Half-Life 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (John Walker)

There are few actors who have imbued a game character with such an emotional depth as Robert Guillaume’s voice work for Half-Life 2’s Eli Vance. The father of Alyx, and of course the man behind Benson in Soap, died last night after suffering with prostate cancer, aged 89. (more…)

Half-Life 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Rick Lane)

orangeboxhead

The Orange Box is one of the strangest quirks of gaming history. Never before had a developer released three brand new, entirely separate games at the same time in one package, and thanks to digital distribution, it probably won’t happen again. What makes The Orange Box truly remarkable though is that it contained two of the most-anticipated games of 2007, and what proved to be the biggest surprise hit of the year (some might argue ever).

The company was Valve and the games were Half Life 2: Episode 2, Team Fortress 2 and Portal.

(more…)

Half-Life - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

hl3

The lesson here is “never go to sleep.” All sorts of things happen while people sleep. Cats go on adventures, presidents threaten nuclear war and, well, ex-Valve writers post thinly-disguised plot summaries of the unreleased and, so far as best guesses go, long-cancelled Half-Life 2: Episode 3. Long time Half-Life scribe, the excellent Marc Laidlaw (who left Valve last year), casually tossed out a link to his website last night, which led to a short story about Gertie Fremont, Alex Vaunt and their climactic battle against evil alien invaders the Disparate. (The site’s having a wobble, but the page is archived right here).

While that might sound like satirical tomfoolery, the actual story very much> sounds like how the final chapter of Half-Life 3 could have played out. It involves time-travelling cruise liners, resurrected overlords, the heart of the Combine and the fate of one Doctor Gordon Freeman.

This is really happening. (more…)

Half-Life - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

So committed is third-party Half-Life remake Black Mesa [official site] to emulation of its much vaunted inspiration that it has now fully embraced ValveTime. Black Mesa was first released as a free mod in 2012, followed by a spit’n’polished paid version two years ago, but still with the notorious jump’n’fail alien world section from Half Life’s final act missing. Plan was to rethink rather than merely remake Xen, in a planned act of historical revisionism to make people think Half-Life was brillo all the way through. (Note: Half-Life was> brillo all the way through).

Last Autumn, the team declared the Gordon would finally be bouncing his away across fleshy coral oddities once away this summer. Well, no – there’s been a delay. The good news is, they are now showing off Xen’s great outdoors for the first time, as well as revealing a few changes planned for Black Mesa as a whole.

… [visit site to read more]

Half-Life 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Brendan Caldwell)

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.>

I know what you re looking for. You re looking for a game that let s you be a janitor in a school riddled with drug dealers and class clowns. But also a game that will let you be a cop fighting robbers. But also a game where you are a soldier in World War 3. But also a game in which you are a prison guard keeping rowdy inmates in check. But also a game where you can be a footballer. But also– … [visit site to read more]

Half-Life 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Joe Donnelly)

Did you know that in 2004 Valve launched Half-Life 2 [official site]? And did you know that Episode 1 followed two years later and Episode 2 a year after that? Did you know it’s now been ten years and besides a mass of rumours, bad jokes and conversations with unverified sources, Gordon Freeman’s elusive third Half-Life outing – be that Half-Life 3 or HL2: Episode 3 – is still Not A Thing?

I’m sure you did. Let me now ask you this: do you know about Half-Life 2’s modding scene – a community which has been producing consistently brilliant tweaks and tinkerings to Freeman’s Combine-killing shooter for over a decade? Built from Valve’s Source Engine, the following list is comprised of single and multiplayer mods for the Seattle-based dev’s seminal and ever-enduring FPS – some of which are set in Freeman-familiar worlds, others which take on completely new looks entirely.

I know it’s hard to swallow, but Half-Life 3 might never happen. Play these mods instead. … [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

So often the bleeding edge of games tech, yet so often fundamentally the same underneath: there’s a reason we can’t get enough of pretend shooting pretend people in their pretend faces. It is a pure test of skill and reflex, a game about movement at least as much as it is about violence, and done right it is absolutely delightful>. And hey, sometimes you get a decent gimmick or story thrown into the mix.

These are our favourite 50 first-person shooters on PC, from 1993-2017. Your favourite is at number 51.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Happy 20th birthday, Valve! Yesterday. Happy 20th yesterday. Sorry, I only just saw the Facebook notification. On August 24th, 1996, ex-Microsoft employees Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington made a beautiful baby who was mighty eye-opening.

In the dreamy game of “What if…?” one curious hypothetical is: what if Valve never existed? There can’t be many companies who’ve had nearly as much impact. Steam (eventually) revolutionised digital distribution, changing the entire landscape of PC gaming. Half-Life was seminal; its mod scene was legendary. That’d be plenty, but Valve have made a load of other really good video games too.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Graham Smith)

You might have noticed all your friends’ avatars and profile pictures turning into comic book drawings or impressionistic paintings over the last few weeks. That’s because of Prisma, a photo editing app for iOS and Android that let’s you apply a couple of dozen filters to images you feed it. The app goes further than simply messing with the hue like Instagram does, using a process similar to Google Deep Dream to warp and twist photographs – without shoving fucked up dogs in every corner.

I spent last night feeding it game screenshots, to find out what No Man’s Sky, Half-Life 2, SimCity and more would look like if their artists abandoned realism.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Graham Smith)

I’ve just finished Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, a first-person parkour game about Faith Connors and a scrappy band of outlaw runners and hackers who deliver secret packages under the noses of an oppressive corporate government. By rights you should root for these underdogs. If only they weren’t all dicks.

… [visit site to read more]

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