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Half-Life 2 used to flog new ATI kit

9800 XT and 9600 XT buyers will receive Half-Life 2 when it's done.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Half-Life 2 will be bundled with the new Radeon 9800 XT and 9600 XT graphics cards, ATI and Valve have officially confirmed to coincide with the game's original September 30th release date and its twin press soirees in Munich and San Francisco. Not put off by the game's slippage, ATI has decided to release the cards without the work of their most significant exponents, on the promise that purchasers of the two new cards will receive a free copy of Half-Life "when the game ships" via their choice of download or delivery.

"We chose to partner with ATI because of their outstanding DirectX 9 performance," Valve founder and MD Gabe Newell said in a statement, adding that "ATI's DirectX 9-class Radeon cards are the best choices for playing Half-Life 2." ATI obviously knows the weight of his words with the hardcore - showcasing a bit more of his pro-ATI vernacular in a promotional trailer, although anyone downloading that in hope of a few new snippets of Half-Life 2 will be disappointed. Apart from some EverQuest 2 footage, it's mostly just things like this: "One of the great things about ATI is their ability to provide leadership in key technological areas. That's exactly what we as developers need." Yes, thanks Gabe.

However we reckon that even those of us upgrading our PCs for Half-Life 2 would have a hard time justifying the outlay - DirectX 9-geared technology or not, the 256MB 9800 XT (vanilla 9800 architecture made faster, according to the release) will ship for $499 in the US, while the cheaper but lesser 128MB 9600 XT will clock in at about $200. For all that money, the top-end 9800 XT still "can't claim unambiguously the title of fastest PC graphics card" according to one review we read. There are of course rather a lot.

Obviously we don't expect NVIDIA's rival tech to cost any less or do a great deal more when it launches in the near future (we'd tell you, but we signed things), but that's hardly the point. At the price, a top end card like the 9800 XT is still going to be the most expensive thing in your machine by a long shot. We are, presumably like most of you, going to wait for Half-Life 2 and then see what happens...

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