Saturday, December 11, 2004

Half-Life 2 is here! (Part II)

Half-Life 2 made me to get an Internet connection at home. Finally I made a deal with my cable operator and got a direct LAN access, which he is providing. Speed is not that great but it is better than not having any thing. Since I am closely watching steam forums I was better prepared what I can expect so I have done some pre-work like updating my CD-ROM and DVD & CDRW combo drive’s firmware, a fresh partition for HL2 and new ATI Catalyst Beta Driver 4.12 which is released for HL2 specially.

Finally time has come and I popped the DVD in my drive, instantly the installer showed up and the installation has started in no time. It took some time as nearly 4GB of data was transferred to the disk. One more tension I had was that, this whole business is based on a simple cd-key. I have read stories how HL2 keys have been stolen from retail boxes in game stores. I have bought my copy from eBay UK (from a very reputed seller) so I had a doubt that I could be a victim of stolen cd-key. So I was eagerly waiting to enter my cd-key and get it registered with steam server.

Once the installation is finished the steam client started and it started to updating itself, which took around 30mins. Once it has finished the update it restated itself and asked me for the cd-key, I entered it and waited for it to do the registration, after a couple of seconds it said that my HL2 is registered and asked me to print the receipt. I was very much relieved and happy that I was not cheated. I want to have this receipt for safety reasons, but I don't a have printer. Also the steam client gave only a button click to print the receipt (it is not showing on the screen). I quickly created a new printer where printer port is a file and printer is a PS printer then I clicked on print button then it ask for a file name which I entered and there is my receipt in PS file.

After this steam started the task of decrypting the game contents (game you get is encrypted only gets decrypted once your purchase is validated). This took almost an hour time to decrypt the entire game, and then steam went on to download the game updates, which took around again 30mins.

Finally the time to start the game has come after nearly two and half-hours of waiting. Since every thing went very smooth I was expecting rest of the things to be smooth. I put on my headphones and selected Launch from the steam client. The drive LED started blinking fast then the hard disk LED blinked for time and every thing died down as if nothing happened. No error message not single indication. I told my self ok lets try again, well same thing repeated. I was very much disappointed and was thinking that it could be the SecureROM problem.

I started R&D with the help of Dr. Google and found a forum thread with exactly same description of the problem. Finally all the things lead to steam’s support page where they mention that if some of the steam cache files gets corrupted you will face this kind of problem, so they have given info how to verify the cache. I thought let me try my luck and clicked on the relevant link. The steam client started and said verifying the cache and it spent around 10mins doing that. Now the verification is done (if cache corrupted steam client will automatically fix the problem), I launched the game again. The drive went for a spin then the HDD, seeing this I was not sure that it will come up as it is been couple of seconds already passed and the drive spinning stopped, but at that moment the screen suddenly went blank and I have been taken to the main menu with City 17 rendered in 3D in the back ground.

I was quite relived and started a new game and roamed around initial part of City 17 to see how things are. Like most of the people I am also facing the audio shuttering problem but not too much only when some areas being loaded. I guess it is also been attributed to my integrated audio.

Kousik asked me how does it fare with DOOM 3. I played only DOOM 3 demo, from that I can tell you that DOOM 3 nothing different from original except super game engine which has great capabilities of lighting affects and other rendering stuff. Most of the game is dark (I heard it from others) to show off the lighting affects and it really scares you. Other than these things game play and story wise nothing new is there you still collect keys and open doors and blast away.

I don’t know whether Kousik played original Half-life or not, but its truly changed how the FPS games are designed with very interesting story, game play and cinematic game intro which I have never seen before.

Half-life 2 has taken original game several folds up with incredible interactivity with realistic physics, game play and taking the initial story further. If you compare DOOM 3 and HL2 game engines (HL2 engine is called Source), they have their own merits and de-merits. DOOM 3 doesn’t have much of great physics and animation, but in HL2 when Barney the guard assisted you in HL1 walks in HL2 I couldn’t believe my eyes. He walked just like a human I never saw any other game character walked like a human. Thanks to skeletal animation system of Source. Source doesn’t score much in lighting area than DOOM 3, but you will never be disappointed. Incredible lighting affects you can find in HL2 just walk in the streets of City 17 early in the morning, amazing it looks. Next thing is that art work in HL2 it so amazing that people are talking about new concept called In Game Photography. DOOM 3’s artwork is no match to HL2’s. Last thing is that DOOM 3 engine requires raw power; it cannot run with high details on my machine. But HL2’s source engine is designed to do well on low-end systems as well. Minimum support required for HL2 is DX7 card and a 1.2Ghz processor with 256MB ram.

I will just end by including couple of screen shots I have taken when I was roaming in City 17. They are just too good, so I am off to in game photography. By the way I have not yet started playing the game seriously.

(A1) Gordon's New Suite

(A2) Research Team from Black Mesa

(A3) Robotic bots photographs people in City 17

(A4) Alex being teleported

(A5) Alex smiling at you when you first meet her

(A6) Alex showing you the way standing beside lambada sign


At 12/11/2004 4:54 PM, Blogger sudeep said...

Maybe we need a walkthru' for the INSTALLATION of the
game too , just like the game itself.

Anyway HL-I was fantastic...
HL-II screenshots look awesome....

More HL-II stuff awaited from you...

At 12/13/2004 5:33 PM, Blogger  said...

YSC, the description and screenshots are awesome. Moreover, I see HL also has great lighting (your screenshot of alex being teleported).

And I see you've become a fan of Alex too.


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