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Half-Life Uncensored In Germany After Almost 19 Years

If you live in Germany, you can finally play Half-Life the way it was meant to be played. Earlier today, an update appeared on Steam that transforms the country's censored version of Half-Life into the "full" edition that players around the world have been enjoying since 1998.

Last week, German reporters noted that Half-Life had been removed from the Federal Review Board for Media Harmful to Young Persons (BPjM) list of harmful or obscene media, which is commonly known as "The Index." As Polygon explains, anything put on the Index—which includes video games, films, television shows, printed media, and more—can't be sold to customers under the age of 18 and can't be advertised in public.

According to the BPjM, offensive material is anything that is "extremely violent, crime-inducing, anti-Semitic or racist material, [or] media content that glorifies National Socialism, drugs, alcohol abuse, self-inflicted injury or suicide." Media that espouses "vigilante justice" or discrimination against specific groups of people is also prohibited.

When Half-Life first came out, its violent content—particularly with regards to Marine-related fatalities, earned the game a place on the Index. As a result, Valve changed all of the game's Marines into robots, replaced their blood with oil, and replaced dismembered body parts with cogs, springs, and other machine scraps. Alien bodies don't bleed, they just fade away. Finally, when a scientist character is shot, they simply sit down and shake their head instead of dying.

After downloading the update, players will no longer have access to the censored version of Half-Life.

Half-Life was developed by Valve and published by Sierra Games, with Electronic Arts acting as distributor. The game, which fuses satisfying first-person combat with a tight and compelling storyline, is credited with changing the way that video games—particularly first person shooters—tell stories, and immediately won players over with its compelling characters and unique, immersive setting.

Half-Life isn't the only game to be censored in specific markets—Resident Evil 7, for example, is much tamer in Japan—but most calls for games to be censored tend to backfire. Sometimes, it just takes a while.