Life has been busy lately – my lack of updates here is not for a lack of effort – and no, I haven’t been wasting my free time playing Destiny along with the millions of other FPS fans across the world. Don’t get me wrong, I know that it is a great game for what it is, but I’m just very tired of the online multiplayer FPS genre and it’s over abundance of foulmouthed preteens. What have I been doing lately? After dropping Ubuntu 14.04 LTS on my ASUS gaming laptop, I took a look at the 100+ games in my Steam library that were Linux compatible, noticed that all of the Half-Life games were available, and decided to start back at the very beginning: the Black Mesa Transit System in the original Half-Life.
I recall playing the original Half-Life on the PS2 in the early 2000s. I also recalled beating the game; yet, oddly enough, approaching the final stretch of the game, it became quite clear that my memory had not served me correct. Hey, it happens to the best of us – some of us a bit more than we want to admit, really. Anyhow, settling back into the game once again after all these years isn’t sore on the eyes, thanks, in part, to the HD resolution and updated graphics found in the Steam release. While new-age atmospheric titles like Dead Space make these older games’ scares a bit laughable, the environment and atmosphere of Black Mesa is still creepily enjoyable to explore – especially when there’s half a game here that I thought I’d seen before.
If you’ve somehow missed the Half-Life series, it’s a FPS game from the masterminds at Valve. The game pushed the genre further than few thought possible at the time of its release and even still today it’s an enjoyable experience that’s well worthy of blasting back through. The game didn’t reinvent the wheel, so to speak, but instead brought excellent shooting mechanics, graphics, narrative, and environmental and atmospheric effects all together into one intentionally designed package. The combined effect of all these elements coming together creates an experience that immerses the player into its world in a way that no shooter before had done so before. Even in its age, the game sucked me in completely until the end credits rolled, which is more than I can say for Destiny – okay, okay… no more sly japes at Bungie’s new shooter; it’s unfair, I know.
Half-Life runs pretty well on Linux, with only a few minor noticeable hiccups that I can recall. The most memorable of these was a few non-interactive walls that had a tendency to blink when moving the character around. Aside from that, there were a few (and I mean a few) instances where I had some limited frame rate drops for a few seconds. Aside from these minor compatibility issues, there was one specific issue that brought back memories from another classic FPS title: Turok (N64). Considering that you can see further than three inches, err…feet, in front of your character in Half-Life, that would mean that it would be the jumping sequences that can be quite an annoyance at times. While so much of Half-Life is near perfectly designed, there are few baffling jumping segments that disrupt the smooth flow of the game play. There’s nothing too terrible, for sure, but the annoyance is there nonetheless. Now that I think of it though, having the bow from Turok to silently take down some pesky head crabs would be ace – can we get the modders on this, like, ASAP?
If you’ve never played the original Half-Life, you probably should. Even if Halloween is already over for this year – the time that many people choose to play creepy games – there’s never a bad time to jump back into this classic shooter. If you’re a Linux fan like myself, retro PC titles just feel great to play on the platform. Can’t really pinpoint the reason why that is, really, but hey, some things are just the way that they are, I guess.