasitic invader taunting the player to kill him is just priceless.
    • An NPC in Opposing Force is given the script name "duketakemforever", a typical joke at Duke Nukem Forever's expense. Years later, it would be Gearbox themselves who would finish Forever's development.
  • Memetic Mutation: "They're waiting for you, the test chamberrrr...".
  • Narm: Especially these days, the largely amateurish voice acting combined with poor audio quality and clunky animations can cause a fair bit of Narm. Many of the death scenes are rather chuckle-worthy as a result.
  • Once Acceptable Targets: In the 1990s, skepticism towards the federal government for Ruby Ridge and Waco and the popularity of conspiracy thrillers like The X-Files meant an American developer could get away with a game where the hero basically massacres a battalion of moronic (judging by their inability to spell "you're"), trigger-happy American soldiers. However, with the rise of American nationalism following September 11th and the increasing mainstream popularity of video gaming, having the US Marines massacre unarmed scientists and civilians in an uber-popular game would cause a shitfit nowadays.
  • Polished Port: The Playstation 2 port, released three years after the original, runs very well and features updated graphics superior to the Blue Shift High Definition Pack. It also adds a nifty (and toggleable) lock on feature, a co-op multiplayer expansion (Decay), a couple of secret levels, and a cheat code that lets you play as a Vortigaunt. Overall it was one of the best shooters on the system. Its only real problem is that it doesn't include the other add-ons (which were never ported), even Team Fortress Classic which came free with the original PC version. Though given the lack of online support for the PS 2, the then-lack of bots for the multiplayer add-ons, and the fact that Blue Shift was originally supposed to be a Dreamcast exclusive before that port was abruptly cancelled, this is understandable. Opposing Force never being ported is the only glaring issue.
  • Porting Disaster: Zig-zagged with Half-Life: Source, a 2004 remaster of the game released before Half-Life 2. While it does sport better lighting, water effects, and converts everything to use ragdoll physics, the game itself is something of a broken shadow of the original. Several glaring bugs and glitches exist in this version that don't elsewhere, and the actual quality of the remaster attempt is debatably on par with colorization of film. Even patches that mysteriously rolled out in 2013 did little more than fix an ammo count oversight and add official support for the Blue Shift HD models (which can look worse than their originals with how shiny and fake they look in Source).
    • To get an idea of how phoned-in the gameplay aspects of the port are, this video shows that the attack helicopters don't have armor against small-arms fire like they did in the original game, meaning that they can be killed with a handful of pistol shots. Issues like this served as part of the motivation behind the Fan Remake Black Mesa.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • You very soon learn to quicksave before trying to get on, or get off, a ladder, because both have a chance of misbehaving which increases linearly with the likelihood that such misbehavior will get you killed. The ladders in "Blast Pit" are a particularly lovely example.
    • The game's close range combat is generally believed to have aged poorly, due to how difficult it is to judge the distance between you and the target, the weapons being weak, enemies often having fast reaction time, and the game not being balanced around close range combat. Opposing Force's pipe wrench suffers particularly badly from this, due to its slow swings. It's to the point that if a Game Mod features strict ammo management in its gameplay, forcing you to rely upon close range weapons, it's very likely going to be marked down or criticized in a review for it.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: The vast majority of the game's innovations have since been copied by every single first person shooter to come since, which can make it difficult for newcomers to appreciate what a landmark title it was in 1998.
  • Special Effects Failure: At the end of the first game if you pick the bad ending and get stuck in front of an army of alien grunts it's painfully obvious that all the grunts behind the first row are just static sprites (essentially the video game equivalent of "cardboard cutouts"
  • That One Level:
    • "On A Rail" is an extremely difficult chapter since there are many hiding spots for enemies and plenty of times where you will get ambushed. What makes it even more difficult is that health and ammo are sparesly located around the level.
    • The Chapter Foxtrot Uniform in Opposing Force.
    • The build up to the Final Boss in Opposing Force also counts. It's a tough slog through a storage warehouse filled with Black Ops troops, both the male grunt type and the female fast moving ninja type. Be prepared to do a lot of Save Scumming.
  • Ugly Cute: The Spore Launcher from Opposing Force is a repulsive alien creature that Shephard can use as a weapon. But if you hold still for a bit, Shephard will pet it and for a moment it’s just adorable. Its reload animation is also quite cute, since you quite literally feed it ammunition which it happily chomps down.
  • Underused Game Mechanic:
    • Gearbox's Opposing Force expansion offered a few gameplay mechanics not seen in any of the other games such as a grappling-hook with an unattached wall-barnacle and rope climbing.
    • The Blue Shift expansion has a surprising lack of fellow NPC security guards that could possibly fight alongside Calhoun. Outside of cut-scenes, not once does the player ever come across another Black Mesa security guard to fight alongside with.
  • Unwinnable by Insanity:
    • In the "Questionable Ethics" chapter, you can deliberately trap yourself in the rotating door near the end, by triggering the turning process and moving back, then entering the side part of the rotating door.
    • The worst case scenario regarding the Saving system happens if the player has no other saves and has accidentally quick-saved at the exact moment when the player, or any crucial NPC dies by merely seconds, leaving the player no time to react.


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