Does anyone else think that Valve are one of the luckiest bastards ever? I think their landmark series, the thing that made Steam possible, Half-Life, is the most overrated thing in gaming of all time. HL's often lauded story is nothing to write home about compared to other contemporaries (Command and Conquer, Wing Commander, all the adventures and RPGs of that time). And even if limit it to shooters, System Shock had far better gameplay and story. I know that part of the hype is because the NPCs told the story instead of cutscenes, but that's not a valid argument, because 99% of the NPCs in Half-Life say "Hello Freeman, let me open this door for you" or some variation of it. The audio-logs in System Shock are far more interesting and better acted than this stuff. If something is stupid, it doesn't matter how it is presented (besides, the friendly aliens in Unreal behaved pretty much the same like the HL scientists) I know 90s games by heart, and I am completely perplexed how Half-Life's presentation was considered good in light of its competition. Half-Life 2's legendary status is even more dubious, if you take into account that it came out after Deus Ex, System Shock 2, Outcast, Thief, Jedi Knight 2 etc. No way HL2 is better than these. I found the presentation of the story in HL2 outright bizarre. "Gordon Freeman, is that YOU?! WOOOHOOO"! Why are you the hero to these people? You barely interacted with anyone during the incident in the lab, because you were in a duct or pipe 90% of the time. To them, you vanished in a lab years ago, and the world is invaded by another dimension hours later. It's entirely possible Freeman made a deal with the other side and arranged the invasion in the first place - the only witnesses are these weird aliens from Xen, and why would everyone believe them? And why is the Black Mesa logo sprayed everywhere by the rebels? The experiments there led to the whole mess in the first place - one would think they would burn everyone at the stake who worked there. Aside from that - some of them are like like "oh, it's you Freeman. Hi, please follow me". What?! They behave like I am their buddy they saw just yesterday, but I am also an almost mythical heroic figure that vanished twenty years ago. It just doesn't make sense. The whole "So, ready to hear this important information? OK, so.. WAIT we are being attacked!" rythm got old very quick. And it goes throughout the whole game and all its expansions! The levels are nothing to be particulary excited either. The Orwellian beginning is very interesting, but it's over within 15 minutes. Then you're in the good old sewers and pipes again. Yawn. I know this game is over ten years old, but the ones I mentioned are even OLDER and BETTER. I just don't get it.