“It seems as if you only just arrived…”
On November 16, 2004, after six troubled years of waiting, one of the greatest games of all-time – itself a sequel to unarguably one of the most groundbreaking first-person shooters in the history of videogames – finally came out. Today marks the tenth anniversary of Valve Corporation’s Half-Life 2.
I wish I’d had more time to prepare something special for this date, but all I have is words, sadly – and cleverer, more eloquent people have already written at length about the qualities of the game, how its legacy changed FPS games and why it still holds up today. That said, I feel I can say some words on behalf of the fan community, one still fairly strong considering how long it’s been since we’ve last visited Doctor Freeman’s universe.
In my personal case, I think it’s obvious how much Half-Life 2 affected me – after all, I’m still trying in my own amateurish way to recapture some of the spark of this intensely atmospheric game with my The Adventures of Hercule Cubbage comic series. Still, there’s something to be said about a videogame that captured people’s love and imagination so strongly that so many still demand a third full installment to this day.
Half-Life 2 is, simply and shortly put, unarguably one of the greatest pieces of videogame entertainment, and perhaps even of fiction in general. It built off the amazing foundation of Half-Life – still one of the greatest videogames ever as well, if you ask me – and created a new world full of characters the players have grown to love, as well as gameplay so expertly constructed and paced that, even today, it holds up amazingly well. From the first moment we set foot in the dystopian City Seventeen and find ourselves watching Doctor Breen’s propaganda until we finally deal the final blow to the oppressing Combine presence at the top of the Citadel, it’s an unforgettable journey that never falters for one second.
Personally, I fell in love with Half-Life 2 with my first glimpses, in pre-release screenshots, of an Antlion Guard on a sandy beach, Dr. Eli Vance and his daughter Alyx in a lab, and the enigmatic G-Man’s eerie visage staring right into my soul, and it’s a love that hasn’t left me since, even after seeing it so many times and even letting my imagination run wild and build on it as a fan. I’m proud to say Half-Life 2 is embedded deep in my mind as one of my favorite games, fictional universes and stories.
So, thank you, Valve, for all the hard work putting together this magnum opus all those years ago – and here’s to the Half-Life legacy continuing for many more years to come. I, for one, will still stick by it.
(Oh, and speaking of which, The Adventures of Hercule Cubbage *will* continue! Just not yet, but any HL fan is used to waiting, am I right?)
Now how about a first look at Half-Life 3, Valve?