I didn’t care much for first-person shooters until Half-Life hit the market. The Dooms and Quakes that had come out prior to Half-Life were OK, but didn’t have much of a story to them and consisted mainly of blasting everything that happened across your path. Multiplayer was pretty much straight death-match as well and that was fine for a while, but didn’t hold my attention for long. The original Half-Life sunk it’s claws in pretty deep when I first played it and hasn’t ever really let go. It had a real story with goals beyond the simple find-the-key-cards-to-open-the-doors puzzles and scripted events that made it feel more like playing a movie than a FPS. It changed the nature of that genre almost single handedly. I’ve been waiting for a worthy sequel ever since.
That sequel will be out this September and it’s being shown at this year’s E3. The folks at IGN.com have a teaser movie of the game in action up on their site and it looks like it’s set to revolutionize the genre once again. I can’t wait.
Update: Gamespot has a Half-Life 2 Impressions article up at their site describing the gameplay they’ve seen so far. It sounds incredible.
We saw that the Source engine features displacement map technology, which allows for scenery to deform in real time. We saw that different surfaces and types of objects all have different mass and respond differently to different types of actions. For example, Gordon Freeman could be seen shooting out a wooden pier, which collapsed into a pool of water. The wood splashed down into the drink and then floated to the surface, but the barrels atop the pier sank. This sounds mundane, but seeing it occur in real time is quite impressive. Other simple objects—bed mattresses, for example—also came across as surprisingly remarkable, since they just acted like their real-life counterparts do. Often, Valve demonstrated the game’s physics by having Freeman use a “gravity gun” weapon, which could rip things like radiators and cabinets from off their hinges and then fling them into enemies or other objects, producing dynamic and believable results.
Valve showed off the game’s artificial intelligence in another great scene that put Freeman against commandolike enemies called the Combine. Freeman was seen engaged in a shootout against these deadly foes, and we watched as he retreated into a ramshackle house to take cover. Freeman bars the door by pushing a table against it, and sure enough we see the Combine trying to break in. The enemy changes tactics and starts shooting out windows, and soon enough, they manage to smash down the door. Gordon continues to flee, but he stops long enough to do away with a Combine trooper by flinging a radiator square into his chest, which flattens the thug against a soda machine, crushing both of them.
Another scene showed Freeman using a huge propellerlike device to rip a bunch of zombies in half. One gets blown apart by a grenade, yet the top half of the zombie continues its pursuit. To ward off another zombie attack, Freeman blows up an explosive barrel, which causes the destroyed husk of a car to crush the lot of them. The car then ignites and catches flame, incinerating yet more zombies.
Pardon me for a moment. I forgot my drool-bib.