August 3rd, 2006
"Hi, Gordon! Alyx isn't okay yet, so I'll be your partner! Me, Barney Calhoun!"
Okay, so that isn't going to happen, but it got you all paying attention.
Half Life 2: Episode 2 is the follow up to Episode 1, where the last thing you saw was the Citadel exploding(Ooh, ahhhh), the pods flying right over your head, before the force of the detonation derailed you, an experience that could've only have been made worse if we'd heard the G-man giggling at us. "I..told youuuu so, Dr. Freeman…"
The gang at Valve have rallied round again and have decided to provide us with a whole new challenge this time around. Now that we are finally clear of City 17 and it's environs there is a lot more room to maneuver. As the trailer shows there will be a forest for you to run around in that will, in time, lead you along to old mines, an abandoned missile silo, and various other old and dilapidated places for you to wander around in. Try not to imagine bumping into Father Grigori in an abandoned mine shaft. Valve is also taking this so seriously that they even hired a professional architect to design some of the buildings for the game so that, when you walk into an abandoned farmhouse, you will have no doubt that it is an exact duplicate of a farmhouse. Cool, huh?
The combat has also changed as well, with a smarter AI, that means you'll have to keep yourself to cover and keep track of the enemies as they'll try to circle around you. You'll also be be given goals to set in battle, but you can accomplish these anyway you choose. And, when you get tired of this, puzzles will be given for you to solve. There will be a new enemy for you to deal with, a tripedal creature that serves in some sort of hunter-killer or scout capacity. The developers are attempting to design the creature so that you can determine it's mood by physical cues such as body stance since it technically doesn't have a expressive face.
I can already tell I'll be wearing the sprint key out for all it's worth.
You will have another vehicle to drive around as well, but this time around it's not as spiffy as the dune buggy, at least in looks. It looks like what Dog would be if he was a car.
Which, of course, is when you know a game is -really- good. I hope the time passes quickly because I really want to see what happens next, and that I can get the chance to give Colonel Cubbage a kick in the pants. The game is, sadly, still only 4-6 hours in length, but nothing is perfect. Valve hasn't gotten around to designing a website for the game yet, but there was a large spread on it in last month's PC Gamer if you need further details.
Valve has pegged the release date at Spring 2007, which is a long wait, but I've no doubt they'll be making it worth the wait. Stay tuned for further developments.