HL2: Episode One
Valve today announced that the next installment of Half-Life 2 is available for pre-loading. Here is their press release:
"Half-Life 2: Episode One, the first in series of episodic games from Valve, is now available for pre-purchase and pre-load via Steam. Those who pre-order the game before it is made available on June 1st will save 10% off the $19.95 price.
HL2: Lost Coast
Valve released a "technology preview" in the form of a new map - Lost Coast
. This is a small map with little in the way of gameplay, but it does showcase High-Dynamic Range lighting (HDR) in the Source engine. Only high-end machines will be able to get the most out of it - the installation process will tell you if your machine is up to it.
HL Blue Shift
Valve have made the Half-Life addon Blue Shift available via Steam for those who have bought the original Half-Life Generations box set, or who bought HL2 Silver or Gold packages via Steam. Even the Generations version that didn't actually contain Blue Shift allows you access to the game.
Read more at steampowered.com
Half-Life 2 SP Update
Getting to the end of HL2 is a bit like when you reach the end of Lord of the Rings - you're sad it's over and you want more. HL2 is every bit the worthy successor to the original, carrying momentum all the way through to the end.
The AI of the enemies is much better than the original, although not as good as in FarCry. The AI of your allies is not brilliant - they still always manage to get in your way when you are trying to do something. The animation of the enemy aircraft and the creepers is awesome. The weapons are okay, with the exception of the gravity gun which is superb. Using it to fire saw blades through the heads of the zombies in Ravenholm was most satisfying :)
All in all, this has to be the best single player FPS we've seen. Worth the wait? Very much so.
I've read a lot of things on various forums regarding HL2 and its installation, some good and some bad, but once people manage to start playing, I've not seen a bad word written about it.
My personal experience was that the installation from a retail DVD went fine. I already had an up to date Steam installation, so that bit was not an issue (many people reported issues creating Steam accounts on the day, but that's hardly surprising given the load the servers must have been under). The only bit that took a while was the unlocking of files - that was a good 15-20 minutes. Once that was complete, the game started fine. Note that Trebz found that his installation from DVD failed unless he opted to install CS:Source aswell as HL2. The Valve HL2 Forums
have plenty of discussions on installation issues.
So onto the game itself - absolutely superb. I've not got particularly far yet (just got to the bit where your bike thing gets its gun) but the bits I've seen are just great. It has the expansiveness and graphical detail of FarCry but on top of that it's kept the atmosphere of the original HL. The interaction between your character, the AI characters and the objects and scenery is spot on. The ability to pick up and move just about anything on the map meant they could be really creative with the various puzzles throughout the game. It's not just a case of finding hidden buttons or levers anymore. Eg in the sewers, there are a couple of places where you have to move bricks or barrels to weigh down one end of a plank of wood in order to make a ramp for your bike to jump off.
I've not had chance to look at the multiplayer side of it yet, but no doubt will do in due course.
HL2 and MoH:PA
What a top week we have in store, with the releases of both Half-Life 2 and Medal of Honor : Pacific Assault. Both these games have been delayed, and then some more. And in HL2's case, some more again.
However, the wait is now over. More updates to follow when we see the LAN potential of these games.
Half-Life 2 Date
At last it looks like we have a firm date for the release of Half-Life 2. Vivendi issued a statement saying that the game had gone gold and that a release was earmarked for Tuesday 16th November. This year!
After all the delays and disappointments over the last 18 months, let's hope this time it really happens.
Half-Life 2 via Steam
Valve are making the purchase of Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike:Source available over the Steam network. Buyers will get CS immediately (assuming they have preloaded it over the past few weeks), and they will get Half-Life 2 as soon as it is released.
The Steam client has been updated to support the various purchasing options.
Read about the offers on the Steam
Half-Life 2 Delay
It now transpires that Vivendi have the legal right to sit on the final release candidate of Half-Life 2 for upto six months. With the release candidate being due in the next few weeks, the reported September 2004 release has gone the way of the reported September 2003 release. Will it even make it out for xmas? It's not looking promising :(
The full article can be read on Gamespot
HalfLife 2 Hardware
hl2fallout.com have posted an article detailing what kind of performance you can expect from various levels of hardware. It seems the key is having a decent DirectX9 card, along with a CPU of 2.4GHz or above.
Read the full HalfLife 2 hardware requirements