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2009/11/16

Apocalypse Then: Half-Life 2


5 Years of Half-Life 2

Well, it’s hard to believe, but it has indeed been five years since the release of one of the most critically acclaimed FPS titles ever, Half-Life 2. It’s the sequel to yet another well-known and loved game, Half-Life.

Half-Life 2 was developed by the renowned and lately somewhat controversial Valve Corporation, and was released on November 16, 2004 for the PC, after being in development nearly since the original game came out over five years before it, with console versions of the game following lin years later. It was the first in a line of controversial Steamworks games; titles which involve Steam, Valve’s online digital distribution service, and require online product activation. This caused a lot of public outcry, especially for players without a broadband connection. The game was later included in The Orange Box compilation pack along with Team Fortress 2, Portal, and the Half-Life 2 Episodes.
Half-Life 2 continued the science fiction story of the mute scientist known as Gordon Freeman, as awakens from approximately twenty year of stasis and he finds himself in City 17, a strange Eastern European-looking place in the future under alien control; the Combine having assembled forces consisting of transhumans, as well as other methods of maintaining compliance, like using headcrabs as part of their biological warfare arsenal. You remember those from Half-Life, right? Gordon found himself yet again being manipulated by the mysterious G-man, and fighting alongside resistance members as well as some old friends from Black Mesa to take on the powers that controlled the City, as well as possibly many other cities of its kind across the world. Dr. Wallace Breen was one of the chief enemies in the game.

Half-Life 2, although arguably not the most graphically advanced game in the world at the time years ago, was still beautiful, and a marvelous game, with great AI and revolutionary physics, animation, gameplay, and story, and was applauded for its immense use of technology, unlike one of its main competitors of that year, Doom 3. It won numerous Game of the Year awards.
If people thought that Half-Life was great, then Half-Life 2 was excellent, and is on many lists of greatest FPSs of all time, and its protagonist, Gordon, has been voted as one of the best heroes of any game, despite being a man of very few words, if any at all.

I have played this game at least a few times over the years, as well as the Episodes. When I originally got it, I couldn't wait until Christmas- I had to play it then and there. I remember for a whole few days during the summer holidays of 2004 I was stuck there playing it, just glued to the screen.

There was an expansion pack rumoured in 2005, called Half-Life: Aftermath, but this turned out to be a series of addons called the Episodes, which so far consists of Half-Life 2: Episode 1, Episode 2, and the yet to be released Episode 3, which is still in development. These episodes were part of a supposed revolutionary concept called "episodic content", which means that the masses don’t have to wait for the next game in the series, which in this case would be Half-Life 3. In a sense, the episodes are Half-Life 3, although some argue that Valve would have been able to develop and release a proper sequel in the last five years, and that the episodic content idea, although promising, hasn’t worked too well.
In addition to the episodes, another addon called Lost Coast was also released for the game.

Besides this, Half-Life 2, using the Source engine has inspired many games which use the same technology, a lot of which Valve or teams hired by them, has made, as well as fan-made mods, including a remake of both Half-Life (Black Mesa Source), and the expansion, Opposing Force (Operation Black Mesa).

Games that used the Source engine include Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, SiN Episode 1: Emergence, and Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, as well as a Source engine version of They Hunger, called They Hunger: Lost Souls, which is yet to be released. They Hunger was an excellent three part mod for Half-Life.

So Valve, come on and hurry up with Half-Life 2: Episode 3 all ready!

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