System: Playstation 2
Publisher: Sierra On-Line
Developer: Valve/Gearbox Software
Released: 2001
Genre: 2D Fighting
Capabilities: Memory Card, Vibration Function

Half-Life is a port of the extremely popular PC version
Though, the crappy head-to-head mode (seen above) damaged the game's package
Picture Credit(gamespot.com)

Review Written: May 16, 2002

The Game

Half-Life is the award winning PC game by Sierra. The popular first person shooter was originally intended to be released on the Dreamcast as two separate games (a single player version, and an online version). But with Sega announcing in January 2001 that they will be discontinuing production of the Dreamcast, Sierra quickly announced the cancellation of the Dreamcast version Half-Life. And they followed suit with other companies and announced the game for the Playstation 2 instead. I first saw footage of this game on the latest Official Playstation Magazine (OPM) demo disc. It looked pretty good so I decided to give it a rent. So let’s see if the PS2 version will be just as good as the PC.

The Story

You are Dr. Gordon Freeman. You work for the Black Mesa Research Facility (BMRF). You are doing standard procedure with a unique high risk, specimen. Then everything goes wrong, and the machineries plasmic beams warp in creature’s from the specimen’s world. Now it’s up to you undo the damage done by the BMRF. There’s also a two player co-op “Decay” mode where you and a friend (or the computer) control females Dr. Cross and Dr. Green. The story is slightly different, but is still mostly the same as the main mode where the experiment gone wrong warps in all the monsters from a parallel universe.


I got a mixed impression from the graphics. Some of the stuff in here looks great, like the character models, and some of the scenery being polished up for the PS2 version. But some things on here look like they came right from early FPS games like Duke Nukem 3D. For example, there are horrible sprite designs on certain objects in the background that look like they belong in a Playstation game. Other objects, like the gun designs are a bit on the primitive side. This might be just me, but I think each great FPS game has their own memorable design for most weapons. Like who can forget the shotgun designs from Perfect Dark and Timesplitters? Heck, even the basic Falcon in Perfect Dark looked impressive. But in here I don’t see too much effort involved in the weapon designs. The pistol and assault rifles look a bit on the bland side. The shotgun looks ok, but other than that, their isn’t too much eye candy for us. And another unique situation that has never seem to happened in any other FPS I can think of is the fact that you can’t see any of the weapons in the versus mode (except for the crowbar). And that is just odd as hell why you can’t see the weapons; especially considering the game is only two players, and you have lots of room to work with. There are also constant loading times during the single player missions which do get a bit annoying. On the plus side, the frame rate is fast and consistent. I also love the menu designs as well.


All the characters you run into feature fair voice acting. Not exactly the greatest I’ve heard, but not the worst either. The scientists, and guards do say some funny things if you stay near them and eavesdrop on their conversations. They’ll be whining about the ties they have to wear, and investigating on who ate all the donuts. There is no background music in the game. It is worth mentioning that the developers probably didn’t do this intentionally because it’s common that most PC originated, FPS games (Quake, Duke Nukem, Unreal, Doom to name a few) feature no background music. I actually prefer this because it sets the tone for the game, and increases the suspense factor too.

Game play

The default control scheme is great, and easy to adapt to. It’s much like the one used for Timesplitters where you use both analog sticks. One to move, and the other to strafe. You can also push and pull objects out of the way. You also have the ability to jump over or duck under specific objects. When you have weapons, you have the ability to lock onto opponents. This makes it much easier to blast them away. If you don’t like the default control scheme, you can always pick one of several other styles. If you still can’t find one you like, you always have the option of customizing your own controls. The controls are easy to use, and I recommend heading into the training mode so you can perfect them, before heading out into the main game.

There are three main ways to play Half-Life. The first is the main single player mode. Where you can first go through training to perfect using your Hazardous Environment Suit (HEV). Then you can play the main game. You got handy Quick Save and Quick Load features. Make sure to save often, because the game loads you back to your last saved location once you die. The next mode is Decay, which is practically a whole new adventure, but essentially the same as the main game. In Decay, two players take the roles of females Dr. Cross and Dr. Green, and proceed through a story which is slightly different from the one Dr. Freeman is involved in. Decay features certain puzzles which will require the need of both players to solve. Once one player dies, so does the other. The last mode of play is Head-to-Head, which is the multi player mode of the game. And unfortunately, it ends up on the dry side with not much to offer. Only two players can play in this versus mode. You can choose from one of six characters, and play in one of several locations. Once you set a time and frag limit, you are good to go. And that’s it. Nothing else. You’d think that they’d at least offer you some computer opponents to go against like in Red Faction, but no such luck. It’s odd they don’t because you have the option of having the computer controlling your partner in Decay mode. There’s not even any standard Capture the Flag, Tag, or King of the Hill modes seen in most other FPS games.

Replay Value

The only main thing here for Replay Value is the Decay mode. Which is a complete exclusive to the PS2. And it is fun to play through with a friend because you will hate the dry versus mode. It has to be the worst multi player mode I’ve seen in a first person shooter in a long time. Once you beat both modes though, their might not be too much here to keep you playing.

In Brief

+: Exclusive “Decay” mode, Great character models, Easy to learn controls

-: Extremely lacking “Head-to-Head” mode, Some iffy background designs

The Final Ratings Rundown

Graphics: 7.7
Sound: 8.4
Game play: 6.4
Replay Value: 3.0

Overall: 6.3

Rounded to fit GameFAQs Score: 6


The single player and Decay modes are a blast. But the Head-to-Head mode leaves a lot to be desired. I was excited about playing this game at first, but ended up slightly disappointed in the end. Hardcore fans of the PC version will eat this up, but for the rest of us, I recommend a rental.

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