Half-Life: The saga that marked a generation
Half-Life is one of the most famous names in the gaming industry, a pearl created by Valve, which has set standards for the industry since its first game, and with the sequences , continued to generate enthusiasm and bringing news with each launch, becoming one of the most important franchises today.
In this article, I will try to show by my vision, what made this franchise so loved, and why we have waited patiently for so long for its continuation.
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Half-Life is the Hero's Journey unfinished
Half-Life tells a technically simple story, the hero's basic journey, a common world with ordinary people, where one of them is called for an experiment, but something goes wrong, very wrong ... and it remains for him to save the world! Only in this story something is missing, the end!
The classic Hero's Journey is based on 12 points (See here) , of course there can be variations, but in both games of the franchise, something does not fit, there is a void that instigates the player to want more, because there is no end!
The plot, and the plot
In the first game in the franchise, released in 1998, Gordon Freeman, is a scientist who was selected for an experiment, but everything goes wrong, and ends up opening portals that transport monsters to Earth, and to contain the invasion, the government decides to eliminate everything and everyone that was on the test base, Black Mesa, so that in addition to fighting aliens you also have to fight the army, and with the little help you have, you can eliminate Nihilanth, the alien mind that controls the invasion, but for that you end up going to their world, Xen, using a portal of no return, and there you are captured by a strange man who has watched you all the way, from experience, the GMan!
What happened to Earth, scientists and even you is totally unexplained at the end of the first game. But that's when the incredible Half-Life 2 emerges in 2004.
In this sequence, we discovered that the invasion occurred and was even worse, all thanks to the death of Nihilanth, the monster at the end of the first game, he controlled the opening of portals, and with his death, other alien races called Combine, took advantage and their only objective was to attack and conquer planets with a massive invasion, and so, now the world is no longer the same, after the "7 am war", an event caused by GMan, this alien force is besieging the Earth, and forcing humans to submit to them. The few remaining humans formed the resistance they have as leaders, Barney (a former Black Mesa guard), and scientists Dr. Breen and Eli Vance, along with their daughter Alyx Vance.
Here, Gordon is awakened, and playing in this chaotic world by GMan, you start without any information and are taken by surprise in this environment, a dystopian and hostile Earth. As the story progresses, you help the resistance to fight the Combine, passing through a deteriorated and destroyed world, where death hovers around. Your goal is to defeat Dr. Wallace Breen, former administrator of Black Mesa who made a deal with the aliens for the surrender of all governments, and declared himself a human rights representative before the Combines. Thus, with the presence of Gordon the rebellion begins to take hold, the morale of the resistance increases and finally City 17 is released. But, in doing his duty, Gordon is again caught by GMan ...
It didn't take long, and in 2006, we returned to City 17, this time in Half-Life 2: Episode One, the game would be the first part of a trilogy, which until so it was in the announced by Valve, and it would be like a third game but divided into 3 parts, and it would count the long awaited ending for the Gordon saga.
Half-Life 2: Episode One, starts right at the final moment of Half-Life 2, our goal is to escape from City 17, which is collapsing. We see that the Vortigauns, the aliens of Xen, rescue him from the clutches of GMan who is not at all happy with that. So, Gordon and Alyx again must enter the Citadel, to try to delay the fusion of the nucleus and prevent its explosion, and so, and give civilians time to try to get away of the city, and finally, they save themselves. Along the way, they discover that the Combines are sacrificing the city, only to transmit data to an unknown source. But in the end, the transmission is sent, and even with the delay of the explosion it occurs destroying the whole city, and unlike the others, the game ends in a bright light.
A year later, in 2007, we received Half-Life 2: Episode Two, the sequel to the game, which would show that the entire city was destroyed, but at the site of the Citadel, a portal was forming, and emitting a sign that could start another shower of portals, this time much bigger, that would end all that is left of the Earth.
Your objective now, is to find what remains of the resistance that is working to somehow close this portal. During his journey Alyx and seriously injured, and with the help of the Vortigauns, Gordon tries to save his life. But when they’re healing her, Gman comes along, and says he was expecting something that kept the Vortigauns busy, he explains that there was a time when they didn’t care about nobody and his only experience with humanity was a crowbar coming towards him in an iron corridor (reference to the first game, where they were enemies), and that when he saved Alyx from Black Mesa, even with objections, knew that it would be very valuable. He then asks Gordon to take her to the base where her father is, and while she is unconscious, tells her to tell him: "Get ready for unforeseen consequences".
After cured Alyx and Gordon they must pass through several places until they reach the base of the resistance and there stop an attack by the Combines that were trying to prevent the the launch of the rocket that would close the Citadel portal. And after a frantic fight, the rocket is finally looped and the portal closed. Upon finding Eli Vance they learn that the broadcast data that was intercepted in Episode One indicates where a ship Borealis should go scientific company Aperture Science, which may hold the key to ending the war and winning the Combines, but before leaving, the facility is attacked, and we see death dramatically by Eli Vance. Gordon and Alxy are just not killed because Dog, the robot dog saves them. And it's the end of this episode ... and the last one so far.
In both games the search for answers is constant, especially since they all end up open, and the fateful Half-Life 2: Episode Three was never released. With that many rumors arose, even some that said that Valve would create a new complete game that would not follow the form of "episode", thus being a Half-Life 3 really, that would tell the end of the story, but nothing has been confirmed and the company remains silent, and the "3" referring to it has become a meme, indicating that it does not know how to do trilogies.
The Hero's Journey, unfinished, leaves the player who got involved with the story, which is concise and interesting frustrated by its end. Perhaps the company did not want to disappoint fans with yet another open game, where Gordon is again arrested by GMan to appear in another sequence, or did not want to launch an end that "finish" with the story, and that this end does not please, and always leave in the minds of the players that it could have been better. So, I personally have the doubt, if Valve created something that doesn't have the courage to finish!
Half-Life and the industry
All games in the franchise brought with them very strong points that highlighted them, the first game was acclaimed worldwide, both for its fluid narrative and the presentation of a new gameplay not seen before, it is widely considered one of the greatest games of all time.
Derived from it came other games that also shaped the industry, such as Counter-Strike, which shaped the multiplayer FPS games on the internet, and Team Fortress which together with CS, became a fever and won thousands of fans around the world.
The franchise also gave rise to Portal, launched in 2007, the game that takes the player to the universe of Half-Life, but now as a guinea pig in a laboratory Aperture Science, who with a portal weapon must solve challenges to break free from the clutches of a psychotic robot. The game was a sales success, both for its unique gameplay and engaging and funny story. It won a sequence in 2010, which continued the story and expanded the universe of that laboratory, adding new mechanics and elements to the story.
When Half-Life 2 was launched, it brought with it a new engine, Source, which created facial expressions unheard of until then, and a surprising realism with the physics and even aerodynamics of the objects. The narrative was another main point of the game, which was treated as a film production, along with the Episodes released later in the story and told in a way that holds the player to the world in which the game takes place . And to this day Half-Life 2 is at the top of the list of the best games of all time in the PC category of Metacritic .
But surely the game wouldn't be the same if it weren't for our hero, Gordon Freeman.
The silent hero: Gordon Freeman
Gordon is a normal person, he was working and he did poorly. He could be just another generic FPS character, but his presentation and "place" in this world is remarkable. Without speaking a word, neither murmuring nor expressing anything, the character captivates everyone who controls him, this is due to the involvement that the other characters have with him. Wherever you go, you are called by NPCs, and even hailed as your savior.
It was worked to make the player feel like the character, the "lack" of expression, is precisely for the player to complete mentally, what the character could be thinking or feeling with the events, something psychologically thought out, that links the player to the character in a simple, organic and functional way.
We only know how the protagonist is from the game's art, because at no time is he seen in action within the game, (only seen in a photo present in HL2), but this is also purposeful so that we can feel "he".
Gordon quiet as he is, saved the world twice, and became an icon in the gaming industry and a generation, alongside Mário, Link, Samus Aran, Master Chief and others...
The future of the franchise
The fans keep asking for a continuation for the franchise, and Valve knows this but remains silent, the new hope of seeing news for the franchise, comes with Half-Life: Alxy, new game of the saga, but that will be a prequel and will tell the events that precede Half-Life 2, this time we will control Alyx in a game all in Virtual Reality, unfortunately this factor can alienate many fans of the franchise, who would like at least the game to be played on all computers without the obligation of having VR.
The game will be released in March 2020, and promises to bring many new features and add new elements to the franchise.
In the meantime, we are waiting for Episode Three, or a Half-Life 3, to finally know what happened to Gordon and Alyx, unravel the mysteries of GMan, and the connection between Borealis and the saga of games Portal.
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