Friday, December 03, 2004

Half-Life 2 is here! (Part I)

It took 6 years and around $40 million for Valve to create Half-Life 2 sequel to the best pc game ever made Half-Life. Half-life 2 became most anticipated game ever to release in 2004 besides DOOM 3. It was supposed to be released on 30th September 2003 but got released on 16th November 2004 for whatever reasons. You can read an interesting article about HL2 development here.

I have been keenly watching the HL2 developments for some time now. DOOM 3 disappointed me, as it is nothing much more than a super graphics game (I have played only demo). HL2 didn't disappoint fans as it has made history again and became most highly rated game on PC, with excellent game play, graphics & story line.

Valve has introduced a new technology with HL2 for game distribution called Steam. Using steam game developers can sell games directly to users through internet (of course you need a broad band for that). The games can also sold as retail for which you need to do online product authentication. This makes game piracy very difficult. Valve claims that by using steam game developers can make most of the money not paying single penny to their publisher (HL2 publisher is Vivendi Universal).

When time has arrived on 16th November 2004 and Valve has enabled HL2 on their steam servers, people started to register their product and start playing. To my surprise there has been several technical problems popped up to various users around the world. That is because I have not heard about any other game of so many problems considering Valve’s technical capabilities.

Most common problems are audio shuttering, where game sound shutter regularly, next is game doesn’t run for retail users reason being VU games added SecureROM, a copy protection software to the game which seems to be not compatible with may of the DVD writers people have. There are several other problem you can find on steam forum.

Other than these technical issues certain things enforced by Value are annoying to users. For example, retails user’s cd-key is bound to the users steam account permanently, it means that your friend cannot put the game on his machine and use your cd-key; he has to use your steam account as well. If Valve finds out that same cd-key is being user for multiple steam accounts it bans that cd-key. This means that you will never be able to play the game again (Valve recently banned 20,000 illegal accounts). What if you want to sell your retail copy? Well sell your steam account too, but if you had other purchases on steam account? Well god only can help you. The next problem for retail users is that, although the game is authenticated by steam it checks for the disk every time you play the game. Isn’t it bit stupid to do? Most of the people didn’t like this because they find it annoying for whatever reason or some people want to play from multiple computers meaning carrying the disk. Only Valve can answer why they have done that.

Many have suffered around the world with some thing or the other problem and not being able to play the game till today. This became subject of humor and here is some of it.

- Sell it as coasters on ebay
- A good cartoon (requires flash plug-in)
- A frustrated Kid (click "took a bat")

Now seeing all this should I get HL2 or not? Well certainly the urge to play this game is not goanna go away whatever it may be. I have decided to get the DVD version (I don’t like to take care of 5 CD-ROMs). Unfortunately in India only CD-ROM version is available so I ordered it from UK (UK has only DVD-ROM version), and it arrived yesterday. I was very tensed that what will be my experience of HL2.

To be continued.


At 12/09/2004 3:50 PM, Blogger  said...

That day we met, but couldn't discuss this. How is it coming? And more important, how does it compare with DOOM-3?

Waiting for your next post.


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