Kotaku

The Tallest Building on Earth is Half-Life 2's CitadelAnd you thought it was some giant building in Dubai. Nope. According to measurements converted from in-game models ad referenced for scale, City 17's own Citadel, constructed by the Combine, easily takes the cake.



Standing at 8430 feet tall, the Citadel easily, ahem, towers over the competition, Dubai's Burj Khalifa only managing to get 2723 feet off the ground (note: the image above is in metres).



Before anyone complains about the tense used in this post, let's assume there are people here who haven't played Half-Life 2's episodes.



The scale of Half Life's Citadel, compared to the tallest buildings in the world [Reddit]



The Tallest Building on Earth is Half-Life 2's Citadel


Kotaku

ARGH, a Half-Life Barnacle for your HOUSEGerman artist Daniel Ritthanondh is the man to thank for this Half-Life-inspired lamp, which will simultaneously light up your room and darken your dreams.



As big a Half-Life fan as I am, I could not own this. Wherever it went, I couldn't walk under it. Ever. That or I'd come home one day and creep up on it, shooting at it until it coughed up a human skull and giblets all over my living room floor. Which would just be too messy.



Teptec Studio [Professional Site]

Kilh [DeviantArt]



ARGH, a Half-Life Barnacle for your HOUSE

ARGH, a Half-Life Barnacle for your HOUSE

ARGH, a Half-Life Barnacle for your HOUSE

ARGH, a Half-Life Barnacle for your HOUSE

ARGH, a Half-Life Barnacle for your HOUSE

ARGH, a Half-Life Barnacle for your HOUSE


Kotaku





width="500" height="333" allowscriptaccess="always"
allowfullscreen="true">

Well, if we're going to be doing more recent games for Total Recall, we'd better talk about Half-Life 2 sooner rather than later. As is true for so many people, HL2 is one of my favorite games of all time, an evergreen gem that I replay about once a year.



It's hard to put my finger on a "favorite" part, really—there are so many iconic moments that they all kind of blend together. But if I had to name one, it would be the bridge level.



You know the one I'm talking about. Near the end of "Highway 17," you'll arrive in a small villa that's located along a cliff. Up a hill is a long bridge, along which are running menacing Combine trains. To get Gordon's buggy up onto the track, you'll have to go to the other side of the bridge and unplug the combine force field that's blocking your way. And to get to the other side of the bridge… you'll have to go under it.



The wind, ripping into your ears, cutting through the air beneath this massive metal structure.

This is one of those make-or-break moments, when the designers at Valve grabbed their ambitions and carried them into the end zone so assuredly that it's still impressive, coming up on ten years later.



You enter the bridge support structure. And then you come out, and you're on a deck looking out onto the scaffolding underneath the bridge. It looks like you can jump down there… but can you? Is this safe?



The sound effects here are key. The wind, ripping into your ears, cutting through the air beneath this massive metal structure. It truly feels as though it could blow you off.



And so then, you jump. Everyone who has played this level has probably died at least once; slipping on a girder and tumbling, watching the ground come rushing up towards you. Just watching the video above gives me vertigo. I could play this level a hundred times and never tire of it—it is pure video game magic.



And once you're halfway across, things get even better. A train goes by above you, foreshadowing the coming race against the onrushing train that closes out this level. And once you've made it to the other side, cleared out the nest of combine soldiers and deactivated the force field… well then you have to make your way back. But why should you get to make your way back exactly the same way you came? Wouldn't it be much more interesting if a flying whale-helicopter attacked you and totally wrecked your shit?



This bravura section is my favorite single bit of Half-Life 2. The video of it is broken into three parts, with the middle section above. You can watch the whole thing on YouTube: Part one, part two, and part three.



Or, you know, you can just go play it again. You know you want to.



Thanks, Graag, for posting these videos.


Kotaku

Half-Life 2's Strider Comes to Life With This Custom Action FigureActually, calling it an action figure does it a bit of a disservice. The term "action figure" conjures all sorts of images, mostly of very small men. This custom Strider from the Half-Life universe is not very small at all.



Not only does it look awesome, but its builder, nomadamusic, says it was almost entirely made from scratch, and even includes a few points of articulation.



Who needs large toy companies when individual artists can make their own Striders? Not nomadamusic, that's for damn sure.



Half Life 2 Strider Combine Custom Action Figure [FigureRealm, via Toycutter]


Kotaku

Valve Toys, Half-Life Toys, TF2 Toys, Get a Look at Them Right HereKotaku was at the New York Toy Fair this weekend in full effect, snapping photos, taking footage and just generally gawking at all the awesome new video game toys that'll be lining up for your disposable incomes in 2012.



The highlight for me? NECA's Valve gear. Including the Gordon Freeman action figure to end all Gordon Freeman action figures.



You can check out a sampling of the stuff NECA had on show in the gallery above, including Team Fortress 2 plushies, Portal guns, Left 4 Dead figures and the Freeman himself. Who is looking glorious.



If you're wondering why all their legs are missing, these are actually stills from our video footage of the event, most of which will be going live tomorrow. I just figured this stuff was too good to wait for!



Valve Toys, Half-Life Toys, TF2 Toys, Get a Look at Them Right Here

Valve Toys, Half-Life Toys, TF2 Toys, Get a Look at Them Right Here

Valve Toys, Half-Life Toys, TF2 Toys, Get a Look at Them Right Here

Valve Toys, Half-Life Toys, TF2 Toys, Get a Look at Them Right Here

Valve Toys, Half-Life Toys, TF2 Toys, Get a Look at Them Right Here

Valve Toys, Half-Life Toys, TF2 Toys, Get a Look at Them Right Here

Valve Toys, Half-Life Toys, TF2 Toys, Get a Look at Them Right Here

Valve Toys, Half-Life Toys, TF2 Toys, Get a Look at Them Right Here

Valve Toys, Half-Life Toys, TF2 Toys, Get a Look at Them Right Here


Kotaku

30,000 People are Going to Play Half-Life 2 as a Protest Against Half-Life 3Or is it a protest for Half-Life 3? Whatever.



The point being, This weekend over 30,000 members of a Steam group will sit down and play Half-Life 2. Calling themselves "A Call for Communication", the group says "we have decided to gain Valve's attention by delivering a basic message: Your oldest and longest running fanbase would like better communication."



That "better communication" would come in the form of any communication as to the whereabouts of Half-Life 2: Episode 3, or as it's more commonly believed to be these days, simply Half-Life 3.



Will it work? Probably not. But hey, any excuse to play through Half-Life 2 again is a good excuse!



A Call for Communication [Steam]



30,000 People are Going to Play Half-Life 2 as a Protest Against Half-Life 3


Kotaku





width="500" height="333" allowscriptaccess="always"
allowfullscreen="true">

Reader Michael has spent over 100 hours putting together this music video, in which the narration from Godspeed You! Black Emperor's The Dead Flag Blues is played over visuals from Half-Life 2.



Impressive stuff.


Kotaku

The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots: Dear Esther and Mass Effect 2Since we ran a feature on Duncan Harris, the groovy "video game photographer" behind the website DeadEndThrills, I've been sharing some of his work each week here.



This week has some great stuff, focusing largely on Mass Effect 2 and the Half-Life 2 mod/ghost story Dear Esther. Let's get to it!



First up, at top, we've got one of several shots from Dear Esther, which will see its official Steam release on February 14th. I for one can't wait, and this kind of shot is why.



"This Old House"


From Harris's notes:




Tools and tricks: free camera, custom FOV, 2160p rendering, antialiasing (injected SMAA).




The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots: Dear Esther and Mass Effect 2



"For Tomorrow"


The first of several Mass Effect 2 shots, this one is simply… space. They say it's the final frontier. I can get with that.




Tools and tricks: free camera, timestop, no-HUD, custom FOV, JeanLuc761′s hi-res character textures, in-world HUD textures blanked, antialiasing (injected max quality FXAA 3.11 w/ texture pre-sharpening), 2160p rendering.




The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots: Dear Esther and Mass Effect 2



Writings on the Wall"


Alas, poor Veetor. Driven mad by the collector attack. Poor fellow. I hope none of you heartless bastards turned him over to Cerberus for testing.




Tools and tricks: free camera, timestop, no-HUD, custom FOV, JeanLuc761′s hi-res character textures, in-world HUD textures blanked, antialiasing (injected ‘Ultra' quality SMAA + 4xMSAA), 2160p rendering.




The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots: Dear Esther and Mass Effect 2



"Almost Human"


I call this one "Miranda's Super-Hot Posterior" because, well… I also think of this sequence in the game not-so-fondly because I've seen it many a time after having to re-roll my Shepard after realizing that while he/she looked fine standing still, things got ghastly once the game got going.




Tools and tricks: free camera, timestop, no-HUD, custom FOV, JeanLuc761′s hi-res character textures, in-world HUD textures blanked, antialiasing (injected max quality FXAA 3.11 w/ texture pre-sharpening), 2160p rendering.




The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots: Dear Esther and Mass Effect 2



"Vulcan"


In a break from the two main games for the week comes one last shot from Star Trek Online, this one of the planet Vulcan. That's a big q-tip that fella's got there.




Tools and tricks: Cryptic demo recorder, 2160p rendering, free camera, custom FOV, timestop, offline antialiasing.




The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots: Dear Esther and Mass Effect 2



"The Ghost That Walks"


Hoo, buddy. Yet another gorgeous shot from Dear Esther.




Tools and tricks: free camera, custom FOV, 2160p rendering, antialiasing (injected SMAA).




The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots: Dear Esther and Mass Effect 2



"Highlander"


Another Dear Esther bit of amazingness.




Tools and tricks: free camera, custom FOV, 2160p rendering, antialiasing (injected SMAA).




The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots: Dear Esther and Mass Effect 2



"In The Temple of Love"


Dear Esther. Don't have much to say for these other than "wow."




Tool and tricks: free camera, custom FOV, 2160p rendering, antialiasing (injected SMAA).




The Week in Unbelievably Gorgeous Screenshots: Dear Esther and Mass Effect 2



Spirit Level"


Look at that business! Look at it! Man, I can't wait to play Dear Esther.




Tool and tricks: free camera, custom FOV, 2160p rendering, antialiasing (injected SMAA).



Kotaku

Hey, Valve, What’s Going On, Eh?Republished from Rock, Paper Shotgun.



Valve have created themselves an interesting situation. Presenting themselves as bastions of consumers, remarkably accessible to gamers, regularly inviting in groups of modders – often to give them jobs – and always being present to offer a quote on how customers deserve to be treated with more dignity, they establish themselves as being our friend. And then from that position, they sure do like to muck about. And as Eurogamer's Tom "Tom Bramwell" Bramwell mentioned on Twitter this morning, it's hard not to sympathise with a growing body of Valve's customers who are asking for better communication.



If Episode 3 went horribly wrong, it would be fascinating to know.

No one has a clue what they're up to. Games are sometimes announced moments before release, or years in advance and then nothing but silence. Sometimes when they tease it's obscure, frustrating ARGs that eventually end in a new pretend hat. Other times it's a complete open door and everything revealed. They hide clues in so many places that people end up scouring everything they do for a hint, a glimpse, of something that might suggest they'll eventually return to the Half-Life universe proper. They've turned gamers into pseudo-schizophrenics, people frantically trying to find patterns in the random, believing there are hidden messages within their communications. But does anyone have a "right" to know what's going on with the Half-Life series.



Clearly not. It's absolutely Valve's prerogative if they want to never make another Half-Life game again, and concentrate only on adding new hats to TF2. And should they tell us they're doing that? No – why should they? They are a privately owned company, without shareholders to answer to, not required to reveal their plans to anyone.



Should they tell anyone what they're up to? I think it's probably about time they did.



For many years Valve have ridden a wave of remarkably good grace. Developing and releasing extraordinarily good games gets you a long way, and Valve have consistently proven themselves to be the best in the world at what they do. From the astonishing shake up of gaming that Half-Life caused, to the zenith of the FPS, still unbeaten seven years later, Half-Life 2, and then the excellent Episodes, both Left 4 Deads, the Portal games, and TF2… there is no other record like it in gaming. There's a reason Valve has the reputation it has.




But their peculiar secrecy doesn't seem to do them any obvious favours. When they revealed the existence of DOTA 2 or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, the gaming press was obviously extremely eager to give this as much coverage as possible. They're Valve games, so there's an extremely good chance they'll be very good. (Not guaranteed of course. There's always Ricochet, conspicuously absent from their Games page.) Readers want to know about them, sites want details about them, and Valve wants the coverage. It all works.



So when they go quiet, after two episodes of a promised a three part episodic series of Half-Life games, it's understandable that people get annoyed. No, no one has the right to know – it's absolutely their private business, and they may keep it as underwraps as they wish. But I'd suggest at this point, this many years into what is now appearing quite a farce, it's doing damage to their reputation.






More top stories from Rock Paper Shotgun



Interview: BioWare's James Ohlen On SWTOR " I think it's because story is timeless – people love to live through story."

Killer Instinct: A Hitman Absolution Preview "Oh, we are skeptical souls at RPS. Though we loved Hitman: Blood Money, we have been somewhat wary of Hitman: Absolution."

Delicately Debating Darkness II's Demo "Immediate thought: it's so noisy! It's so sweary! It's so violent! Does old man Doom know that his kids have turned out like this?"






Clearly the actions of Axel "Ago" Gembe were absolutely unjustifiable, and the leaking of Half-Life 2 scarred Valve very badly. Gembe's given motivation was his frustration about the lack of information being released about the game, and his eventual discovery that Valve weren't revealing quite how far from finished the game was. Leaking the code was a stupid and cruel act, and Simon Parkin's wonderful article about his attempts to broker peace between the two many years on shows that Valve are still hugely angry and upset about it. None of it should ever have happened, but what I find peculiar is that Valve apparently learned no lessons about the frustration they generate in their most dedicated fans.



The silence over Episode 3, or what for seemingly no reason most now think will be Half-Life 3, is infuriating. And not because we deserve to know about it, nor because Valve have any obligation to say. But unfortunately, Valve have confused us. They act in an extraordinarily open way in so many cases, with remarkable access via email, and an engagement with the community that's the envy of the gaming world. While they of course receive backlashes, and there is a contingent of Angries who will always hate them, the goodwill they receive is enormous. This, combined with their more recent engagement with complex ARGs and hiding clues everywhere, has given the impression that they want to share what's going on with us. And that confuses us.



If Episode 3 went horribly wrong, it would be fascinating to know. If they developed the game and it was complete arse, it wouldn't damage Valve's reputation for saying so. If it's been in ongoing development, constantly iterated and improved upon, perhaps even morphing into Half-Life 3, everyone would be so excited to hear. If they just ran out of ideas, or got bored of Freeman, we'd love to know why.



So no, of course Valve has no obligation, and we have no right, to know what's happening. But I'm struggling to think of a reason why it would harm them to keep us up to date. Were they a completely secretive organisation, unreachable, who only announce a new game the day it comes out, then our expectations would be somewhere else. But it is the confusion of the contradiction of Valve's surprising openness and closed secrecy that leads to the bewildered frustration of their audience.



John Walker is a writer for Rock Paper Shotgun, one of the world's best sites for PC gaming news. John is Britain's leading adventure gaming specialist. Follow him on Twitter.

Republished with permission.
Kotaku





width="500" height="333" allowscriptaccess="always"
allowfullscreen="true">

Harrison Krix's replica Half-Life 2 gravity gun looked incredible, but it was never destined for his shelf, or that of an international adult collectible retailer. It was built for charity, and it's for charity it was auctioned.



Awesomely, the gun went as part of a Child's Play auction for a whopping $21,000. That'd be a bargain if the thing actually worked.



To celebrate, he's posted a lengthy explanation on how it was built over on his website, along with the above snappy video showing it in action.



Half Life 2: Gravity Gun [Volpin Props]


...