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Half-Life is an award-winning, genre-defining first-person shooter PC game, released in 1998 by Valve Software. The game's success spawned one sequel series and numerous spin-offs, most importantly Team Fortress 2 and the Portal series.


Gordon Freeman is a physicist in the isolated Black Mesa Research Facility, New Mexico, who is locked in a scanning chamber after pushing a specimen into the path of the scanning beam. The scanning of this specimen creates a "resonance cascade," opening a portal between the Black Mesa facility and an alien borderworld called Xen. After escaping the chamber, he and a group of surviving scientists discover that this portal has led to a number of aliens portaling into the facilities, and a group of government soldiers are killing off both aliens and scientists in order to cover up the incident. Discovering that the only way to close the rift and hopefully stop the killing is to step through into the Xen world and kill the Nihilanth, a monster holding the rift open, Freeman works to do so, and eventually succeeds.

In the sequel, Half-Life 2, Freeman is awoken from an extended, 10-20 year stasis by the G-Man, a mysterious suited man with odd speech patterns who picked up and "employed" Freeman at the end of the first game. Freeman is transported to City 17, discovering that the world has been taken over by an extra-dimensional force known as the Combine. Joining the resistance with old friends and coworkers Barney Calhoun, Dr. Isaac Kleiner, Dr. Eli Vance, and his daughter, Alyx Vance (and her giant robot, D0g). Freeman, a now-messianic figure to the oppressed masses, helps stage an uprising against the Combine and their leader on Earth, Dr. Breen.


As well as the sequel and the immediate offshoots of the sequel (Half-Life 2 Episodes 1–3), the Half-Life continuum has spawned a number of spin-offs. These include:

Half-Life: Opposing Force
A spin-off of the original Half-Life, in which you play from the perspective of U.S. Marine Corporal Adrian Shepherd.
Half-Life: Blue Shift
A spin-off of the original Half-Life, in which you play as Black Mesa security guard Barney Calhoun.
A popular multiplayer game using the Half-Life engine, pitting "terrorists" against "counter-terrorists."
Team Fortress 2
A multiplayer game based on the Half-Life 2 engine that has become famous for its cel-shaded graphics and innate sense of humor. Also, hats.
The seminal video game spin-off, Portal tells the story of Chell, the mute female protagonist, who is woken up one day in an aesthetically bland cell by a cheery AI voice named GLaDOS. GLaDOS reveals the protagonist is in an Enrichment Centre owned by Aperture Science Laboratories, and is to be the latest test subject to try out the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, or Portal Gun, a gun which can shoot portals and pick up and throw solid objects. However, as the game continues, the player (and by extension, the protagonist) begins to realize something is not all right in the facility...
Portal has since become a critically acclaimed game in its own right, lauded for managing to successfully mix the first-person perspective and the puzzle game. It is also praised for the often dark comedy in the game: GLaDOS' increasingly outlandish claims, the promise of "cake," the Weighted Companion Cube, the cheery yet dangerous turrets, and the song that plays over the credits, "Still Alive," have all been singled out for praise, and the promise of "cake," the Weighted Companion Cube, and "Still Alive" have all become Internet memes.
  • Portal 2 was released in February 2011. And the fans rejoiced.

In Badfic[]

Being first-person shooters, Half-Life and Counter-Strike attract many testosterone-addled Gary Stus. Portal tends to suffer more from bizarre romantic pairings between characters, usually with GLaDOS or Wheatley somehow being downloaded into a humanoid cyborg body.

Team Fortress in particular saw an massive upsurge in fan activity, as authors took the personalities of the player classes and rounded them out into fully interactive characters. This series sees a full range of typical fanfiction treatments, from Mary Sues to slash pairings (since the cast is all-male).

The humor inherent in Team Fortress and Portal, as well as the popularity of both series, has also left them particularly attractive to Trolls.

In the PPC[]

Half-Life minis are mini-headcrabs, while Portal minis are Frankenturrets. The Frankenturrets are the security at the Aperture Science Fanfiction Enrichment Seminar.

Agent Evie is a (not homicidal) badfic copy of GLaDOS in a cyborg body.

Missions in this Continuum[]