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From ColecoVision To iPhone Games: Some High Water Marks In Video Game Design History Part 5

In this fifth part of the series we will take a look at the original Half-Life for the PC and examine some more of those classic moments where video game designers undoubtedly got it right and delivered a memorable, enduring and progressive gaming experience.

In this ongoing look at significant moments in the history of video game design, we have already taken a look at Bungies Halo, Biowares MDK2, Nintendos own original Metroid and several others.The goal of this series is to go beyond the gaming magazines and iphone app reviews, and take a closer look at what defines memorability and quality in game design.In this fifth part of the series we will examine some more of those classic moments where video game designers undoubtedly got it right and delivered a memorable, enduring and progressive gaming experience.Half-Life (PC) In our last installment we looked at the popular Half Life (HL) mod, Day of Defeat.We will now give credit to the game it was built upon, the original HL.Released in 1998, HL was a first person shooter (FPS) developed by Valve Software.You play the game as Gordon Freeman, a scientist working at the Black Mesa Research Facility that eventually becomes the savior of the planet when he heads off an alien invasion.Played entirely through the first person perspective, Half-Life is absolutely bursting with innovative game design: its innovative weapons and their creative secondary functions, the constantly forward moving narrative, the perfectly balanced division of shooting, platforming and puzzle solving, challenging boss battles, brilliant enemy artificial intelligence (AI), a clever armor/health system and the beloved crowbar are but some of the elements Half-Life has become famous for.However, since this series calls on a single element of the game to be elaborated upon, we will shine our light on the well stocked selection of enemies.Among the wide variety of alien and human enemies, the standouts in HL are the human grunts and the alien headcrabs.Fiercely attacking in seemingly well trained unison, groups of human grunts are to this day among the most engaging and exciting enemies to do combat with in the history of video games.The AI of these soldiers was an absolute revelation at the time, and is still unmatched by many of todays technologically advanced shooters.Anybody who has played Half-Life will recall the fear they felt when a group of these grunts appeared and began firing upon our hero.Rich, rewarding and dynamic gunfights were part and parcel of HL thanks in large part to the AI inherent in these soldiers.In stark contrast to these battles with human grunts, we have the alien headcrabs.Mindlessly scuttling throughout the games corridors, these little bugs wanted nothing more than to leap at the face of our hero and take meaty chunks off his precious health and shield reserves.Why are these mindless nuisances being singled out as a standout game design choice? They force the player to take corners more slowly, to use ammo sparingly, and to realize the value in conserving health and armor supplies.Their presence in a gunfight adds fast moving and legitimately threatening enemies to the mix, and their tiny size made them a constant point of concern when navigating the games tighter spaces.In short, these crabs helped establish the tone of the game and refine the players approach.When a simple little crab can accomplish that muchArticle SubmissionFeature Articles, the developers have clearly done their job.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Tim Kennedy writes on behalf of AppsPatrol. He recommends you visit AppsPatrol for your iphone app reviews and iphone game reviews.




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