Half-Life is one of the most popular FPS franchises. The first game, Half-Life, came out in 1998 and became an instant favorite with the gamers. It was a revolutionary game that redefined the FPS genre. Meanwhile, Half-Life 2 and its two episodes were genre-defining and created new benchmarks for the industry.
As of today, there are several mainline Half-Life games, portals, and DLCs. Choosing a few best games from all the titles is rather difficult as most of the games are awesome. But of course, some of the Half-Life entries are slightly better than the others.
For this list, we have taken into account all the main titles, portal games, and whatever Half-Life entries that exist. So, the next time you have a heated online debate about Half-Life games, you can be prepared.
Top 5 Half-Life Games You Need to Try
And here's our list based on the overall gameplay, plot, and player reviews.
5. Half-Life: Alyx
Frankly, Half-Life Alyx has got the audience divided. One half of the fan base believes that the VR-compatible game is cool. Meanwhile, the other half criticized the absence of melee weapons and felt that Half-Life: Alyx could’ve done better with an open world.
In any case, there’s no denying that Half-Life is an innovative product that got fans excited. For the first time, players could step into Alyx’s shoes and get an almost-real first-hand experience. The plot is gripping and keeps you hooked to the end. Of course, a VR headset makes it all very real and immersive.
Half-Life: Alyx is set five years before Half-Life 2. Players play as Alyx and you get to explore the world outside of City 17. The plot’s pace is not fast, but it’s not too slow either. The unhurried pace gives the game a spooky atmosphere.
4. Half-Life: Black Mesa
Many would argue that Black Mesa is not a main entry in the franchise. But then, Black Mesa is a fine game that got ‘Half-Life: Source’ it’s due credit. In 2004, Half-Life: Source was released, and it received a rather mediocre response from the fans.
Honestly, Half-Life: Source wasn’t exactly the best game, but it had the potential to be so much more. With this in mind, Crowbar Collective (a small group of enthusiasts), got to work. All their effort was paid off, and Half-Life: Black Mesa was released in 2020.
Compared to the original Half-Life: Source, the revamped Black Mesa looks stunning. You can see that the developers have given it a major makeover. In regards to gameplay, the team has reworked on it for better balance.
3. Half-Life 2: Episode 2
Half-Life 2: Episode 2 was eagerly awaited by the fans. Even though Half-Life 2: Episode 1 wasn’t all that bad, it was slightly mediocre. The frequent updates to Episode 1 were getting not-so-impressive. Players needed fresh content, and then Episode 2 was dropped.
With Episode 2, players finally get to explore locations outside City 17. The plot continues right where the first episode ended. The episode packs a punch with a fast-paced plot, new locations, and lots of action.
Loyal fans will note that the dialogues sound more refined than the preceding games. The levels seem more diverse and innovative. The action-packed game ends perfectly with a cliff-hanger that will leave fans wondering for years until the next Half-Life game comes out.
Of course, the 1998 original game is a classic shooter and there’s no denying that this is one of the best Half-Life games. That’s not all. Half-Life is also an important game as it sets benchmarks for single-player FPS games.
For the first game, you step into the shoes of Dr. Gordon Freeman, who works at Black Mesa. Following a disastrous scientific experiment, aliens swarm the Black Mesa facility. Your goal is to exit the building. But of course, it's not that simple. On your way out, you have to fight aliens as more aliens just keep coming from another dimension.
Upon its release, Half-Life delivered a more immersive experience than any other similar game at that time. Critics and players alike praise the game and it was indeed a revolutionary game.
1. Half-Life 2
To be fair, we had a tough time deciding which Half-Life game deserves the #1 spot. After evaluating closely, we decided that Half-Life 2 deserves the top spot, and with good reason.
Half-Life 2 is set twenty years after the Black Mesa events. Once again, players step into the shoes of Gordon Freeman. Players enter City 17 once more to fight against Combine. This time, Alyx Vance accompanies Freeman and together, they ignite a revolution. What follows is probably the best campaign in the Half-Life history.
As you can imagine, there is a lot of action. The campaign is packed with thrilling escapades, action-packed battles, and a lot of aliens. There’s not one boring moment in Half-Life 2. The game set new standards for fast-paced FPS plots and narratives.
Half-life games were revolutionary in their own right. They ushered in important developments like facial animation for FPS games. Half-Life titles that did not make it to the list aren’t necessarily bad. They were not as exciting as the titles on the list as fans expected them to be.
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