GameTech: Heroes in a Half-Life

GameTech: Heroes in a Half-Life
Half-Life Alyx brings the return of a revered game for those lucky enough to have VR.

HALF measures? Not for Half-Life. If there’s one thing we know about Valve’s legendary series, it’s that quality is guaranteed. But after 13 years in limbo, can the world of the Combine still deliver?

That question will be answered in less than three weeks, but only for those lucky enough to own a high-end virtual reality system. Half-Life Alyx, the long-awaited return to one of gaming’s most revered universes, is exclusive to VR and was built from the ground-up to accommodate the platform.

So not only does Alyx carry the weight of Half-Life on her shoulders, but the weight of VR too. No pressure then.

Ahead of the game’s release, Valve showcased three short gameplays videos, showing a glimpse of what players can expect from the experience. One takeaway from these featurettes was that movement and object interaction will play a huge part in the experience. The other was that Alyx is unmistakeably Half-Life and should have fans frothing at the mouth to get stuck in.

In the videos, Valve seemed to indicate that players may want to switch between teleportation and normal stick movement depending on the scenario. For combat, the player in these videos used extremely quick teleportation to make gunfights dynamic and fast-paced. It looks like a welcome breath of fresh air from strafing or endless sliding from cover to cover.

For puzzle solving or slower-paced moments, it looks like standard stick movement may be the better option, so players can take in their surroundings more organically.

The little touches in the game are what excited us most, however, like pulling a car door open for cover, grabbing a grenade out of mid-air, pulling objects towards you with physics tools, or just flipping over a headcrab with a flick of the wrist.

When we see that attention to detail, we’re pretty sure Alyx has half a chance.


Another game we expect to be half-good is Final Fantasy VII Remake — at least after seeing the demo unveiled on PS4. If you haven’t seen it yet, the demo was released to everyone this week, giving fans a chance to try the basics of combat and see some early story sections in Midgar.

Final Fantasy VII was released 23 years ago, meaning fans will be equally happy and depressed to see the fabled return finally edge closer. On the one hand, your favourite game is being remade in real glory. On the other hand – yes, you are officially old now.

At least the wait seems to have been worth it. Based on the demo, the remake does more than just honour the original — it transforms the battle system and the world into something much more exciting and detailed, without losing the balance and depth of the original. In fact, many fans seem to be pleasantly surprised by how tactical and considered the battles could become.

The only potential downside of the release next month is that this is just part one — Final Fantasy VII Remake is coming in instalments, meaning we could be waiting years for the conclusion.


Hopefully, they will never remake Jaws — although many movies have done their best, including the sequels. Perhaps the best thing to do is admit defeat and become the shark ourselves?

You’ll have you chance when Maneater hits our shores in May of this year. As you may have guessed, Maneater throws you into deep waters as a bull shark, starting as a baby and growing stronger by eating other fish and exploring the bay that is your home.

That’s not to say that Maneater looks particularly realistic. It probably wouldn’t be much fun to play as a real shark, so instead you have the ability to whip your tail on the beach to attack humans, you get chased by nemeses fishermen who want you dead and you’ll have battles with other sealife whose path you shouldn’t cross. You have to ‘level up’ your shark to get bigger and stronger.

It looks like a great bit of fin — sorry, fun —for anyone interested in ploughing the depths. We’ll find out for certain later in the summer, when Maneater will be hoping to make a splash.

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