Half-Life (stylized H λ L F - L I F E) is a computer game developed by Valve Software in 1998 on their authorized fork of the Quake engine known as GoldSrc. The game revolutionized and set the bar for quality first person shooter games during its time. The game revolves around Gordon Freeman who must survive the now falling apart and alien infested Black Mesa Research Facility after causing the resonance cascade.
Before its release, Valve had released a special downloadable demo for Half-Life called Half-Life: Day One. In the demo, the player played through the entire game until they complete the first day canonically. It is also the only demo of the game released before the retail game.
One year after release, Valve released a second demo called Half-Life: Uplink which featured one playable chapter that was cut from the retail game: Uplink. In the demo, the player had to establish outside communications by surviving the military and tuning the antenna to the USNRC.
Expansions and Ports
During Half-Life's life cycle, there were three expansions released officially, with one expansion going unreleased.
One year after Half-Life's release, Gearbox Studios published the first expansion for the game on PC called Half-Life: Opposing Force. In the game, the player controls the HECU marine Adrian Shepherd through the Black Mesa Research Facility. Gordon Freeman can be seen in the game when jumping into the portal that leads him to Xen.
The expansion also included a special game type not available in the original game, CTF (capture the flag). The expansion was re-released following the release of Counter-Strike to include just the multiplayer game mode due to how popular the game mode was.
In late 2000, Sierra and Gearbox Studios decided to create the first ever game port of Half-Life to console, to which they chose the Dreamcast console. They released a trailer for the game and even Prima Guides were printed, published, and released in stores, however the game did not survive development as the console's sales was dwindling heavily due to the release of the Playstation 2.
During the development of the console port, Half-Life and its expansion were using remastered graphics that ended up going unused, but inspired an update for the PC port to use new remastered graphics. The port also included maps that were not included in the PC version of the games, including a map called
dm_office.bsp (not to be confused with
The expansion was ported to PC quickly after the Dreamcast port was cancelled. It will go on to be the last Half-Life game officially released on PC until Half-Life 2's release in 2004. Unlike the previous expansion, this one lacks a matchmaking game. The game revolves around the security guard, Barney Calhoun, who must survive the resonance cascade and reach the surface to escape the research facility.
According to a ZDNet article, there was a planned SKU of the game that would be used for online multiplayer called Half-Life: Online. In an interview with Randy Pitchford, he claimed there were plans to port the original Half-Life deathmatch game mode from PC, Half-Life: Opposing Force's multiplayer game, capture the flag, Team Fortress: Classic, and possibly another mod which goes unnamed. He also claimed that there might have been plans to include a port of the Half-Life: Opposing Force expansion "as a bonus".
The game has not been seen since the cancellation of the Dreamcast port, and no builds of the game have been currently found. It is possible, however, that the mentioned
dm_office.bsp may have been a leftover map file for the canned Online port of the game. Discussions of modifying the single player experience, however, to bring online multiplayer to the game have occurred on this AssemblerGames thread.
After the fall of the Dreamcast port, Sierra and Gearbox moved to develop a Half-Life port for Playstation 2. In addition to the base game, they based the Decay expansion around cooperative gameplay. The game follows the story of Collette Green and Gina Cross as they make their escape from the Black Mesa Research Facility with Dr. Rosenberg, who directs them on what they need to do. The game was developed to require two players in order to solve the puzzles.
It was planned after the release of the port to create a PC version of Decay, however the official port was unsuccessful, according to Gearbox Studios. An unofficial team of people soon after created and released a mod that ported the game to the PC version of Half-Life, and allows for cooperative gameplay or alternatively single player.
Hostile Takeover (Cancelled)
A spiritual successor to Half-Life: Opposing Force was planned called Half-Life: Hostile Takeover. The game's development was done by the team at 2015 Games and was planned for release in late 2000, but was delisted before being shipped to stores. Not much is known about the game itself as the company refused to comment or take interviews, however Sierra had stated that they decided to replace the game with a similar alternative known as Half-Life: Counter-Strike.
Gamecube Port (Cancelled)
After the success of the port to Playstation 2, a Gamecube port was planned for Half-Life. However, when Gearbox Studios collected analysis information, the Gamecube turned out to not be a feasible system to run the engine, and all plans were instantly dropped. No exclusive expansions were ever planned for the port prior to the analysis.
Half-Life had received many modifications during its lifetime, and still continues to receive modifications. The most notable modification for Half-Life is Sven Coop.
Released first in 1999, Sven Coop was a modification to the Half-Life engine to allow players to be able to connect to servers and play campaign or multiplayer maps cooperatively. It was one of the most popular mods as it allowed players to play the Half-Life campaign, including the expansions and popular single player mods that were ported, cooperatively with other players. It was eventually released as a free to play mod on Steam.
Half-Life has had multiple demos release, including 2 demos for Opposing Force. There are also two known versions of the Dreamcast build available.
Base Game Builds
Opposing Force Builds
- Half-Life (April 20, 2001)
- Half-Life (May 23, 2001)