Monday, May 15, 2006

Half-Life 2 Episodes will stand alone

Half-Life 2 was 2004 Game of the Year all over the shop. It revolutionised both graphics and gameplay and was a welcome long break from the first-person shooters which have become shorter in length as the years go on. It was a nearly flawlessly paced action game set in a fictional universe that only got more interesting with every new mystery. It sold a lot of copies. Developer Valve was well aware of the game's coming popularity before it was even released and the planning had already been working towards the future of Half-Life. Not long after HL2's release, the Aftermath expansion announcement solidified Valve's commitment to continuing the franchise in smaller and more frequent bursts.

Even if you're not a fan of Half-Life then you'll still have heard about Aftermath mainly because I wrote about it here in January. Well in February Valve announced that the first Half-Life 2 expansion would be known not as Aftermath anymore but as Episode One, reflecting the company's fantastic decision to release a series of episodic add-ons to the hit shooter, rather than the typical one or two expansions. This was further confirmed by Valve indicating that it is also preparing Half-Life 2: Episode Two, the second such add-on.

While the company isn't revealing any details on Episode Two, Valve's Doug Lombardi did say that the second episode has been in development for about as long as Episode One. Presumably Episode Two will offer another capsule of gameplay and continue the Half-Life 2 story. Valve's Erik Johnson recently said: "Part of the strength of episodic production is being fluid and responding to how customers react to previous episodes. With the Episodes, we're working towards a specific event, and we have a plan for how we get there. Some of the details may change along the way, but the core is etched in stone. Episode Two has been in production for some time, and we'll be talking about it in more detail immediately after Episode One is made available.

Furthermore although it started out as an add-on to HL2, this is not the case anymore; the new chapters won't require the original Half-Life 2 at all. They will run as stand-alone titles; so if for some insane foolish reason you've avoided Half-Life 2 all this time, you can dive in for just a quick episodic snack. Of course that would be like watching Episode 13 of any series of 24, if you do come in to the HL2 story at these points you won't have a fucking clue what's going on.

Half-Life 2: Episode One is sheduled to arrive May 31st.

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