Half-Life 2 – First Person Shooter?

by Matt Clinks

As a makeup for my last troll post on GiantBomb.com about Half-Life 2 being the best first person shooter ever, I decided to try and write why. The more I started thinking about it I started to compare it to other games in the genre and I got a little confused.  It’s not that it’s not a great game, or one of the best games ever in my opinion, but is it a first person shooter?


Is First Person Shooter even the best term for Half-Life 2. I mean you DO shoot and IT IS from a first person perspective. But there is something completely different about the setup of the game. It feels more organic, more paced than other FPS’s. Even now I can’t think of a game in the genre that is paced in a similar fashion, can you? Your main goal gameplay is rarely that of a regular FPS. It never really feels like opposition is the key gameplay element.


It’s as though the environment is what you play against, in most cases…sure there are firefights, but even in the midst of a crazy shootout, it’s like you have control within the environment. (I don’t know if that last sentence make sense.)


What I mean is the game is like a giant puzzle piece with narrative wrapped into each detail. There is not a whole lot of giant exposition blocks. There really isn’t much forced story to speak of, but the world is by far the most engrossing place to be in. You can spend hours looking around different areas of the world, and it feels like detail went into each piece.


The gravity gun itself makes the game an anomaly. Half the time you are figuring out ways to manipulate the environment to get from place to place with the thing. I can’t think of another instance where a key item in a game could alter gameplay so much that it forces you to think about things differently, rather than pepper them with bullet holes.


Although not really pertaining to Half-Life 2 so much, there is something oddly intriguing about the whole universe of Half-Life/Portal. Something so overarching that it makes each area of the game feel larger than life.


So what do you think, is Half-Life 2 a First Person Shooter? Or is it something else?

Are there any games that have a similar pace and feel? I would love to know.