Poll Question 250 – Which is better Half-Life 1 or Half-Life 2?

19th November 2011

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

Following on from last week’s poll question of Which is better: P1 or P2, I thought I would continue the theme.

This time it’s much hard to decide because like many great questions of prowess (Ali vs Tyson, Caruso vs Pavarotti etc) it often comes down to era. Just as importantly is which one you played first.

I’m not suggesting that which ever one you played first is automatically the winner, but the “first time” can leave a special memory, even if the reality was somewhat different.

Not only that but the engine and graphics play a huge part in video games and facial animations allow better story telling, the gravity gun/physics allow better environment interaction, but is the core game better for that?

Exactly how do you define “better”? The one you enjoyed the most. Heck, that would make Tetris one of the greatest games ever considering how much fun I’ve had t=with that sucker.

Do we have to look at the other games around at the time and make a comparison with those? If one was better in that regard does it make it better overall?

We could write questions like this for ages but I think it really does come down to enjoyment.

Nothing can beat the wonder of playing through Half-Life 1 and that tram ride is burned into my mind.

Sure, Ep2 is fantastic and so are many of the mods, but if I had to play one game and its mods for the rest of my days it would be HL1.

What about you?

The Poll


  1. I vote Half-Life, because it was a lot more fun. Half-life 2 was a great game, certainly, but Half-Life offered much more. I didn’t like the Combine, I missed the Vortigaunts, Barney > Alyx and finally Half-Life was one of the first PC games I ever played.

    Both are good, but after all the games I have finished, Half-Life is probably my second favourite game of all time. Personally I though Half-Life 2 was overrated.

    1. CoRuJa

      In my point of vision, I kinda agree with you that Barney > Alyx, even that i’ve never played the first HL or Blue Shift.

      For the first time Gordon meet him at the trainstation, i’ve soon noted their strong friendship (even more after reading “bout him in Combine Overwiki), mostly in the times of BM. It was also his personality that I started to like him (sooner, i’ll buy Half-Life 1 when I can).

      About Alyx, sorry, I don’t like her, even saving Gordon from the hands of Civil Protection, I never got used to her personality, neither cared for her feelings/emotions. She’s the main reason of why EP3 is going the be, at least to me, an emotional & intense game (not looking forward for it).

      [spoiler]I didn’t understand all that overhyping the Vortigaunts did to save her in EP2, I see no importance to save her, I felt forced to do it, when all I have to do is to deliver that data packet to White Forest and fight zombies/antlions/combine along the path. Why Valve didn’t just gave the players an alternate option to simply let her die? (yes I know it’s not a free choice game) I just hope one day, when i’m willing to play it, at least Valve give players an option if we want to go for Kraken Base/Borealis with or without her.[/spoiler]

  2. Bradley

    I think HL1 has more interesting gameplay because in HL2 I never ever ran out of ammo, and it was kinda point and click with no thought required for the most part.

    However, I think I prefer HL2 because the scripted sequences, the storyline and the setting are so much better. The constant lab environment of HL1 was OK at the start but as I played through I was just like “Oh god, when can I leave Black Mesa?”. And in the end the most time I got outside of black mesa was 15 minutes of Xen.

    I think when Black Mesa Source comes out it will fix those issues and tip the scales.

  3. Stefan K

    Obviously HL1, because it was the greatest game ever at this time

  4. MikeS

    I actually played HL1 and HL2 concurrently. When I bought HL2 it came with HL1: Source. So I’d play a chapter of one game then boot up the other and play that for a while. For me, HL2 was the better game. I can’t say why, exactly, other than I was more immersed in it. Perhaps it was just the better graphics? HL1’s graphics, even with the “Source update” had aged.

    I recently replayed HL2 to get the achievements and it still blew me away. I’ve not really had any desire to play HL1 again, although if Valve added achievements I’be replay it immediately.

  5. For me it has to be HL1.

    HL1 captured peoples imagination probably more so than its predecessors, it wasn’t just another FPS, it had a story with distinct characters. HL2/EP1/EP2 on the other hand, whilst built on better technology were just a continuation of the story. HL1 got me hooked on the series.

    A couple of analogies come to mind, the technology one is Star Wars. The original three episodes were for me (and I suspect most people who saw them the first time round) were the best. Despite the massively better CGI of the of the last three (or should that be first three?) it was the albeit cheesy original that got me started. In a similar vein books are the same, you read a book and enjoy it and then the author rights another and another, you read them because the first one got you hooked.

    As much as I’m looking forward to EP3 I have to thank HL1 for getting me addicted.

  6. CoRuJa

    Since I never played the first Half-Life, I cannot vote this poll or simply vote Half-Life 2 for no reason.

    HL2 was the first game that I got into the franchise and I really liked, even being an overrated game and in the most segments being difficulty lacking.

    Episode One/Two, however, I felt they’ve lost the shine that Half-Life 1 & 2 enlightened their fans years ago, because there where not so many new stuff that the Episodic sequels presented, being too short (4-6 hours), never solved the lack of agressiveness of the Combine Soldiers (the infamous lack of difficulty depicted in HL2, man I missed Metrocops in EP1, excluding “Exit 17”) and the later one (EP2), even depicting a new enviroment (countryside) and later presenting a great variert of community-made maps (also present in HL2), it’s mostly a very linear game and still gets outshined by HL2

    I really doubt that EP3 will rescue it’s shine, the depressing ending of EP2 and Valve’s willing to broaden it’s emotional pallete may destroy the franchise, IMO.

  7. Both were fantastic games for their time, but I have to say that the incredible graphics in HL2 give it the edge. HL1 was fantastic because everything in the storyline was completely new to me, while HL2 was visually stunning with some great voice acting. I used HL2 as my rationalization for building a new desktop! I remember thinking that the program wasn’t working because I only saw a blurry screen at first, and then thinking “holy *%$#@#$” once it loaded!

  8. Noface

    Voted Half Life 1. It didn’t have better graphics, or physics.. or anything like that really, it’s just, it is a wholesome game. It’s difficult to explain, but basically it evoked good emotions more than half life 2 did. Graphics, and even physics wear off after a while, so you see the actual gameplay, and hl1 was the most enjoyable. It didnt seem to have a mind behind it trying to impress everyone, it is just a game, a fun one at that.

  9. 2muchvideogames

    Story time.
    As of right now, HL2 is actually not well made. Like, when you get to Black mesa east, the maps all become fullbright. This is not fixed for a long time. I wonder when (if) this is going to be fixed.

    1. zonbie

      Re-install Steam.

    2. Noface

      thats not what the designers fault, probably something wrong with your installation or hardware. Reinstall the game,,, not steam.

    3. HonestAvery

      I had this exact problem! You “could” try reinstalling steam but that’s a hassle and should be your last option! First off, try opening console and type “mat_fullbright 0” without the quotations. Should work!

  10. Kyo

    I think Half-Life 2 is a better game if only from the balance standpoint. Yes, a lot of people would complain it’s too easy, but I don’t enjoy the more hardcore tuning in HL1. In HL1, you tend to get a lot of health and likewise lose a lot of health. It caters to a time when, because of quicksave and quickload, it was acceptable to do underhanded things to the player because the player could always “rewind” and play it again. Obviously, you can do the same thing in HL2, but to me it feels like a more evenly tuned game that doesn’t require it.

  11. I was going to vote for Half-Life as the best, but then I thought long and hard and decided on Half-Life 2. I have never fully replayed HL1 let alone finished it, but I have replayed HL2 many times and in many ways. Be it the fantastic “Cinematic mods” or just new weapons and cheats I have explored many levels.
    Now add the better graphics and sound, not to mention the amazing array of mods, and of course, Alyx and Dog and you have a winner.
    I may have my opinion challenged when “Black Mesa” appears for HL2, as I have very fond memories of HL1…..

  12. PotemkinPie

    During my playthroughs of HL1, I always tried to group as many NPC’s as possible in a given location, believing that I would be able to rescue everyone so I would pair security guards with scientists so that when I left them I imagined that they would stick together until I came back with help. I would leave them behind and clear areas ahead so they could follow me as far as they could. The early game was pretty much a voluntary escort mission for me.
    The later levels where it’s just Gordon vs. the Next Big Thing wasn’t as compelling for me since no NPC’s were around for company.
    My favorite moment in HL2 is when Gordon comes back from the Citadel and Resistance fighters start joining the fray and it feels like they’ve got your back and aren’t yelling at you during every set piece like in CoD or any other military game.
    I’d love to see more NPC help and hopefully no Xen fauna in Ep 3.

  13. Hec

    Oh a really tough one, I mean, it’s tough because this touch our hearts, I think HL1 is great is the genesis of all we are now as HL Fans and gamers community, but HL2 continued that legacy HL1 left behind with a better aura a better feeling or environment, I mean in HL2 I can feel Gordon present, HL1 graphs is his past a lovely and maybe unsuperable past but HL2 graphs dynamics emotions is definietely its pure enhanceable future, is a tough question but iin conclussion all I can say is LONG LIFE TO HL SAGA!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Wesp5

    HL 1 was better by leagues of course! Just think about the great and imaginative enemies with their different kind of attacks. Then think of the three kind of headcrabs, three kind of zombies, three kind of Combine monotony of HL2. Not to speak of the messed up story that didn’t really get us any farther than the original game, even including the epsiodes. Pretty graphics but no depth, that’s my judgement of HL2 and it’s episodes and I would really be surprised if EP3 can redeem the series…

  15. I vote for half-life1.. The story is simply epic. Even after so many years we see mods getting produced for it. Of course the golden times are over but I think the entire setting was much more interesting and perhaps also even more releastic regarding the fact that there was a secret research base somewhere that messed something up. Experimenting with experimental technology etc.

    In hl2 we have a typical story setting Earth has been invaded by a mighty interstellar empire. ^^ well. The concept of Aliens in both games may or may not be unrealistic but in hl1 it were humans which opened the pandora box I simply like such plots.

    Judging by the gameplay itself hl1 also had much more to offer. 3 Great AddOns clever AI (back at the time). While it is outdated these days it still feels more unique and perfect than hl2 does to me.

    In hl2 most of the monsters feel stupid combines charging at you, suiciding etc. It also doesn’t feature that many monster variants anymore. Unsure why they removed many of the old hl1 monsters as they were part of the storyline I mean vortigaunts are still in it for example.

    For me hl2 also isn’t that frightening as hl1 was the entire atmosphere is just different. Never the less is hl2 also a fantastic game as well but it’s style never attached me so closely as hl1 did. I must have played all official hl1 games through like 30 times in the last couple years again and again. Till today I haven’t replayed hl2 just once (one time playing it through was enough for me – so for me the replay factor is lower as in hl1.)

    So by my judgement if you want deep atmosphere go and play hl1 (+ several 100 of mods)
    If you want fast action with fency graphics go play hl2 (+ some really cool mods as well)

    but in the end it’s always about “What did person X – Y play first hl1 or hl2. Did person X – Y maybe grown up with those old ancient games or not. If I would have started with hl2 first I wouldn’t probably care about hl1 much.
    It also matters if the specific people can play with old graphics or not. If they are graphic fanatics then it doesn’t matter how good or bad a game once was if it’s outdated then it’s outdated. 😉

    Therefore is this poll pointless I guess but it’s still fun to share the opinion.

  16. Zekiran

    I played HL2 first, via Portal and then the Orange Box, so I got the whole HL2-episode1-episode2 thing. However I immediately bought the HL1 anthology with Blue Shift and OP4 and played those too.

    I will say that while I enjoy all of them a lot, and play them on a very regular basis (sometimes straight HL1->episode 2) I think HL2 is a far better, more coherent game in every way.

    HL1 is 13 years old this week, and… honestly I think that it’s starting to show. Yes, it’s still a ton of fun to play, but if you’re COMPARING the two HL2 wins hands-down. The physics alone are what keeps me from saying HL1 is best, because my god I hate sliding around with boxes or shooting over the top of ladders *every single time*. The sock-puppet faces are creepy as hell, and yes they may have been way ahead of most of the games of the era, but *I didn’t play it 13 years ago* I played it 2 years ago. I’m not at all certain that if I’d played HL1 back when it first came out (provided I even had a computer capable of running it, which I doubt I had) I would have continued to play it through to today. Part of the challenge of HL1 to me, is the fact that its physics are dated and difficult, and playing the game itself is difficult to do compared to modern Source physics.

    There IS a story to HL1, but… mostly because it’s been retroactively inserted by events that happen in HL2. A lot can be imagined about it, with or without the pseudo-canon Blue Shift and OP4.

    All that said I really don’t want to imply that I think HL1 isn’t worth playing, or wasn’t the best of its kind ever – it was. Without it, we certainly all wouldn’t be here. 🙂 But really, I think HL2 is a far better game overall. It’s not a “platform like” game in any way even when there ARE platformer-style puzzle elements and sort-of boss-fights. It’s come a long way, and I’m glad it did.

  17. Herr_Alien

    From what I played, I liked more HL1. I found that ‘saving the world” kind of motivation in HL2 is a bit artificial, while saving my own arse from Black Mesa (HL1) much more natural.

  18. Anon_300013

    Phillip, I think it would be interesting to update this poll with info on which game the voters played first. I would almost suspect that most people old enough to have played HL1 voted for it, while younger players that played HL2 first can’t accept the outdated graphics and physics anymore…

    1. Yes, I agree, but it’s too late now. I should have included that in the vote options.

    2. Zekiran

      I’m not a younger gamer but I did play HL2 first. 😉 My reasoning stands, however, that Valve learned from their work over the years between releases and produced a far more slick, playable product in HL2 than 1 was. Not saying 1 isn’t awesome, because it is, I just happen to prefer the “we learned from the past” game rather than the raw “omg this is an amazingly hard game with awesome bits”.

  19. Really tough question. I’m going with HL2. I played HL1 first, when it came out, and it captivated me so much that I don’t think anything but HL2 could have topped it. But I’ve gotten more replay out of HL2, so that’s the way I’m voting.

  20. Gee-Jo

    A very hard one to answer as it is like comparing apples and oranges. In fact, Half Life 2 is so different in environment and feel alone from the first one that it could have been marketed as an entirely different game altogether. I played the original a couple of years after it came out and loved it. So when I think of Half Life, I think of the original; its story, Black Mesa, HECU, and Zen. I love the fact that it yielded two other spin-off games that had synchronous story arc, as opposed to a diachronic one (which I think was a first). Seeing different vantage points of Black Mesa was trippy to say the least. Yes, the graphics are extremely out-dated, but that is the Half Life a lot of us old-school gamers have our roots in so-to-speak. I love Half Life 2 and its corresponding episodes with its better graphics and physics, but I have a connection with the original.

  21. This by far the most difficult and dangerous poll question yet.

  22. “Poll Question 250 — Which is better half-Life 1 or Half-Life 2?”

    Yes! Both! Very confusing question! I need help! HELP!

  23. HL2. Liked HL1, but loved HL2. Physics are there…and the graphics are of course better. But for me it was mostley two things:

    First is the enviroments. You simply cannot beat HL2 for immersive beautiful enviroments. From the antlion infested beaches of Highway 17, to the beautiful polluted canals of Water Hazard, to the Citidel and it’s amazing interior, or the creepy foggy town of Ravenholm, the whole game of Half Life 2 was one big WOW to me. Still is!

    Second is those wonderful driving sections. I never got bored, not even for a second. I never expected a driving section as I never saw any teasers for HL2, I just bought the game because a friend highly recomended it to me a week before Christmas 2004. I remember when I got out of Route Kanal and was admiring how beautiful and fun that was, then proceeded forward and was so shocked when I got to that boat…I mean there it was…it was just sitting there at the dock, the woman was talking about how she just gassed it up for me, and I was like “no way! :D” I started it up and there I was driving in the first person, and I just couldnt get over it. Then going over ramps, and the boyency when the boat landed in the water, and the winding twisting canals with railroad bridges passing overhead…I was so blown away by it all.

    A few chapters later I’m near a beach and a crane with a magnet is dropping a buggy with me in it! I’m driving along the beach and smashing ant lions and thinking it just doesnt get much better than this!


Leave a Reply

Comment Formatting Guide

Well formatted comments are much easier to read. Please copy and paste the HTML Tags to use in your comment

  • HEADER: <div class="fix"></div><div class="sbe3">TEXT HERE</div>
  • BOLD: <strong>TEXT HERE</strong>
  • ITALIC: <em>TEXT HERE</em>
  • SPOILER: <span class="spoiler">TEXT HERE</span>