I’ve been playing Half-Life for as long as I can remember, revisiting the original game nearly every year for two decades. As a kid, I used to play around in the pre-disaster levels with cheats, spawning zombies to see how the scientists would react, or layering trip mines down the corridors to catch them off guard during scripted walks. I got more serious with it as I got older, perfecting my runs to the point that I can now beat it in under two hours, and that’s without trying to speedrun. But as much as I love revisiting it, it was getting stale – over 20 playthroughs will do that. So, I finally caved, and tried something I’ve been putting off for years – learning to bunnyhop.
For the unaware, bunnyhopping is strafe jumping while accelerating beyond the speed limit, letting you glide through entire areas past enemies. You do it by moving your mouse in the direction of either the A or D key as you press them, while rebinding jump to mouse wheel down, rather than the space bar. It originated in Quake, built off the back of a movement glitch, and as Half-Life uses a modified version of Quake’s engine, bunnyhopping carried over. What’s more, with modern tech, you get more frames per second, and the higher your FPS, the faster you can bunnyhop.
Half-Life patched in a cap that stops you from going too fast, but you can still race around Black Mesa like you’re in an F1 car. However, I started with what was essentially a light jog, though still faster than Gordon’s usual shuffle. That’s because I was messing up the landings and immediately meeting friction, slowing me down, but after the first couple of levels, I was speeding through the game and conserving my ammo like never before. Levels that took me an hour as a kid now took five-to-ten minutes, and I had enough in the barrel to mow down enemies that I’d normally meet with just a pack of gum and a few pistol rounds.
It feels so much more satisfying than just sprinting because there’s an innate rhythm – you’re not just holding a key down and watching the screen move forward, but timing hits while keeping an eye on your surroundings, avoiding obstacles and enemies. It’s akin to playing Osu if you had zombies swinging at you and big barriers to worm around.
After two decades, I have the shooting down, know where every enemy is, and how to solve each puzzle. Nothing is new or fresh, and there’s little left to master. With bunnyhopping, there’s something in Half-Life to bring me back again. Playthroughs are no longer about nostalgia and memorising every little detail, but figuring out how to perfect this novel tactic, striving to never hit those awkward friction points that grind my dance around corridors to a sudden halt.
It’s a new skill to learn and one that’s harder than any I’ve tried to master before it, and while I’m still an amateur that’s learning the ins and outs today, who knows, maybe after another 20 playthroughs, I’ll be using it to beat Half-Life in under an hour.
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