At long last, gamers in Germany can finally play an uncut version of the original Half-Life as Half-Life Uncensored hits the Steam marketplace as free DLC. Say goodbye to some of the most notorious censoring in games to date.
The original Half-Life launched two decades ago for PC, and for its time it was a pretty violent game. Lots of folks died, and there was the occasional bit of blood and core. While those aspects of the game might appear downright adorable by modern standards, they were a real cause for concern in Germany when the game first launched.
That mature content got Half-Life noticed by the Federal Review Board for Media Harmful to Young Persons in Germany. And as Polygon points out, the game quickly found its way to what is called "the Index," a collection of material thought to be harmful to the mind of youngsters.
Rather than not being able to launch in the region, the team at Valve decided to heavily edit Half-Life, creating for some rather goofy situations. For starters, the humans in the game were now robots. They didn't really look any different, but they sprayed oil rather than blood and silly things like cogs and springs would fly out of them, rather than a severed arm. It was clear that Gabe Newell and his team at Valve were not happy about the edits when the game launched in 1998, but their hands were tied.
Being on the Index meant that Half-Life was still considered potentially dangerous to impressionable youth, even though games have come a long, long way in the past 20 years. However, said Index is reviewed from time to time, and housekeeping is done. Following these most recent sweeps, Half-Life was no longer considered a game that would encourage your child to become a crow-bar-wielding scientist who wanted to fight interdimensional monsters.
That being the case, Valve has updated the game on Steam so that German players can download a bit of free DLC in order to play the game the way it was originally intended to be played. "Robots" no longer sit on the ground and disappear if you shoot them, in other words; folks just die.
What's really interesting is how far along the Index has come itself over the past 20 years. The latest Doom, for instance, never got pinged for inclusion despite its hyper-violence. We suppose since it's mostly demons being slaughtered, it's seen as a good thing? However, the original Doom was absolutely included, alongside the likes of the first Red Faction.
Not sure how many German gamers we have in the audience but, hey, if you grew up killing robots and being terrified by cogs in Half-Life back in the day, it might be worth a return visit.