Before Half-Life, most first person shooters of the time were just run and gun and find the way out of the maze of the level. Half-Life threw that concept out and set a new level for future FPS's to meet.
Set in the Black Mesa underground research facility in the New Mexico desert the player takes the role of Dr. Gordon Freeman, a MIT graduate in theoretical physics, who is helping do research on teleportation but one experiment goes wrong and opens a portal to another planet whose inhabitants attack and try taking over the facility. All the while, Gordon Freeman’s goal is close the portal and escape alive.
Gameplay is standard fair for a FPS, the player has weapons to shoot and gains a better arsenal as the game progresses. But what set Half-Life apart from all the other games of the time was that Half-Life integrated a thorough storyline that unfolded just as if the player was actually there.
The graphics look blocky by today's standards but was a graphical powerhouse back in 1998 with clear faces of the NPC’s and moving mouths during dialogue all in real time with the game’s engine.
Sound in the game is sparse to convey the idea that the player is stuck in a underground facility but some music is heard during boss or major actions scenes and are quite memorable because of the situations.
In the end Half-Life was a major release that no one saw coming and changed the way other FPS’s, and some other game genres, were made and told stories.