Rob Fahey 09:28 17/09/2004
Half-Life 2's epic development saga starts to approach an end as Valve wraps up work
Developer Valve Software has delivered a release candidate disc for Half-Life 2 to Vivendi Universal Games, and hopes to have a final release date for the hugely anticipated game in the near future.
The submission of a release candidate means that Valve has finished the creative work on the title, and it now only remains for Vivendi Universal's QA department to approve the title - or bounce it back for some quick fixes if show-stopping bugs are found.
As such, a release date for the title should be announced shortly - with Valve marketing director Doug Lombardi confirming last night that "we don't have a release date from VU at this time, but we're hoping they will pull out a release date soon."
The timescales at the moment suggest that unless any major bugs are found, the game could comfortably be at retail in North America and Europe in time for the first week in November - just a week ahead of Microsoft's Halo 2.
The shipment of the release candidate also seems to scotch rumours originating with UK retail sources that Vivendi Universal had pushed the game back to 2005, in Europe at least.
"Nobody at VU has indicated to us that they are not shipping HL2 this year," Lombardi confirmed. Indeed, Half-Life 2 is unquestionably Vivendi's strongest title in the run-up to Christmas, and it's hard to see how it would make any sense to delay it into Q1 2005 - especially given that the game was originally meant to launch in September 2003, and any further delay is only likely to further annoy fans of the series.
Half Life 2 release candidate goes to Vivendi
"Release date soon"
By Wil Harris: Saturday 18 September 2004, 11:42
THE FINAL CODE for Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike Source and Half-Life Source has gone to Vivendi Universal for approval, according to reports on Eurogamer and Half-Life2.net.
Estimates are that this bug-testing and approval phase should take no more than 2 weeks, putting the release date for the game at the middle of October. Valve's Doug Lombardi told Eurogamer that they are "Hoping [Vivendi] will put out a release date soon".
This will be good news to all the bods that have been busily pre-loading HL2 over Valve's Steam delivery network. Unfortunately for them, the current information seems to be that the game will hit Steam the same day it hits the shelves of stores in the States, so there will be no time gain from ordering direct from Valve - although no information appears to have surfaced about whether or not Europe will face a delay in retail copies, as with the two week lag for Doom 3, and how that will effect Steam delivery.
Conceivably, if Valve's deal with Vivendi is for a simultaneous boxed and Steamed release, it would be easy for Valve to limit Steam purchasing to people solely with US credit cards, enabling delayed deployment to countries where the boxed version won't be out for another week or so.
Lombardi put paid to rumours that HL2 won't ship until next year, indicating that no-one at Vivendi had mentioned this to him. As ever, we shall have to wait and see.
Worth noting is that the publishing of Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines is being delayed due to the delay to Half-Life 2, since it also uses the Source engine. We will be interested to see what performance difference there is between HL2 and Vampire on Nvidia and ATI cards - whilst both being based on the Source engine, HL2 is an ATI sponsored title, whereas Vampire is signed up by Nvidia to use Shader Model 3.