This is the second post in the series about the most the important and groundbreaking games from the 90’s.
The Original Half-life game came out in 1998 and basically laid the foundation of intricate story driven games.While Doom introduced us to 3-d Graphics and a first person perspective, testatmentHalf-life was a testament to the fact that Video games, especially First-person shooters were an excellent story telling medium which could offer more than the Simple Death match based experience of Doom or Quake.While Half-life wasn’t the first video game with an excellent story(Unreal was released the same year) it was the first game ever to focus heavily on realism, both in terms of Gunplay as well as the Environment and Level Design.
Half-life puts you in the shoes of Gordon Freeman, an Amercian Physicist who graduated with a Phd in Theoretical physics from MIT, in stark contrast to the military or law-enforcement backgrounds of the protagonists from Doom or Resident Evil or Metal gear.
Half-life takes place in a Fictional research facility Black-Mesa which is located at an undisclosed location in New Mexico, USA.After a Teleportation experiment goes horribly wrong the space-time continuum of earth effuses with another undiscovered dimension called Xen.This results in teleportation of Hostile alien wildlife to Black Mesa which soon overrun the facility, hunting and killing its human inhabitants.Amidst all this chaos Gordon battles hordes of Aliens and G.Is to repel the Interdimensional Invasion.
FUTURE-While no new game Half-life is currently under development, the original Half-life has been remastered on the new source engine and is dubbed as “Black Mesa” on the Steam store.
#2.Halo: until Combat evolved
The release of Half-life resulted in a flood of similar average quality games dubbed “Half-life clones”.It until the release of Halo: Combat evolved that the high bar set by Half-life was superseded in every way.Halo: CE, as the name suggests Evolved the Video game industry in both single-player and multi-player experiences.The storytelling and cutscenes of Halo were unprecedented,The game world also consisted of non-hostile NPCs,the soundtrack of the game had been performed by a choir(Most games at the time used Programmed Audio),The Protagonist had a voice and the story played out on such a grand scale which no one had ever witnessed in gaming. In terms of gameplay, Halo introduced the concept of a Melee attacked performed by a single Key, the ability to blend grenade attacks seamlessly into combat by pressing a single key, regenerable health, waypoints, HUD navigation maps and much more. In terms of multiplayer Halo introduced the modes “Oddball”,”Race”,”Vehicle CTF”, a wide variety of air and land vehicles and large scale vehicular combat.
When a demo of Halo was shown to game critics in 1999 they were rabid with excitement.Steve jobs was so impressed with Halo that he wanted it to be released on his MAC OS, an announcement he had made during the Macworld conference of 1999. Ultimately Bungie decided to partner with Microsoft to release Halo as the flagship of Microsoft’s XBOX console and royally pissing off Steve jobs in the process.
In Halo: CE you take control of a Supersoldier(Called SPARTANs in the game) John-117 aboard the UNSC Spaceship ‘The Pillar of Autumn” which is escaping after an off-screen battle on the Planet Reach.As the ship exits Slipstream space(Faster than light travel technique in the halo universe) the crew witnesses a ring-shaped mega structure afloat in space.This structure is named “Halo” by the game’s antagonists “The covenant” which is a union of various Alien species whose are united by their worship of the Halo rings who they believe have been built by another extinct powerful race who are regarded as deities in the covenant culture.As the Pillar of Autumn attempts an unsuccessful landing on Halo, SPARTAN John along with his A.I companion Cortana attempt to unravel the ring’s horrid secrets and an ancient evil which threatens to destroy the whole galaxy.
FUTURE-Halo 5 was released in the year 2015 to positive reviews.A spinoff title Halo Wars 2(Real-time strategy game) was released in February 2017.
Deus Ex was the confluence of Action, RPG, FPS and Stealth genres.It was the first AAA game to seamlessly blend not two but 4 different genres and create a sophisticated and brilliant experience for the player.Deus ex is a revolutionary game in its own right as it introduced us to commonplace present day features like Multiple endings, Multiple strategies for completing the same objective, Blending of RPG skill trees with FPS games, cutscenes like conversations and the ability to decide the player’s response from a list of dialogues, upgrades and side-missions.Deus ex-allowed upgrades to in-game weapons as well as the abilities of the Protagonist like lockpicking, weapon skills etc.The game also allowed for in-game customization of weapons by using attachments like scopes, laser sights, silencers and larger magazines.The game featured a total of 24 weapons, which is a lot for a singleplayer game even today.
In Deus Ex, you take control of an Anti-terroist agent JC Denton who is granted superhuman abilities by the use of nanotechnology based augementation.Deus Ex is a Cyberpunk themed game set in the year 2052 of a Dystopian future.The games’ plotline explores many themes such as the Ethics of Technology and invention, Social Divide between the rich and the poor, conspiracy theories and crime.The future is ravaged by a deadly virus “Grey death” and as an anti-terriost agent for the UNTACO (Interpol on steroids) your first mission in the game is to search for a missing container of a vaccine “Ambrosia” which can help stabilize the vicitms of the plague.From here on the story delves deeper and deeper into the dark and murky vestiges of the Future’s underworld as you battle foe after foe to finally uncover the truth.
FUTURE-After the original game, Many games and other media set in the Deus ex-universe has been introduced with the lastest being the game Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.Due to poor sales of Mankind divided don’t expect a new Deus Ex game soon.