Half-Life 2: Episode One

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Half-Life 2 review — November 2004, UK edition

PC Gamer at

Every week, we publish a classic PC Gamer review from the '90s or early 2000s. This week, Ben Griffin provides context and commentary followed by the full, original text of our Half-Life 2 review, published in the November 2004 issue of PC Gamer UK. More classic reviews here.

What more can be said about Half-Life 2? Jim Rossignol's words below still do a fine job of summing up just why the world got worked up over a singleplayer shooter. November 2004 was a standout month for PC gaming, and indeed PC Gamer.

"I did see some concept art for Half-Life 3" says Counter-Strike co-creator. Left 4 Dead 3 "looks great"

Tom Senior at

Counter-Strike creator Minh Le has been talking to goRGNtv about Valve's most anticipated projects. He's seen artwork of Valve's next Half-Life game, and more of Left 4 Dead 3, which has been rumoured since the Valve database leak late last year.


Report lists Steam's most popular (and most untouched) games

Omri Petitte at

Have you played every single game in your Steam library? No? Neither have I—and that accomplishment is apparently just a small sand grain in the over 288 million games in Steam collections that have never felt a press of the Play button. That's a surprising figure from a new report by Ars Technica researching the most active and popular games on Steam straight from the recorded statistics of some of the platform's 75-million-strong community.


Half-Life 2 mod Minerva getting Director's Cut, Steam release

Phil Savage at

Adam Foster, creator of the brilliant Episode One mod Minerva, works for Valve now. Clearly then, the temptation for this Director's Cut news is to lead with the implication that Valve are releasing a new Half-Life game on Steam. I'm not that mean - plus, it's early in the morning, and I'm worried the shock and subsequent disappointment would be too much for you all. Admittedly, then, it's not new, or even particularly official, but the Steam release of Minerva does promise to be the definitive version.


Gabe Newell: Valve's business increased by 50 percent last year

Omri Petitte at

Valve boss Gabe Newell stepped up to the stage during last week's BAFTA awards to receive the prestigious Academy Fellowship for his contributions to gaming. Presumably momentarily distracted by accepting a trophy modeled after a smirking face, a bewhiskered Newell fielded some interview questions over the normally airtight subject of Valve's business performance that hinted at the monumental scale of the studio's prosperity.


The Half-Life 2 Spherical Nightmares mod is good and you should play it

Tom Senior at

Garry's Mod has earned nearly $22 million over seven years

Omri Petitte at

Garry's Mod, that wonderful physics sandbox of posable characters doing very silly things, has done rather well since attaching a $10 price for its tomfoolery back in 2006. Last December, GMod passed the milestone of 2 million copies sold, an accomplishment made possible by word-of-mouth and creator Garry Newman's regular feature updates. Responding to a fan's question in a blofg post, Newman reveals the mod accrued an astounding $22 million over seven years, but he also says taxes took large bites out of the monstrous moneydollar amount.

NECA open up Gravity Gun pre-orders

Tom Senior at

The Half-Life 2 Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator Replica will go on sale in April, but they're going to be pretty tough to get hold of. Joystiq have noticed a sales page on Think Geek offering NECA's 1:1 model for $150. There will only be 5000 sold worldwide. Once they sell out, "they're gone forever!" The two foot gun features "orange LEDs, 2 handles, 2 triggers, 4 unique sounds from the game." You'll find a list of pre-order links here on the NECA pre-order page.

I think I prefer their Portal gun, but sadly that's flown out of stock. All that's left is a little note saying that the entire batch went in less than half an hour. There's more merch on the NECA site, and you can get a closer look at the Gravity Gun replica in this photograph right here.


Half-Life 2 Gravity Gun replica selling in 2013, sadly obeys gravity

Omri Petitte at

"You can call it the Zero-Point Energy Field Manipulator if you really want to," Half-Life 2's Alyx Vance said by way of introducing the Gravity Gun, one of the most memorable physics-twisting tools of PC gaming. Now, you'll soon be able to lug around your very own triumph of science. Collectible manufacturing company NECA announced a 1:1 Gravity Gun replica available for purchase in spring 2013.


Black Mesa: Uplink mod recreates Half-Life demo with Source graphics

Omri Petitte at

Remember Uplink? (No, not that Uplink.) Valve called its original demo for Half-Life "Uplink" in 1999. It took place during Gordon Freeman's journey through the spooky Lambda Core, but Valve eventually cut the content, later repackaging it as a separate demo. Black Mesa: Uplink reproduces Uplink's levels through Black Mesa's art assets and textures.


Guillermo del Toro has the right "horror vibe" to direct a Half-Life film, says writer Marc Laidlaw

Omri Petitte at

Hollywood studios have approached Valve in the past to explore the possibility of adapting Half-Life for the silver screen, but before you could spit out "Uwe Boll," Valve declared that any sort of movie involving Freeman and Friends® would be created by its very hands. What-ifs persist, of course, and in an interview with New Rising Media (via VG247), Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw named Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro as a good fit for a hypothetical adaptation.


Rise and mine, Mr. Freeman: Early Half-Life levels recreated in Minecraft

Omri Petitte at

Of all the user-made interpretations of Half-Life's doomed resonance cascade in the Black Mesa facility, the version fashioned by Minecraft modder "Xannot" might very well include the first Swiss-cheese-lined test chamber. Really, Xannot's Minecraft-ed Black Mesa appears quite faithful to the original, with explorable hallways, tram rails, and an open-oven microwave.


Half-Life 3 and Dragon Age 3 Gamescom listings "a mistake" say organisers

Tom Senior at

Everyone's been getting pretty excited this morning about the possibility of a big Half-Life 3 reveal at Gamescom. That's thanks to a pdf on the Gamescom site listing Half-Life 3 as one of the exhibits. A translation of the text at the top of the document asks readers to "Please take note of the sources: exhibitors, media, intenet forums, blogs."


Black Mesa: Source video shows renovated On A Rail mission in action

Tom Senior at

Some leaked footage claiming to belong to the elusive Black Mesa Source mod has appeared over on Valve Time, showing some classic weapons and environments renovated in Valve's Source engine. The video shows a bit of violence from the 'On A Rail' mission. But for the odd detail, like iron sights aiming for the Magnum, it all feels very familiar, albeit a fair bit prettier than the original. Take a look.


"Next-gen Source 2" references spotted in Source Filmmaker files

Tom Senior at

It looks as though Valve are working on a proper follow up to the Source Engine they've been gradually improving over the course of the last decade. Valve Time have pulled numerous references to a "next-gen 'Source 2'" engine along with various "Source 2 tools" icons from the guts of the Source Film Maker.

Valve have previously played down the need for an entirely new version of Source, and have concentrated instead on updating the original version to keep up with modern engine tech. That's worked quite nicely so far, but if these references are correct, a more significant step up is on the way. Here are a few of the pulled strings referring to Source 2.


Slender Man Source mod will let you scare the hell out of yourself for free, with friends

Tom Senior at

Remember the Slender Man game we mentioned a couple of weeks back? It's a terrifying indie horror based on the spooky Something Awful monster. You had to wander through a dark forest with a pale torch hunting for messages while trying not to look directly at the creature. It's scary as hell.

GOOD NEWS EVERYBODY, a different team are creating a version of Slender Man in Valve's Source engine. Fittingly, it's called Slender Source, and this one will let you avoid a horrifying death with friends. Yaay!


Black Mesa: Source screenshots bring back memories, BM:S lives!

Tom Senior at

It's alive! A bunch of new screenshots have gone online for Black Mesa: Source. In case you'd missed it, or forgotten it in these years of silence, BM:S is a fan project that aims to recreate the entirety of Half-Life 1 in the Half-Life 2 Source engine. The devs promised to releaser more details if their Facebook page hit 20,000 likes. It did, and they have. So without further ado, here are eight new screenshots for Black Mesa: Source.


Half-Life 2: Episode 3 silence due to development "twists and turns" says Newell

Tom Senior at

Gabe Newell been talking about the Valve sequel everyone wants, Half Life 2: Episode 3, in terms of the Valve sequel no-one wants, Ricochet 2. With almost audible air quotes around each mention of a possible follow up to Valve's year 2000 disk-lobbing multiplayer arena title, Newell told Seven Day Cooldown that the silence surrounding the next Half-Life is intended to spare fans from the unpredictable "twists and turns" of Valve's iterative development style.

"We'd like to be super transparent about the future of Ricochet 2," said Newell, "but the problem is that the twists and turns that we're going through would probably drive people more crazy than being silent about it until we can be very crisp about what's happening."


28,000 fans to play Half-Life 2 this Saturday, why not join them?

Tom Senior at

This Saturday the 28,000 members of this Steam group are planning to play Half-Life 2 together. It's single player, of course, but there's nothing stopping fans from getting together to stroke their chins and nod slowly in mass mutual appreciation for one of the best shooters ever made.

The group hopes that the massive play session will shoot Half-Life 2 up the Steam most-played list and let Valve know how many people are still waiting for Half-Life 2: Episode 3. Valve certainly know this already, and probably receive dozens of emails every day asking "WHERE AM HL3?" but the group hopes to deliver the message in a more appreciative way.


Valve employee wears Half-Life 3 shirt, trolls internet

Tom Senior at

It's just a man in a T-shirt of course, but there's a Half-Life 3 logo on the front of it and a Valve employee inside it.

Art director and executive producer at UberEnt (the team behind Super Monday Night Combat) posted the photo above on Twitter with the message "All I'm saying is I saw this at a local game developer event worn by a Valve employee," sensibly attaching a #ValveTrolling hashtag. He couldn't get any more info out of Valve's man but he confirms that "I did try to smother my face in his chest on the HL3 logo." This did not help.