Monday, September 08, 2008
Do not fear the Large Hadron Collider
Gordon Freeman is on the case.
But just in case, I recommend stocking up on crowbars and batteries.
(By the way, do you remember how mindblowing the opening sequence of Half-Life was? If there's a better way to start a game, I haven't seen it yet. The introduction of Black Mesa is perfect. Then the interactive sequence in which the resonance cascade opens up and Gordon is temporarily transported to Xen. And then, everything that had seemed so familiar and safe is changed forever.
Really, the whole game was one brilliant, sustained dramatic sequence. Valve never relied on cutscenes or lazy storytelling. They used in-game, scripted events and intricately crafted level design to ensure that the player's attention was always focused in the right place. That's why you caught glimpses of the G-man through windows and around corners. It's why the scientist dangling off the ladder screamed just long enough for you to locate him visually before losing his grip and plummeting down an elevator shaft. It's why facehuggers leaping out of dark places was just as scary the fiftieth time.
Don't even get me started on the propulsive nature of the level design. After the dimensional breach, all anyone wants is for the military to bail them out. All you want is to reach the surface. Finally, you reach sunlight in time to greet the military -- and they open fire on you. So you plunge right back the way you came, back toward the hideous creatures below. Going forward is terrifying, but going backward is even worse.
Excuse me, I have some business to attend to on Steam.)
(Yes, nearly this entire post was a parenthetical.)