Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Half-Life 2 is a first-person shooter computer game and the highly anticipated sequel to Half-Life developed by Valve Software. It received mainstream media attention when the game's source code was leaked to the Internet in September 2003. Valve sent a release candidate to its publisher, Vivendi Universal, on September 15, 2004; the game went gold on October 18, and was released on November 16, 2004, just over 6 years after the October 1998 release of Half-Life. A single-disc demo version was later made available in December at the web site of graphics card manufacturer ATI, who teamed up with Valve for the game.
In the original Half-Life, researchers at a remote underground laboratory called the Black Mesa Research Facility accidentally open a doorway into an alien world, unleashing strange and deadly creatures into the facility. The player acted as Gordon Freeman, one of those research scientists, and guided him in his attempt to escape the facility. Half-Life 2 picks up the story ten years after the Black Mesa incident in a futuristic 'City 17', apparently in Eastern Europe.
At the start of the game the mysterious G-Man speaks to Gordon Freeman. Freeman then finds himself riding a train into City 17, unarmed and without his HEV suit. It soon becomes clear that City 17 is under the rule of a totalitarian Administrator, Dr. Breen, who, incidentally, is the former administrator of the Black Mesa Research Facility. He enforces his rule through armies of intimidating "Civil Protection" units (also called "Metropolice") and "Combine" soldiers, who rule without so much as a need to justify themselves to the citizens of City 17. Civil Protection units are similar to Combine soldiers, with the exception that they are human, whereas the Combine soldiers are hybrids (hence the title). Freeman meets up with some old friends from Black Mesa and soon becomes caught up in the struggle against the Combine.
Like the original Half-Life, the game is divided into chapters:
- Point Insertion - Gordon arrives in City 17 and meets up with old friend Barney Calhoun, the security guard from Black Mesa.
- A Red Letter Day - Gordon meets Alyx Vance (the daughter of Dr. Eli Vance, who Gordon knows from Black Mesa). Alyx takes him to Dr. Isaac Kleiner (Gordon's mentor from MIT and colleague at Black Mesa). Kleiner attempts to teleport Gordon to Eli's laboratory on the far side of the city but something goes wrong and Gordon must make his way there the hard way.
- Route Kanal - Gordon makes his way along the city's canals to find a resistance base. The resistance provides him with an air boat to get him the rest of the way to Eli's lab.
- Water Hazard - Gordon is chased along the city's waterways by Combine troops and a Combine hunter-killer assault helicopter. In the end of episode, luckily, Gordon manages to take it down.
- Black Mesa East - Gordon arrives at Eli's lab and gets aquainted with Dr. Judith Mossman. Alyx shows him how to use a Gravity Gun. Suddenly the lab is infiltrated by Combine forces and Gordon escapes along the old tunnel to Ravenholm town.
- "We Don't Go To Ravenholm..." - Gordon meets Father Grigori, who helps him get through the zombie-infested ghost town of Ravenholm to the abandoned mines. The mines lead Freeman to the dockyards outside City 17.
- Highway 17 - Gordon finds another resistance base under assault by Combine troops. Alyx tells him that Eli has been captured by the Combine and is being held in Nova Prospekt, an old maximum-security prison. Gordon heads up the coast road in a dune buggy in an attempt to find Eli. The task is somewhat hardened by the fact that it's a spawning season for antlions, so the coast is crawling with them.
- Sandtraps - Gordon arrives at the resistance base at Lighthouse Point and must continue the rest of the way to Nova Prospekt on foot. The antlions lie burrowed everywhere, catching the slightest vibrations; so a single step on the sand sets them alarmed and angry, therefore Gordon must cling to the rocks. After Gordon successfully manages to defeat the Antlion Guard he receives the bugbait, a globe filled with pheromones that allows Gordon to control Antlions to his benefit.
- Nova Prospekt - Gordon makes his way through the prison's old corridors and basements to try to find where the Combine is holding Eli. This undertaking might have been impossible, had he been not given a means to command the fierce antlions at his will - a pheropod, or a "bug-bait".
- Entanglement - Alyx shows up and together they find Eli... and Judith Mossman, who, apparently, is working for the Combine. Eli is teleported out of the prison by the traitor, and Alyx and Gordon escape via Combine teleport to Dr. Kleiner's lab.
- Anticitizen One - News of Gordon's successes have sparked an uprising against the Combine and City 17 is in turmoil. Alyx and Gordon survive the teleport, but a malfunction in the system causes their arrival to be delayed by a week. Gordon leads a squad of resistance fighters to free Eli from the monstrous Citadel, while Alyx helps Dr. Kleiner escape the lab.
- "Follow Freeman!" - Gordon helps Barney Calhoun, who is pinned down by snipers. Together they shut down the suppressor field. Then Gordon leads the resistance forward and eliminates a pack of Combine war-machines - the Striders.
- Our Benefactors - Gordon gets inside the Citadel through an underground passage. To get to its heart he has to climb inside a prisoner pod. The pod brings him to a confiscation room, where the Combine destroys all of his weapons using a special confiscation field. All but one - the Gravity Gun, based on a mysterious Xen technology, somehow causes a "confiscation field failure", and instead of being destroyed gets immensely stronger, infused with Dark Energy. Henceforth it can manipulate organic matter (killing it instantly), large-scale objects and "energy balls". Gordon has to dispatch all of oppostion, using only the Gravity Gun. In the end, however, he is again forced to climb in the prisoner pod, as there is no other way further.
- Dark Energy - The pod brings him directly to Dr. Breen's office. There he meets not only Dr. Breen himself, but also the traitor Judith Mossman. The Gravity Gun is taken from him, this time manually. As it turns out soon, Eli and Alyx (unfortunately captured) are also here. Dr. Breen threatens to send them to the Combine's world, which is hostile environment for humans; and he is going to carry out his threat, when Judith Mossman reveals her true colors--her apparent betrayal only a ploy--and hijacks the console controling the pods, freeing the prisoners. Dr. Breen, however, manages to escape. He flees to the teleport. Gordon follows him, having recovered his Gravity Gun. The game ends as Freeman succeeds at destroying the portal.
Throughout the game the player fights a mixture of human and alien foes, ranging from insect-like antlions, headcrabs, and zombies, to elite Combine soldiers and towering, three-legged Striders. The player drives an airboat through swamps and an armed buggy along highways, has to solve puzzles with the help of the gravity gun, and occasionally commands a squad of underground resistance fighters.
As in the previous game in the series Freeman never speaks, and is never seen from an external angle or in a mirror: only Freeman's gloved hands are visible, briefly, after putting on the HEV suit or changing to a new weapon. As in the original game, there are no cutscenes present—all of the plot exposition is viewed through the player's eyes. This has drawn criticism from some fans of the series, because they believe Freeman would have a great deal of curiosity as to what has happened since the Black Mesa incident. Furthermore, Gordon's colleagues seem to believe Gordon knows where and why he is here, even though he has not aged a day since the Black Mesa incident—although this may in fact be an intentional plot point.
There has also been concern for the plot of Half-Life 2. Because Gordon is mute, and his allies assume he already knows his situation, there is little in the way of conventional plot exposition. While some claim this was intended—to have the Player's confusion mirror Gordon's—many expected a section of the game where Gordon and the Player are brought up to speed. The removal of any direct explanation of the game's back-story does appear to have been a deliberate artistic move by the developers; the player can read the titles of newspaper clippings to glean some information of what has happened since Half-Life. Only Dr Kleiner and Barney briefly reference the events that happened after Half-Life, including the newspaper clippings in Kleiner's lab, and little information is added on what the articles actually contain.
Half-Life 2 ends almost identically to the original: Gordon, after completing a major task, is 'removed' from the area by the infamous G-Man. As in the original, little is answered directly: this has drawn critique from many fans, who were told that the sequel, Half-Life 2, would answer questions asked by Half-Life.
Interestingly, a recent Half-Life 2 book, Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar (ISBN 0761543643), revealed that the Nova Prospekt chapter was originally much longer, but was cut down to just one scene. Many hints and conversations, answering many questions players have asked about the plot, were also cut. Raising the Bar shows scripts of these scenes, screenshots, and even fully rendered models, indicating the section was cut late in development. Parts of it survive as glimpsed scenes during the last section of the released game.
Promotional shots and gameplay videos released before the game became available showed parts of these scenes, and also showed enemies which do not appear anywhere in the final game, such as a hydra-like enemy. The hydra was apparently cut because its AI was not convincing enough: while it looked great when attacking NPCs, it was not felt to be a convincing enemy.
It remains unknown if the cut Half-Life 2 scenes will eventually be completed and released, possibly as an expansion pack, or if they are lost forever. A similarily cut scene for Half-Life was eventually released as the Half-Life: Uplink demo.
When Half-Life 2 was released, its only multiplayer component was Counter-Strike: Source. On November 30, 2004, Valve released the Half-Life 2 Deathmatch component (HL2DM), along with the full SDK, as a free download to all Half-Life 2 owners.
Half-Life 2: Deathmatch currently has three official maps, dm_overwatch, dm_lockdown and dm_steamlab, which are all based on areas from the single-player game. Dm_overwatch is based on the single-player chapter "Follow Freeman!" and dm_lockdown is based on the Nova Prospekt chapter. Dm_steamlab is an original map that is loosely based on the Half-Life Deathmatch map "datacore". Valve also ran a mapmaking contest within the community, and have announced the winners. The maps in placement order: dm_underpass, dm_resistance, dm_powerhouse and dm_avalon. With the release of dm_steamlab on 17th February, there came three new weapons, the Crowbar, Stunstick and the S.L.A.M.. The S.L.A.M. is a mine-type device, functioning in the same way as a proximity mine. It can be attached to walls when it emits a laser beam, which when broken will detonate the mine. They can also be detonated on demand by the player who placed them. Both the Stunstick and Crowbar behave as they did in the single-player version of the game.
The goal of Deathmatch is for the player to kill as many other players as possible, using a variety of means. The player spawns with a gravity gun, pistol, sub-machine gun and grenades. All weapons aside from the pheropod (also known as bugbait) and crowbar are available to be collected around the level. Players can be killed by gunfire, explosions, or by being hit by objects fired using the gravity gun.
Some players have expressed disappointment in HL2DM, specifically concerning the Gravity Gun. The two official maps for HL2DM are filled with items which can be carried by the gravity gun, leading to their near-exclusive use. This is compounded by the damage these items can deal when hit by them, which is arguably far greater than a conventional weapon. Instead of being deathmatch, these players argue, HL2DM is an exercise in "lifting and chucking."  However there are arguably just as many players for whom the novelty of annihilating enemies by blasting them with barrels, computer monitors and even cars has never and will never be exhausted. The counter to the incredible power of the Gravity Gun is the relatively slow speed of its projectiles - indeed the argument is not dissimilar to abuse hurled at players who camp with sniper rifles or RPG's - it is common for a player to immediately blame some factor out of their control for their defeat. Building barricades is also a popular and loathed camping strategy. Dealing with the barricades themselves is simple enough, but the distraction they provide is enough to render a player vulnerable.
For Half-Life 2 Valve developed a new game engine called Source, which handles the game's visual, audio, and AI elements. Environmental physics calculations are handled by the licensed Havok middleware engine. As usual, to utilize the new graphics and visual effects, players require fairly recent video cards, giving GPU manufacturer ATI Technologies an opportunity to partner with Valve on a joint product release , which, unfortunately, was spoiled by the product delay. Half-Life 2 requires powerful hardware in order to run with all visual and audio effects enabled, but due to the Source engine's ability to scale according to the level of the hardware, a modern PC system is not required. The Source engine's interactivity promised to tie emergent gameplay with the scripted sequences that Half-Life was already known for, but few examples of emergent behaviour have been displayed. Valve has licensed the Source engine to other developers, on the condition that their games were delayed until the release of Half-Life 2.
Like with its predecessor Half-Life, Half-Life 2 is expected to become a base for many modifications, or mods. Many of them are sequels of original Half-Life mods. Valve has also included Counter-Strike: Source (Counter-Strike for Half-Life 2) in the retail version of Half-Life 2. Day of Defeat: Source will also be released, and is currently being pre-sold with premium Half-Life 2 Steam packages.
One of the more notable features of Half-Life 2 is the unique ability of the characters to simulate emotions and facial speech movements on the fly. The facial animation technology is language independent, with facial features being created automatically based on audio files and speech transcripts. According to Valve, forty-two "facial muscles" are simulated for this. Another feature, courtesy of the Havok physics engine, is the increased interactivity of the levels with every object having unique mass, density, buoyancy, and other properties which make its interaction with the player, other objects and the environment more realistic.
Additionally, when coupled with Steam, the engine can be easily upgraded to include many new computer graphic technologies. One such example is High dynamic range imaging, and Valve will release a free outdoor level based on Highway 17 featuring this technology, known as "Lost Coast". Perhaps, in the future, other new graphic technology may be included, either to increase performance, draw distance, or increase the appearance of the graphic.
Steam content delivery system
Integral to Half-Life 2 is the Steam content delivery system developed by Valve Software. This allows customers to purchase games (or any other software) directly from the developer and have it downloaded directly to their computer. This system also allows "micro updates" to games - games are continually updated and only the most recent version is allowed to be run. This makes it much harder to hack the game to introduce cheats or to play online with a free 'pirated' copy. All users playing a single game must also have an account on the Steam servers to play the game. Steam is also used for finding and playing multiplayer games.
Some users have had numerous problems with Steam, enough so that the delivery and multiplayer client is a well-marked part of the game, in some cases enough to prevent a reviewer to recommend the game, and in almost every case enough to lower the review score. Long download times, updates and internet checks that are sometimes unnecessary characterize some negative views of the Steam client.
A 1 GB portion of Half-Life 2 became available for pre-load through Steam on August 26, 2004. This means that customers could begin to download encrypted game files to their computer before the game is released. When the game was released in the shops, customers were able to pay for the game through Steam, unlock the files on their hard drives and play the game immediately, without having to wait for the whole game to download. The pre-load period lasted for several weeks, along with several subsequent portions of the game being made available, to ensure all customers had a chance to download the content before the game is released.
On November 16, 2004, Half-Life 2 was officially released. While the launch was mainly regarded as successful, a significant number of buyers (both through Steam and retail) initially found themselves unable to play the game, due in part to the overloading of Valve's Steam system.
Ideally, a user would install Half-Life 2, and then authorize his or her copy of the game, and be able to play. However, the skepticism by many gamers was proven true, and the Steam authorization servers suffered from high load, similarly to servers of MMORPGs. Regardless of purchasing the game retail or through Steam, users found themselves unable to play a game they had purchased.
While many players and reviewers complained about Valve's use of Digital rights management, they were generally more tolerant to it than to Microsoft's Windows XP activation scheme or Intuit, Inc. TurboTax DRM.
Another blemish on HL2's release record was the "No Counter-Strike" install error. If a user does not wish to install Counter-Strike: Source, he or she will encounter an error approximately 80% of the way into the installation procedure. Only if the user installs Counter-Strike will the installation complete (after which it can be specifically uninstalled). Note that while not all users experienced this error, the error was so commonplace that a warning was issued before the game was released.
Additionally, some users have reported game crashes when HL2 initiates its auto-save feature, as well as audio stuttering. Patches are periodically released by Valve, which attempt to correct these issues. However, the initial patch released in December, while fixing the audio stuttering, also forced many players to have reduced performance, either in lowered frame-per-second or lowered resolution. Some players have reported that the patch reduced performance, and also failed to reasonably correct the audio stuttering. Other modern games using the Source engine have not experienced this audio stuttering to the degree being reported in Half-Life 2.
However, even on the best of systems the auto-save feature can cause a "freeze" when it is triggered, often at important points of the game—during this time the game saves all applicable information about the player's current progress in the game so they can start off from the same point. This lag can be quite disruptive to play, but can be avoided by changing hidden settings in Half-Life 2's configuration file. The January patch decreased the stuttering during game save in many cases.
During the night of November 30, 2004, an update was released which inadvertently prevented scores of customers from launching the game. A minor update was quickly launched to resolve the issue. The update added the multiplayer Half-Life 2: Deathmatch to Steam, which was noticeably absent from the original release.
On December 10, 2004, over a Steam update, Valve solved the disc in drive incompatibility error by removing the Securom disc check routine, as well as allowing users to play the game without the game CD or DVD in their drives.
To play the game it is necessary for the player to register an account on Steam, a process which normally takes only seconds - but times of multiple hours continue to be reported. However, this requires internet access, meaning anyone without the internet is effectively barred from buying and registering the game. Although a majority of players will have internet access, it still affects a significant number of prospective consumers. Steam used to require connection to the authentication servers every few days to refresh the authentication ticket on the player's machine, despite what Doug Lombardi described in an interview prior to release of Half-Life 2. However, this was fixed in an Steam update on December 14, 2004. The authentication ticket expiry period has been extended to several weeks.
On the day the game was released a cracked version which did not require Steam or a CD appeared on the Internet. Despite being a single-player game, normal copies of Half-Life 2 require online activation through Steam in order to play. This enabled Valve to track users by their authentication key. On November 23, a week after the game's release, Valve announced that they had disabled 20,000 Steam accounts that had used a key that was being distributed by warez sites on the Internet. On December 22, a further 30,000 Steam accounts were disabled, as announced on another forum post.
Source Code Theft
Half-Life 2 was merely a rumor until a strong impression at E3 in May 2003 launched it into levels of hype only equalled by Doom 3 at the time. It was forecast to come out in September 2003, but it was delayed several times. This pushing back of HL2's release date came in the wake of the cracking of Valve's internal network, through bugs in Microsoft Outlook, resulting in the theft of the game's source code in early September 2003.
The source-code theft had more of an effect on morale for the developers than it did on the schedule—it was later revealed by both Valve CEO Gabe Newell and PR man Doug Lombardi that the September 2003 release date was 'aggressive' and could not have been met even if the theft had never occurred. Many gamers were not surprised by the early delays, recognizing that Valve's first public mention of the game came just four months before its intended release date.
Roughly at the same time as the source code leak, a beta version of HL2 was leaked to the net. Initial claims that the leak was a hoax turned out to be in error as the beta quickly spread widely and was verified to exist by a large number of people. The beta reportedly contains parts of the game in a playable state, as well as some of the tools used to create game content.
Going gold hoax
On August 27, 2004 a forum post by Gabe Newell from Valve Software said "going gold on Monday". "Going gold" means that the game is finished and simply needs to be pressed onto DVDs and packaged into boxes. This caused much excitement among Half-Life 2 fans but it later turned out that the post was a hoax and was posted by someone who had guessed Gabe's password ("gaben").
Contract dispute regarding Cyber Cafes with Vivendi Universal Games (VUG)
On September 20, 2004, it was revealed by GameSpot that Vivendi Universal Games (VUG) was in a legal battle with Valve Software over the distribution of Half-Life 2 to Cyber Cafes. This is important for the Asian PC gaming market where PC and broadband penetration per capita are much lower (South Korea and Taiwan excepted). Therefore, Cyber Cafes are extremely popular for playing online games for large numbers of people.
According to VUG, the distribution contract they signed with Valve included Cyber Cafes. This would mean that only VUG could distribute Half-Life 2 to Cyber Cafes—not Valve through the Steam system. In November 29, 2004, Judge Thomas S. Zilly, of U.S. Federal District Court in Seattle, WA, ruled that Sierra/Vivendi Universal Games, and its affiliates, are not authorized to distribute (directly or indirectly) Valve games through cyber cafés to end users for pay-to-play activities pursuant to the parties' current publishing agreement. In addition, Judge Zilly ruled in favor of the Valve motion regarding the contractual limitation of liability, allowing Valve to recover copyright damages for any infringement as allowed by law without regard to the publishing agreement's limitation of liability clause.
Motion sickness and field of view
Some complained that playing Half-Life 2 resulted in motion sickness and many attributed the problem to the game's low field of view, which defaults to 75 degrees instead of the more commonly used 90 degrees. While players can increase the FOV through console commands, it can take away the realism, as staring at a monitor about a foot away (the recommended distance) is around 50 degrees depending on the size of the monitor. Additionally, when using 90 degrees, the character's face will get distorted and the levels will seem larger with the player moving through it at high speed.
Interestingly, when the player enters either of the vehicles the FOV is switched to 90 degrees, yet that is where most complained that they experienced motion sickness.
We've been rigorously playing and testing Half-Life 2, Counterstrike Source and Half-Life Source for a long time now - and we've found nothing to suggest that the FOV change is a significant factor in causing motion sickness. We have, however, put a great deal of work and attention into reducing the motion sickness that can be experienced in the vehicles in Half-Life 2. During our early playtests, many of us were experiencing motion sickness from driving the buggy and the airboat—especially the airboat. We've done a lot of work on tuning the experience to reduce any ill effects—especially looking at how we manage the players head/view in relationship to the movement of the vehicles. Interestingly, for all of the vehicle sequences we revert back to FOV 90 so that you have more peripheral vision which is helpful when moving at these faster speeds. Even so, some people still do experience some motion sickness effects from long stretches in the vehicles - personally, I find that I am most affected by the intense jarring that occurs when you slam into something in the airboat at high speed - like when you miss a jump or something.
Others attribute the motion sickness to the default refresh rate setting of 60Hz.
Half-Life 2 contains several weapons, which are not all available in all modes.
The following weapons are available in the normal singleplayer mode. All these are also available in HL2DM.
- Crowbar: the mêlée weapon of Half-Life, and also the first weapon available. In HL2DM the crowbar is weaker but faster than the Stunstick.
- Gravity Gun: Officially called the Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator, the Gravity Gun is a tractor beam–like weapon that does not use any ammo. The primary fire can repel most inanimate objects, allowing these objects to be moved to clear a path, or to harm enemies. The burst itself can also harm some weaker enemies, such as headcrabs. The secondary fire can attract most inanimate objects up to a limit (cars and heavier objects cannot be "pulled"). Held objects can then be launched by using the primary fire, or be used as shields. In HL2DM, the launched objects usually kill instantly. The Gravity Gun heavily utilizes the game's physics engine, and it was originally a tool used by the developers to experiment with and test the physics engine.
- Dark Energy Gravity Gun: late in the singleplayer game, the Gravity Gun receives an infusion of "Dark Energy" from a Combine beam. From that point on, it can also grasp or repel living creatures (killing instantly), and pull heavier inanimate objects. A replacement of the normal Gravity Gun, it is not available in other parts of the game or in multiplayer.
- USP Match 9mm: the first gun available, it is relatively weak but very accurate.
- .357 Magnum Revolver: the second handgun available, it is more powerful and accurate than most other weapons, but ammo for it is quite scarce. It's effective against combine soldiers and zombies, but since ammo is so scarce is should only be used at specific targets.
- MP7A1 Submachine Gun: the first rapid-firing weapon received, this is the primary weapon for close combat. It has a 45 round magazine with 225 rounds in reserve. Secondary fire launches a grenade that detonates on impact. It is also modeled after the real MP7, but with an added grenade launcher, which is purely fictional. (Secondary "tube" on the model)
- Overwatch Standard Issue Pulse Rifle: a powerful assault rifle used by the "Overwatch" (Combine soldiers). The primary fire launches a burst of energy which usually kills with one or two shots. The secondary fire shoots an energy orb, which bounces around the environment for 3 seconds, disintegrating enemies on contact before exploding. The energy orb has caused some stir among HL2DM players, who argue that it is too powerful. The orb can be caught with the Gravity Gun and then launched at enemies.
- Shotgun: the shotgun does high damage at close range, but its broad fire cone makes it weak at a distance. Its secondary fire shoots two rounds at once. This weapon is modeled after the real SPAS-12 shotgun.
- Crossbow: the crossbow is a sniper weapon with high damage and accuracy, but with a slow rate of fire and reload time. Secondary fire activates a zoom mode. The launched bolts are affected by gravity.
- Rocket Launcher: this weapon fires rockets which must be guided it in flight using a laser pointer. Up to three rockets can be stored in the magazine.
- Grenade: a frag grenade that explodes a few seconds after being thrown. Secondary fire rolls the grenades over the floor instead of throwing them in an arc. Thrown grenades can be caught and relaunched with the Gravity Gun.
- Pheropod ("Bug Bait"): these are small pods of pheromones which can be used by the player to command swarms of antlions. The primary fire throws the pods and commands the antlions to go to the target. The secondary fire squeezes the pod to recall the antlions. Pheropods are ineffective against the larger, more aggressive antlion guards. Thrown pods stun enemies for approximately 5 seconds, but do no damage (unless you count the hordes of ravenous antlions it summons to the affected enemies).
HL2DM includes two weapons which are not available in the singleplayer game:
- Stunstick: in the singleplayer game this mêlée weapon is only available to Combine Civil Protection units. It inflicts no damage, but stuns the player: the view wobbles and goes momentarily red. The stunstick has been introduced in HL2DM, where it does inflict damage. It is more powerful than the crowbar, but much slower.
- SLAM: the SLAM (Selectable Lightweight Attack Munitions) originally only appeared in the beta version of the Half Life 2, and was left out of the single player game. This mine weapon is now included in HL2DM. The primary firemode varies depending on whether the player is facing a surface or large physics object, or is targeting open space. When facing a surface the weapon will stick to the surface and emit a laser beam, which will detonate the SLAM if it is broken. When not facing a surface the mine is thrown, but does not explode. Multiple mines can be deposited. The secondary fire then becomes a detonator for all thrown mines. Mines not attached to surfaces can be repositioned with the Gravity Gun: when launched they become light explosives which can be used to knock physics objects into other players.
- Overwatch light machine gun: A modified version of the Pulse Rifle, this stationary weapon has an unlimited supply of ammunition and does not have to be reloaded. It is usually found in an entrenched position, and can be operated by both the player and Combine troops.
- Overwatch attack helicopter turret: this armor-piercing, airboat-mounted weapon is used near the end of the Water Hazard sequence, and can destroy Combine vehicles. It is the same weapon used by Combine helicopters. It constantly replenishes its own ammo at a rate slightly slower than its firing rate, and has a maximum capacity of 100 rounds. This weapon can also be fired when zooming.
- Tau cannon (vehicle-mounted): This weapon, attached to the buggy, functions similarly to the Tau Cannon from Half-Life. It fires laser-like beams which can optionally be charged with the secondary fire button for increased power.
- Annabelle: "Annabelle" is the modified shotgun used by Father Gregori in the Ravenholm chapter. It has more power per shot than the standard shotgun, with a lower rate of fire, and is also very effective at long range. The only way to acquire the Annabelle is to open up the console and type "Give weapon_annabelle".
- Alyx Gun: Alyx Vance has her own special weapon, which is not available for normal use. However, it exists as a reference in the game code, suggesting it may be made available in future releases. In rumours about an upcoming Half-Life 2 expansion it is described as "a combination of pistol, SMG and sniper rifle".
Mods, Expansions, and Sequels
There are several mods developed by Half-Life 2 mod teams. These include partial conversions which allows players to manipulate the physics engine or control Striders; mods which expand the story from differents points of view; total conversions which introduce completely new settings; and multi-player mods. Several mods are listed in the article Half-Life 2 mods.
Rumours about official expansion packs for Half-Life 2 have began circulating as of early March 2005. UK-based game magazine PC Gamer UK has run an article about an upcoming expansion, allowing the player to take the role of supporting character Alyx Vance: this expansion has however not been officially been confirmed by Valve.
Half-Life 2 is the sequel to the immensely popular Half-Life. A second sequel, Half-Life 3, is expected to continue the story, but it has not yet been officially announced. Given that Half-Life 2 was released after six years waiting since Half-life , some believe that Half-Life 3 won't be released any time soon. It is unknown if Half-Life 3 will use a new engine, or if it will merely used a modified version of the Source engine.
Half-Life 2: Aftermath
Valve has recently officially announced the first expansion pack for Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Aftermath. The expansion pack will not feature a playable Alyx Vance, as many believed, as is stated in this excerpt from the Eurogamer.net article:
- As for where Aftermath is set, and the timeline, it's very much a logical continuation from where Half-Life 2 left off, as Laidlaw explains: "Aftermath deals with the events and issues set in motion during Half-Life 2. You've done critical damage to the Citadel. The whole place is going to go up, taking out City 17 and what's in its immediate radius. You and Alyx are leading the flight from the city getting up close and personal with some of the creatures and sights from the end of the game."
Interestingly, the assumption that you continue to play as Gordon isn't justified anywhere in the text; it's possible - and perhaps more likely given the game's ending - that you play as someone else instead. Half-Life 2: Aftermath is due to be released in summer 2005, via Steam, but many doubt that it will arrive as early as that, considering the delays Half-Life 2 endured. According to PC Gamer they will have a large feature in the next issue where information aswell as screenshots of the game will be showcased.
|Maximum PC||11/10 (Kick-Ass Award)|
|PC Gamer US||98% (Editor's Choice)|
|PC Gamer (SWE)||97%|
|Gamestats.com gamer rating average||9.6/10|
|PC Gamer (UK)||96%|
|Gamestats.com press rating average||9.5/10|
|Gamespot||9.2/10 (Editor's Choice)|
|Gaminggroove.com||9/10 (Must Have)|
- AIAS 2004 Awards
- Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction
- Outstanding Achievement in Animation
- Outstanding Character Performance-Male
- Outstanding Achievement in Game Play
- Outstanding Achievement in Visual Engineering
- Innovation in Computer Gaming
- Computer First Person Action Game of the Year
- Computer Game of the Year
- Overall Game of the Year
- BAFTA Games Awards Best game
- Best online game
- Best action adventure
- Best PC game
- Art direction
- 2005 Game Developers Choice Awards
- Best Character Design
- Best Technology
- Excellence in Writing
- Gamespot Best and Worst of 2004
- Best Graphic, Artistic
- Best Shooter (cross-platform)
- Gamespy 2004 Game of the Year
- Best PC overall
- Best PC action
- Best PC Graphics
- Best Character (Dog)
- Silver for Overall (Cross-platform)
- Gamer's Choice
- PC Action
- PC Multiplayer
- PC Overall
- IGN The Best of 2004
- Best First Person shooter (Overall and PC)
- Best Graphics (Overall and PC)
- Best Overall Use of Sound
- Game of the Year (Overall and PC)
- Eleventh Annual PC Gamer Awards
- Game of the Year 2004
- Note: PC Gamer Games of the Year are ineligible for Best-Genre awards, such as Best Action Game.
- Best Graphics (in Daylight)
- This was contrasted to Doom 3, which won Best Graphics (in the Dark). Both games had comparably good graphics engines, but where Half-Life's locales were generally well-lit, Doom had very dim lighting. Additionally, Doom was a frightening game, and it was therefore best played in the dark to amplify this effect. The category was something of a joke, and was listed alongside many categories such as Best Use of Mushrooms.
- Game of the Year 2004
- Spike TV Video Game Award 2004
- Best PC Game
- Best Graphics
- Official Half-Life 2 website
- Steam homepage
- Half-Life 2 demo (1CD)
- MobyGames' entry on Half Life 2
- sourceWiki - For Half-Life 2 mod developers
- Half-Life 2 Wiki. A complete knowledge base and tutorial dump for Half-Life 2.
- interlopers.net A site that collects on tutorials for Hammer mapping aswell as Texturing and and other Source SDK related content.
- Halflife2.Net - Largest Half-Life 2 Community
- HLFallout - A popular Half-Life 2 fansite
- A HL2 storyline speculation by fans, dubbed "Grand Unified HL2 Theory"
- Half-Life Saga Story Guide - A speculative timeline of the Half Life games' plot as a whole.
- The Final Hours of Half-Life 2 - Gamespot's pre-release story
- Pidgeon's guide - A guide for fun console commands that can be used in Half-Life 2.
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