by Vivendi UIP
Half-Life needs no introduction to the deaf community. The FPS that has won nearly all the awards that a computer game can win never endeared itself to the deaf gamer. Although the game was released on a numerous amount of occassions each time it failed to contain any subtitles or captions that would inform the deaf gamer of the story line. In fact in all fairness the game was a non-starter for the deaf gamer. So it was with anticipation that we awaited the PS2 version of this 'classic' game to see if any subtitles had been added. After all, the deaf community has requested, and then demanded that something be done to Half-Life to make it playable.
Well the disc arrived so with much anticipation both the TV and PS2 were switched on and the disc was inserted as, with gamepad in hand, we eagerly awaited the main menu. Would we finally be able to enjoy the exploits of Gordon Freeman that we missed in the PC version? First of all we looked at the options menu. To our disappointment there was no mention of subtitles. Never mind just because the options menu didn't mention them doesn't mean the game doesn't have them. So we started a new game. DISASTER! The game still has no subtitles. Yet again we are forced to sit through the monorail opening sequence without a clue of what is going on.
There are no mission briefings, no subtitles, and no text feedback whatsoever. From a deaf gamer's point of view this makes for a very awkward and displeasing experience. You are never informed as to what to do. All the information is given verbally and as a result is useless. The in game tutorial also has no text and again is useless for the deaf gamer. Just why haven't Valve took any notice? Either this is a fingers up approach to the deaf community or it is one of extreme ignorance. Either way it is just not on.
The game has been ported well from the PC. Half-Life on the PS2 looks about the same as the PC version with the higher definition graphics pack added. The frame rate is decent enough although it was never going to compete with a decent PC on this account. Occasionally the frame rate does become a little choppy but these instances are few and far between.
One feature that is unique to the PS2 is the Decay mode. This is a two player game that sees you and a friend playing as scientists. Like Half-Life Blue Shift the events are supposed to taking place alongside the central Half-Life story. You have to co-operate to solve various puzzles and the like. However this is again rendered useless by the lack of subtitles as all the information is given verbally by the NPCs and no text feedback exists. You are just as in the dark with this game as you are with the single player game.
One area of the game that could have been a problem is the control system. The smoothness of the mouse and keyboard system used on the PC was always going to be difficult to adapt to the PS2 gamepad but I can say that it has been adapted well. The left analogue stick controls movement while the right analogue stick controls your view point. The direction pad changes weapons, L1 is jump, L2 is crawl and R1 is fire. This system works surprisingly well but if pushed I wouldn't say it was quite upto the smoothness of the PC control system.
Overall Game Rating: 3.5/10 What's this you say Half-Life rated less than a classic? Well unfortunately there are just too many obstacles for the deaf gamer to contend with. If you are a hearing gamer then feel free to make the score 8.5/10 but as this site caters for deaf gamers we have to be true to the deaf community and we may have been generous with giving the game 3.5/10.
Deaf Gamers comment: Oh No! Yes it's happened again and deaf gamers have been shunned/ignored/disadvantaged (delete as applicable). No text again. No indication of the storyline, again. It just isn't on. If for some crazy reason you feel the need to buy the game then please buy it from a store that gives a no quibble refund as you will more than likely need it.