So if Half-Life 2 comes out as good as it looks, will you ever want another game? In a time when even the most impressive competing titles are merely evolutionary, Half-Life 2 is really looking to take things to the next level. Some games may be able to compete in graphics, in AI or even gameplay – but will they have it all?
More importantly, what consequences does this have for the industry? Budgets, team sizes and development times have increased at exponential rates as games have become more technically complex. The advent of faster computers and improved tools merely dampens the extra time, manpower and cost involved in making premier titles.
Over the past few years, however, a lull affected the industry. The hype around the 3D accelerated rage died down. System requirements to play games hadn’t increased noticeably – just get a better video card for that old 1GHz Athlon and you were fine. So much extra processing power was available, we were running background MP3s, setting to high resolutions with full AA and anisoptric filtering – with the latest games on moderate hardware!
Suddenly, with Doom 3 we got a slap in the face that warned us this power luxury was coming to an end. Half-Life 2 confirms that. But there’s more than that. Doom 3 has consequences merely for gamers – companies will be able to license the engine and put in the fancy graphics without too much trouble. Half-Life 2 could pose a challenge to the industry as a whole.
Suddenly, you just can’t evolve
Half-Life 2 might just simply kill off interest in most other games. If you were offered a car that performed like a Porsche 911 Turbo, had the roominess and towing capability of an SUV and the fuel economy of a hybrid Civic, why would you want those other cars separately?
The upcoming generation of games, with their gentle improvements, is going to have a tough time against the expected Half-Life 2 colossus. They simply might get totally outclassed. (keeping in mind that we’re simply assuming, and maybe be wrong, that Half-Life 2 will turn out half as good as it looked in the demo. –ed.)