Surely this game needs no introduction by now. It's Half Life 2 - possibly the greatest video game of all time, certainly in our opinion.
The Source engine which powers it is recognised as being one of the best graphical engines on the market today, and is being used by a number of other developers who are creating games that are entirely unrelated.
Many games make more money on consoles than they do on PC, and so publishers are always keen to have multi-platform releases. However, with Source being such a beast - even on modern day graphics hardware - a console conversion always looked unlikely. However, after a 'will-they-won't-they' period, Half Life 2 is definitely coming to Xbox and, what's more, it's almost done.
Today, the games new publisher - EA, of all people - have released some new screenshots of the game up and running on Xbox. What are the obvious differences?
Well, for one, the reason it's able to run on older graphics hardware is that the resolution of a TV is far, far lower than a computer monitor. Standard definition TV is 720x542, and this makes for a far easier rendering load than the 1024x768 that most PC gamers play at. This means that the GeForce 2/3 hybrid hardware in the Xbox can render the game at above 30FPS.
However, there's clearly some detail lost, and that's illustrated well by the next couple of screens. Because the resolution is far, far lower, you will see a lot more jaggies - and you can forget about anti-aliasing, since there's no way the Xbox has the power to handle that. The Xbox 360 certainly will - but the standard Xbox won't.
Secondly, say goodbye to high resolution textures - these are far more functional
than fancy. The suits of the Combine guards below can clearly be seen to be lacking detail. You can also see that the buildings in the background are extremely low resolution.
You can also rule out advanced normal mapping (although Doom 3 proved that this was at least possible on the Xbox) and there won't be much texture filtering either. As for proprietary fancy effects - those appear to be mostly off the menu too. The gorgeous translucent look of the Combine gates in City 17 seems to have been scaled back to a fairly rudimentary effect in the screens below.
However, what will be in there is all the goodness of the gameplay. Regardless of your opinion of using a joypad for FPS, there's no doubt that millions of people are going to get to experience Half Life 2 who wouldn't have had a chance to otherwise - and this can only be a good thing (well, unless you're all elitist about your gaming experiences which, come to think of it, we rather are. Curse those undiscerning Xbox users!)
You'll see Half Life 2 for Xbox on the shelves very, very soon. But, in the meantime, we have something far more exciting for you. It's from Valve, and not only is it from Valve, it's actually from Valve
- we have a man at their offices in Seattle as we speak. We've got some info coming, and it's going to be good - hence our new header image on the front page. Tune in tomorrow!