Half Life is a good thing. I can’t really put it any other way. Saying it’s awesome doesn’t really show how awesome it is. It’s just a good thing; a thing that perfectly fits in the world, causing no rifts or complaints. Everyone loves it.
And yet, with all these episodic releases, it’s age is beginning to show. The Source engine is showing it’s limitations, the AI is starting to stumble, the character models are slowly rusting. It’s like that moment you realize your father, the coolest dude in the world, can’t play football with you any more, because his back isn’t up to it. And then your mother leaves. And your father turns to alcohol, and beats you, and you run away and find shelter writing articles for a gaming website. Or something.
Anyway, the point is; we all want to know what’s gonna be in Half Life 3. So why not use spurious projections to craft our own version? Why not indeed.
Wait, what about Half Life 2: Episode 3?
We all know what that’s gonna be. It’s gonna be friggin’ kick-ass. Basically, the same old gameplay, with more blur and depth of field, and maybe a new gun or two. And that’s what we want. The story will be the important part of Episode 3; linking the war between the human resistance and the Combine to the inevitable Half Life 3. Valve may make some half hearted claim it’s the end of the story arc – but how many times have we heard that line in gaming?
Portal Gun, right?
Maybe. There’s a lot to back it up, including the Aperture logo on the Borealis containers, but..it’s too obvious. The gun worked perfectly in the enclosed test chambers, but in the wide open world, we feel it would be out of place. What’s to stop you firing the gun miles ahead and skipping half the game? It would have to be so limited it’s inclusion would be useless.
If there’s no Portal Gun…what is there?
I’m not going to try guess the ending of Episode 3. Valve will surpass expectations, anyway, so we’ll leave the story telling to them. All I will guess is that we’re moving out of City 17 (I know we did in Episode 2, but not by much…). It’s been a good 5 years, and the Citadel has always been a beacon to gamers, but…times have moved on. No doubt Gordan and Alyx (They can’t kill off Alyx..can they?) will be runaways of some sort as a massive battle rages around the world, taking them from the countryside to new cities to sewers to beaches to forests to…Ohh, wherever. So long as there’s the gravity gun.
Yeah, that gravity gun; Is that still staying?
Mos Def (I think the kids use that to mean ‘Most Definatly’). It’s really, really fun. What would be changed is the Source engine. Maybe to Source Engine 2, or some other catchy name, but it’ll be awesome. Source still stands as one of the best physics engines to date, but with Euphoria, for example, catching up, Valve need to up their game. New physics, new graphics, new AI, new NPCs; it’s an obvious move, seeing as it can then be used for Counter Strike 2, Portal 2, or Left For Dead 3 (Or by that stage, probably Left 4 Dead 9)
Yeah, duh. But what about the gameplay?
The Half Life 2 universe is often described as ‘Orwellian’, but that never really fits, does it? It’s too bright, slightly cartoonish, and a little playful. It’s nowhere near as dark as 1984 (or as crap, but we’ll save that debate for Book Club), and so Half Life 3 needs to take on that claim with an added dark side. Maybe Gordan has had to make some…sacrifices, or Alyx changed to a loose cannon after Episode 2; it’ll be great to see the G-Man really embrace his dark side. So, armed with the trusty, slightly rusty, and crusty (?) crowbar, Mr Freeman starts off escaping from a burning city (There’s always one). It’s kind of like the long walk in Half Life 2, but instead of annoying the local police, you’re jumping from tumbling building to broken roof, treated to wonderful vistas or a destroyed metropolis, solving some basic physics puzzles and getting used to the controls, including the new Melee system.
New Melee system? What…hitting people harder?
…Basically, yeah. Running up to a Combine and spamming the ‘hit’ button is SO 2004, and now we’ve all been treated to the delights of Condemned 2 and Chronicles Of Riddick. Basically, hold the hit button, and use one of the sticks to swing; this means some violent, sickening skull-crunching, and a focus of stealth; you’re much more likely to survive if you sneak around and go up from behind.
But Melee isn’t that important, right?
Yeah, alright, hold your horses…’Course, when you get into the game, you’re gonna spend much of your time shooting hot lead. Half Life 2 is inviting, and fun, partly due to the fact is keep things simple; stand, aim, shoot, win. Will Half Life 3 shake up things with a cover system? It would certainly change the series outlook, but with better AI, it might have to. And come on, who hasn’t wished of looking down the sights of the sub-machine gun? Half Life 3 MUST have ironsight view, allowing you to look down scopes and sights at your will, hopefully adding an extra layer of tactics to proceedings.
Neat, but it’s beginning to sound like a standard FPS…
While the gravity gun will set it apart from some, Half Life 3 needs another addition to set a new precedent for games. And honestly, I doubt a tried, handsome, lonely writier typing ramblings into his computer can really come up with one; maybe a weeks worth of Valve staff meetings might get something together. But hey, why not give it a shot…
Taking Gordan’s glasses off,and cleaning them? Nah, but it would be cool to have blood and dirt smear all over them. Slow mo? That’s not really new, though it would rock. A new health system? I have yet to see any game pride itself on healing mechanics, and I doubt Half Life 3 will be the first. Press X to be mute? L1 to stroke beard? Y to view feet? I’m all out. Whatever it is, it’ll be great. It’ll be too big a game to think ‘Oh, we’ll add it in some DLC’, as so many developers do, and Valve are no ordinary developers….
When can I find out?!
Well, this depends. I’m sure PC and Xbox owners will get Episode 3 next year, and Half Life 3 another year or two after, but if you’re a PS3 person…No doubt EA will make a port, and maybe by then Gabe and Kaz will have hugged and made up, but we’ll have to wait and see. Hey, we have been for the past 5 years; another 5 can’t hurt…right?