If you don't know what Half-Life 2 is by now, I have to ask what rock have you been living under the past few months. The web is swamped with information, magazines are pouring out with exclusive screenshots and every body is in a frenzy. The problem is with this much hype can the game possibly ever live up to its huge expectations? A game has never had this much hype since ...well never. I personally can't think of any game announcement in recent years that has just blown every other game of the map (including the hotly anticipated Doom 3)
Hype can kill a game before its released. Over the past few years we have seen many games receive a huge amount of hype that have turned out to be major disappointments. Enter the Matrix being the most recent. Valve have done everything they possibly can to limit the amount of coverage this game is getting and its understandable. Half-Life in my opinion was so big because it came out of left field, totally out of no where. It just arrived on store shelves one day and who was to know that it was going to become what some people call the greatest PC game of all time. I don't personally agree with that but it is most definitely in my top five ( I guess the alien levels just didn't cut it for me).
Half-Life has endured five years of game releases and still remains the number one played game online (with a little help from Counter-Strike). Valve owes quite a debt to both Gooseman and Cliffe, without Counter-Strike would Half-Life still be as big as it is today? This is where Valve has excelled over the past half decade. Offering massive support to modification teams and even helping them make their products a retail reality. Both Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat were taken under the wings of Valve and if you visit your local store today, chances are you will see both products as retail games.
Valve reminds me of iD software in the Quake 2 days. They offered great support to modification teams but the day they released the Quake 3 patch which broke all modifications is the day they lost most of the respect from the modification community in my opinion. With Half-Life so easy to modify (with a little bit of programming knowledge) the choice was negated, HL was and still is the number one engine for modding and it looks like HL2 will retain that crown.
So just how much hype does Half-Life 2 already have? If you visit your local newsagent chances are every E3 edition of your favourite magazine will have Gordon or Alyx (the two main characters from Half-Life 2) on the cover. The web is swamped with people wanting information and it seems daily that new features and news about the game is released to the web. It won every single PC game category in the official E3 2003 awards and had it been announced for Xbox at E3 officially, then perhaps it would have toppled Bungies mighty Halo 2 to the top console game spot. People can't stop talking about it, Half-Life fans are in a frenzy, people are trying to guess the storyline and single player. If a demo is released expect the Internet to come to a grinding halt as every single PC gamer tries to download it. I thought Counter-Strike release days were bad…
Other games that have been killed by hype include Daikatana and Duke Nukem Forever. You may think I'm being harsh on Duke Nukem Forever considering its not out yet but that's just the problem. So far it has taken seven years to develop. Think about all the hot games that have been released in that time. Half-Life, Quake 3 Arena, Soldier of Fortune 1 and 2, Warcraft 3 and others. It takes less time to develop and MMORPG then it has taken Duke Nukem Forever. 3D Realms have tried something new by having a complete media blackout but thus far this has worked against them. The vaporware accusations are flying thick and fast and considering it hasn't been shown at two E3's in a row its hard not to believe it. Hopefully we'll see it in 2004 and it will be the greatest game ever, but most PC gamers have their doubts.
Valve have done everything they possibly can to limit this hype, but I think they knew it was going to be a battle they were going to lose. The fact they have announced it so close to release has only contributed to the hype. Had the game still been two years away would the hype level be as insane as it is now? I doubt it and they aren't done yet. Not only are they officially going to announce and possibly release Team Fortress 2 this year but they have confirmed Half-Life 3 will be released eventually so this phenomena is likely to occur again.
Don't get me wrong, I think Half-Life 2 will be one of if not the greatest PC game of all time. I just hope that it lives up to everyone's expectations and the huge amount of hype it has garnered. The E3 movie was absolutely fantastic and we can only hope the entire game will be that good. If anyone can do it Valve can do it and with five years development time under the belt who knows what we can expect when the short odds bet to win game of the year hits. With the game only a few weeks away (if you believe Valve!) for many PC gamers September 30th can't roll around soon enough.The views are entirely that of the author and may not represent the views of 3DAvenue or any of its staff.