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Feb 6, 2013
Mad scientists and evil masterminds are classic villain archetypes, and defeating them is always nerve-wracking. Instead of facing you, they'd rather hide in the shadows and rely on their minions. And when it does come to combat, they usually love to show off their deadliest creations.
We gathered some well-known crazies; a mustache or a white coat seems to be a must-have.
Dr. Eggman (Sonic The Hedgehog series)
source: Sonic Generations
Dr. Wallace Breen (Half-Life 2)
source: Half-Life Wiki
Professor Hojo (Final Fantasy VII)
Dr. FunFrock (Little Big Adventure 1-2 / Relentless)
source: The LBA Relentless Movie Project
Dr. Wily (Mega Man series)
Don Paolo (Professor Layton series)
The Elite Of Rapture Society (BioShock)
source: BioShock Wiki
Albert Wesker (Resident Evil series)
source: Resident Evil Wiki
Professor Monkey-For-A-Head (Earthworm Jim)
source: tuwoa's LP
Make sure to submit below the craziest evil scientists you know with visual support.
What you see above is Nathan Andrews' full head- and weapon tracking mod for Half-Life 2, which he created in preparation for the release of the Oculus Rift virtual reality gaming headset. It looks insane.
The Oculus Rift, which raised millions of dollars on Kickstarter in 2012, is hopefully coming out later this year.
It's just... it's just so damn perfect. Especially since it reminds me of my old desktop wallpaper.
Morgan Freeman [GTA Mods]
The Half-Life 2 Cinematic Mod has been around forever, and in that time has proven fairly divisive. Sure, it adds some lovely effects to the game, but it also makes so many changes that some feel it loses a little of Valve's original vision for City 17 and its surrounding countryside. The "improved" character models are a particular bone of contention.
I could never get past the latter, with almost everyone in the mod looking like a Baywatch reject, but if all you care about are environmental effects and the crusade to make a game that's nearly ten years old look brand new, you might want to watch the new video below and see how far the mod has progressed since its inception back in 2005.
If you can meet its surprisingly hefty specs (at least for the full range of effects, considering the game's age), you can download the mod below.
For years now, there have been rumors and reports of a now-cancelled Half-Life 2 episode called Half-Life 2: Return to Ravenholm. The project, an overview of which can be found at the Combine Overwiki, was to be a collaboration between Valve and Dishonored-makers Arkane, and would, presumably, take players back to the creepy, zombie-infested village of Ravenholm. The existence and cancellation of Return to Ravenholm was confirmed by Valve's Marc Laidlaw in January of last year.
The folks at ValveTime have posted what they claim to be some new unearthed prototype screenshots from the long-cancelled project. They've compiled them into the video above, as well. For clarity's sake: These screens are old, and no one has any reason to think the project has been un-cancelled or anything like that.
Seeing as how the images come from an unconfirmed (by us) source and the game apparently never got very far into development, I'd suggest taking them with a grain of salt. I've reached out to both Arkane and Valve to ask about their authenticity, and will update if I hear back. Still... absorption? Interesting.
It wouldn't be an article about Half-Life unless I closed with some sort of Half-Life 3 joke, so… no, you know what? This one time I'm not gonna do it.
New Images of Half-life 2: Episode 4 / Return to Ravenholm [ValveTime, thanks Glenn]
It's 1:1 scale, and as you can see from the prototype below, lights up as well. Since this is the same company behind the replica Portal guns, you could probably expect some sound effects as well.
If the Video Game Awards are actually an awards show, and not just a keynote for promoting upcoming games, then the big news from last night was The Walking Dead: The Game. Eminently quotable analyst Michael Pachter said before the show that if this title, a downloadable self-published game, took home Game of the Year, he'd eat his hat. To his credit, Pachter later tweeted out a request for one, presumably to consume.
But the surprises don't just stop there. The Walking Dead won Game of the Year coming out of the Best Adapted Game category. Except for 2003, the first year of the VGAs, when things were very different from today, only two adapted games have even been nominated for GOTY: Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, and neither won. This is a different time in games development, with publishers looking for games whose characters and stories they fully own.
Some might look to a licensed or adapted work and consider that the game derives its significance, or at least the attention given to it, because it draws on some other franchise in popular entertainment. So it's strange that a licensed, adapted work reminds us that story, and characters, and choices, and the memorable experiences they create, matters most.
Here's another surprise nugget: The Walking Dead: The Game earned its makers five Video Game Awards. The next big winner? Journey, with three (including a nomination for Game of the Year.) Borderlands 2 also took home three awards, the best haul for a traditional boxed console game.
So if you're thinking this might have been a different Video Game Awards, in its 10th year, you're probably right. Had the show given more attention to that purpose—only a handful of these awards were actually presented in the broadcast—we might be pondering it as a landmark year. The VGAs are often accused of being an industry popularity contest, but maybe this year they acquired recognizable critical heft. We'll have to see what happens next year, and the year after.
So here are the 25 winners of the 2012 Video Game Awards, plus the Game of the Decade. Two fan-voted awards gave Character of the Year to Claptrap from Borderlands 2, and Most Anticipated Game to Grand Theft Auto V.
Game of the Year
The Walking Dead: The Game
Also nominated: Assassin's Creed III, Dishonored, Journey, Mass Effect 3
Studio of the Year
Also nominated: 343 Industries, Arkane Studios, Gearbox Software
Best Xbox 360 Game
Microsoft Studios/343 Industries
Also nominated: Assassin's Creed III, Borderlands 2, Dishonored
Best PS3 Game
Sony Computer Entertainment/thatgamecompany
Also nominated: Assassin's Creed III, Borderlands 2, Dishonored
Best Wii/Wii U Game
New Super Mario Bros. U
Also nominated: The Last Story, Xenoblade Chronicles, ZombiU
Best PC Game
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
2K Games/Firaxis Games
Also nominated: Diablo III, Guild Wars 2, Torchlight II
2K Games/Gearbox Software
Also nominated: Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Halo 4, Max Payne 3
Best Action-Adventure Game
Bethesda Softworks/Arkane Studios
Also nominated: Assassin's Creed III, Darksiders II, Sleeping Dogs
Best Role-Playing Game
Mass Effect 3
Also nominated: Diablo III, Torchlight II, Xenoblade Chronicles
Best Multiplayer Game
2K Games/Gearbox Software
Also nominated: Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Guild Wars 2, Halo 4
Best Individual Sports Game
Electronic Arts/EA Canada
Also nominated: Hot Shots Golf World Invitational, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13, WWE '13
Best Team Sports Game
2K Sports/Visual Concepts
Also nominated: FIFA 13, Madden NFL 13, NHL 13
Best Driving Game
Need For Speed: Most Wanted
Electronic Arts/Criterion Games
Also nominated: Dirt: Showdown, F1 2012, Forza Horizon
Best Song in a Game
"Cities" (Beck) for Sound Shapes
Also nominated: "Castle of Glass" (Linkin Park for Medal of Honor: Warfighter); "I Was Born for This" (Austin Wintory for Journey); "Tears" (Health for Max Payne 3)
Best Original Score
Sony Computer Entertainment/thatgamecompany
Also nominated: Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Halo 4, Max Payne 3.
Microsoft Studios/343 Industries
Also nominated: Assassin's Creed III, Dishonored, Journey
Best Independent Game
Also nominated: Dust: An Elysian Tail, Fez, Mark of the Ninja
Best Fighting Game
Persona 4 Arena
Atlus/Arc System Works/Atlus
Also nominated: Dead or Alive 5, Street Fighter X Tekken, Tekken Tag Tournament 2
Best Handheld/Mobile Game
Sony Computer Entertainment/Queasy Games
Also nominated: Gravity Rush, LittleBigPlanet (PS Vita), New Super Mario Bros 2
Best Performance by a Human Female
Melissa Hutchison for The Walking Dead: The Game
Also nominated: Emma Stone for Sleeping Dogs; Jen Taylor for Halo 4; Jennifer Hale for Mass Effect 3
Best Performance by a Human Male
Dameon Clark for Borderlands 2
Also nominated: Dave Fennoy for The Walking Dead: The Game; James McCaffrey for Max Payne 3; Nolan North for Spec Ops: The Line
Best Adapted Video Game
The Walking Dead: The Game
Also nominated: Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
Best Downloadable Content
Dawnguard for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Bethesda Softworks/Bethesda Game Studios
Also nominated: Leviathan for Mass Effect 3; Mechromancer Pack for Borderlands 2; Perpetual Testing Initiative for Portal 2
Best Downloadable Game
The Walking Dead: The Game
Also nominated: Fez, Journey, Sound Shapes
Best Social Game
You Don't Know Jack
Also nominated: Draw Something, Marvel: Avengers Alliance, SimCity Social
Game of the Decade
Half Life 2
Also nominated: Batman: Arkham City, BioShock, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Mass Effect 2, Portal, Red Dead Redemption, Shadow of the Colossus, Wii Sports, World of Warcraft
Supremely talented custom toy builder Jin Saotome is back with another masterpiece, this time featuring the Half-Life series' most sharply-dressed bad guy, the headcrab zombie.
Standing 7" tall, the headcrab comes off to reveal a zombified skull inside. He's also got a busted-open chest and some great blood detail.
The good news? He's for sale! The bad news? He's up on eBay, so the bids might get a little out of control.
Nov 12, 2012
Remember when you first finished Half-Life 2: Episode 2? The excitement? The shock? You were ready to set out with Alyx at your side, ready to show those alien bastards who's boss. The trilogy, and with it, the Combine's rule over Earth, would end soon.
Except it didn't. At the time of this writing, almost five years have passed since the supposed release date of the final installment in Gordon Freeman's saga. Half-Life 2: Episode Three was slated to arrive Christmas 2007. It didn't. As the weeks and months went by, confused fans tried to glean whatever information they could from Valve, but, by and large, they were unsuccessful. The company remained silent.
In this Kotaku Timeline, we follow the fans' process of dealing with Valve's silence, cataloging their forays into leaked code, and their communications with the developers. We detail the ways the gaming press interacted with Valve over the years, and list what little has been revealed. In addition, we will keep watch over the game, and take note of any events, good or bad, in the months and years to come.
There were no mentions of the final episode—called Half-Life 3 by some—between 1999, when Valve registered the domain halflife3.com, and 2006. But then, announcements were made, and names were dropped. And so this is where our timeline begins...
April/May—Gaben and episodic gaming
In the May issue of the print version of PC Gamer, Valve Software co-founder Gabe Newell talks about Half-Life 2 and its episodes (including Episode 3!), and why he thinks episodic gaming is the way to go. A full transcript is available through the link below.
May 26—Remaining episodes announced, dated
Valve officially announces Episodes 2 & 3, saying that the trilogy is slated to end by Christmas 2007. Yeah.
June 6—Lots of little Episode 3 details
Gabe: "Half-Life 3 [a.k.a. Episodes One to Three] is about the relationship with the G-Man and what happens when he loses control of you."
Eurogamer talks to Valve about the upcoming episodes, who divulge a few details regarding locations, characters and possible expansions.
May 17—Episode 3's already being worked on
Lombardi: "Pre-production is definitely going, and it'll be ramping up rather quickly now that they're ramping down on Episode Two."
Eurogamer gets hold of Valve marketing director Doug Lombardi, who talks about Episode 3, which is apparently already in pre-production.
November 9—Valve doesn't want to overcommit
While talking to RPS, Episode 2 project lead David Speyrer says the reason for not having an Episode 3 trailer is that they don't want to make promises they can't keep. (Which is ironic, considering Episode 3 was supposed to ship in 2007.)
December 19—Episode 3 is not the end of Half-Life
In an interview with StuffWeLike, Doug Lombardi drops the fact that the Half-Life franchise won't end with Episode 3.
March 1—The Oranger Box
GTTV interviews Gabe about a variety of things, managing to squeeze in a question about Episode 3. (Thanks, commenter Cursed Frogurt!) Transcript below.
GTTV: Episode 3. What do we know about it? What can you tell us?
Gabe: From our point of view there's enough newness in there that we want to sort of spring it on people and say "here's a bunch of things you've never seen before" — we have multiple of those.
GTTV: And that's graphically, or in terms of the gameplay, or...
Gabe: There's stuff that visually hasn't been in games before, and there's certainly a bunch of game elements, on the order of Portal, that have never been done before.
GTTV: So even better than the portal gun?
Gabe: Oh yeah.
GTTV: Really? New gameplay paradigms?
Gabe: Uh-huh. I think that we're really happy with how the Orange Box did, and we'd do an Oranger Box next time, certainly.
April 21—The first Episode 3 files are found
Three files are found by a Steam forum user in a folder titled "Episode3" in the Source SDK. They're later described as unused leftover assets by a Valve employee.
June 27—Episode 3 won't be at E3
Doug Lombardi debunks the rumor that the latest Half-Life episode would be presented at E3 2008.
July 10—Our first look at Episode 3
The first pieces of concept art for Episode 3 are released. Take a long, good look at them, folks, 'cause you won't be seeing anything like these for a while.
October 15—Lombardi and the Long Wait
Kikizo interviews Doug Lombardi, who promises more details by the end of the year. (Unsurprisingly, Valve doesn't deliver.)
October 17—Episode 3's taking too long? Blame Left 4 Dead and Team Fortress 2
Lombardi: "We want the next installment of Half-Life 2 to be really big."
Doug Lombardi tells Shacknews that the reason why development on Episode 3 is so slow is that the company is focusing on their other games.
June 4—A call for communication
Steam forum user surfrock22 creates a petition, asking Valve for more and better communication after their latest failure to deliver news on Episode 3 (they announced Left 4 Dead 2 instead.)
August 7—Episode 3 might have a deaf character
Gabe talks about the possibility of introducing a deaf character, and with it, sign language, to the Half-Life series with Episode 3.
August 12—Gabe talks to Steamcast, but doesn't have much to say
Steamcast, a (now discontinued) fan podcast for all things Valve, nabs an exclusive interview with Gabe Newell, who briefly talks about why there's been no Episode 3 news. You can read a transcript of the relevant segments below.
Steamcast: Alright, first question: this is one of the most commonly asked questions that we had received and we've tried to format it into something you might be able to answer: you'd kept Episode 3 under incredibly heavy wraps thus far; we'd like to know why have you chosen to adapt such a reclusive approach this time around, as opposed to previous releases. Was it based on the reception you'd received about letting out too much info prior to Episode 2, or just something completely different?
Gabe Newell: I think that what's going on, you know, we're sort of always experimenting, we're always trying out different kinds of things, and that has positive as well as negative consequences for ourselves and for the community—so if you look at our different products, we're trying out these different rhythms. (Ed.: Here Gabe talks about how Valve handles updates for Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead.) Right now, the Half-Life 2 episodes themselves are on a third sort of rhythm, and, you know, we think it makes sense for the product and for what we're trying to do there. The reason that we're not talking about anything is mainly that we don't have anything to say; it's not like we decided we released too much information, it's just that if we had information that we were in a position to deliver to people, we would—and right now we don't have anything to say about it. It really is a consequence of these different rhythms to release schedules we're trying out. (...) So, Ep 3 is sort of victim to our willingness to experiment, and as soon as we have stuff that we're ready to say about Ep 3, we will.
Steamcast: Alright, fair enough.
January 19—No new Half-Life in 2010
According to the January issue of Game Informer magazine—specifically, its rumors column—Episode 3 won't be landing in 2010.
March 26—The new Half-Life better be scary
Gabe: "I feel like we've gotten away from genuinely scaring the player more than I'd like."
While talking with Edge Magazine, Gabe mentions that they'd like Half-Life to return to its terrifying roots.
April 4—Gabe doesn't want Gordon to change
In yet another interview with Edge Magazine, Gabe says that he wants series protagonist Gordon Freeman to remain the blank slate he's always been.
July 21—More Episode 3 assets found in the Alien Swarm SDK
Steam forum denizen StickZer0 (his image to the left) happens upon several Episode 3-related files while poking around in the Alien Swarm SDK.
September 23—Even Peter Molyneux's son is sick of waiting
Peter Molyneux puts up a video of his son protesting Valve's silence.
December 18—"Call for Communication" hits 1,000 signatures
The "Call for Communication" petition hits its original goal of 1000 collected signatures. The creator sends an email to Valve, but unfortunately, there's no response.
February 21—Valve still won't budge
While organizing a conference call with Valve's writing team for a Portal 2 Q&A session, News.com.au deviously sneaks in a question about Episode 3. Sadly, they don't get an answer.
April 8—What does Portal 2's co-op campaign have to do with Half-Life?
Kotaku has a theory on why Episode 3 could be taking so long.
April 25—No more single-player games from Valve?
Keighley: "Portal 2 will probably be Valve's last game with an isolated single-player experience."
A quote from the Final Hours of Portal 2, a documentary-app detailing the last stages of Portal 2's development, seems to suggest that Valve is done making single-player games.
May 7—Valve to introduce "single-player plus"
Gabe talks about the importance of sharing your single-player experience with friends in an interview with a high-school student.
May 14—Valve has a hole in its pocket; Episode 3 code found in the Portal 2 SDK
Someone finds code pertaining to Half-Life's slug-like Combine enemies, the Advisors, in the Portal 2 SDK.
May 18—Valve won't be showing up at E3 2011
Replying to reporters asking for appointment times for E3 2011, Valve announces that they won't be showcasing any games at the event.
June 22—Gabe still refuses to talk about Episode 3
Gabe: "If you know enough to ask the question, you know what the answer is."
Gabe appears at the Games for Change festival held at NYU, primarily to talk about the role of video games in education. When asked about Episode 3, he (predictably) refuses to answer.
August 10—Protesters show up near Valve HQ
A pair of young Canadian gamers show up on the lawn of Valve Software HQ, wielding cardboard signs, demanding that Valve release some Episode 3 info.
August 11—These protesters are quite persistent
It's day two for the protest on Valve's lawn, and it's still going strong.
August 17—What did Gabe tell those protesters?
Gabe: "They wanted to know when Episode Three was coming out. I said 'I can't tell you.' And they were, like, 'Okay...'"
The protest ends peacefully. Kotaku catches up with Gabe to speak to him about what happened.
September 19—Hey, guess what; there's some new Episode 3 code out in the wild
A beta tester leaks the Dota 2 beta client. People immediately begin datamining the files, and they naturally find several bits of code related to Episode 3. At this point, one begins to wonder if Valve is doing it on purpose.
September 22—Gabe knows when Episode 3's coming, but it won't fit in a haiku
A redditor posts an e-mail exchange he's had with Gabe.
September 23—That Episode 3 code doesn't mean anything
Faliszek: "I guarantee that if you went into the original Half-Life source code now, you'd probably find mention of unrelated stuff labelled 'HL3'."
Valve writer Chet Faliszek tells NowGamer that there's nothing to get excited about.
November 24—Even Volition wants to know where the hell Episode 3 is
Reader Naroon sends in an Episode 3-related easter egg from Saints Row 3.
December 2—Half-Life 3 T-Shirt Confirmed
An Uber Entertainment employee sees someone wearing a very peculiar shirt at a game developer event in Seattle.
December 9—They might already be recording dialogue for Episode 3
A US-based voice actor tells the Official Xbox Magazine that he's been working with Valve on recording lines for a certain "Half-Life Episode 3".
December 20—It's coming in 2012. Yes or no?
Two video game journalists decide to make a bet. Their dignity's on the line.
Dec 22—Here's a fresh new batch of Episode 3 rumors
~12:55am—A fairly crazy theory of a possible new game in 2012
Valve releases the unaired Video Game Awards Character of the Year acceptance speech of Wheatley, one of Portal 2's main characters. An off-hand remark Wheatley makes prompts some wild speculation about a new game.
1:00am—A new site pops up
A new site displaying a huge Half-Life 3 logo appears. While a troll, it's still somewhat clever. At least we get a sweet wallpaper out of it.
~1:15pm—Half-Life hints are go... or, maybe not
A Steamcast co-host posts on the Steam Forums that he's been told by an unnamed informant that Gabe "has given the go ahead to drop hints for the next Half-Life game." Gabe later partly debunks this rumor.
December 23—JPL denies any involvement in Episode 3
JPL: "Wish I had better news for you. I would love to do another episode."
John Patrick Lowrie, veteran Half-Life voice actor and husband of GLaDOS' voice actress Ellen McLain, in a post unrelated to Half-Life, tells commenters that neither he nor his wife have been contacted by Valve regarding Episode 3.
December 24—LambdaGeneration's Rumor Roundup
LambdaGeneration looks at exactly how Valve has been teasing the community lately.
December 28—Debunking rumors left and right
Faliszek: "This is the community trolling the community, nothing more."
Valve (specifically, Chet Faliszek) shares their opinion on the newest Episode 3 rumors.
January 6—Operation: Crowbar
A bunch of fans decide to send Valve cheap crowbars in protest. While the approach is refreshingly crazy, Valve won't budge.
January 8—A call for communication; round two
MtV: "Your oldest and longest running fanbase would like better communication."
Remember that petition from 2009? It's gotten a lot bigger, and it even has its own Steam group now.
January 10—There really should be an announcement coming this year
IGN argues that there's no reason for Valve not to break their silence in 2012.
January 12—Garry Newman is a funny guy
Garry Newman, the man behind the vastly popular Garry's Mod, tweets a picture of a Half-Life 3 shirt supposedly sent to him by Valve. Later, he says it was only a joke. This of course kicks the LambdaGeneration rumor mill into overdrive.
January 18—Half-Life easter eggs? CS:GO has them
A resourceful Steam forum user uploads all the Half-Life references he could find in CS:GO's files. Unsurprisingly, nothing of real value is found.
January 21—Jesus in toast: Half-Life edition
January 31—A red letter day
In a move far less insane than Operation: Crowbar, tens of thousands of fans plan to play Half-Life 2 together on the same day to send Valve a message.
February 5—Aftermath of the red letter day
The event catapults Half-Life 2 to the 11th spot on Steam's list of most played games. But did it have the effect the organizers had hoped it would? (Spoilers: It didn't.)
March 1—Portal 2 still holds some secrets
The ever-vigilant Steam forum community uncovers some animation files belonging to a side character from Episode 2 that are definitely new. Not very interesting, but new.
April 18—April fools!
A redditor tries to start a hoax involving a supposed pre-order ad for Episode 3 at Best Buy. It doesn't work out.
April 20—Gabe finally spills the beans on Ricochet 2. Wait, what?
Gabe: "We think that the twists and turns that we're going through would probably drive people more crazy than just being silent about it."
On Seven Day Cooldown, a gaming podcast, Gabe Newell talks about the future of Ricochet 2. If you know what I mean.
April 28—It's time to look at the numbers
Kotaku reader Igor explains, using the magic of numbers, that Episode 3 will definitely be revealed at this year's E3. Except...
May 2—No Episode 3 at E3 this year
Shock and awe.
June 9—These things take time
Gabe himself appears as a neat little Episode 3 easter egg in the Kickstarter video for Clang. (Thanks, commenter lambdacore!)
June 27—Here's some new Half-Life concept art!
Valvetime posts a bunch of concept art that they've received from an anonymous source. However, the images are at least four years old.
August 14—Half-Life 3 at Gamescom! Or not!
7:22am—Half-Life 3 to be shown at Gamescom
A product listing advertises that Valve will be attending Gamescom and showing off Half-Life 3.
8:15 am—Valve steps in
Doug Lombardi confirms that the listing was a mistake. Oh well.
August 15—Buy this keyboard to play Half-Life 3 with!
Mad Catz releases an ad for their new keyboard that shows a Half-Life 3 icon. Wild speculation and nerdrage follow.
August 17—Gabe Newell hates sharks
Gabe: "I hate sharks."
Spike TV interviews Gabe. They get to the question about Episode 3. Gabe says he hates sharks. It makes perfect sense!
September 20—Someone says Half-Life 3 is now an open-world game
French gamer site Journal de Gamer reports that, according to an anonymous source close to Valve (we certainly haven't heard that before), the series is moving away from its linear roots towards Skyrim-esque open-world gameplay.
November 11—Gabe tells /v/ all about Source 2
During /v/'s birthday visit to Gabe at Valve HQ, he (shockingly) shows willingness to divulge a few facts about a new engine they're working on. Unfortunately, he doesn't really talk about what it's for. Full video of the event to the left.
Lots of reviews have compared Dishonored to Valve's classic Half-Life 2. Both titles enjoy richly-drawn gameworlds with play mechanics that let you get creative. And they've both got lead characters who don't talk. So, you'd figure that Gordon Freeman served as a model for Dishonored's Corvo, right? Not exactly.
"I hate what Valve does with the silent protagonist," said Austin Grossman, who served as writer on Arkane's action/stealth hybrid. "I find it incredibly awkward and really creepy. I find Gordon Freeman creepy as hell. The difference between Dishonored and how it works in Half-Life 2 is that it's a lot more personal. I think you get that involvement because the character has personal relationships with people from the beginning. And it's very clear that people have fucked with you in a very personal way."
Grossman offered these opinions to me when I spoke to him over the phone last week, and he made it clear that he was speaking solely for himself and not for either developer Arkane or publisher Bethesda. When I noted that Valve's crowbar-wielding hero gets a lot of people talking at him, Grossman agreed and took it a bit further. "It's people talking at him, about him and sometimes even for him. He just happens to be in the middle of this whole thing."
"I'm biased, of course, but I think Dishonored grips you much more viscerally, more emotionally. And that's on purpose. Corvo doesn't talk and I think it works because everybody knows what Corvo would have to say," Grossman continued. "His actions form a sort of speech, something like "If I could kill the people who screwed with me… And if that includes you, then I'm going to kill you right now."
Grosman may have a point when comparing Corvo to Gordon. To be fair, more is shown of Corvo's relationships in Dunwall than of Freeman's in his backstory. But you could also argue Corvo's quest for vengeance is a much more personal motivator than Gordon Freeman's guilt. Part of the reason why one silence feels so different from the other might lie in the protagonist's backstories, too. If Freeman's muteness carries an element of cold detachment, it might be because he's a scientist who's been shifted through time and space. And Corvo's quiet could seem like it contains more menace because we're told he's an assassin. Still, silence is golden in each instance, even if each game finds its shine a different way.