The Best 'Half-Life' Games

Voting Rules
Game must be part of the 'Half-Life' series.

Easily one of the most popular first-person shooter franchises of all time, this list features all of the Half-Life games, ranked from best to worst by thousands of gamers' votes. If you think the coolest video game in the Half-Life series isn't ranked as high as it should be, then make sure to vote it up so that it has the chance to rise to the top. Ever since the original Half-Life was released on Windows back in 1998, gamers have been eagerly awaiting the next installment. This list features every Half-Life game, including all the DLC releases as well as the two Portal games, which take place in the same universe.

 Are you and your friends arguing over what the greatest Half-Life game of all time is? Use this list to see how many people agree with you and end the squabble once and for all.This list is kept up-to-date with all new video game releases and includes everything from Half-Life 2 to the new Half-Life: Alyx, which was released in 2020. So if you're wondering, "What are the greatest Half-Life games?" or "What is the best Half-Life game of all time?" then this list should answer your questions. Vote up all your favorite releases, and vote down all the games you thought were disappointing.

  • Half-Life
    Photo: Valve Corporation
    288 VOTES

    In the very first Half-Life game, you play as Dr. Gordon Freeman, a recent MIT graduate and an employee of Black Mesa. One day, an experiment goes terribly wrong when an event causes dimensional seams to destroy the facility. You now have to make your way out of the alien-infested building as the creatures from another world continue to enter your world. 

    Numerous components allow for a more immersive gaming experience. One mechanic prevents the player from seeing or hearing Dr. Freeman. Additionally, Half-Life levels have been divided into smaller sections to avoid long interruptions during loading.  

    The game was met with critical success. IGN even mentioned how the game is " a tour de force in game design, the definitive single-player game in a first-person shooter."

    • Released: 1998
    • Developer: Valve Corporation, Gearbox Software
    • Publisher: Valve Corporation, Electronic Arts, Sierra Entertainment
    288 votes
  • Half-Life 2
    Photo: Valve Corporation
    321 VOTES

    Playing as scientist Gordon Freeman, Half-Life 2 finds you living in the aftermath of the Black Mesa Incident as you battle against horrific creatures to free humanity from the Combine. You'll meet up with various allies along the way, including such friends as Alyx Vance. Everyone you come across is amazed you're still alive. 

    You have an assortment of weapons at your disposal to take down aliens and subhuman beings. One of the most popular offerings from the game is the Gravity Gun, which allows you to perform a litany of non-combat functions, such as grabbing supplies just out of reach. 

    Half-Life 2 remains one of the most critically-acclaimed video games ever made. It earned at least 35 Game of the Year awards, and pretty much every major game reviewer gave it a rating of at least 90% out of 100. For many gamers, it's considered one of the best games ever made. 

    • Released: 2004
    • Developer: Valve Corporation
    • Publisher: Valve Corporation, Sierra Entertainment
    321 votes
  • Half-Life 2: Episode Two
    Photo: Valve Corporation
    187 VOTES

    Half-Life 2: Episode Two

    Episode Two is the second portion of the story started by Half-Life 2. It picks up where Episode One left off when Alyx and Gordon start to leave City 17. As they depart, a portal storm appears over the ruins of the collapsed Citadel. It opens a path into a mine shaft for you to follow. 

    While much of the gameplay remains the same, you do have two new enemies to take on: the Combine Hunter synth and the Antlion Worker. Both of these display a new, sophisticated form of A.I. where you have to engage in different combat styles to take out each one as they appear. 

    It may be shorter, but it seems to be a worthy follow-up for Half-Life fans. IGN even stated how the game was "worth the wait." It's just a shame Episode Three was canceled. 

    • Released: 2007
    • Developer: Valve Corporation
    • Publisher: Valve Corporation, Buka Entertainment
    187 votes
  • Portal 2
    Photo: Valve Corporation
    159 VOTES

    The sequel to Portal expands the universe and offers more intricate puzzles. You have to use portals to solve puzzles, but there are some bonus gameplay elements added for good measure. You'll have to master the Thermal Discouragement Beam, Aerial Faith Plate, and Mobility Gels in order to solve everything. 

    There are nine chapters you have to get through to complete the game. It all starts when you wake up in the body of Chell, and you're tasked with conducting tests on various chambers. But you're not the only one who's woken up. You must contend with GLaDOS who throws everything at you in an attempt to kill you. 

    Portal 2 was released to practically universal praise. IGN, in particular, called it a "mind-bending marvel" and praised how it provided players with an unforgettable experience. With both single-player and multiplayer modes, it's easy to see why the game continues to be popular with fans to this day. 

    • Released: 2011
    • Developer: Valve Corporation
    • Publisher: Valve Corporation
    159 votes
  • Half-Life: Opposing Force
    Photo: Valve Corporation

    Opposing Force mixes things up by casting you as Corporal Adrian Shephard instead of Gordon Freeman. You're sent back into the Black Mesa Research Facility on a top-secret mission, but things go wrong pretty quickly. You soon have to fight against both government agents and Xen aliens. 

    The game manages to differentiate itself from others in the series. It's the only Half-Life where you have night vision in lieu of a flashlight. It's also the only game in the franchise to offer you a rope-climbing mechanic. 

    As a piece of trivia, the game will automatically end if you attempt to enter Freeman's Xen portal. The game will accuse of you trying to rewrite history, and you will receive the following message: "Evaluation terminated: Subject attempted to create a temporal paradox."

    • Released: Oct 31 1999
    • Developer: Valve Corporation, Gearbox Software
    • Publisher: Valve Corporation, Sierra Entertainment
    178 votes
  • Portal
    Photo: Valve Corporation
    158 VOTES

    Portal is a first-person shooter combined with a puzzle game. Throughout the game, you play as Chell as you receive audio messages from GLaDOS. These messages relate to the upcoming test chamber experiments. You're sent into distinct test chambers where you have to solve puzzles to make it out alive. 

    To get through the various rooms, you must rely on the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device. It allows you to create inter-spatial portals across flat planes. Plus, when you finish the game, you unlock two additional modes: Advanced and Challenge. In Advanced mode, you can play through the hardest levels of the game again except this time, they're even more difficult. In Challenge mode, you have to go through each test as quickly as possible, trying to beat your best times. 

    Most reviewers at the time praised the game for being so highly original. Praise was also given to the dark humor present throughout the game, mostly in the form of how GLaDOS is terrifying but also kind of funny simultaneously. 

    • Released: 2007
    • Developer: Valve Corporation
    • Publisher: Valve Corporation, Microsoft Studios
    158 votes