Something we hate more than anything is the idea of stopping the action Jo watch a movie. We tried to keep the story pretty simple in Half-Life and people loved it, but many said there weren't enough of those characters. A lot of people said that the first time Barney or a scientist died, they felt bad, that they felt a personal connection with those characters.
So we've taken pretty much all of the money that we made from the first game and invested it into this one, most of all, into the characters. Story-wise, she is the bridge from Half-Life. Ken Birdwell, one of the lead engineers on both games, decided that we were going to put shaders on each character's skin, but not so that it's ultra shiny and waxy like in most other games. After all, no-one's skin is blemish free, is it? Another thing that we wanted to address was this feeling that when characters move, they always feel like they're just these pegged together hockey stick players.
So we've built an entire musculature system, so that when, for example, Alyx puts her hands on her hips, there's a rolling between her breasts, shoulders and arms. These subtleties make her more realistic. And he realised that they always look like they're looking over your head or are cross-oyod.
So he studied why that was and there were a couple of things he learnt. First off, eyes are not circular. In most games they're round. Also, people's field of views aren't straight. You always look slightly sideways, which is why a lot of game characters look like they're cross-eyed. So we adjusted their eyes accordingly. Then we separated the layer of sheen that's over the eye and the layer for the actual pupil, to give it that depth and shininess of a real person's eyes.
How many times have we all dreamt of life-like characters in games, with believable movement, action and reaction, a sense that we are truly in another world, one so believable that you never doubt it's reality? Half-Life 2 is that dream. But wait, there's more. You mean with proper facial expressions? Happy, sad, angry, coy, assertive. The list just went on. But did they all look convincing?
You'd better believe it. Once again, a great deal of time, money and research went into making this stunning system. He came up with this whole language of facial expressions, incorporating the odd facial expressions we all make, which can be mixed to create a sub-set of facial expressions. We basically took things from his research and made it applicable to Half-Life 2's facial animation system.
So we have these simple sets of facial animation fonts, and they can be applied to Alyx, to an alien or whoever we want. So we've tried to make the characters as real as possible so that when they react to you, your brain will tell you whether they like you or not, or whether they're looking at you or somebody else.
But I hadn't heard Alyx speak yet. After all, what's the point of a character looking realistic if they deliver a line less convincingly than a Home And Away extra? Again, I wasn't disappointed. Hold on, I'm talking to a bloody computer game. I'm doing it again. In fact, I nearly did say those things out loud. She really was that convincing. Her eyes gave me attitude, her body swayed as she gesticulated to make her point, and as she spoke her lips formed every syllable to near lip-reading standards.
Creating realistic lipsynching and acting was a really hard thing to do. We came up with a system that can go through and take the basic structures of a WAV file and extract the data for the mouth movement. So you can extract your sound or line of dialogue, inbed it into a WAV file independent of the game's language, and play it back across the facial animation system.
This system identifies the sounds and volume which dictate the size of the opening and closing of the mouth. So onto the more specific areas of the game, starting with the cast, which is a mixture of the familiar, the new and mixture of the two.
He's the guy who'll tell you what happened between the end of Half-Life and the start of Half-Life 2. You'll be seeing a lot of tie-ins like that, where you'll find out who certain people were from Black Mesa. As a result, she's built a side-kick robot called Dog. Strafing left, the camera fixed on a familiar looking individual. Barney, the fat security guard. There won't be loads of Barney's this time round, just the one.
Alien Slaves? In the good-guys room? What was all that about? After this we moved to an area which Doug referred to as his Character Zoo, a series of rooms filled with enemies new and old. Reprising their role as cannon fodder are the Bullsquids and Head Crabs, although this time there's a whole family of the latter, ranging from the tiny to the unsettlingly large. Likewise, Zombies reappear, the symbiosis of the face-hugging Head Crabs and the hapless humans they infest, as do the ceiling hanging, string-on-a-mouth Barnacles, boasting incredibly detail with their multiple moving parts, which made them look little short of horrific.
Apparently, there'll be more than 50 different enemies in all. Finished with the familiar, Doug moved onto the new, starting off with Starship Trooper-like aliens called Antlions and the Antlion Guards - a larger, tougher and altogether more terrifying prospect than its smaller, generic cousin. The light shone off their armour plated backs as they twitched, ready to spring a deadly attack. Moving into another room, Doug introduced me to a host of new, biomechanical enemies. Scanners are small flying units, with the ability to track you if you try to escape or hide.
A host of turrets and hulking biomech troopers stood menacingly by them, while the gas mask clad police the replacements for Half-Life's marines looked instantly hostile. I looked on in awe as we rounded a comer, to be met by a 90ft high, three-legged Strider, towering into the sky and armed to the fillings with machine guns that could fillet a whale in seconds, let alone a speccy ginger scientist. They stalked backwards and forwards, each step sending shudders through the level and chills down my spine.
One of the interesting things about them was getting the collision detection correct, so that it looks right when they're taking steps. These guys may need to climb stairs, or walk over uneven terrain, and all the while there's a whole load of work that's going on under the hood to make sure all this stuff comes to life, which we think will make the game really unique. They'll all be unique, but many of them will be variations of each other.
It was time for me to get my hands dirty. I've never been so nervous, or as excited about playing a game. I looked around, to find I was standing on a basic but sturdy wooden bridge spanning the gap over a river, whose shimmering water lapped serenely against the wooden beams.
Suddenly, tranquillity gave way to panic, as two hideous, faceless zombies came shambling towards me. As they approached, one of them picked up a barrel and threw it at me. Instinctively I fired, the power of the shotgun shell sending the barrel back at its attacker and making it reel in pain. But the second zombie was still advancing. One well-placed shot to the head sent it flying off the bridge, coming to rest facedown in the water where it bobbed with the tide.
But there was no time to celebrate. The other zombie had recovered and was once again advancing, intent on ripping out my lungs and using them as bagpipes. And then, an idea a first for me. Aiming at the bridge just in front of my assailant I fired. Shards of wood flew into the air just as the zombie stepped into the now gaping hole, flailing wildly as it sunk into the water, helpless as I finished it off. I looked over at Doug, who was grinning, and realised I was panting like dog in a sauna.
Even in that one, short minute, the combination of many of the elements Doug had shown me had came together in one sublime whole. I wanted to see more, but first, remembering my journalistic duties, I asked Doug about the weapons and the multiplayer games, but was told that Valve isn't talking about either of those things at this point.
So instead, l asked what we can expect from the Al. This time, he was more than happy to elaborate. The two most notable things that are really important are the Al combat pathways and NPC behaviour. In the original game, enemies didn't jump to grab you. So you could jump over a waterway and you'd lose the threat behind you. Not this time though. Now the enemies can look for you, they can jump onto and walk over complex surfaces. If you're running away, jumping on crates to get away from a Head Crab, then it'll chase after you, so that you have to deal with it.
The other thing was, in Half-Life, characters like Barney, wouldn't follow you for long. That was because Barney couldn t get to certain parts of the level and so would have to stay behind. Which of course won't happen in Half-Life 2.
To prove his last point, Doug fired up a recording he'd made of one of the levels. In it, Gordon attacked an Antlion Guard before running away and taking cover under some rocks. In a show of canny determination the Antlion probed the makeshift shelter from every side, trying, struggling, but ultimately failing to reach its quarry. From the distance came the rhythmic pulses of an engine.
Seeing his opportunity, Gordon sped off towards the sound, pursued by a now incensed Antlion Guard. Within seconds, they were in sight of an armoured vehicle guarded by marines. The terrified soldiers opened fire on sight at the Antlion Guard, who waded in viciously, clawing rabidly at its new targets, and ripping them to shreds.
Then it turned to the vehicle. Sniffing at it at first, it gave it a tentative shove, sending the APC rocking sideways onto two wheels. A blue flare arched from the vehicle into the sky, as the marines desperately called for reinforcement. Seconds later, the APC was sliding down a ravine, toppled by a ferocious attack by the Antlion Guard. While it was still occupied, Gordon unloaded a clip into the beast, and as it slumped to the ground, exhaling its last and sending a cloud of dust spiralling into the air, a drop ship full of reinforcements arrived.
Nothing you just saw was scripted. Is it going to smash through a door, open it, cut a hole in it? This makes them seem scarier and more consequential than your average Al. The way we see it is that if a creature is no more than a weapon's delivery system, then that creates a really narrow choice of interaction possibilities.
If humans can climb ladders and open doors, you have to let them be able to do it. There are other creatures that can do things you can't do, like the Antlions who can jump to places that you can't. This will also influence how a creature can get to you and will let it vary its attack strategies. We also wanted to create an immersive experience. So you want everyone around you to react realistically to you, as well as feeling that you're immersed in a very strong narrative.
One of the things we had in Half-Life were scripted sequences on the other side of locked doors so you couldn't interfere with them. But now we feel that if you close off choices to the player you're making a mistake. We had many challenges in getting the Al to talk to the level design. How we could hint to the Al that there may be something interesting in the level for them to interact with.
So if a radio says something interesting and a character hears it, they may walk over to it, to hear it better. If you then shot the radio, the Al would ask itself what a reasonable reaction would be and act on that decision. Another pre-recorded scene showed a firefight in City In an attempt to avoid a confrontation, Gordon ran through a nearby door, closed it and crouched down.
Then, a mechanical buzz infected the air. Gordon looked up to see that a camera had been thrust through the letterbox and was scanning for him. A couple of seconds later, it disappeared. The door buckled, then shattered as the biomech burst through. Hostilities resumed. The next level saw Gordon fighting six Antlions, which jumped on ledges to get to him as he desperately tried to get away.
Then, to show off the particle effects, I was shown a level on a burning cargo ship, the flames licking at the scenery and spreading like a disease as it consumed the vessel. But before what Gabe and Doug referred to as the 'Finale' I was given one more chance to take the controls and pit myself against easily the most unpredictable and lifelike Al of any FPS to date.
Leading a prison break-out, I had to get past two guards, who were taking cover behind a set of barrels. There was only one thing for it. Crouching down I rolled a grenade into their position, and watched in awe as their bodies hurtled through the air and over the barrels, coming to a rest, lifeless and crumpled, on the other side. And so to the 'Finale From a distance, something caught the eye.
The sound of machine parts and heavy footsteps replaced the tranquil calm, as a 90ft, three-legged Strider appeared, pausing in front of the now dwarfed archway. It tried to shift it with a round of machine gun fire, but realising that force wouldn't work, it ducked under instead. Wheeling round, Gordon spotted Alyx, who was gestunng for him to follow her into a sewer.
Once inside, the two characters stood breathlessly staring at each other. Alyx was smiling. Then, slowly, her eyes moved from Gordon to look at something behind him and her smile morphed into a look of genuine horror. Gordon swivelled, just in time to see a giant blue tentacle reaching for a policeman who had clearly followed them into the sewer, but unaware of what was behind him. The tentacle wrapped around his body, snatching him into the murky depths below.
As the demo faded the room fell silent, and I was convinced that I had just witnessed one of the most cinematic, atmospheric and realistic moments in gaming history. A fitting Finale' indeed, I thought, blinking violently as Doug switched the lights on, signalling the end of an incredible day.
Words failed me. My body felt exhausted as I relaxed my taught muscles, drained from the tension of watching a game which is re-writing the rule book and making a mockery out of every other first-person shooter I've ever seen. If you don't believe me, buy a ticket to E3, and find out for yourself. One thing's for sure though, come September, the world of gaming will change forever, and just like four years ago, it's Valve that is showing us the way. With 40 hours of gameplay promised, it's going to be one hell of a ride.
All of a sudden, September seems like a very, very long way away It's hard to believe that it's been a year since Half-Life 2 was announced, but finally, after months of silence from developer Valve after part of the game was stolen by opportunist hackers late last year, we've been invited back to Seattle to play the latest version of the game. You may well have got sick of waiting for HL2 to appear - perhaps the release of Far Cry has satiated your lust for a ground-breaking shooter.
But as you're about to find out, there's just as much reason to be excited now as there was 12 months ago. Before we start though, if you haven't been following the Half-Life 2 saga, you might like to refresh your memory about what we already know about the game. After all. But if you can't wait to jump straight in, why not join me now at Valve's offices, along with the company's managing director Gabe Newell and director of marketing Doug Lombardi as we glean the latest info and playtest the game firsthand.
Me too. We're going to let you play through three levels, begins Doug. This first one's about 15 minutes into the game, and will give you some classic Half-Life gameplay, where we'll try and scare you and give you a good look at City We're in. I'm standing in a large hallway. On the far side of the enclosure hangs an enormous screen, from which gazes a kindly yet slightly sinister male face.
I pause, hoping to garner some vital information before I rush out of the inviting doorway to my left and into the bustling courtyard beyond. This man seems to be providing some kind of information service. I listen intently. He's reading from a letter in which the author is outlining his concerns about a lack of human freedom. Don't worry," begins his reply. You're being treated like this for your own good. You're not ready to make your own decisions yet.
But soon you will be free to do as you please. Confused, I scan the room and spy gas mask-wearing guards blocking every doorway bar one. Do not be afraid. Before I'm even a metre away, his gun is out of its holster and pointing at my head.
Move away! Gabe interjects. As a character, the last thing you remember is having a conversation with the G-Man. Now it's ten years later and all sorts of things have happened. But you don't know what happened to that time or even what side you're on. As you're about to find out, everyone seems to know more about you than you do.
The sunlight makes me blink violently as my eyes focus on the new vista before me. All around, people walk with bowed heads, dressed in matching white clothes as circular drones buzz around the square, and more gas mask-clad guards stand around menacingly, ever watchful. Haven't I seen you somewhere before? Gabe was right: how do these people know who I am? A commotion at the far side of the courtyard from behind a partially closed door distracts my attention.
I can't quite see in properly, but it looks as though some of the town's denizens are being brutalised by guards. The sentry shoos me away with a wave of his stun-baton and I reluctantly move on. In the distance, a 90ft Strider a giant three-legged war machine stalks by. I turn to a woman standing next to me and attempt to engage her in conversation. Quiet, they may hear us. But my attention is snapped away by an electric drone that appears as if from nowhere and begins photographing me.
Something tells me this isn't the local paparazzi. Finally, I round a comer and enter a playground, where I push the realistic swings and rock the lifelike see-saws. I was the last guy to play in that playground," comes the sad lamentation of a young man nearby. He's right, no children play here. The stark reality of this early level is clear. There's no joy in this city, just a sense of terror and oppression. At the start of the game, you're trying to reconnect with your friends, begins Gabe, as the level ends.
You find out that some of them are still alive. You don't know why you're there or what agenda the G-Man has for you, but later on you learn a lot more about the G-Man and who he really is. You'll have a relationship with him that follows logically from the conversation that you had at the end of Half-Life.
Yet no quality story is complete without the protagonist growing in some way too, becoming a better or different person by the plot's climax. Will we see Gordon take this journey? Gordon must become what a heroic scientist should be. But in order to be heroic, there are certain things that he's going to need to do. So yes, there will be a transformation that he's going to go through. Will the antagonist be the G-Man? Perhaps someone we haven't even seen yet? As we already know, the female inventor Alyx is another major player in Half-Life 2, so I ask Gabe to elaborate on her background a little more.
Her father is one of the few people who's survived from Black Mesa, and Alyx represents the hybrid between the old and the new. She helps you understand about the changes in the world, which have also affected her and what it means to live in this world. She's got lots of connections to the past, but she's much more aggressive and revolutionary than her parents were.
She's going to help you go from being a loner to a champion. She'll also help you understand who all the new characters are. Time to experience more of the game. This time, it's a night-time level, a mad dash through an alien-infested graveyard with a gung-ho orthodox monk called Father Grigory. It's a somewhat simplistic level to say the least, and feels more like a training mission than one of the stunning set pieces we've witnessed in previous demonstrations.
Wave after wave of zombies shamble towards us, as the mad monk and I hurtle through the level. Conveniently placed saw blades allow me to make full use of the all-new Manipulator weapon - with which you can pick up and propel almost any object in the game. The blades fly through the air and scythe off the zombies' hideous noggins, as we stumble across some even more conveniently placed exploding barrels.
I fire at them and a bone-bending shockwave rocks me back as I watch dismembered enemies fly across the cemetery like rag dolls in a hurricane, their still twitching bodies engulfed in flames. Other zombies walk over their fallen comrades and ignite as they pass, flailing wildly from pain and kindling more of their companions.
I wheel around suddenly and come face to Head Crab with four zombies. Instinctively I reel back, pumping the shotgun trigger but firing ineffectually over their heads. Seeing my predicament, Grigory dives in front of me and dishes out some punishment, saving me from almost certain death. In some levels, we've put obvious things like those saw blades in on purpose, so that people can easily work out and learn what they can do with the Manipulator, reassures Doug.
Which leads us nicely onto the game's physics system, which is promising to furbish you with a wealth of new gameplay possibilities never before seen in a shooter, and ensure that Half-Life 2 will be anything but short-lived. In fact, Gabe and Doug believe that HL2 could well prove to be twice the length of its predecessor thanks to the depth offered by the Source engine's revolutionary new abilities.
We've seen so many different types of playing styles. Some people want to explore and try everything, especially with the new physics system, while others just want to charge through the game as fast as possible. We've actually found that. Gabe picks up the thread. You can learn from the Al though, so you may see them doing something you didn't know you could do and then use that later on to your advantage.
Now if you see a dumpster, you can pick it up and throw it at the enemy if you want to. But will we see the same kind of individuality and autonomy as we did from the bots in Valve's other recent project, Condition Zero, who, depending on their psychological makeup, would follow your orders to varying degrees?
Sure, chimes Gabe. They'll argue with you too. So if you tell someone to go and defend a certain area, they can turn around to you and say that they don't want to, as there could be a lot of risk associated with that action. They'll wait till you're not looking and then go off and do their own thing. And so we move on to the final level of the day, one that may have a ring of familiarity if you've seen all of the Half-Life 2 movies we've run on our discs over the past year.
In this third level, we're actually using the new technology to drive new types of gameplay," explains Doug as I dive in. There's a buggy right next to me with a mounted machine gun, and the nearest thing of interest - a dry dock - is a long way off. Smoothly, I slide into the vehicle and accelerate across the bumpy terrain, the frail car bucking like a wild bull beneath me.
I fight for control, barely avoiding a spin as I round a corner only to embarrassingly wade straight into a lake. The engine cuts out. I've lost the buggy for sure and a long trek lies ahead of me. Why don't you try getting out and giving it a little push with your Manipulator? He's not wrong. Using the Manipulator's alternate fire button, I start shunting the car out of the water, get back on board and resume my uncomfortable journey.
At the dock, I use a crane with an enormous magnet attached to suck up the increasingly abused vehicle and plop it onto the pier, only to alert several very pissed off guards with the commotion. They waste no time trying to mince me with their machine guns. I return the compliment, ducking behind crates as they pin me down with a hail of lead. Diving out, I bear down on two of them.
They disperse and flock for shelter with startling realism, firing wildly as they run, but one falls as a volley from my MP5 connects with his back and bows his spine. The other one soon follows suit, crumpling to the floor with a thud. Jumping back into the car, I accelerate through a storage shelter towards a ramp leading to a huge window.
Images of a heroic escape fill my mind, a majestic exit of splintered glass and a flight through the air to safety. Instead, I lose control again, decelerating pathetically and coming to a halt with half of the car teetering on the outside of the building, while the back wobbles awkwardly within. Back and forth it goes, each dip forward more precarious than the next, until at last the nose begins its slow motion-like plummet to the earth.
I'm upside down. Now where did I put that Manipulator? I get going again. In the foreground, circular metallic objects begin rolling towards me. Roller bowling ball and Mines," exclaims Doug gleefully. A burst of machine-gun fire sends one pinging backwards like a V bowling ball and bouncing against A the road barrier; the others I seem to avoid. However, one's attached itself to the car and is now draining it of energy. Again, I come to a halt and shoot the mine off, only for it to resume its incessant charge over and over again.
Then, an idea. Switching to the Manipulator, I suck the mine up and cast it over the ravine at the edge of the road, watching as it drops into the sea below. I race over hills and obstacles, slowly mastering the amazingly lifelike vehicle physics which prove even more authentic than those featured in Far Cry. Just as I think I'm safe, a storm of bullets kicks up a maelstrom of dust and a hovercraft fills my view. I stamp on the turbo and accelerate off. With that, the level ends, an exhilarating ride -although I'm left somewhat disappointed that only two of the weapons available to me, the Manipulator and a hugely powerful alien machine gun, seem to have been added to the Half-Life arsenal.
In this interesting battle player has to complete many challenging missions. When the player complete one mission of the half life 2 pc game next missions will unlocked. Player will also use many kinds of latest and heavy weapons. If you like these type of first person shooter video games. It is a full game. Just download it and play it.
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