Last year Doom3 and /> Half Life 2 battled each other for the title of hottest, most anticipated game of the year and the majority of you will agree that the latter won hands down. Well here we go again, because on the same day that of Evil hits stores, Valve (creepy main site below) stirs things up with the announcement of its own expansion pack. Ding, Ding, Round Two!
It’s name is "Aftermath" and, as the title suggests, it is concerned with events immediately following the conclusion of Half Life 2 (no spoilers, I swear). Essentially, Aftermath will see you and Alyx (we’re not sure it will be Gordon Freeman given the aforementioned ending of HL2 – say no more) escaping City 17 which now lies in ruins. The place is a war zone with creatures free to roam everywhere (think Antlions in the Citadel), Combine soldiers in disarray and rebels swarming.
Mooted for a “summer” release (going off Valve’s previous record this could mean anything), little else is being given away. There are no screenshots, though Valve promises it will look ever better than HL2, have extra (unspecified) weapons and new (unspecified) foes. More importantly than this superficial stuff, however, is the news that Valve is working on Aftermath in house, rather than farming it out to a third party developer. Anyone who has played the woeful United Offensive expansion pack for the wonderful Call of Duty will know about the kind of pitfalls I am talking about here (curse Sgt. Moody to Hell and back!).
It is unclear at this point whether Aftermath will be available on shelves like HL2 or solely through its online interface, Steam (see above). Early indications point to the latter.
In related news, Valve will also shortly be releasing “The Lost Coast”, a high end graphics level for Half Life 2 which utilises a brand new shadow engine called High Dynamic Range Lighting. HL2 was famed for how well it ran on lower specified systems, but this monster requires a minimum of 1GB RAM, a 3.2GHz processor and “top spec” graphics card. Sounds like Valve is letting off some Steam to me (sorry).
No word when this potentially visual tour de force will be out, but Valve claims development is at an advanced stage. The Lost Coast will be available free to existing HL2 owners via Steam. It's a nailed on certainty to be a graphics card benchmarker for years to come and we’ll update you with some screenshots as soon as we get em.
We don't forget our readers. Released today, the first Aftermath screen shot. Yes, there is just the one. Enjoy.