Interviews

Half-Life 2

Valve's Doug Lombardi spills on Gordon Freeman in our exclusive interview, plus full review of Xbox HL2

Valve is widely acknowledged to have created the greatest FPS ever seen on PC with the release of Half-Life 2 last year, but only because it actually supplanted the original Half-Life as the greatest FPS of all time.

Now almost one year later, Half-Life 2 is roaring onto the Xbox and we've got the definitive and all encompassing review for you to sample ahead of the game's release. If you don't own a PC and are a die hard Xbox gamer then you're going to go simply crazy when you sample HL2's amazing universe for the very first time. If you're a PC gamer who happens to own an Xbox as well, surely now's the perfect time to revisit Gordon Freeman's adventures all over again - only this time with pad rather than mouse and keyboard!

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As part of the package we've also managed to have a word with Valve's Doug Lombardi who's filled us in on the PC-Xbox transition as well as dropping some splendidly intriguing hints on the future of Valve's titles.

Half-Life 2 on Xbox on CVG - enjoy the complete package, so without further ado it's over to you Doug.

Well, we suppose an obvious question to kick off with is why deliver Half-Life 2 on Xbox and not hold off for Xbox 360?

Doug Lombardi: We began work on the Xbox several years ago. Given that investment and the fact that there are still millions of active Xbox gamers, it just made the most sense to finish this work before switching to any of the next-gen consoles.

Why create a console port of Half-Life 2, and when during development of the game did you decide to do an Xbox version?

Doug Lombardi: Few reasons to do it: First, everyone wants to deliver their games to as many gamers/customers as humanly possible. With HL1, we attempted to bring it to the Mac, Dreamcast, and eventually landed it on the PS2 after the PC debut. With CS, we brought it to the Xbox after the PC debut.

In those cases, the games were created on a mix of id and Valve technology, so we opted to have others collaborate on bringing the games to the additional platforms. However with Half-Life 2, we are working with our tech only in Source. As such, we decided to do the development ourselves so that we could keep the code in shape for others to use on this and other platforms.

Finally, why Xbox? In the current generation of consoles, Xbox is the only with the horsepower to run HL2 and Source without degrading the graphics and sound to levels we considered unacceptable.

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We have to say we were quite surprised - in a good way - by the visual quality of Half-Life 2 on Xbox. How did you find working with the hardware to achieve the standard you desired in this regard?

Doug Lombardi: With the exception of memory, the Xbox is quite a powerful machine, and that's why it was chosen as the only current-gen system targeted for this game. And, through the use of streaming technology, we were able to avoid any potential issues of trying to fit a game with a min req of 256MB of RAM through a 64MB RAM pipe.

How faithful do you think the Xbox version is to the Half-Life 2 PC experience? Are you pleased with the way it turned out?

Doug Lombardi: Often times, the folks working on a PC to console translation (or console to PC translation) are tasked with creating some tiny new piece of gameplay, too often at the expense of not giving the primary piece of content the attention it deserves. We took a chance, remained entirely focused on translating the core of the game, with
the goal of delivering an un-compromised version of the single-player product. From what we're hearing from friends and press who've played the final version, we achieved that goal.

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