Does Half-Life 2 matter anymore?


posted 8/18/2004 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
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Does Half-Life 2 really matter any more? This horrifying question popped into my head on the way home from work the other day (it’s amazing the things we think of when stuck in traffic). My mind recoiled in the thought of such heresy. How could I even think such a thing? Half-Life 2 is one of the sacred cows of the industry and how could I, a big FPS fan, even question if the game mattered or not. I tried to push it from my mind but it kept haunting me. Does it really matter? Will it really live up to the hype?

Let’s put Half-Life 2 in to a bit of perspective first. We’ve already had four great FPS games this year in Far Cry, Painkiller, Doom 3, and Unreal Tournament 2004. With Halo 2 right around the corner it’s not like there isn’t a lot of games to spend time with. Now add in that this has been one of the best years for gamers ever and the picture takes on a bit of a different color.

To better examine the question let’s hop into the way-back machine and go back to this time last year. Half-Life 2 had debuted at E3 to thunderous applause and gamers were anxiously awaiting the September 30th release date. The game promised to revolutionize the gaming industry with amazing new graphic technology, new human modeling techniques, and an innovative physics engine. The game also promised a continuation of one of the best single player games ever. I remember coming out of the E3 presentation numb with excitement. I could almost swing the mythical crowbar again and I was even willing to deal with another crummy alien level with a bizarre floating baby thing just to get another dose of the Half-Life universe. People had even upgraded their video cards to get a free copy of the game when it came out.

We all know what happened. September 30th came and went without the game appearing on shelves. Jaded gamers came out of the wood work with their “I told you it wouldn’t happen” and other such smug internet chat room postings. Shortly after that, Valve came out with the shocking news that some of their code had been stolen by a hacker and that the game was going to be delayed for quite some time. Thus began the next waiting cycle.

A funny thing happened between last year and this year. A lot of cool new games popped up and filled the void created by Half-Life. Far Cry hit the market like a truck. The game featured some of the best graphics to date, a decent plot, and one of the best environments ever seen in a game. The game even had realistic physics (who knew playing with boxes could be so much fun). After Far Cry, Painkiller hit and while the plot wasn’t exactly deep the game featured more amazing graphics, a wide variety of enemies, the Havok 2.0 physics engine, and a ton of fun wrapped in a small bundle. The final shot was the release of Doom 3, John Carmack’s latest engine demonstration. The next generation of FPS game was here and yet Half-Life 2 still didn’t have a release date.
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