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We live in complex times. When I was a youngster, it was perfectly reasonable to buy a game simply because it had more monsters than the other games. Playing through shooters, RPGs and platformers alike, I’d be tempted to give up when I reached the point where no new enemy types were appearing. The very idea of a game with only one type of enemy, no matter how intelligent and believable, was poison. Give me all of your mutants, demons and aliens>, I cried, give them to me now>.
Here are a few of my favourites, ranging from the first-person shooters of my teenage years to the surreal horrors of my childhood.
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.>
Okay, now we’re nearly 300 deep into these recommendations we’re clearly getting a little obscure, a little desperate, but it’s still possible that a few people will have played this oddity. Half-Life 2 came out in 2004, but as there’s been no Half-Life 3 in the eleven years since one can only assume it didn’t sell well.
“Laughter is the best medicine,” say people who are about to discover laughter actually makes a broken nose worse. Laughter’s pretty okay, though, as are other emotions – and creative mediums can help stimulate them. Valve have rolled out the red carpet (it smells rusty?) for the year’s finest Source Filmmaker machinima, little films mostly starring Valve characters, declaring which are the bestest best so you too can easily experience such human emotions as Action, Comedy, Drama, Short, and Extended.
An envelope arrived in the post this morning. Thick, stuffed with books. Diaries, in fact. Someone has sent me Gordon Freeman’s diaries from the last eight years. I don’t really know what to do about this. I mean, this is obviously big news, but this is also someone’s private life. But what if it was Gordon himself who sent them? What if he wants the… the misery therein to be exposed?
I’ve decided on a compromise. I’m going to publish some extracts, picked almost at random from the lot. If Freeman wants them taken down, he can get in touch and we’ll honour that right away.>
I have just booted up Half-Line Miami [official site] – a mashup of Hotline Miami and Half-Life as created by student Thomas Kole.
As someone who has never really played Half-Life 2 or Hotline Miami (I did about one level of Hotline Miami at a demo booth one time and apparently own it on this here PC – who knew? As for the Half-Life games, I played the original until a bit where you have to climb into a ceiling vent which you reach by dragging a box over. I’d killed something directly below the vent and their corpse became an immovable object so I couldn’t put the box in the right place to climb up. After trying all the solutions I could think of I gave up rather than restart at my last save which was ages away. I tried the second game as part of the Orange Box on XBox 360 and got as far as Water Hazard.) I feel well placed to explain Half-Line Miami.
Level 28! No, the other kind of level. The type that you run around in, shooting people or jumping on their heads and that sort of thing. Adam, Alec, Alice and Graham gather to discuss their favourite levels and/or maps from across the vast length of PC gaming, including selections from Deus Ex, Call of Duty and Quake III. Someone even makes a case for Xen from Half-Life, and means it.
There is a peculiar irony to the impression people have of gaming. When videogames are lazily portrayed in the wider world, they inevitably show a soldier being shot through a gun scope. Hell, even within the highest enclave walls, people are wont to dismiss the poor taste of others by snarking, They d probably like it if it had a gun floating at the bottom of the screen. The first-person shooter is the most emblematic genre of gaming, and yet it s now the most under-served, under-developed, and rarest of mainstream releases. There are barely any new non-indie FPS games. And it s all Half-Life s fault.>
Today in News You Should Probably Be Glad You Never Heard About At The Time Because You’re Already Disappointed Enough And This Would’ve Been Frustrating And Yeah I Guess You Would’ve Written A Lot Of Annoyed Comments On The Internet And TBH Neither You Nor I Want That But Boy, What If This Had Happened: Deus Ex director Warren Spector and his (now-closed) studio Junction Point were at one point working on a Half-Life game.
The mystery game would’ve been a Half-Life 2 episode separate from Valve’s own core episodes, introducing a new physics-y magnet gun. But it was not to be, and Junction Point went on to focus on Epic Mickey instead.
It s over ten years since Half-Life 2 was released. The other day I found myself arguing that there still hadn t been a first-person shooter released that was better. Then wondered if I was talking out of my hat. In an effort to learn whether Half-Life 2 is as great nay, as perfect as the version in my head, I ve replayed it, and realised there s so much I d forgotten.>