Recently, I've been thinking about Portal 2 a lot. To be honest, I haven't been this excited about the impending release of a video game in a long time. The original Portal pretty much blew my mind, and the upcoming sequel, with its full-length campaign and two-player co-op, looks like it might even top it.
But then I started having this horrible thought. Does Portal 2 mean that Valve has thrown in the towel on Half-Life 2? A few years back, Half-Life 2 was Valve's golden child. Everyone was excited about the project. When Half-Life 2 Episodes 1 and 2 came out, they were considered the must-have expansions for all of us who love FPS games. And when Episode 2 ended in a cliffhanger, we all expected that the sequel would be on its way shortly.
But then the Orange Box changed everything. It included a little gem of a game called Portal, and suddenly Valve had an unexpected massive hit on their hands. Unfortunately, Portal only contained a few hours of gameplay. Those of us who fell in love with GLaDOS and her sadistic wit were hungry for more. Valve had to get to work on a sequel that would contain a longer storyline and more variety in the types of puzzles contained within.
Fast forward a few years. Portal 2 is just about here. And so far, Valve has been incredibly confident in the product they are getting ready to release into the world. In fact, Valve co-founder Gabe Newell made this statement: "Portal 2's great. It's the best game we've ever done." All of the gameplay footage I've seen so far has pretty much validated this: Portal 2 looks like it will be incredible.
But where does that leave the Half-Life series?
While it's not incredibly common, it isn't completely unheard of for a greatly anticipated game sequel to vanish for a decade or so. Look at Duke Nukem. Duke Nukem 3D was controversial back in 1996, earning it a ban in several countries. However, as often happens with banned media, this only made gamers want to play it more. Duke Nukem was tearing it up. A sequel to this violent, stripper-laden shooter would be a guaranteed success. Sure enough, the next game in the series, Duke Nukem Forever, was announced back in 1997. And then a series of events caused delays that would keep old Duke out of the video game realm for fourteen years. Finally, in 2011, Duke's curse shall be broken and we'll get our hands on Duke Nukem Forever. (Well, hopefully. Let's all keep our fingers crossed.)
Sure, the Duke Nukem situation was a pretty uncommon event. But still, isn't Valve's lack of news on the whole Half-Life front starting to get pretty scary? Half-Life 2: Episode Two came out back in 2007, just over a year after Episode One. None of us expected a new decade to arrive before the next game in the series.
And then Left 4 Dead happened. What was that all about? Sure, both Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 are great games, but why did two L4D games come out just barely a year apart when Half-Life 2: Episode Two ended with such a poignant scene that left us craving more Half-Life? It's starting to feel like Valve is deliberately drawing our attention away from the Half-Life games.
By this point, there is debate on whether or not there will ever be a Half-Life 2: Episode Three. It might be smarter for Valve to hold off on releasing any Half-Life titles until they are able to deliver another full-length game rather than a mere expansion. A lot of people are thinking that the next Half-Life will be the official Half-Life 3.
But no one knows for sure. Every so often, some sort of promotional piece leaks, seemingly connected to Half-Life, yet none of these ever result in any candid reassurance from Valve that this game is on its way. And quite frankly, that's driving some of us pretty nuts. When will we ever get to step back into the role of our favorite crowbar-wielding physicist and kill us some more headcrabs?
My prediction: There will be another Half-Life game at some point in the future. However, Valve is going to have to spend its resources on whatever makes the most sense for them. And currently, it seems like it's zombies and portals (and DotA?). So it's quite possible that we'll see Portal 3 (and maybe even L4D3) before we see Half-Life 3. Poor Gordon Freeman will have to remain in stasis while the rest of the world is busy "thinking with portals." Will this become another Duke Nukem situation? Only time will tell.
CCC Freelance Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*