It’s been a lot of time. How much more time, Mr. Newell? Will it ever be that…time again? I thought that the six year span between Half-Life and Half-Life 2 was a long time. But, it’s been over ten years since that anticipated release of the sequel, along with the, at the time questionable, but now lucrative, Steam. Yes, there have been some “expansions” with the seemingly abandoned idea of episodes. I, in general, don’t enjoy the idea of episodic gaming, especially in this case. These episodes could have led to a conclusion, but instead of the open-ended and mysterious conclusion of Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode 2 left players right on an unsatisfying cliff-hanger that has no resolution in sight.
It would have been a more satisfying unsatisfying conclusion to the Half-Life series with the end of Half-Life 2, with Freeman being back in stasis and waiting for the G-Man to get him to rise and shine once again because whomever his “employers” are need his services. It would also be a fitting metaphor for gamers waiting for another installment of Half-Life.
Sure, there is the side-story in the Half-Life universe called Portal that may have tided people over for a while. Its humour and puzzles in place of shooting and action was also a good change of pace. And, I would imagine that in a potential Half-Life 3, the portal gun would make a fantastic complement to the gravity gun.
The massive loose ends, unanswered questions, and all the potential that can go into another installment of Half-Life is compounded by both the fan insistence as well as the game’s important place in gaming history. Such a notable with all the aforementioned potential and effort put into it would have gone to waste, unless, well, let’s just say that its hour has…come again.
I don’t even think it would be a waste if the story is ret-conned and the inconclusive episodes are taken out of canon. It might actually fix the mess that Valve left with the story. Or, perhaps, after the ending of Episode 2, the G-Man puts Freeman back into stasis. That might work, too. But, whatever they do, this great game series needs a satisfying conclusion. What if something like the original Star Wars trilogy ended with The Empire Strikes Back? That would have been a huge let-down.
And with no more Half-Life, we won’t know who or what the G-Man is! Probably one of the most intriguingly mysterious and creepy characters in gaming.
But, of course, with all the expectation and potential, it’s a heavy burden on Valve. How could you possibly live up to the hype of a new Half-Life game after all of these years of waiting? And – if they actually are writing it as they go – how will they make the mystery behind G-Man anything less than satisfying? That is a task I do not envy.
However, on the other hand, because it’s been many years since the last installment, there is a freeing aspect, too. There are many roads they can take in picking up where they left off. Like I noted earlier, it can pick up years after where Episode 2 ended and have Freeman in a new environment surrounded by new characters, aged favorites, and a vastly different situation. They can go almost anywhere with the series now and use a variety of innovative ideas. And with Freeman being in stasis and coming into an unfamiliar world, the player goes on the journey of discovery along with Freeman.
One aspect that disappointed me in Half-Life 2 is the change of tone from the original. The first one had a dark, sci-fi horror atmosphere. The second game changed to a sci-fi action tone. Still quite violent, but lacked the dread from the original. Even when taking into considering the Ravenholm area. I would love for Half-Life 3 to re-adopt the sci-fi horror atmosphere. That is one of the many thing that made the original great. But, if they keep it light, there is still the new Doom to fill that void.
On the up side for the potential future of the series, Valve announced the Source 2 engine on March 3 of this year. However, as for the game itself, Newell said “The only reason we’d go back and do like a super classic kind of product is if a whole bunch of people just internally at Valve said they wanted to do it and had a reasonable explanation for why [they did].”
But, again, it’s not like it would be revisiting a series to expand on, like after Terminator 2, for example. Half-Life left fans hanging and the series that made Valve what it is was abandoned. There are so many reasons, including the ones that I’ve mentioned, to get back to the series. And it’s not as if they would be taking a risk with a new IP. Fans really do want a new Half-Life. If it was announced at the next E3, it would be a sure bet that it would be one of the – if not the – most spoken about topic of the event. So, wake up, Mr. Newell, wake up and…listen to your fans.