Valve Software has delivered a Half-Life 2 release candidate to publisher Vivendi-Universal Games, head honcho Gabe Newell has announced in a forum post on H2fallout.com.
There was an air of deja vu about the whole thing after the recent fiasco involving the hijacking of Newell's forum account on a Half-Life 2 fansite, but Planet Half-Life reports that the post has now been confirmed as genuine by Valve's Doug Lombardi and Newell himself.
However, it's worth pointing out that this does not mean that Half-Life 2 is "gold" - i.e. finished. For now it should be with Vivendi's quality assurance department, and until it's approved - which it may not be - the game is not technically finished.
It is nevertheless a huge step in the progress of this most highly anticipated of first-person shooters. With a huge chunk of the game already preloaded to customers via Steam, and Vivendi doubtless enthusiastic about getting the game on store shelves before the end of the year, all the signs are good that we could be playing Half-Life 2 in the very near future.