Half-Life

They Hunger

  • Review Date: 2000-01
  • Author: Neil Manke
  • Genre: Half-Life
  • Rating: 89

Review

Once in a while there will be a great release, and I can't help but do a long detailed review of it rather than my usual short one paragraph reviews. This is another one of those releases, probably the most eagerly awaited set of levels for Half-Life ever. They Hunger had a lot of expectations to live up to, and it certainly didn't disappoint!


The pack started off with a nice cinematic sequence of you arriving at a small, quiet countryside town where you are going to spend your vacation. But, of course, things go wrong as your idiot driver (unless you were driving) speeds straight off a cliff and into the misty waters below. From here you get to explore through the hills and cliffs, as you make your way to the town. And after you've accomplished your mission of finding yourself a crowbar, you can kill the many zombies and walking dead that want to eat you. Obviously this where the title came from - the zombies are hungry! Exploring the cliffs last for several levels, where you come across many little buildings and caves. Neil has rendered this theme extremely well, it feels just like some very old horror movie. Trees, graves and swamps have been scattered everywhere, with of course stacks of the 'hungry'.

After a few levels I was starting to get tired of hacking away at zombie-after-zombie, and was hoping there might have been some different kinds of enemies. Suddenly, I saw a policeman! So I strolled up hoping to make another friend, who should be a bit tougher than that weak-ass Barney. But then he starts shooting at me! Obviously the local cops have all come out to play (and kill zombies), but have now been converted aswell so they've got guns and helicopters.

After several levels of exploring cliffs, swamp and 'Devil's Rift' - a very exciting lava-filled canyon, then came another set-piece (the small features that all good maps should have to make them unique). Neil used a train! It was used very nicely indeed as I plowed through zombies who stupidly stood in big groups in front of me. Your task with the train was to set the train tracks in the right direction at each stop, which included a great looking, but short, dam. When the train-tracks end, that's the end of your country-side killing spree - your in town now!

The town was a lot more cramped as you explore the church, blow up the gas station, and eventually end up at the police station. Unfortunately there was a bit of a let-down at the end - I love a big fight to finish the adventure off, and They Hunger didn't have one :(

The gameplay was great fun, but there is only so far you can go with a zombie. There are times where they are put in huge packs, or when they close in from all around you which can be very fun and challenging. But usually all you need is your crowbar for the zombies and the handgun for the cops - I didn't even use any of my other weapons, which was a pity since they had been nicely re-skinned. There were a number of different kinds of Zombies, from the normal decayed male and female, to the headless zombie and dead policeman. But underneath the fancy skin they were all the same one - same attack, same speed and same health (a zombie with health?!).

However, the great levels made up for the lack of gameplay elements. They Hunger may remind you of some of Neil's oldest levels, most notably his two Alba maps for Quake. They also had great atmosphere that was unique and attractive. You may not find grand pieces of architecture, but Neil's gloomy countryside and zombie theme rivals even Valve's base! They Hunger is almost like an entirely different game to Half-Life, and should NOT be missed!


I certainly can't wait for They Hunger 2, which will be a bit shorter, but that means it'll be here sooner! Neil wanted me to mention that to run TH2 you'll need to keep They Hunger on your computer, but you'll want to leave it there anyway as it is so good!