Read more. Oof, imagine not blinking for half a decade. My eyes shiver at the thought. Those of you chained to the churning wheel of the internet might have seen this facial recognition algorithm thingo doing the rounds. So we showed it 13 pictures of videogame characters instead, to see if the machine lords of the net realm can tell who they are and what they are all about.
The short answer: not really, but sometimes. The neural net, it turns out, is a dangerous idiot. The Half-Life 2 modding scene is alive, well and doing some exceptionally silly things. Hosted by Map Labs on Mod DB , Half-Life Abridged is the fifth and most recent in a series of themed HL2 mapping contests, challenging entrants to quickly produce a single level based around a specific theme.
This time, it was based around the concept of boiling down an entire chapter of Half-Life 1 or 2 into a single bite-sized level, perfect for the Free Man on the go. Breaking all prior records for Half-Life 2 jams, there were twenty-five entries in total, all bundled up and ready to play here. Many put tongue firmly in cheek, like Intrasslad by "Salamancer", which re-imagines the entire Nova Prospekt chapter of Half-Life 2 as a trip to Ikea, and replaces Alyx Vance with a lamp. It also won first place in the contest. Also notable is HWY 17 by "ThatsRidonkulous", which takes the 'abridged' concept perhaps too literally by squashing down the entirety of Highway 17 into a single bridge, breaking all of space and time in the process.
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Does that make it an Einstein-Rosen bridge , then? While some play it straight, a bunch of the levels are elaborate jokes. Anomalous Materials by "iiboharz" and "Jackathan" is an easter-egg and secret-laden romp that abridges Half-Life 1's first chapter. Gordon slept in today, and there's only six minutes until he's fired.
Get suited up and to the test chamber ASAP, even if the world does seem to be conspiring to slow you down. Lastly, a personal favourite is Father Grigori's Wild Ride by "RockyB", squishing Ravenholm down into a deeply unsafe haunted house fairground ride.
Dead on My Feet by Wm. Mark Simmons
Comfortably sitting in your mine-cart, you can kick back and relax as an animatronic Father Grigori gives you a tour of the headcrab-laden town. You'll occasionally need to use your gravity gun to switch what track you're on, and decapitate some zombies with saw-blades, though. Please keep all limbs inside the car at all times.. Many of these maps have rough edges, on account of being developed with a time limit for a competition, but they're still some of the funniest and most creative levels I've seen for the game.
This collection is well worth a look. Getting all this set up is, thankfully, pretty quick and easy. You don't even need to own Half-Life 2, but you probably should, or you won't get half the gags. Step 2: Right click on it in your Steam library, click Properties, Betas, and select the 'upcoming' branch. Those mysterious wizards at Valve are up to something, and it may be related to Half-Life. What exactly is going on isn't clear, but based on recent updates to existing Valve games, it has something to do with the Citadel. In the video below, Valve News Network's Tyler McVicker explains what the community has unearthed in a recent low-level engine update to Dota 2.
Initially, Citadel appeared to refer to a level in the still-unannounced Half-Life VR project, but McVicker says that it eventually became apparent that it's an entirely separate Source 2 project. What it might actually be is anybody's guess, but it "has a lot of things related to stealth, AI pathfinding, and a top-view minimap," and according to McVicker is definitely not the "flagship" VR game Valve teased earlier this year.
Interesting, right? Of course, as McVicker is careful to say, there's no confirmation this is a new Half-Life game, or that it's even a shooter. Since the Citadel project appears to be using a similar Source 2 build as Dota 2 , chances are pretty good it's a top-down tactics game. But Source 2 can do a lot of things, and there's really no telling what Citadel is going to look like—yet. Is there still room in the world for a new Half-Life?
I'm going to go ahead and guess "yes. In Vectorpark s Sandcastles , you build fantastic towers and watch the waves erase your work every 10 seconds. It s a very direct metaphor for the global climate crisis that threatens to flood coastal cities and exacerbate natural disasters. Sandcastles confronts us with our totally predictable watery doom, but we also find fun and expression in our totally foreseeable destruction. When the planet dies, at least we ll be entertained. Before you commit to starving and drowning, you should probably understand how and why it ll happen. To imagine this nightmarish hellworld, readers can flip through climate fiction novels cli-fi and movie-goers can watch a big unprofitable climate disaster blockbuster every few years.
But us mouse-clickers, we obviously don t read books or watch movies. Instead, we play with climate. Behold, the climate crisis game. Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories. The gravity gun, for all its usefulness in Half-Life 2, can only pick up non-organic objects. But when it passes through the confiscation field in the Citadel, it isn't destroyed like the rest of your weapons.
It becomes supercharged. The tool that could do everything except that one thing now does that one thing, too. And it's a glorious, cathartic moment. Instead of just picking up objects you can pick up people, and it's a blast, yanking surprised soldiers off the ground, pulling them wriggling through the air, their limbs violently jerking and flopping in a way that makes Darth Vader's Force Choke look like a gentle embrace.
And then you can blast those Combine ragdolls around the room, send them spinning and slamming into each other. In a corridor packed with Combine you can rip a soldier from his spot and send him pinwheeling back through the rest. It's the gravity gun's final form and it made the perfect tool, surprisingly, even better. What made the gravity gun so cool in Half-Life 2 wasn't just that it could lift stuff—it was all the different things that could be accomplished by lifting stuff. When it first fell into our hands we played catch with Dog, which wasn't just a cool sequence but functioned as a sneaky tutorial.
We learned how to pick up, throw, and catch, we increased our bond with the eager robotic companion, and we discovered how to defeat rollermines, an enemy we wouldn't encounter until much later in the game.tiovevohos.tk
The first time one came tumbling down the road at us, we'd already been trained to handle them without even realizing it. That's just cool. And there was more. Physics puzzles began presenting themselves, solvable using the gravity gun.
We could weigh down one end of a board and turn it into a ramp. Episode One came out in , and Episode Two in , ending on a huge cliffhanger. All that exists of Episode Three is a little bit of concept art that leaked onto the Internet years ago. Eventually, as it became clear that particular story would never conclude, fans began hoping that a full sequel would eventually appear—a Half-Life 3 filled with further gaming revolutions and the kinds of surprises only Valve could dream up.
In the minds of fans, Half-Life 3 and Half-Life 2: Episode Three essentially amount to the same thing: a new installment. Valve owns the PC-gaming platform Steam and several other games, through which it makes immense profits, meaning the only reason to make a Half-Life 3 would be to satisfy some creative urge. And the lack of a definitive statement continues to leave open the tiny possibility for a sequel one day, keeping the mystery alive, without recommitting the company to a new deadline.
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Marc Laidlaw, a novelist who worked at Valve since its inception and was the primary writer of all the Half-Life games, recently announced his retirement from the industry. We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters theatlantic.
David Sims is a staff writer at The Atlantic , where he covers culture.
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