So, for some reason watching The Matrix (awesome movie) inspired me to play Half-Life 2 again. I love Half-Life.
I think, the thing about Half-Life, what makes it such a great game isn't any one special thing. Half-Life, at first glance, appears a very standard FPS game: its linear, it has all the standard FPS weapons (Melee weapon, pistol, SMG, Shotgun RPG, end game super gun, etc) and there is nothing special about how combat works: point and shoot, accuracy being what you would expect from various guns (SMG has a high rate of fire but is inaccurate, Shotgun is close range, pistol is weak bust fast, decently accurate).
But the game is amazing. I swear, it's the best FPS game I've ever played. I think its really the level design. The game is just… so awesome. In Call of Duty you run from checkpoint to checkpoint shooting people. In Half-Life there are all sorts of different puzzles and events you have to work through. You fight Manhacks, zombies, Civil Protection, Helicopters, Walkers, etc. In Call of Duty you fight infantry and maybe tanks. It gets boring, really.
And its not just the enemies, it's the design of the levels. They way you move through locations like the Canals, City 17, etc, its just… really amazing. I'm in love with it.
Another thing that is rather fun is the vehicle sections. Route Canal, the Highway, and Episode 2 are AMAZING for their vehicle sections. It's just sooo much fun using the muscle car from Episode 2 and the hover craft from Route Canal. I love it.