‘Half-Life’ franchise free until VR game’s release

Step into the shoes of ‘Half-Life’ hero Gordon Freeman (right) before becoming Alyx. — Picture courtesy of Valve Corporation via AFP
Step into the shoes of ‘Half-Life’ hero Gordon Freeman (right) before becoming Alyx. — Picture courtesy of Valve Corporation via AFP

NEW YORK, Jan 23 — The studio behind Half-Life: Alyx is making the franchise free to play until March.

Valve Corporation really wants you to play the Half-Life games before Half-Life: Alyx comes out; if that means installing its computer gaming platform, Steam, so much the better.

Everything from Half-Life 2 to early multiplayer spin-off Team Fortress Classic and alternative takes Opposing Force and Blue Shift are free to play for the next few months, the company has said.

The influential series is making a comeback in March 2020 and its development team believes that “the best way to enjoy the new game is to play through the old ones”.

Half-Life 2 and its subsequent extensions, Half-Life 2: Episode One and Half-Life: Episode Two, are particularly recommended by the game development and publishing giant.

And, just as 2004’s Half-Life 2 compelled computer-based game fans to install Valve’s proprietary Steam software client, Half-Life: Alyx is being presented as an on-ramp to virtual reality gaming.

It’s compatible with the broad range of headsets that support Valve’s Steam VR protocols, but appears particularly well suited to the Valve Index system, which launched midway through 2019.

Half-Life and its sequels tell the story of a research scientist who witnesses the opening of an interdimensional rift, resulting in the earth’s invasion by an alien species.

As it turns out, that bespectacled, lab coat-wearing theoretical physicist was also a fast learner when it came to wielding everything from crowbars to anti-gravity weapons.

While Opposing Force and Blue Shift told the Half-Life story from different perspectives, Half-Life: Alyx also switches roles, this time casting players as a major supporting character from Half-Life 2 and its episodic follow-ups.

Though it’s set between the two main Half-Life games, it shares characters and elements with both, especially those found within Half-Life 2 and onward.

Several community-made modifications can be used to enhance the legacy Half-Life experiences, perhaps most notably a highly-praised, free graphical overhaul called Half-Life 2: Update.

Meanwhile, Black Mesa, though not included in Valve’s free promotion, is an ongoing and acclaimed project to recreate and remake the original game. — AFP-Relaxnews

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