Unreleased Half-Life 2 Concept Art Leaked Online

Many years ago, Valve released the Half-Life 2 concept art book, Raising the Bar. Now, images from the publisher’s proof version of the artbook are appearing online, which is sure to please the many of the fans of the series out there.

The version of the book containing this before-unseen artwork is from a very limited production run of the book before the final edits and was made to the 300-page book for its final release and contains as many as 100 additional pages of art and concepts from across the Half-Life series. This highly prized piece of work was purchased online by a US fan of the game for just $45 and since then Russian Half-Life fansite “Half-Life Inside” have been posting small tidbits of the art from the gallery proof online. The new owner of the book also plans to scan and upload the rest, so there is still more to come!

Some of the art is not wholly new, with areas that were cut from the game such as the “Crab Synth” zone from Half-Life 2 had already been discovered by Valve Time, another Half-Life fansite. Outside of the additional art, the changes between the publisher’s proof and release versions of the artbook are minor, with the outstanding modifications including an alternate version of Half-Life 2’s Dr. Breen alongside a photograph of his modelling reference, Roger Guay.

It’s great to see that new secrets and information are still being discovered about the beloved franchise after so long and the art may just have a few “what if” stories to tell. If you’re looking to see the rest of the art for this work, check out Half-Life Inside, where scans will continue to be published and you might just be able to find the next clue for Half-Life 3.

Fan Made Half-Life Game ‘Prospekt’ to be Released With Valve’s Blessing

Many PC gaming fans eagerly await the day when the next game in Valve’s flagship FPS franchise, Half-Life, will be released. Perhaps such fans will be sated for a time by the newest ‘Half-Life’ game, Prospekt, which is not a product of Valve, instead being a fan-made creation. This hasn’t stopped Valve from giving the game their full approval and as a result, it is set to be released on their Steam service on February 11th.

Prospekt is set up as a sequel to the 1999 Half-Life spin-off game, Half-Life: Opposing Force. Players will reprise the role of US Marine Corporal Adrian Shepherd, who made his debut (and only) appearance in the original Opposing Force as he explored the Black Mesa Research Facility. This time, Corporal Shepherd will be delving into the Nova Prospekt prison, a location featured in Half-Life 2, at the behest of the Vortigaunts in order to save Gordon Freeman from being overrun by soldiers inside the facility. The mission will take place across 13 levels with gameplay time said to be comparable to that of Half-Life 2: Episode 1.

The game is the long time project of a single developer, Richard Seabrook, who has put over 2,500 hours into creating the game. Being approved by Valve allows Seabrook to sell his game, that makes use of Valve’s licensed Half-Life 2 assets. This is in contrast to most fan-made Source engine games, which are often either free or have to be careful to use unlicensed assets if they wish to profit from its sale. It isn’t the first fangame to receive Valve’s approval, that honour going to Black Mesa, a full remake of the original Half-Life making use of the power of Half-Life 2’s Source Engine. Prospekt also promises a number of enhancements over the original Half-Life 2, offering a slew of graphical, audio and even AI improvements.

“I’m hugely grateful for the immense support from the Half-Life 2 and PC gaming community”, said Seabrook. “I can’t wait to hear what they think of the finished game and work the feedback into my next project, no doubt developed while we all wait for Half-Life 3.!”

The game will be on sale on Steam from February 11th for £7.50 ($9.99/€9.99), but if you pre-purchase from today there will be a 10% discount to the standard price, only paying £6.75($8.99/ €8.99). I think this is a great precedent for Valve to be setting, allowing fans to officially build and expand on their established franchise story and lore. It is doubtful Steam would allow a compromise in quality for such games, but it is a step better than the typical approach of license holders shutting down or banning the sale of such products.

Half Life 2’s City 17 Apartment Looks Amazing in Unreal Engine 4

Over the past few months, we’ve seen a huge array of gaming mascots and other projects emerge in fan-created Unreal Engine 4 demos. Some of them looked out of place, while others illustrate the unbelievable potential of this particular engine. One pertinent example comes from Polycount member, ‘PogoP’, who shared a number of stunning screenshots of the infamous City 17 Apartment from Half Life 2 remastered in Unreal Engine 4.

Today, ‘PogoP’ announced the City 17 Apartment map will be publicly available once complete and said:

“Just so you know, I do plan to release this scene online for people to play around with. I’m not going to release it just yet, as I would really like to get it working with Oculus Rift before I do.. So you can run around with virtual reality. Not entirely sure if its going to work, but I’ll give it a good go!”

The re-worked art assets and lighting model makes for a fantastic and almost eerie appearance. I love how the visual style has been updated without losing the iconic Half Life 2 look. In an ideal world, Valve could spend a great deal of their resources making a re-worked version and finally release Half Life 3. Sadly, I don’t think this is a priority for them given the financial success of Steam.

Despite this depressing note, it’s possible for fans to recreate Half Life 2 using Unreal Engine 4 with the right talent. Black Mesa is an extremely high quality mod and even became accredited by Valve. As a result, it’s theoretically possible, a similar situation could occur in the future.

Do you think there will ever be a Half Life 3?

Thank you Dark Side of Gaming for providing us with this information.

Half-Line Miami is a Magical Blend of Half Life and Hotline Miami

Half-Line Miami is a free standalone mod, created by Thomas Kole and combines Half Life 2 and Hotline Miami in a spectacular way. The project was designed to hone Kole’s development skills and honour two of his favourite games of all time. Currently, the game features 8 thematic levels and each one represents a unique sector in Half Life 2’s environment. Additionally, there is a level editor and user-created maps are available from www.reddit.com/r/HLM. As a result, Half-Line Miami could end up with a huge array of missions if the community becomes quite popular.

The iconic gravity-gun is a fantastic addition and allows you to hurtle objects into an enemy’s face. I was quite impressed by the small touches and variety of objects which makes the gameplay stay fresh. The combat is accompanied by a thumping, 80s-style soundtrack and vibrant visual style. It’s surprising how well the two themes combine and contains 8-bit renditions of Half Life 2’s cutscenes.

Half-Line Miami is available for download from here and doesn’t require any installation. Over the years I’ve played a number of fan-projects and it’s staggering how good community content can be. Half-Line Miami exemplifies this and illustrates why PC Gaming is so special.

Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information.

NVIDIA Increases the Shield Gaming Library – Including HL2: Episode Two

Since getting my original Shield portable and then along the road; the Shield tablet, of course I’m now eager to get my hands on the Shield Android TV and for many good reasons. It was the set of devices that allowed me to ditch my iPad and helped to open a whole new realm of possibilities and the first being gaming, which is NVIDIA’s bread and butter so to speak.

With a whole host of games, ready at your fingertips to be streamed directly to your device, NVIDIA have been constantly adding more titles to their library, and we’re not talking some shoddy 2D indie games. We’re seeing top titles, new and old and the latest update sees a wave of over ten games including Half-Life 2: Episode Two.

Other key titles that are worth a look are Doom 3: BFG Edition, Star Wars: KOTOR and War Thunder to name a few and with more on the way thanks to the launch of the NVIDIA Shield Android TV, we will be anxiously waiting for Resident Evil 5, Borderlands 2 and much more.

Do you own a Shield device? If so, what games are you currently playing? It’s also worth remembering that you can stream games from your NVIDIA powered PC, just in case it’s not available on the NVIDIA Shield gaming library.

Thank you to Fudzilla for providing us with this information.

Valve Is Going to Give Half-Life 2: Update for Free on Steam

The Half-Life 2: Update is a Valve-endorsed and fan-created mod which will be available shortly on Steam. Romanian modder, Filip Victor, has been a key asset in the mod’s creation, having stepped in to release the last version of graphics update for the game.

The update is said to weigh in at 7GB and comes with a few visual improvements, including enhanced lighting effects, better detailed environmental textures, while also fixing a lot of bugs present in the original PC release.

Valve has also stated at GDC that it was experimenting with Half-Life in virtual reality. It would be nice to see the feature come in another update (or at least another sequel), but don’t get your hopes up just yet. Valve has yet to make any official statement on whether it will add official support for VR technology in any Half-Life title.

Half-Life 2: Update is said to arrive on Steam on March 27th, so if it’s still not available, it will be shortly.

Thank you Ubergizmo for providing us with this information

Half Life 2 Multiplayer Gets The Cyberith Virtualizer VR Treatment

I’m not one for going to the gym, not that I don’t work out, but I just find gyms boring in genera. If they would invest in a pair of Cyberith Virtualizers, a couple of Oculus Rift headsets and a copy of Half-Life 2, I’d be pretty buff and/or dead from exhaustion right about now.

Cyberith Virtualizer is the latest in physical VR hardware, allowing you to stretch your legs, pick up a virtual gun and strap on a VR headset to literally go running around your favorite gaming world. CV has a multiplayer twist, in the video below you can see two people facing off in Half Life 2 with impressive results.

The company has almost finished it kickstarter campaign, where they’ve raised $335,545 of their $250,000 goal and while I’m not so sure we’ll see them in gyms, we could see them cropping up in arcades and at events pretty soon.

[youtube width=”800″ height=”450″]http://youtu.be/UKGiXLQl9ws?list=PLoeyf6mc0XythwN-BWCyHlXRxGsQJvLEC[/youtube]

Thank you IncGamers for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of IncGamers.