Half-Life 2


VideoHalf-Life fan film premiered online

Beyond Black Mesa took 2 years to make.

VideoMolyneux gets son begging Valve for HL3

Lucas Molyneux makes YouTube plea.

FeatureValve's Doug Lombardi

Chatting about Portal and whether Orange Box will return.

Key events

FeatureThe impossible architecture of video games

Bang head against wall of text.

There is a saying in architecture that no building is unbuildable, only unbuilt. Structures may be impossible in the here and now, but have the potential to exist given enough time or technological development: a futuristic cityscape, a spacefaring megastructure, the ruins of an alien civilisation. However, there are also buildings that defy the physical laws of space. It is not an issue that they could not exist, but that they should not. Their forms bend and warp in unthinkable ways; dream-like structures that push spatial logic to its breaking point.

Have you ever wondered what video game cities would look like as Ordnance Survey maps? A new project is working on turning the likes of City 17 from Half-Life, Los Santos from Grand Theft Auto and New Vegas from Fallout into city maps, so we may soon find out.

Chet Faliszek has left Valve

Portal and Left 4 Dead writer runs out of Steam.

Chet Faliszek has brought his 12 year career at Valve Software to a close, our sister site GamesIndustry.biz has revealed.

Images of Junction Point's cancelled Half-Life 2 episode reveal a snowy Ravenholm

There was once a plan to flesh out Half-Life 2 with multiple episodes. Valve itself created Episode One and Two. It announced a third. But this third episode, and others from other developers, failed to materialise as Half-Life 2 follow-ups were lost to the sands of time and became myth.

One of these non-Valve developed episodes was once in the works at Junction Point, the studio founded by legendary game maker Warren Spector (Deus Ex, System Shock). Spector has spoken of this before, telling Game Informer Junction Point was working on an episode "that would fill in one of the gaps in the Half-Life story".

Junction Point's episode involved a new tool called the Magnet Gun. Here's Spector:

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Former Valve employee is suing the company for $3.1m

Alleges developer exploited minors for free labour, discriminated against transgender staff.

A jury ruled in favour of defendant Valve on 2nd November 2017, finding the plaintiff was not discriminated against for transgender or disability reasons, nor dismissed for such.

FeatureThe man who sent his game to Gabe Newell in a briefcase

A chance encounter and an unlikely tale.

Richard Seabrook woke one morning and realised his life wasn't where he wanted it to be. He was 23 years old, he'd graduated from university and he'd taken a job he thought would lead to his dream career in games. But it hadn't quite worked out. He was stuck in the British seaside town of Bournemouth, in quality assurance testing, where months were sprawling ominously into years. "You know what?" he said to himself that day. "I'm sick of this. I'm just going to go for it." He set his sights high: Seabrook wanted to go for a job at Valve.

Valve-approved Half-Life 2: Update headed to Steam

Valve-approved Half-Life 2: Update headed to Steam

Combine it with the main game.

A new fan-made mod, Half-Life 2: Update, will be released for free on Steam tomorrow.

The Valve-blessed add-on brings improved lighting, effects, textures and bug fixes to the first-person shooter classic.

This will be the final version of Half-Life 2: Update, which was previously made available in earlier forms outside of Steam.

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FeatureHalf-Life 2 remembered

"You've arrived in City 17..."

Half-Life 2 is a game built of great moments, and of its designers' desire to change the pace, the structure, and the feel of the challenge while you move from one sequence to the next. As a celebration of City 17's 10th birthday, we asked a handful of developers to tell us about the specific moments that stuck with them the most.

FeatureHalf-Life 2: 10 years on

You remember, don't you, Mr Freeman?

Half-Life 2 has met the fate of all exceptional games. The 'classic' moniker almost instantly embalms them, gradually fossilising to a few forever-parroted talking points while the living entity is obscured. Physics, story, environmental design - Gravity Gun, City 17, Ravenholm. The game is shorn of context, too, and compared with successors that stripped its bones of ideas and sometimes improved on them. The keenly-felt absence of Half-Life 3 helps with this impression, but Half-Life 2 feels like a game on a tightrope - not stuck in the middle, exactly, so much as a pioneer of the modern first-person shooter that still contains much of the 'old' first-person shooter.

The Half-Life 2 VR mod makes even reloading seem cool

See how Oculus and Hydra combine to revolutionise shooters.

VR headsets and motion controllers are nothing new in the world of gaming. It's not even rare to see them together. But what is exciting is Valve's new VR mod for Half-Life 2 that recalibrates the game to take advantage of this emerging tech.

FeatureOmni treadmill: The future of VR goes in every direction

Walk this way. No, not that way. THIS WAY!

In the middle of the sixth floor of the Washington State Convention Center is a man running in place inside a bowl-like surface with a plastic gun controller in his hands, motion sensors on his limbs and head, and an Oculus Rift VR headset strapped to his face. Above him, Gordon Freeman's gun bobs around a beach shooting giant alien ants. The man in the machine is controlling Valve's machine of a man - and this culmination of motion sensors, VR goggles and high-tech exercising equipment is touted as the closest man has ever come to the Matrix.

FeatureMinerva matter: The Half-Life 2 mod that opened the gates of Valve

Adam Foster's two-and-a-half-year job application for the world's most enigmatic game developer.

Adam Foster tells me he's "faintly terrified" by the response to his old Half-Life 2 mod Minerva being released on Steam. Tens of thousands have downloaded it in a couple of weeks and he didn't expect that, he insists. But then he also didn't expect the chain of events that unfolded after he first released Minerva back in 2005. Back then he worked for the European Railway Industry doing web development and programming. Today he talks to me from within the hallowed walls of Valve.

Gabe Newell named as next AIAS Hall of Famer

Oh they'll induct anyone have they no standards etc..

Such is his influence on the world of videogames and computing that it's a wonder Gabe Newell hasn't been inducted into the prestigious Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame already. This coming February at the 2013 D.I.C.E. summit will be his moment.

Gabe Newell confirms Valve working on Source 2

Gabe Newell confirms Valve working on Source 2

Waiting for a game to release it with. What could that be?

Gabe Newell has confirmed what we all suspected: that Valve is working on a new game engine, undoubtedly Source 2.

When members of 4chan popped over to Valve's office to deliver Newell's 50th birthday present they also asked him some questions. The most pertinent was this:

“Is Valve potentially already working on a new engine? Source 2? Could or… could not be?”

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Black Mesa release date: The Half-Life remake is finished, sort of

Black Mesa - the Source-powered, modder-made re-imagining of Half-Life 1 - will be released 14th September.

Project Leader Carlos Montrero announced the news on the Black Mesa forum.

"On September 14th, you will see the first release of Black Mesa!" he wrote. "This will include our re-envisioning of Half-Life all the way up to Lambda Core. We believe this is a great way to provide a complete-feeling 8-10 hour experience with a solid ending, make our fans happy and help us make the best overall game possible."

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If there's one question Valve must be sick of hearing it's this: where is Episode 3? No-one's saying anything - not yet. But inquiring minds might find their own answers by playing through the preceding two episodes.

FeatureValve Interview: Gabe Newell Isn't The Boss of Me

Jason Holtman gives a peek inside Valve's unique structure

The employee handbook that hit the internet earlier this year pulled the curtain back on Valve, suggesting staff float about the company's Seattle offices working at desks made of gold and sitting on chairs made of clouds.

Feature"It's been a poor, poor five years for fiction in the video game industry"

The creator of Half-Life 2's City 17 and Dishonored tells us why.

That the closest touchstone for Dishonored should be BioShock, a game from 2007, speaks volumes to the stagnating creativity of video games. As celebrated art maestro Viktor Antonov put it to Eurogamer: "It's been a poor, poor five years for fiction in the video game industry." And he should know - he created Half-Life 2's iconic City 17, not to mention he's now making Dishonored.

FeatureWhy Devs Owe You Nothing

When does a game belong to its fans rather than its creators?

Last week, 10,000 people took to Steam to play Half-Life 2 as part of a gentle protest against Valve's silence on the development of the series' next instalment. It's part of an ongoing campaign that rose from the background noise of forum discontent to deliver an open letter to Valve.

Half-Life 3 fan campaign staging mass gameplay session

Half-Life 3 fan campaign staging mass gameplay session

Up to 29,000 gamers to play Half-Life 2 this Saturday.

A fan campaign designed to encourage more Half-Life information from developer Valve plans a mass gameplay session this Saturday.

Steam group A Call for Communication (Half-Life), which boasts more than than 29,500 members, has organised a huge Half-Life 2 play session this weekend, designed to raise awareness of its campaign by boosting the game up Steam's most-played list.

The fan collective aims to encourage information from Valve on when the Half-Life series might return, be that in the form of Half-Life 2: Episode 3 or a fully-fledged Half-Life 3.

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Valve: piracy a "non-issue" for Steam

Perhaps Gabe Newell along.

Valve co-founder and CEO Gabe Newell believes piracy stems not from price, but from convenience. And as Steam boasts fast access to a dizzying selection of games, so piracy has become "basically a non-issue" for Valve.

FeatureThe boy who stole Half-Life 2

From the archive: the story behind the $250m robbery.

At 6am on 7th May 2004, Axel Gembe awoke in the small German town of Schönau im Schwarzwald to find his bed surrounded by police officers. Automatic weapons were pointing at his head and the words, "Get out of bed. Do not touch the keyboard," were ringing in his ears.

Steam Cloud to launch this week

Steam Cloud to launch this week

Centralise game data starting with L4D.

Valve has announced that Steam Cloud will launch this week.

Steam Cloud, announced at the end of May, centralises configuration data online so that you can access your controller and multiplayer settings (like spraypaint images for Counter-Strike) from any computer.

In future, Valve intends to centralise save-game data - the idea being that you could delete a Steam game and all its files and still be able to pick it up from the same spot, on any computer, years later.

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Chunky Orange Box PS3 patch released

Chunky Orange Box PS3 patch released

Should remedy many of the problems.

EA has sneakily released a beefy patch to address problems with The Orange Box on PS3.

The 1.10 update is 128 MB, and unhelpfully has no associated documentation to outline the changes.

Early reports suggest friends not appearing on lists and certain accounts not connecting to the EA servers should no longer be a problem.

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FeatureValve's Doug Lombardi

Chatting about Portal and whether Orange Box will return.

On a recent trip to Germany to see Left 4 Dead, of which more soon, we sat down with Valve's VP of marketing Doug Lombardi to talk about things. Things like Portal, and whether we'll see an Orange Box 2. Like everyone at Valve, Doug's job title is a bit misleading; he does a broad range of things across the company, and has even - as he points out here - dabbled in development to some extent. He also plays Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead with us when we fly over to see Valve, which is nice of him (it's nice of him to let us win all the time, too). Anyway, enough being nice about Doug - here are a few selected excerpts from our discussion, with more to come when we're allowed to talk about what the developer was actually in Germany to show off...

The Orange Box

The Orange Box

We pit EA's port against PC and 360.

Google "Valve's Gabe Newell and PS3" and you'll see why I approached this review with some trepidation.

Valve's Gabe Newell comes down hard on PS3

Valve: PS3 a "total disaster on so many levels"

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Those of you with brains like computers will probably have worked out that you can use your Portal gun in other Source-powered games like Half-Life 2 and its pair of episodes.

World of Mods: Half-Life 2

World of Mods: Half-Life 2

Games that are free, so long as you've already paid.

You'd best look away now if you're already pretty familiar with the mod scene. The following isn't for you - it's for folk bored of Half-Life 2, bored of Counter-Strike, and now not sure what to do with themselves while they wait for BioShock and Crysis to show them fun new ways to kill a man. Honestly, there's plenty to do in the meantime. True, for every good mod there's ten incredibly tedious, amateurish or over-familiar ones, but modding is one of the foremost forms of independent gaming. This is where the ace developers of tomorrow are born, throwing as many new ideas as they can at an established template until it becomes completely unrecognisable.

We'll be looking at mods for other games and genres over the coming months, but for now, let's start at the most obvious place. As the premier FPS on PC, and with its developer actively encouraging third-party modifications, Half-Life 2 is the centrepiece of a vast number of fascinating examples. What follows are simply five of the most interesting - not necessarily the best, definitely not all the most recent, but all worth a look to see what someone just like you can do when they raise the motivation to make their own game.

But first, a quick FAQ in case you are an ill-tempered veteran mod-player about to unleash all manner of nasty shouting.

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FeatureOpening the Valve

Part 2: On Warren Spector, Alyx, and the importance of playtesting.

Despite the massive acclaim and the shower of awards thrust upon Valve in the wake of Half-Life 2's release in November 2004, the developer listened more than ever to the feedback from the community, meticulously cataloguing thousands of hours of playtesting feedback from hundreds of playtesters and setting about to continue the Half-Life 2 story episodically, but while also fixing many of the niggling issues that fans had with the game.

FeatureOpening the Valve

Gabe Newell and co. on Hollywood, Episode One and future expansions.

After spectacularly 'raising the bar' (with a gravity gun) of the FPS genre in 2004, Valve last week turned its attention to extending the Half-Life 2 universe episodically with the release of the first in a trilogy of episodes that finally reveals what happened to Gordon and Alyx after the destruction of the Citadel.

Half-Life 2 on Xbox 360?

Possibly. One day.

A pair of big American game retailers reckon Half-Life 2 is coming to Xbox 360 in the not utterly distant future - and Valve's not denying it.

Garry's Mod to be sold on Steam

$10 for Half-Life 2 mod.

The Half-Life 2 modification Garry's Mod is to be sold through Steam for $10, author Garry Newman's confirmed - with money split 50-50 between the mod team and distributor Valve.

64-bit Half-Life 2 released

For Athlon 64 FX processors.

Valve's announced the release of 64-bit versions of Half-Life 2 and super-shiny HDR add-on Lost Coast through Steam.

Half-Life 2

Half-Life 2

Console yourself, it's finally here.

One of the central problems of the first person shooter is we've pretty much been there, done that so many times, we're a little travel-weary. It's not so much a case of having the T-shirt, as having a bin bag full of XL ones.

Half-Life 2's initial arrival almost exactly a year ago on PC certainly didn't reinvent the wheel as many expected and demanded, but it grabbed hold of the stagnant genre with a gravity gun and purposefully thrust it into a compelling new direction. The wonderful Source engine not only looked truly next-generation (fully 12 months ahead of time) with hugely impressive character models and wonderfully immersive environments, but its innovative use of physics allowed Valve to give us new toys to play with and come up with new gameplay possibilities into the bargain.

But technology can only dazzle a gamer for so long. Eventually it has to have substance behind the glitz and justify the hype. For the most part it did just that - constantly surprising the gamer and reinventing itself with a seamless adventure that is as memorable an FPS as there has ever been. This constant evolution was consistently underpinned by Valve's masterfully understated storytelling techniques, wry, self-referential humour, warm characterisation and some of the most epic scenarios gamers have ever been pitted against. Despite some of its flaws, Half-Life 2 remains a thrilling sci-fi road trip that provides a tantalising glimpse of the possibilities of gaming.

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Half-Life 2 Xbox dated

'-Life is complete.

Xbox 360 may be the number of the hour, but those of you 359 behind will be pleased to hear that the Xbox port of Half-Life 2 has GONE GOLD IN BIG LETTERS and will be released worldwide, according to Valve, on November 15th. Smashing.

A Few Good G-Men

Movie gets HL2 makeover.

Ever thought what a good idea it would be to remake a scene from classic military flick A Few Good Men as if it was actually a scene in Half-Life 2?

HL2 Lost Coast screens

It's all gone HDR.

UK hardware review site Bit-Tech, home to old-school Eurogamer staffer Geoff Richards [woo! - Ed], has some spanky new screens from Half Life 2: Lost Coast up, plus an interview with Valve's Doug Lombardi. You can check it all out here.

Half-Life 2

Could the gravity gun lift the Xbox?

Half-Life 2 is a game I always wanted to review but never got the chance to [Ed snips 4,000 words]. In the end it was a science-fiction first-person shooter - usually a very narrow-minded genre - that managed to encompass many themes on many levels, but the thing I probably liked most about it was the way it applied "less is more" logic all over the place.

Valve unveils E3 plans

Valve unveils E3 plans

Half-Life 2 Xbox, PC's Lost Coast bit on show.

Both Half-Life 2 Xbox and Half-Life 2: The Lost Coast will be on show at E3 next week according to developer Valve Software, which made the announcement as it rolled out a service update on its Steam content download service.

HL2 Xbox will be on display on Microsoft's E3 booth rather than Vivendi-Universal Games; Valve having recently broken off its long-term publishing relationship with VU to the extent that none of its games will be handled by the publisher beyond August 31st.

Half-Life 2: The Lost Coast will be on display too. We're not sure where yet, but most of you aren't even going so it's hardly a big deal. The Lost Coast, in case you're confused, is a high-definition one-level episode for HL2 which takes a specific area of the game and makes it look ridiculously good-looking.

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HL2: Lost Coast trailer

HL2: Lost Coast trailer

It's a weighty download, mind, but very pretty indeed. On Eurofiles now.

A new trailer for Half-Life 2: The Lost Coast is now available for download from good old Eurofiles.

It might take a while to download at 179MB, and you only get a minute's worth of footage for all that, but what pretty footage it is - the trailer is designed to show off the High-Dynamic Range rendering that's being used in the expansion.

You can read a full preview of Half-Life 2: Lost Coast here.

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Euro HL2 Xbox late summer

Valve confirms the console port of Half-Life 2 should be out "late summer", but Aftermath won't be included.

A British Microsoft source has claimed that Half-Life 2 on Xbox is now likely to ship in September in Europe, quashing rising rumour that the port is to grace Microsoft's next generation console as a launch title later this year.

FeatureHalf-Life 2: The Lost Coast

Valve gives a glimpse of its next-gen plans, providing more info on its single Half-Life 2 level for high end PCs.

As refreshingly optimised as Half-Life 2 was to run on low and mid range PCs, there's no doubt that a hugely significant chunk of its owners went out and upgraded their rigs with the specific intention of playing Valve's game without compromise, in all its staggeringly gorgeous glory. But while many of us went out and upgraded to a gigabyte of RAM, stuck in a high-end Radeon or GeForce and spent a fortune, it's pretty clear that our PCs had plenty of headroom left - and now Valve wants to take advantage of that with the forthcoming release of a specially designed level called 'The Lost Coast'.

FeatureE3 2003: Half-Life 2

Three words: Oh. My. God.

We know the exclusive presentation has now leaked out onto the net, but any game that makes us physically shake with excitement deserves some measure of evangelism nevertheless. With Half Life 2, Valve has taken the FPS by the scruff of the neck, whirled it around its head, and drop kicked its sorry arse into another dimension. The five years of quiet hype-free development have positioned the US team so far ahead of the competition it's almost embarrassing. Better than Doom III and Halo 2? Yep. But how?