Half Life (PS2) – Part 1

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I found my old Playstation 2 copy of Half-Life and, against my better judgement, decided to give it a full run before throwing it into the loft, having last completed it about 5-10 years.

I will give my updated thoughts, after all, nostalgia can be a bit of a bastard with memory:

-Surprisingly, the general audio/visual design still holds up. The Playstation 2 is a little cleaned up compared to both the original and HD versions of the game on PC, but in terms of presentation Half-Life continues to leave an impression. There is atmosphere without question, from the sterile train ride at the beginning to the voidless monologue sequence at the tail-end of the game, what Valve tried – still works. Music is sparse but used to create an immediate impact and the sound design is strong, with quirky, though memorable, voice acting and life-like effects used across the board. The HEV suit’s VO is still kick ass (“USER DEATH IMMINENT”), you gotta love those marine grunts too. Sounds such as water, weapons and interactive objects like switches are exactly as they should be, even with crappy stereo sound on a bog-standard flatscreen TV.

-This game is tough but the pacing is nigh on perfection. I cannot give a best or worst bit about Half-Life because of it. Really. What starts with simple platforming puzzles and the odd headcrab sneak attack in “Anomalous Materials” concludes with death drops in every direction and alien grunts around every corner in “Interloper”. It gets worse too in that bullet fatigue becomes a thing on hard. I am dead serious. Ironically the bigger monsters including the big bad are nowhere near as tough to fight as the human enemies from the third level onwards.

-I managed to completely miss the crossbow when you are expected to reacquire it in the second half of the story. This PS2 video playthrough has me playing nearly all of the story without it.

-Dual Shock 2 support on the Playstation 2 is miserable. Actual movement is slippy thanks to analogue sensitive controls but by sharp contrast the camera controls are sluggish and unresponsive. Clearly Gearbox noticed this, and in response, you have a lock-on feature which you activate on highlighted enemies with the circle button. Sadly the lock-on is proximity dependent, meaning you need to be close to enemies in order for it to work, which got me killed on numerous scenarios during play. Why the developers did not think to implement proper auto-aim or, better yet, fine-tune the controls with the analogue sticks is beyond me.

-The frame-rate can drop below 20FPS at its worst on Playstation 2 which, to return to my earlier point about the port’s controls, can impact input lag quite severely. Again, this is noticeable in the video series I am working on. Aside from that, there is the odd bit of graphical weirdness on Playstation 2 including clipping issues that lead to instant death. I noticed full-on micro-stuttering and game freezing lag a number of times too. Apparently it isn’t much better on the unreleased Dreamcast version either, I will have to find out for myself how true this is one of these days.

-I do have a couple positive remarks to make about the console version of Half-Life: It does allow for full saving (and quick-saving) throughout the experience. You can start and stop wherever you fancy during play, no dumb checkpoints whatsoever. Furthermore, there is a co-op expansion pack called Decay which can be played splitscreen. It kind of blows that Gearbox didn’t put Opposing Force onto the port although you can’t win them all I suppose.

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A LEGAL NOTICE:
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Any copyrighted footage I use is covered under fair use laws, or more specifically those listed under Section 30(1) of the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1989 and under section 107 of US Copyright Act 1976. This video exists purely for the purpose of research and crticism. I do not make a profit from any uploaded content, nor do I intend to. Thank you for watching.

36 COMMENTS

  1. I'm about 40 minutes in to it and hoping it gets better. I don't know if it's because it is so dated but I'm not seeing how this is such an important or amazing game. I also just recently ordered the orange box (half life 2) and am now hoping that wasn't a mistake.

  2. was debating on doing a walkthrough (mainly just show the minor differences the ps2 version had in it) guess you already did. oh well

  3. This game was also made for Sega Dreamcast. Playstation 2 port has auto save, better graphics and faster loading times but the Dreamcast version (never released) has Blue Shift exclusive mission created only on Dreamcast. By the way Dreamcast has Half Life Grunt, Counter Strike DC, They Hunger, Half life Paranoia, Goldeneye Half life, Half life Black Ops, and Gunman Chronicles.The Dreamcast version is complete but has few bugs, glitches and crashes in certain parts.

  4. Here's my video on Gunman Chronicles for Sega Dreamcast.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88ndv4qT5SM
    It is using the unreleased half life 1 engine for Dreamcast which was cancelled.
    Dreammatrix made this PC port to Dreamcast in 2014. It only has 3 episodes:
    Space Station, Mayan and Rust. FMV intro video is also included. The game also allows you to save your progress, all Dreamcast Half life will work(except for level passwords. They don't work). I forgot to mention Half life USS Darkstar is also on Dreamcast. Opposing Force is also on Dreamcast which also includes Chaos, Theory, Challenger Deep, Timeline, Peace like us, Adam, and mission no mercy. Requires a Dreamcast keyboard.

  5. even though the PlayStation 2 version looks better the Dreamcast version also includes Blue Shift only on Dreamcast not ps2.

  6. I still don't understand why Blue Shift didn't make it on the PS2. I mean, it was originally built for the Dreamcast, for goodness sake! Surely the PS2 can run it just fine, and it's built to be played with a controller.

  7. I hate the PC version. I just hate playing with what was meant to be tools for typing and clicking/selecting in the 1st place. Never could enjoy this game because of that. Is this available on PS4?

  8. Fun fact: The Dreamcast and the PS2 versions of Half-Life is actually a port from the PC version of Half-Life Version 1.0.0.9. This is because the head bobbing feature is still in the console versions of Half-Life. The only difference is that the PS2 version is more enhanced than the PC and the Dreamcast versions of Half-Life.

  9. the graphics are so bad, even for ps2. They look almost like PS1 graphics. Compare it to something like God of War 2 or Grandia III, two games on ps2 that look amazing compared to this.

  10. Even when ported onto console its amazing. I'm currently playing through it on the hardest difficulty, there's so much more depth when you're constantly trying to stay alive by employing different tactics only for the game to throw curveball after curveball to keep you challenged. Easy and Normal are content tourist modes, they make it less impactful and take away the survival element more because of the abundance of health and ammo you get

  11. I'm doing a review of the PS2 port on my channel. Can I use this playthrough as footage please? I really don't feel like playing through the entire game and also I don't have a capture card and I'm not the best at this game.

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