Half-Life is a first-person shooter game developed by Valve and published by Sierra Studios for Microsoft Windows in 1998. It was Valve’s debut product and the first game in the Half-Life series. Players assume the role of Gordon Freeman, a scientist who must find his way out of the Black Mesa Research Facility after an experiment with an alien material goes wrong. The core gameplay consists of fighting alien and human enemies with a variety of weapons and solving puzzles. Unlike many other games at the time, the player has almost complete uninterrupted control of Freeman, and the story is told mostly through scripted sequences seen through his eyes.
Valve co-founder Gabe Newell said the team aimed to create an immersive world rather than a “shooting gallery”. Half-Life received critical acclaim for its graphics, realistic gameplay, and seamless narrative. It won over fifty PC “Game of the Year” awards and is considered one the most influential games of the first-person shooter genre, as well as one of the greatest video games of all time. By 2008, the game had sold over 9 million copies.
Half-Life received the expansion packs Half-Life: Opposing Force (1999) and Half-Life: Blue Shift (2001). The game was ported to the PlayStation 2 in 2001, along with another expansion Half-Life: Decay, as well as to macOS and Linux in 2013. The game’s engine, GoldSrc, is a heavily modified version of the Quake engine, licensed from id Software, the framework of which would become the heavily utilized Source engine. Half-Life itself was remade as Half-Life: Source in 2004.
Half-Life sparked numerous fan-made mods, several of them becoming standalone games, notably Counter-Strike, Day of Defeat and Sven Co-op. A sequel, Half-Life 2, was released in 2004. An unofficial remake, Black Mesa, was released in 2012 as a mod of Half-Life 2, and later received a commercial release as a standalone game in 2015.