Sunday Musings: Nine years later, why Half-Life 2 is still a phenomenal game

It's a dreary Sunday in September, a typical autumnal day in London. NFL football starts in just over an hour, but for now I've got some stuff on my mind. It's been a while since I've blogged on a regular basis, so maybe this will be the start of a new thing, or just a one-off airing of thoughts. Regardless, I certainly appreciate anyone taking the time to read anything I have to write, and even though I don't write stuff like this with an audience in mind - I write it purely to get the words out of my brain - I'd still be interested in hearing any feedback.

Half-Life 2

The ultimate silent protagonist, and one of the best female characters in the past 10 years of games.

I don't remember the exact sequence of events that led to me playing this game, which is now nine years old, by the way. I think the first seed of the idea was planted on Unprofessional Friday a few weeks ago, when Jeff played Garry's Mod; just getting to hear the weapon and enemy noises, see the guns and items, triggered a nostalgic centre of my brain. I'm not usually a very nostalgic person - I think that in many ways, video games are better now than they ever have been - but some games were so formative and so important to me that I can't help but think of them in the fondest possible light.

Half-Life 2 is one of those games. I don't remember how I came to acquire the game - I wasn't really "into" the internet video game community in 2004, but maybe I read a magazine, or a friend recommended it - and I hadn't played a lot of PC shooters before then. But I was instantly hooked on it, and probably played it upwards of a dozen times. Whenever an excuse to dust it off presented itself, I leapt at the opportunity - I even played through the game on the Xbox 360 when I rented The Orange Box. However, around 2007 my gaming habits changed; I would play only a handful of games, but I would play them obsessively (this is how I ended up playing TES4: Oblivion for well over 1,000 hours over the course of a few years), then I started acquiring and playing more games and favoured newer experiences over repeating the same ones ad nauseum. This new behaviour continued and intensified, and now I rarely play the same game twice, even ones I loved - I'm also playing a lot more games that don't have narratives, such as strategy games. So with all that in mind, it's probably been a good four or five years since I last played through Half-Life 2.

I jumped back in, and it was like putting on an old glove and finding it still fits perfectly. It's a strange thing to come back to a game that you've played through multiple times after a prolonged absence from said game, but honestly I was surprised by just how much of the game I remembered, from map layouts to enemy placements to puzzle solutions. To balance out this knowledge advantage, I'm playing the game on hard, so I've at least got a stiff combat challenge.

Half-Life 2's Soviet-inspired dystopian world is still as engrossing as it was nine years ago.

Half-Life 2 has aged extremely well. It was a brilliant, atmospheric, fully engrossing shooter when it was released, and while some of the textures now look a little grungy, while the once impressive NPC faces now look merely pedestrian, while it's now weird to play a game in which you don't use the RMB to aim down the sights of a gun, it's still been a ton of fun to play. Some things don't age, such as fantastic level designing, an immaculate attention to detail, brilliant sound effects, and a compelling world. The game's physics engine is also just as impressive as it was in 2004, although there have now been a number of games that have attempted to emulate Valve's technology.

I've played through quite a few single player shooters in the past few years (BioShock 1, 2 + Infinite, RAGE, Borderlands, Far Cry 3 etc.) and I still think that there hasn't been a game where I've derived more satisfaction from shooting than Half-Life 2. The guns are just so much fun to shoot, partly due to the tight controls and partly due to the world-class audio design; the firing noises for all the guns is exceptional, with the exception of the pea-shooter pistol, but the magnum, the shotgun, the crossbow, and the Combine rifle still stand out as the best.

So if it's been a while since you've played through Half-Life 2, or if you've not yet played this seminal game in the FPS genre, I highly recommend you give it a go. It's a game that, in my opinion, everybody should experience. This is just my view, but gamers should play this game to develop a better appreciation for the medium, and all game designers should be required to play it so they can learn from the masters of creating intricately crafted, superbly designed, utterly immersive games.

Alternatively, if you don't want to jump into the game yourself, it's obviously a popular game among Let's Players, and one that I can particularly recommend is Day[9]'s Day Off: Half-Life 2, in which Sean Plott aka Day[9], a StarCraft community luminary and an all-around swell guy plays through Half-Life 2 for the first time. Funnily enough, he started this let's play only a couple of days after I fired up HL2. Great minds and all that. Not only is it entertaining, but Plott is a smart guy and demonstrates some of the reasons why HL2's game designs shines through, such as how they made a mostly restrictive and entirely linear world feel expansive and lived-in. It's also very entertaining, and there are a lot of great moments but around episode five he runs into one of the game's first real jump scares, and...well, like I said it's well worth your time.

I don't know if I'll jump into Episode One and Two after beating the game - both the episodes are enjoyable, but Half-Life 2 is a tight and satisfying experience in itself, while the episodes are merely a reminder of the good work that Valve has left unfinished. To end Episode Two with a dramatic moment and a cliffhanger, onto to then not release another episode after six damn years is just mean. I've really enjoyed a lot of the games Valve has release since The Orange Box, such as Left 4 Dead 2 and Portal 2, but I still really want more Half-Life. Screw your DOTA and your living room box; I need more Gordon Freeman in my life.

OH GOD KILL IT WITH FIRE OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT!!!

Final note: even after all this time, I still find that no video game enemy terrifies me more than the poison headcrab in HL2, and by extension the poison zombie. They still creep me the fuck out. Even when I know one is lurking around the corner, I still feel some sense of cold dread; perhaps that's a part of my brain remembering playing the game as a 15-year-old, remembers the utter terror of not knowing that a poison headcrab/zombie is around the corner. There is something primordially terrifying about the poison headcrab. Part of it is how they look, and how they scuttle around the floor, and part of it is the terrific audio design; the poison headcrab looks like a big black hairy spider but sounds like a combination of a rattlesnake and a hissing cobra, and the poison zombie makes pained barely audible huffs and scratches, even cackles when it dies, and walks around with four poison headcrabs swarming around its body, which he'll chuck right in your face. It's fucking creepy. Not to mention that they can also be super lethal in gameplay; when bitten by a poison headcrab, it immediately drops your health to 1HP, and you have to wait for your HEV suit to inject antivenon into your body, recovering your health 10HP at a time. Poison headcrabs are not so lethal by themselves, but with a faster enemy nearby they are extremely dangerous, as after a bite you're one hit away from death. It's the worst.

51 Comments
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Posted by Aetheldod

I agree with the sentiment Half Life 2 is still one of my fav games of all times and I play it at least 2 times a year , I love it that much

Edited by Glottery

Played this again maybe a month ago or so, just to see how well it would run on today's pc. Ended up playing for maybe 3-4 hours, just because I had such good memories. I'm not sure if I can descripe it (at least without sounding too cliched/cheesy), but some of the game's moments, like the whole trainstation in the beginning and arriving to Black Mesa East, are some of my favourite moments in gaming, ever.

It's indeed too bad, that it has taken them six years (so far) to continue the story. I kinda stopped caring some years ago already, but seeing a new announcement from Valve would definetly get my excitment through the roof again.

Posted by Baillie

I've never played it, but when I have attempted to after getting the orange box, I couldn't get into it at all.

Posted by Immortal_Guy

Half life 2 had a really strong start, but after you escape city 17 I stopped enjoying it so much. I still liked the game, and finished it, but there was something about the pacing that always felt a little off - just as I was getting into it, I'd have a see-saw physics puzzle thrown at me. I also had multiple huge problems working out where I was meant to go - just reaching what appeared to be a dead end and banging my head against the wall for a good length of time until I found the way out. Don't know if that was the level design, or just me.

Posted by PSNgamesun

I completely agree with you, I played it in 07 with the orange box and then I played it at a friends house on PC; and I just fell in love with it even more. It's easily in my top 5 games I've ever played and I seriously recommend this one for all who like tight gameplay and great writing.

Posted by Phatmac

Half Life 2's start is still very memorable to me. The ending parts with the super gravity gun is also a highlight. I don't think the first person platforminh sections and the vehicle parts aren't good. Hope we can talk about this on the podcast!

Posted by Lyisa

Half Life 2 is really short.

That doesn't take anything away from the game, but yeah. Its crazy short.

Posted by believer258

I am so fucking glad to see a thread on this game that isn't someone going "this game isn't so special!" after they've played and praised the many, many, many shooters that have taken practically half of their design from this game and its predecessor and adding bits and pieces of the original Halo.

@baillie said:

I've never played it, but when I have attempted to after getting the orange box, I couldn't get into it at all.

I'm confused. You've never played it, but you attempted to after getting the Orange Box? Doesn't that mean that you have played it?

Posted by Draxyle

I remember buying the Orange Box for no other reason than to play Portal, I barely even knew what Half-Life 2 was at the time; I had thought it was some sort of multiplayer shooter like that Counterstrike I heard so much of back in the day. I kinda missed the boat on FPS's in general; Goldeneye being the only one I've really played beforehand.

After completing Portal, I figured I should probably try these other games that clung on to my Portal Box just to see what they were, and then I became an instant fan of Half-life. So good!

Every now and then I'll hop back into them, and I think they hold up. Good game design doesn't age, indeed. Heck, they still look a hell of a lot better than most shooters you'll see on the PS3 and 360, just from an artistic standpoint.

Edited by JCGamer

I am still amazed that the lip-synching stuff they did back then really hasn't been topped yet.

Posted by BisonHero

@jcgamer said:

I am still amazed that the lip-synching stuff they did back then really hasn't been topped yet.

On the other hand, for a game that clearly took a lot of time and money to make, I still can't fathom why there is exactly one male (and one female) voice actor for all of the unnamed male and female NPCs, respectively. Half-Life 2 came out like 6-7 years after the advent of story-based FPS games; I can forgive there only being so many character models for NPCs, but you really couldn't have hired a couple more voice actors? Or at least find one voice actor who can put on multiple different voices?

I think just about everything stands up in Half-Life 2, except for the part where it sounds like they got Dave from Accounting to do all of the male NPC voices in the entire game.

Posted by Pr1mus

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Posted by BigBoss1911

Played this for the first time on the original Xbox back in 2005, had not been blown away by an FPS so much since playing Halo CE. Its ridiculous that 9 years on a proper sequel has yet to arrive.

Posted by Baillie

@believer258 said:

@baillie said:

I've never played it, but when I have attempted to after getting the orange box, I couldn't get into it at all.

I'm confused. You've never played it, but you attempted to after getting the Orange Box? Doesn't that mean that you have played it?

Yes, it does. You're clearly not confused. It was a poor choice of words.

I would like to get into it, but I just can't enjoy it sadly.

Posted by JCGamer

@lyisa: short? Man, for an FPS it's pretty long.

Edited by ArbitraryWater

I liked Half Life 2 as well, but some parts of it were already suspect when I played it on The Orange Box in 2008. It deserves a lot of its reputation, but man are those vehicle sequences looooooong and man are those first-person platforming segments terrible. Oh, and it can single-handedly be blamed for all of the dumb physics puzzles that have plagued games ever since. That doesn't stop it from having some of my favorite weapon sound-effects in a video game though.

Posted by AlecOfTheWest

It's the best FPS to date. I'll always hate silent protagonists in games, but that game did atmosphere like nothing else.

Posted by Flacracker

@jcgamer said:

I am still amazed that the lip-synching stuff they did back then really hasn't been topped yet.

On the other hand, for a game that clearly took a lot of time and money to make, I still can't fathom why there is exactly one male (and one female) voice actor for all of the unnamed male and female NPCs, respectively. Half-Life 2 came out like 6-7 years after the advent of story-based FPS games; I can forgive there only being so many character models for NPCs, but you really couldn't have hired a couple more voice actors? Or at least find one voice actor who can put on multiple different voices?

I think just about everything stands up in Half-Life 2, except for the part where it sounds like they got Dave from Accounting to do all of the male NPC voices in the entire game.

You know what is ever worse than using the same voice actor? Skyrim. That game uses different voice actors to say the exact same lines. Like what the fuck.

Posted by Evilsbane

@atlas:

@jcgamer said:

@lyisa: short? Man, for an FPS it's pretty long.

Yea I don't think it is short at all, but yes I agree with ya dude it is fantastic game that I have played at least 7+ times all the way through its simply my favorite series which is why the absence of 3 is just BLAH! But it will be good when it comes out...if its comes out.

Posted by MariachiMacabre

I was absolutely certain that this thread would be full of "LOL IT IS TURRIBLE" but I'm pleasantly surprised.

Posted by MideonNViscera

It's been 9 years? Wow, it's been less than 9 since I played the first Half-Life (which I only bought for CS anyway).

Posted by Skyfire543

I totally agree with you. Half Life 2 is one of the best games ever made. I played it in 2004, but my computer couldn't handle it and the game would crash after I met Barney for the first time. I finally got to finish it in 2007 when the Orange Box came out. I knew I was going to love it, having loved the first Half Life to death, but I was still blown away by everything about Half Life 2. Hell, it still blows me away that a FPS that's 9 years old still stands above every other FPS I've played since.

Posted by GreggD

@jcgamer said:

@lyisa: short? Man, for a modern FPS it's pretty long.

Fixed that for you.

Posted by PandaBear
@atlas said:

Half-Life 2 has aged extremely well. It was a brilliant, atmospheric, fully engrossing shooter when it was released, and while some of the textures now look a little grungy, while the once impressive NPC faces now look merely pedestrian, while it's now weird to play a game in which you don't use the RMB to aim down the sights of a gun, it's still been a ton of fun to play. Some things don't age, such as fantastic level designing, an immaculate attention to detail, brilliant sound effects, and a compelling world. The game's physics engine is also just as impressive as it was in 2004, although there have now been a number of games that have attempted to emulate Valve's technology.

It may be time to remove those rose tinted glasses.

The physics engine has ZERO friction, meaning everything slides around like a soaped up box of feathers. There's almost no weight to any object in the game. I mean the Gravity Gun justifies this in many ways, but the way objects move just looks silly by today's standards. The physics puzzles are kinda dumb now too ... once it was amazing you could make a seesaw like device, now it's just what we expect.

And the platforming sections feel clumsy... Gordon has no presences in the world. Think of Battlefield 3 or Far Cry 3 where you feel like your a human not a camera strapped to a gun.

Also, I want someone to say that they genuinely felt like the hovercraft section was fun from start to finish and needed to be that long. At some point I grew sick of lifting my boat or buggy from one section to the next via a conveniently placed lift. Those big open areas were impressive once... but where they ever that much fun? Not really. And now they aren't even that impressive graphically.

I want to stress -- Half-Life 2 deserves all the praise it received and it changed gaming for the better. The atmosphere, supporting cast, the story told through the environment, the prison with the ants, the zombie town, that final stage with just the Gravity Gun. It's a fucking brilliant game, no doubt about it and it deserved it's praise. But it has it's flaws and it's a game that is greater than the sum of it's parts.

To say it's barely aged and holds up perfectly does a disservice to the games that have come since that have improved on the formula - BioShock did a better silent protagonist, Portal did better physic puzzles, Battlefield 3 did better character movement, even Episode 2 improved on the base game a lot.

TL;DR: I think this kind of hyperbole for classic games sets up very unrealistic expectations for someone who may choose to pick the game up in the near future.

Edited by myketuna

Definitely one of my favorite shooters of all time. I think as a piece of gaming history, it's impact was incredible. As a game today, I think it still holds up, but barely. I wouldn't compare it directly to the stuff out today. Apples and oranges. I look at it like an old, but cherished relic made by a more primitive people. "Look at what they did with what they had then. Sure, we could make something much, much better now, but dismissing the impact of this would be foolish."

If anyone plays it now, they would have to go in knowing that it's a product of it's time. I'm used to its eccentricities only because they're shielded by a heavy cream of fondness and nostalgia.

Edited by ll_Exile_ll

@jcgamer said:

I am still amazed that the lip-synching stuff they did back then really hasn't been topped yet.

It was good for the time, but look at anything by Naughty Dog or Rockstar (among others) made in the past few years and you'll see lip syncing has most certainly been improved since HL2.

Posted by ll_Exile_ll

@greggd said:

@jcgamer said:

@lyisa: short? Man, for a modern FPS it's pretty long.

Fixed that for you.

Shooters have pretty much always been 10-12 hours at most, which is right about where HL2 ends up. Sure, military shooters and the like are about 4-6 hours, but story focused single player shooters have always been on average about 10 hours, classic, modern, or otherwise. Unless of course I'm forgetting something, but every shooter I can think of from any time period (barring open world games) is about that length.

Edited by Snail
Edited by Inkerman

HL2 was the game that made me love video games. I played it on a friends PC. At that time I was playing video games regularly, but when I sat down and saw that game in action...Holy shit. In my opinion it is in the top 10 video games ever made, and in terms of genre defining, it and CoD4 were the two games that defined FPS over the last decade, and I would argue the Source Engine has defined the way almost every 3D game is made since then.

And, IIRC, the sheer fear that the poison head-crabs inspired was actually noted in the play testing, I think they may have actually done some psych studies on they way they affected players. I think they probably get a nomination for scariest NPC enemies.

Edited by ll_Exile_ll

@inkerman said:

HL2 was the game that made me love video games. I played it on a friends PC. At that time I was playing video games regularly, but when I sat down and saw that game in action...Holy shit. In my opinion it is in the top 10 video games ever made, and in terms of genre defining, it and CoD4 were the two games that defined FPS over the last decade, and I would argue the Source Engine has defined the way almost every 3D game is made since then.

And, IIRC, the sheer fear that the poison head-crabs inspired was actually noted in the play testing, I think they may have actually done some psych studies on they way they affected players. I think they probably get a nomination for scariest NPC enemies.

I agree with Half Life 2 being a defining game, but not about Source Engine. I feel like Valve made a mistake by creating source engine at the tale end of a generational cycle. It was extremely impressive for about 1-2 years, but once the next generation really got going, it was clear many aspects of it were a bit outdated already compared to something like UE3 or CryEngine.

No Source Engine game since HL2 has been anywhere near the best looking game at the time (technically speaking of course), and the lack of an ability to stream data, forcing frequent and lengthy loading screens, made source seem a step behind other game engines this past generation. I'd take UE3's texture pop in over source's need to load a new map so frequently 10 times out of 10.

Edited by TowerSixteen

@pandabear: Yea, basically this. It's influence is a good thing, and it's still fun to play. But it's one of the games that gets the sacred cow treatment, and like all of those games, there's no way it could ever be as perfect as people make it out to be. No game by mortal man could be.

It was (and is!) an impressive game. But I can't think of a single aspect of it that hasn't been topped since. Is that really so bad? I mean, it paved the way for many of the games which do things better.

Edited by Stonyman65

I thought Half Life 2 was fantastic. Maybe not as good these days as it once was because game mechanics have moved on a bit, but still really good.

There are a few things back then that I really didn't like (the jump puzzles, the extremely long dune buggy/boat sequences and a lot of the stuff in the middle where you are just trying to get from point A to point B) but the rest of the game was really fun and had a great totalitarian atmosphere. One thing I still remember is the opening police chase at the beginning of the game when escape the apartments, and the following chase after you leave the lab.

Games have come out since that more or less do that better, but there is still something to be said about Half Life 2. If anything, it just makes me wonder what the hell they are doing with Half Life 3, assuming it is ever coming out.

As for the Source Engine, I agree with what some have said here about it being outdated compared what most games are using now. Recent games using that engine have definitely been improved, but I think it's getting to the point where they won't be able to do much more with it (both graphically and technically) for much longer. I wouldn't be surprised if the next "big" valve game uses a whole new engine.

Posted by GreggD

@greggd said:

@jcgamer said:

@lyisa: short? Man, for a modern FPS it's pretty long.

Fixed that for you.

Shooters have pretty much always been 10-12 hours at most, which is right about where HL2 ends up. Sure, military shooters and the like are about 4-6 hours, but story focused single player shooters have always been on average about 10 hours, classic, modern, or otherwise. Unless of course I'm forgetting something, but every shooter I can think of from any time period (barring open world games) is about that length.

90's FPS games generally had lengthy campaigns, especially considering multiplayer was not as ubiquitous as it had become after games like Quake III and UT. 10-12 hours is long compared to today, though a select few (F.E.A.R., Max Payne 3) have proven otherwise. On average though, I'd say the campaigns have greatly diminished since the heyday of games like Doom, Wolf, Quake and Unreal 1.

Edited by The_Vein

@jcgamer said:

I am still amazed that the lip-synching stuff they did back then really hasn't been topped yet.

On the other hand, for a game that clearly took a lot of time and money to make, I still can't fathom why there is exactly one male (and one female) voice actor for all of the unnamed male and female NPCs, respectively. Half-Life 2 came out like 6-7 years after the advent of story-based FPS games; I can forgive there only being so many character models for NPCs, but you really couldn't have hired a couple more voice actors? Or at least find one voice actor who can put on multiple different voices?

I think just about everything stands up in Half-Life 2, except for the part where it sounds like they got Dave from Accounting to do all of the male NPC voices in the entire game.

Half-Life 2 created the modern story-based shooter game, what are you talking about?

Posted by BisonHero

@the_vein: Speaking NPCs existed in plenty of shooters prior to HL2, from Half-Life 1 to Deus Ex to basically everything post-2001. For a game that pushed so many boundaries in making a world that felt alive, it's weird that they skimped on voice actors so hard, resulting in every City 17 citizen or resistance member speaking in the same dull voice.

Edited by GreggD
Posted by The_Vein

@greggd: HL1 prototyped it, HL2 perfected it.

Posted by Milkman

@lyisa said:

Half Life 2 is really short.

That doesn't take anything away from the game, but yeah. Its crazy short.

I would argue that it's too long.

Posted by GreggD

@the_vein said:

@greggd: HL1 prototyped it, HL2 perfected it.

Doubtful. Max Payne 2 came out in 2003, I'd say it was better in a lot of ways than HL2.

Edited by CptBedlam

I finished it 2 days after release and didn't think it was phenomenal. Quite to the contrary, I found it pretty disappointing.

HL2 is a good game overall but also vastly overrated.

Posted by Jimbo7676

Oh god, even now if I hear that black headcrab sound I will jump and freak out. Even when I know its coming it puts a chill down my spine. Terrifically creepy sound design.

Edited by ll_Exile_ll

@greggd said:

90's FPS games generally had lengthy campaigns, especially considering multiplayer was not as ubiquitous as it had become after games like Quake III and UT. 10-12 hours is long compared to today, though a select few (F.E.A.R., Max Payne 3) have proven otherwise. On average though, I'd say the campaigns have greatly diminished since the heyday of games like Doom, Wolf, Quake and Unreal 1.

According to Howlongtobeat.com:

For good measure, some classic shooters you didn't mention:

Now, for some modern shooters:

Now, what I take from all this is that shooters have pretty much always been the same length, but modern shooters tend to be just slightly longer than classic shooters . In both cases, ones with multiplayer tend to be a little shorter (5-8 hours), while single only games are usually a bit longer (9-12 hours).

And finally, of the nearly 30 games I just wasted my time looking up, Half Life 2 is the longest of the bunch, followed by the Bioshock games, all what you would call "modern" shooters.

Obviously I didn't list every shooter ever, but I think I got a good cross section of different modern and classic shooters to illustrate my point.

Edited by GreggD

@greggd said:

90's FPS games generally had lengthy campaigns, especially considering multiplayer was not as ubiquitous as it had become after games like Quake III and UT. 10-12 hours is long compared to today, though a select few (F.E.A.R., Max Payne 3) have proven otherwise. On average though, I'd say the campaigns have greatly diminished since the heyday of games like Doom, Wolf, Quake and Unreal 1.

According to Howlongtobeat.com:

For good measure, some classic shooters you didn't mention:

Now, for some modern shooters:

Now, what I take from all this is that shooters have pretty much always been the same length, but modern shooters tend to be just slightly longer than classic shooters . In both cases, ones with multiplayer tend to be a little shorter (5-8 hours), while single only games are usually a bit longer (9-12 hours).

And finally, of the nearly 30 games I just wasted my time looking up, Half Life 2 is the longest of the bunch, followed by the Bioshock games, all what you would call "modern" shooters.

Obviously I didn't list every shooter ever, but I think I got a good cross section of different modern and classic shooters to illustrate my point.

I don't know where they got those numbers, but they are highly anachronistic. At least, based on my personal experiences they are.

Posted by ll_Exile_ll

@greggd said:

@ll_exile_ll said:

@greggd said:

90's FPS games generally had lengthy campaigns, especially considering multiplayer was not as ubiquitous as it had become after games like Quake III and UT. 10-12 hours is long compared to today, though a select few (F.E.A.R., Max Payne 3) have proven otherwise. On average though, I'd say the campaigns have greatly diminished since the heyday of games like Doom, Wolf, Quake and Unreal 1.

According to Howlongtobeat.com:

For good measure, some classic shooters you didn't mention:

Now, for some modern shooters:

Now, what I take from all this is that shooters have pretty much always been the same length, but modern shooters tend to be just slightly longer than classic shooters . In both cases, ones with multiplayer tend to be a little shorter (5-8 hours), while single only games are usually a bit longer (9-12 hours).

And finally, of the nearly 30 games I just wasted my time looking up, Half Life 2 is the longest of the bunch, followed by the Bioshock games, all what you would call "modern" shooters.

Obviously I didn't list every shooter ever, but I think I got a good cross section of different modern and classic shooters to illustrate my point.

I don't know where they got those numbers, but they are highly anachronistic. At least, based on my personal experiences they are.

Anyone can submit their own completion times. In all the cases above, those are the times for a straight up completion, not 100%.

Posted by Humanity

I am so fucking glad to see a thread on this game that isn't someone going "this game isn't so special!" after they've played and praised the many, many, many shooters that have taken practically half of their design from this game and its predecessor and adding bits and pieces of the original Halo.

@baillie said:

I've never played it, but when I have attempted to after getting the orange box, I couldn't get into it at all.

I'm confused. You've never played it, but you attempted to after getting the Orange Box? Doesn't that mean that you have played it?

I'm sorry to tell you this, but it's not that special. It was a really cool extended physics demo with neat callbacks to Half-Life 1 like getting your crowbar. Certain sections really dragged.

Posted by GreggD

@greggd said:

@ll_exile_ll said:

@greggd said:

90's FPS games generally had lengthy campaigns, especially considering multiplayer was not as ubiquitous as it had become after games like Quake III and UT. 10-12 hours is long compared to today, though a select few (F.E.A.R., Max Payne 3) have proven otherwise. On average though, I'd say the campaigns have greatly diminished since the heyday of games like Doom, Wolf, Quake and Unreal 1.

According to Howlongtobeat.com:

For good measure, some classic shooters you didn't mention:

Now, for some modern shooters:

Now, what I take from all this is that shooters have pretty much always been the same length, but modern shooters tend to be just slightly longer than classic shooters . In both cases, ones with multiplayer tend to be a little shorter (5-8 hours), while single only games are usually a bit longer (9-12 hours).

And finally, of the nearly 30 games I just wasted my time looking up, Half Life 2 is the longest of the bunch, followed by the Bioshock games, all what you would call "modern" shooters.

Obviously I didn't list every shooter ever, but I think I got a good cross section of different modern and classic shooters to illustrate my point.

I don't know where they got those numbers, but they are highly anachronistic. At least, based on my personal experiences they are.

Anyone can submit their own completion times. In all the cases above, those are the times for a straight up completion, not 100%.

I don't think I've ever heard of someone completing Doom in 3.5 hours, unless they were doing a speed run. And also, additional episodes or not, Doom's 4 episodes are the full game, whereas HL2 by itself is also a full game. The Ep. 1 and 2 expansions are standalone, supplemental content.

Posted by believer258

@humanity said:

@believer258 said:

I am so fucking glad to see a thread on this game that isn't someone going "this game isn't so special!" after they've played and praised the many, many, many shooters that have taken practically half of their design from this game and its predecessor and adding bits and pieces of the original Halo.

@baillie said:

I've never played it, but when I have attempted to after getting the orange box, I couldn't get into it at all.

I'm confused. You've never played it, but you attempted to after getting the Orange Box? Doesn't that mean that you have played it?

I'm sorry to tell you this, but it's not that special. It was a really cool extended physics demo with neat callbacks to Half-Life 1 like getting your crowbar. Certain sections really dragged.

Bleh, I've argued this before. We'll have to agree to disagree and move on, mkay? I'll acknowledge that HL1 did more but Half-Life 2 perfected the formula laid down by the first game. And yes, certain sections are too long. The game is still pretty fantastic.

@greggd said:

@ll_exile_ll said:

@greggd said:

@ll_exile_ll said:

@greggd said:

90's FPS games generally had lengthy campaigns, especially considering multiplayer was not as ubiquitous as it had become after games like Quake III and UT. 10-12 hours is long compared to today, though a select few (F.E.A.R., Max Payne 3) have proven otherwise. On average though, I'd say the campaigns have greatly diminished since the heyday of games like Doom, Wolf, Quake and Unreal 1.

According to Howlongtobeat.com:

For good measure, some classic shooters you didn't mention:

Now, for some modern shooters:

Now, what I take from all this is that shooters have pretty much always been the same length, but modern shooters tend to be just slightly longer than classic shooters . In both cases, ones with multiplayer tend to be a little shorter (5-8 hours), while single only games are usually a bit longer (9-12 hours).

And finally, of the nearly 30 games I just wasted my time looking up, Half Life 2 is the longest of the bunch, followed by the Bioshock games, all what you would call "modern" shooters.

Obviously I didn't list every shooter ever, but I think I got a good cross section of different modern and classic shooters to illustrate my point.

I don't know where they got those numbers, but they are highly anachronistic. At least, based on my personal experiences they are.

Anyone can submit their own completion times. In all the cases above, those are the times for a straight up completion, not 100%.

I don't think I've ever heard of someone completing Doom in 3.5 hours, unless they were doing a speed run. And also, additional episodes or not, Doom's 4 episodes are the full game, whereas HL2 by itself is also a full game. The Ep. 1 and 2 expansions are standalone, supplemental content.

I agree on this one, Doom 1 is way longer three and a half hours unless you've memorized the game and are doing a speed run. Likely only one or two people have submitted their times.

Also Half-Life 2, as much as I like it, isn't 13.5 hours long. It might be if you included the episodes, which I have no doubt that some people do, but it's not 13.5 hours long.

And, finally, since anyone can submit their own completion time, those numbers are good ballpark estimates of a game's length and not really solid information.

Posted by BisonHero

Man, I spent way longer than 12 hours beating the first Bioshock. Howlongtobeat.com is full of shit.

Edited by Humanity

@believer258: yah it's pretttttyyy ..alright. I had fun playing it, but don't remember it as an exceptional game or anything. It was largely the huge hype of it being Half-Life 2 that really spurred me on. Sort of like how Half-Life 3 has become this mythical unicorn that is prophesied to be the end all of gaming.

Edited by believer258

@humanity said:

@believer258: yah it's pretttttyyy ..alright. I had fun playing it, but don't remember it as an exceptional game or anything. It was largely the huge hype of it being Half-Life 2 that really spurred me on. Sort of like how Half-Life 3 has become this mythical unicorn that is prophesied to be the end all of gaming.

And that's the problem. People expect Half-Life 2 to be the Second Coming when they first sit down to play it, and they're disappointed to find out that it's "just" a really, really good shooter that inspired a hell of a lot of other shooters that came after it, especially in terms of set pieces and level design.

It's also why Half-Life 3 is never going to live up to the hype.

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