Half-Life 2 preload reaches sixth phase
The actual maps are now being distributed in encrypted form as unconfirmed reports put the game a hair's breadth away from release.
Valve has begun the sixth phase of Half-Life 2 preloading overnight amidst unconfirmed reports that the highly rated first-person shooter is a couple of formalities away from going gold and being shipped off to manufacturing - returned release candidates and ongoing litigation notwithstanding.
This phase of the preload will see Half-Life 2's maps downloaded to Steam users in encrypted form - a sure enough sign that the game is teetering on the brink of completion. Last week Valve launched pre-order offers on Steam, and anybody who signed on for one should be able to activate the game the moment it's made available - as well as getting to play the full version of Counter-Strike: Source in the meantime.
The question of when the game is actually likely to be released is still unanswered - with publisher Vivendi-Universal Games and the Seattle-based developer keeping quiet on the subject - but with the actual map data now beaming around the world and reviews appearing in various print mags (with 95 per cent scores or higher), we're definitely getting closer. The minute we hear anything...