Half-Life is arguably the greatest and most well regarded gaming franchise of all time. You could say that the next step in the series is the most anticipated out there at the moment; at least it would be, if we hadn't been waiting for years for a scrap, a morsel, anything that might suggest what it will entail.
At the moment, none of us Half-Life fans really know where we stand or how to feel about the prospect of more adventures to come thanks to Valve's continuing teasing silence. What we do know, however, is the kind of thing we want to see in the future of the Half-Life series - whether that's Half Life 3 or the third episode extension of the second game.
At least... we think we do. Oh for the love of Gawd, we need an announcement...
Portal is, of course, one of Valve's other hit titles, and one nestled in the warmest corner of gaming's heart. Packaged with Half-Life 2 in the Orange Box, it was a flight of fancy that quickly gained fame and, now, its own full-on sequel.
Half-Life 2: Episode 3 could see Portal lore bleed into its box-mate's world. At the end of the last HL episode, we were flying to the arctic... leading to the inclusion of Aperture Laboratories in Half-Life.
Would Valve dare include Aperture Science in the climax of its last Half-Life? It's not exactly out of the question. We think it would be madness to include Aperture Science in Half-Life 2: Episode 3 and keep the Portal gun out of players' reach.
We're not saying it would necessarily work as a tool that could be acquired and used to our heart's content, Half-Life typically deals with far more complicated environments than Portal but to be able to utilise it in certain typically Half-Life situations would be a dream. What should be avoided, though, is a scattering of Portal levels ripped from that world and flung into this one. We trust Valve to get inventive.
We want more of a challenge this time around, we think we're ready, or at least enough variety in the settings menu to give those who want to go a little bit more hardcore the chance to choose (or perhaps unlock) a fiendishly tricky difficulty mode.
The difficulty slump could also be remedied with a couple of gameplay tweaks as well though. Half Life 2, for our money, was a massive improvement on the original in terms of enemy A.I; our foes seemed a lot smarter, worked better in groups and learnt to flank. In the Half-Life 2 episodes we were given enemies with different AI programming, which added some nice variety.
The problem by the end of Half-Life 2: Episode 2, however, was that Freeman had become a bit untouchable with his over-powered Gravity Gun but enemies would still come at him as if he were carrying a crowbar. They weren't intelligent enough to adapt to the type of weapon we were carrying which allowed us to get tactically exploitative.
Bigger battles pitting the Combine against the resistance were originally ear-marked for Half-Life 2 but were pulled at the last moment. That was then, way back in 2004, and considering the technological strides we've made in terms of game development since then (and tech if you're part of the PC party) then creating battles on a larger scale should be a breeze.
We'd also like to see more opportunities for teamwork, no necessarily co-op (although who doesn't love a bit of co-op?) we quite enjoyed working with our AI chums in Half-Life 2. Maybe we could even combine the two ideas and have bigger battles with a strong team mechanic at the heart.