Set in a high-rise office building, the player assumes the role of new unnamed employee at Parcel Passages, a big multinational delivery company. You work in its head office on the 14th floor as an administrator (think like an office worker, not like a G-Man). All is going well until shots are heard and one of your colleague stumbles out of the lift, covered in blood. His dying words inform you of an ongoing terrorist attack on the building. The attackers are most likely making their way to your location and have already cut the building's phone line. Apparently this was all before mobile phones were commonplace, as the first thing we do is grab a flashlight and head for the roof, rather than use someone's phone to contact the police.
What makes Night at the Office quite unique among Half-Life mods is that it really has nothing to do with Half-Life. It feels like you're playing Half-Life, of course, but the characters, the setting and the story are all different. There's custom dialog throughout which further enhances the feeling of this being a game in its own right.
The mapping is unlikely to receive any outstanding awards but it's more than good enough and consistently keeps you feeling like you're in an office building, rather than some secret underground complex.
Night at the Office has a certain charm which, like a sealed can of tuna, has maintained its freshness over the years. The custom textures on maps and models shows off some quite decent MS Paint skills (the textures are good, but you can tell that they were done in Paint or something very similar). The voice acting ranges from good to somewhat cheesy but it all integrates together well and makes each character feel different. Aside from the masked terrorists, there is no repetition of character models or voices.
Certain features of Half-Life have been changed to help Night at the Office feel more realistic.
- There's no crosshair.
- When you reload, you lose the remaining rounds of the magazine (and drop it on the floor). This forces you to think before reloading.
- It only takes a couple of shots to drop an enemy; likewise, you can only take a few hits before dying yourself—watch out for this one.
- The flashlight acts like a weapon in your inventory. So you can either be holding a light, or be holding a gun.
- Enemies' weapons give you a random amount of ammo. It's a nice idea, but can be a problem when you get your first gun: you might have a full magazine, or you might only get one round.
Pro tip: Save before you pick up your first gun. If you don't like how much he gives you, reload and try again.
Overall, the changes are crude but add up to a much more realistic feel. You're not a trained killer who can make a perfect mark every time, but when you do, it's usually fatal.
There are non-linear elements to this mod, too. After restoring power to the emergency lights, you can either go straight down and meet Dave or you can make your way up back to the roof and explore. There are even three possible endings, spoiler:
two of which make you die along with everyone else; one that lets you live but makes you feel bad because of it You should get at least an hour out of Night at the Office, depending on how adventurous you're feeling. The pace and intensity of action in the game is good but I feel it ends before it really begins which is a shame.
If you hadn't noticed, the story is a total rip-off of Die Hard which is pretty funny and adds to the game's already plentiful humour.
It's clear a lot of love went into this mod and it hasn't received the attention it deserves. I want to give it full marks, but it's not perfect. It has its fair share of flaws, and not all those flaws can just be chalked up to "part of the charm".
4½ out of 5 shotboxes.
Archive of nightattheoffice.co.uk (Includes a walkthrough. Images do not work, sadly.)