How to Buy Half-Life
It can be more than a little confusing... A recent search turned
up no fewer than eight separate Half-Life software products.
But most of these are obsolescent packages. With a little explanation,
you can soon become an expert and amaze your friends...
To the left is the original Half-Life cover. Note that these original
discs are still perfectly usable because the game software
can be updated at no charge and the discs include a valid CD Key.
Different Games Called "Half-Life"
The first question to sort out is really "What is Half-Life?"
Half-Life consists of several different games, plus dozens of "mods",
most of which we won't go into.
The original Half-Life is a single player game with a cunning plot
line and superb execution. The basic Half-Life game also includes
extensive support for multiplayer action over a LAN or the internet.
The two standard multiplayer modes are "deathmatch" and
"HL Teamplay". Since the multi player and single player
modes are bundled together, we'll just call them "Half-Life".
of the Year Edition
From mid-1999 until late 2000, the standard version of the original
game was sold as the Half-Life: Game of the Year Edition.
This included a separate, but related, team game called Team
Since the original game can be fully updated at no cost, and TFC
can be downloaded, owners of the original disc can obtain all the
material in the Game of the Year Edition. And since even the Game
of the Year Edition must be updated in order to play internet games,
it really didn't matter which one you start with.
The Game of the Year Edition has been superceded by the Half-Life:
Adrenaline Pack (see below).
Half-Life: Opposing Force
Opposing Force (OpFor) is a single-player sequel to the
original Half-Life game. It is often called an "expansion pack".
I'm not sure, but I think you must buy the original game in order
to install OpFor. It is not available as a free download
or upgrade. If you want to play it, you have to buy it.
Opposing Force is no longer being distributed as a separate box.
Instead it has been bundled with the regular game as the Half-Life:
Adrenaline Pack (see below).
Counter-Strike (CS) is a very popular Half-Life
mod, meaning that it is a new game built using the Half-Life
infrastructure. Early versions of CS were available as free downloads,
but the final release in 2000 must be purchased.
Counter-Strike is a multi player game, and the number of internet
servers devoted to it have really taken off. If you are reading
this web site, then you should probably get CS if you haven't already.
Gunman Chronicles is another mod, released in 2000.
It's been described as "a story-driven first-person game powered
by the Half-Life engine. Players take the role of a futuristic gunman
with a mission to destroy the alien Xenomes that mysteriously began
appearing five years earlier." Includes both single- and multi-player
If you are buying Half-Life for the first time (or as a gift),
you'll get the most for your money with one of these "bundles".
Adrenaline Pack combines the contents of the Game of the
Year Edition and Opposing Force. I believe the Game of the Year
Edition has been discontinued, since the Adrenaline Pack sells for
the same price. Until recently, the standard
The Big Tweeze
recommends the Half-Life:
Platinum Edition, which adds Counter-Strike to the Adrenaline
Pack. This gives you everything except Gunman Chronicles
at a reasonable price. If you want CS and the basic game,
even if you don't care about OpFor, this is the way to go.