Friday, November 25, 2011

Top 50 Video Game Moments: Number 26

Before we get to the next moment on the  list (the last one of the bottom half of the top 50!), a confession...

I don't really care for the Half Life games. They do everything they're supposed to do. Both of them were gorgeous for their time (Half Life 2 still holds up remarkably well), the guns are awesome (the gravity gun might be my favorite power up - which is a list I'm quite certain I'll get to after the 50 lists are complete), the fights are fun, and the series has two entries in my top 50 moments list (my favorite game will make only one appearance in that list). Yet, when it comes down to it, I'm just not feeling it.

When I came up with the concept of these lists, I knew that I was going to be playing some awesome games while I was counting them down. I didn't want to get to the end of the list, only to immediately say "oh, well... while I was listing these, game x moved into the top 10" - it would sort of invalidate the list, so I committed a list-maker's sin.......I gave myself wiggle room. I started with a list of 45 entries for each list, knowing that I'd be able to backfill later. I've already filled in almost all of both of them, and I've still got a couple months left before the lists are completed, so the plan was a success. I had sort of figured that Half Life 2 would be a shoo-in for the games list, but after beating it and episode one, I'm just not feeling it. The game is SO point A to point B, and I don't feel any investment in the story. It would certainly make the list if I expanded it to 100, but I didn't have as much fun playing it as I did when I played Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, and I never even strongly considered that game for the Top 50. Ah well, the perils of high expectations, I guess. (Don't cry too hard for Valve, though... I'm pretty sure that a certain property of theirs will high rankings in both lists)

All that aside, I really do like this particular moment, as well as the one coming a little later in the list. This one is from both games, but I'm talking about the first game in particular. I barely got halfway into Half Life, so rest assured that it's not an end of game spoiler.

Like I said, I've got nearly zero investment into the story of Half Life, but damned if I don't love the atmosphere that they're able to pull off at times. The tram ride is golden (and nearly made this list) and Ravenholm from the second game nearly salvaged Half Life 2 (which, if I understand properly, seems to be the exact opposite reaction that most people had to it, so maybe I'm looking at the series all wrong). Above all, though, I love the barnacles. Once you know they're there, they're not particularly subtle.

Hey there, big guy.
The first time you stumble across one, though? Totally creepy. Unless you're ridiculously observant, it ends in death. When I first happened across one, I recall it being rather dark. I was suddenly lifted off the ground. Not knowing what was going on, I slowly levitated higher and higher until I thought - a moment too late - to look up.

Hi there...
Once you reach the jaws, it ends quickly. After that first death, the barnacles are generally harmless. Their tongues are pretty dead giveaways, and even if they do get ahold of you, you've got time to figure things out and shoot them before they get to so much as nibble on you. Every time it happens, though, there's a tiny moment of blind panic that I don't recall any normal enemy giving me before. The barnacles are truly unique creatures.


  1. Yeah, the first time I ran into one of these I had that blind panic moment as well (and quickly died). Certainly not close to the most nerve-wracking parts of the game, but one of the coolest.

    My favorite moment from Half-Life happens fairly early as well (chapter 3), and that's when the realization hits that the military is actually not there to help you. I remember going up to a soldier to have a chat with him and getting promptly blown away.

    Sadly, once you reach about the half-way point in the game, there's a lot of point A to point B stuff as well. I felt the plot began to get stretched pretty thin in order to have more chapters. Granted, once I hit level 6 I just put it in God mode because I no longer had the patience to die 100 times to get past every section.

  2. Ah yeah, I remember that realization well. Like I said, there were parts to the games that were excellent, there was just too much about them that didn't grab me.