Tagged in: Half-life

Top 10 PC Games Of The 1990’s

This era saw the rise of the internet and the world of games along with it. We look at the top ten titles that gamers of the 90’s were obsessed with. Get ready for the ride into 90’s nostalgia!

Number 10 — Star Wars: TIE Fighter – 1994

This awesome space flight simulator can be played for hours on end. Wing Commander is a close tie for this spot but nothing could beat the fun foray into the virtual sky that is TIE Fighters is, you fight for the evil Galactic Empire. The scenario is innovative and engaging and has gameplay to match. Fast paced and exciting, this game could have you battling it out into space for hours.

Number 9 — Civilization – 1991

Designed by Sid Meier’s turn-based strategy game went on to become the most beloved franchises in all of PC gaming, it all started out with the first title. The player takes charge of a small civilization, which you need to build into an empire, all the while competing with other civilizations. You used diplomacy and warfare to forge your way ahead. It is both addictive and fun.

Number 8 — Quake 2 – 1991

The most seminal titles in FPs. You can play as single-player mode or multi-player mode. The multi-player mode was so popular that it went on to become the first official e-sport.

Number 7 — System Shock 2 – 1991

Designed by the acclaimed designer of the modern Bioshock series, this game had a suspenseful story line that had an amazing way to keep you immersed in its world. You play as a lone soldier exploring a starship where something seems eerily wrong. The gameplay combines FPS and RPG elements and a sense of foreboding. All this make the game an excellent precursor to modern RPGs we all love.

Number 6 — Grim Fandango – 1998

Considered by many as the funniest game ever made, Grim Fandango is compared to other titles such as Lucas Arts Monkey Island series. You play as the protagonist, a death travel agent called Manny Calvera, who has to travel throughout the land of the dead hoping to save a few souls. The game includes a cast of extremely wacky characters. The dialogue is clever and witty and the game is full of brain-teasers and puzzles that will challenge your mind. A modern remake of this game is also in the making, so Grim Fandango will enjoy the love of another generation of gamers.

Number 5 — Myst – 1993

This is a puzzle-filled adventure game. You journey through an island called Myst, trying to figure out what is going on; in the process you encounter a ton of puzzles that challenge your skills. Be prepared to spend hours trying to figure out how to get through, this is definitely not an easy game.

Number 4 — Diablo – 1993

An RPG focused on two things, hacking and slashing. It stepped away from turn-based combat; Diablo allows the violence to unfold in real-time. Explore dungeons and defeat monsters, you can pick up the items that spawn randomly, so multiple play-through can be rewarding.

Number 3 — Doom – 1991

Doom was an FPS that came onto the scene as a technical milestone. The gameplay was amazingly fast for that era and had a hyper-violent gameplay. Doom became synonymous with FPS. The FPS games that came later on were often called Doom-clones.

Number 2 — Half-Life – 1998

This proved to be a revolution in FPS gaming. It featured an amazing storyline, told innovatively. It features a remarkable variety of weapons and environments that could be enjoyed for hours and hours.

Number 1 — StarCraft – 1998

The best of any RTS or any other genre in PC games of the 90’s era, StarCraft involved three factions that played independently and were equal in the hands of skilled player. It is a military science fiction RTS. The game makes you play in three different roles. The mission briefings are detailed and the story is incredibly captivating.



Games You May Have Missed: The Portal Series

Not everyone enjoys puzzle games. They can be slow, frustrating and elicit some major yawns – not good recipes for a gaming session. So on the surface, Portal may not have seemed like the game for you. Valve might have considered it an afterthought, as well.
Valve’s first-person platformer originally got packaged as a bonus for gamers who bought the Orange Box to get their hands on Half Life 2: Episode 2 and Team Fortress 2. But despite its brief length, Portal’s addictive and innovative gameplay quickly made it one of the most critically acclaimed titles of the year, and for good reason. Playing as Chell, a test subject stuck in the massive Aperture underground testing facility, players use a portal gun to shoot oval shaped portals in walls. This lets the player navigate through the level, traversing huge gaps and solving puzzles with a variety of clever solutions.

Portal’s brilliance owes as much to its level design as its addictively fun portal gun action. Jumping down from huge heights, players can shoot portals into the floor just before impact, using redirected velocity to fly out of exit portals and traverse huge distances. Objects can also be placed in portals, another element that is important to solving the puzzles.

The sterile Aperture testing facilities where the game takes place are devoid of cosmetic elements and fancy backgrounds, taking away the confusion of having to find which objects can be interacted with. Instead, the gameplay focuses on easing the player into solving puzzles with increasing complexity. Because of this, Portal has a pacing designed for much less “I don’t know what to do” moments.

After getting an immensely positive reception from fans and critics, alike, it didn’t take long for Portal to get its own standalone release. You can pick it up right now on for Windows, OS X, Linux, Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Shield Portable.

It also bears mentioning that Portal, while a short game, has a very funny and memorable storyline. After awakening from a stasis state, the protagonist Chell is guided through increasingly dangerous test chambers by a seemingly benevolent, yet very sinister AI companion, called GLaDOS. Turret guns are given their own AI personalities, as well, which offer empathetic comments in innocent, child-like voices when you deactivate them.

Portal’s sequel Portal 2 should also be mentioned. This was a highly-anticipated sequel, given the immense fanfare for the original Portal. If you enjoyed playing Portal, or are simply curious to try out a Portal game, Portal 2 is highly recommended.

The sequel builds off of the original concepts of the first game, adding a number of interesting new elements. Continuing where the storyline of Portal left off, Chell navigates through various test chambers, now with more novel concepts, like lasers and gravity-free beams.

As players learn more about the origins of Aperture, they discover other technologies the company had been “testing,” like a series of liquid-like gels that can be used to solve puzzles. Blue gel, once stained to the ground or walls, allows the player to bounce off of hard surfaces equal to the momentum they strike them with. Orange gel enables players to speed up their running to an incredibly fast velocity, and white gel allows players to create portal-compatible surfaces on almost any flat surface.

Along with all these new elements, Portal 2 introduces a co-operative game mode. This is one of the most acclaimed features added to the original Portal, as it enables two players to solve very complex and challenging puzzles through sheer team work and skill. Players can also design their own Portal levels and share them with the online community. In fact, numerous mods of the game have been popularized, as well, including a flash version of the original game that has also been critically acclaimed.

It’s hard to convince someone who doesn’t like puzzle games to spend money on one. This is one of the most enjoyable and memorable video games you will ever play. It’s also perfect for casual gamers, as individual levels don’t take up much time and are perfect for enjoying one at a time, though we doubt anyone can play Portal or Portal 2 piece-meal. It’s simply too much fun. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and try this game.


The History Of Half-Life

In 1996, after leaving their employment under Microsoft, Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington decided to start their own company in Kirkland, Washington called Valve Corporation. They wanted to design games, and their first idea, Half-Life, grabbed the spotlight at the 1997 E3 convention. When it was released on November 19, 1998, the game was met with critical acclaim, and it would spark the creation of one of the most revered first person shooter franchises in the history of gaming.
Half-Life is set in a science fiction alternate history, where Gordon Freeman, a theoretical physicist hired by Black Mesa, accidently causes a dimensional rift, flooding the world with hostile alien creatures from a world called Xen. When Black Mesa sends a Marine squad to exterminate all creatures and survivors at the compromised research facility, Gordon must fight his way out, travel to the alien dimension and kill the alien leader.

Valve Corporation’s first title, Half-Life was originally developed using a modified version of the Quake engine. However, Valve heavily modified the engine, adding skeletal animation and Direct 3D support.

Today, many critics consider Half-Life not only one of the most innovative games ever made, but also one of the best designed games. There are no cut-scenes in Half-Life, as all scripted events happen in real time, allowing the player to see everything through Freeman’s eyes. There are no levels, either, as new chapter titles in the game’s story appear on screen as the player moves through the environment.

This smooth, enhanced narrative flow combined with realistic, intense first person gunplay, moves the player continuously through the world, where they encounter a variety of enemies, human and alien weapons and moments of integrated puzzle solving and platforming.

Upon release, Half-Life was met with overwhelmingly positive reception, earning awards for “Best PC Game” and “Best Action Game” from the Game Critics Awards at E3 1998. The game has sold over 20 million units and continues to be considered the most influential first person shooter of all time.
Riding off the gleaming success of Half-Life, developer Gearbox Software would step into the franchise, creating a trilogy of Half-Life expansions, as well as a port of the original Half-Life for the Playstation 2 in 2001. The expansions function as continuations of the Half-Life narrative, but told through the eyes of new protagonists.

Half-Life: Opposing Force

places players in the viewpoint of US Marine corporal Adrian Shephard, who after failing to cover up Black Mesa must fight his way out. Half-Life: Blue Shift puts players in the perspective of Barney Calhoun, a Black Mesa security guard attempting to escape the early events that occurred at Black Mesa. Half-Life: Blue Shift was also a major technical expansion, including a high definition pack that upgraded the graphical quality of all the previous games.

Half-Life: Decay

This was the Final Expansion was the only title exclusive to the Playstation 2 and unique to the other expansions in that it was the first time players could complete the game co-operatively with another player, using the characters Gina Cross and Colette Green, two of Freeman’s colleagues who try to close the dimensional rift.

Half-Life 2

After six years of development, including numerous delays, Valve finally release Half-Life 2 on November 16, 2004. Like its predecessor, Half-Life was both a major commercial and technological achievement, praised for its superb pacing, quality narrative and, while linear, fantastic gameplay.

Half-Life 2 used a brand new proprietary engine, as well, called Source. Using this engine, Half-Life 2 integrated cutting edge graphical technologies, some of the most notable being its advancement of computer graphic quality, AI sophistication and enhanced physical realism of in-game objects and actions.

Half-Life 2 was also a major leap forward for Valve’s distribution model, being made available through their Steam online distribution service. The popularity of this online service would lead to a falling out with their publisher Sierra Entertainment. Today, Steam is one of the most popular online distributors of video games, which also facilitates crowdfunding of independent developers with their own games.

Valve Corporation continued to be leading innovators in gaming technology, when they decided to expand their beloved franchise with a trilogy of episodic games, expanding on where the events of the story left off in Half Life 2. Utilizing new lighting, facial animation artificial intelligence technologies, Half Life: Episode One, debuted on June 1, 2006. While a short game, Half-Life 2: Episode One was met with considerable praise, especially for its technological feats.

For instance, Valve developers had conceived of Alyx, Gordon’s companion the game, as having a “personality code,” not an “AI code.” Her actions in the game are realistic and believable. Players can work cooperatively with Alyx in dynamic ways, using her to conserve their own ammo or use her cover fire to switch positions.

Half-Life 2: Episode Two, while very much a continuation from Half-Life 2: Episode One, features a number of new features, as well, such as introducing less linearity, an uncanny ammo type for the Gravity Gun, as well as a new vehicle, a rebuilt 1969 Dodge Charger.
Sadly, development of Half-Life 2: Episode Three has been at a standstill since 2007. The first two episodes were developed at the same time, which suggests the last episode of the trilogy may never reach a release.

The future of Half-Life

Despite the disruption of Half-Life 2’s episodic expansions, there is a very strong possibility Valve may be working on a Half-Life 3. Recent reports claimed finding a hidden Half-Life 3 logo in Steam’s update. In a recent interview with IGN, Gabe Newell neither confirmed nor denied the development of a Half-Life 3. Valve’s advancement of new technologies, including a Source 2 engine and VR technologies, could be a new platform for a sequel. While a wishful expectation, many fans believe a sequel will be made eventually. When that will be is anyone’s guess, though the prospect only catalyzes more anticipation for E3 2015.