Valve has been rather silent on the Half-Life front since the release of Half-Life 2: Episode Two in October of 2007. Half-Life is one of the games that has helped to redefine gaming and show that you can do a lot more with a game than just point, click and shoot. The Half-Life games have meant a lot of things to a lot of people and even mentioning the ominous “Half-Life 3” is enough to bring sections of the internet to its knees begging for the third installment of the Half-Life saga. It has had that much of an impact on gaming.
Sure, there have been other series that have come along in the meantime and built off of the success that we’ve seen with Half-Life. Bungie did a lot for the FPS genre with its Halo franchise on the Xbox and Xbox 360 and the same can be said for Irrational Games and the BioShock series, but Half-Life dates back to 1998. The first person shooter genre was one that saw id Software push into prominence with Wolfenstein 3D, followed by the Doom series, but throughout most of the 90’s what followed was stagnation — more of the same — from developers.
When Valve came along with Half-Life it was kind of crazy. The first tram ride that you take into the Black Mesa research facility is one that most gamers will have burned into their brains for the rest of their lives. It was new, fresh, there was a focus on the story and the human element throughout the game. It wasn’t just going from room to room cleaning out enemies, instead it was using the resources presented to you, the terrain and environment and sometimes being outgunned and overmatched that made fans keep coming back. In a way, I wonder if Valve has been holding off on following up on the Half-Life games because there is no real way to revolutionize gaming like they did back in 1998.
Games like the Portal series shows that sense of wonder and discovery that games from Valve can present and the fact that Team Fortress Classic 2 is still going strong is proof that they understand what gamers want in multiplayer games as well. For them to finally bring another Half-Life into the world, it would have to be something big, earth-shattering and enough to live up to the years and years of hype that have been building up. It would have to change gaming.
So imagine how it feels that there are rumors abound that Valve have presented “something cool” to select individuals at the GDC this year and that nobody is talking, yet. We have a new generation of consoles coming up very soon and PCs right now are really doing some incredible things. The market seems wide open for a new dose of Half-Life, even in a world full of sequels and sequels to sequels. Fans want a sequel, though, as things with Gordon Freeman were not exactly left on a happy note at the end of Half-Life 2: Episode 2. Fans want a conclusion to Gordan’s saga, if that is even possible.