Trivia / Half-Life 2

  • Author Existence Failure: The gap has been long enough between Episodes Two and Three that this has begun to take hold, with Dr. Breen's actor, Robert Culp, having passed away in the interim (thus becoming unavailable for any potential flashbacks, recordings, backstory cutscenes, etc. that Valve didn't get around to recording when he was alive.).
  • Development Gag:
    • You can see a rather strange object in a jar at Black Mesa East, which Eli states that they "still don't know what it does". It's actually the head of a Cremator, a janitor-like enemy that was cut.
    • During the pod ride in the Citadel, among the Striders and Gunships you see are the Crab and Mortar Synths, two enemies that were cut from the final game.
  • Talking to Himself: There is only one voice actor each for all male and female citizens and rebels. Any time two same-sex citizens or rebels have a conversation, it's with the same voice. Episode Two added a second voice actor for Sheckley since he was specifically written to converse with Griggs (who is voiced by the same guy as the other male rebels).
  • Throw It In: It's fair to say that a good amount of the games came about by accident.
    • The Hunter-Chopper's minespam tactic was a glitch at first - the command to drop a mine was programmed instead of the command to fire the machine gun, and the chopper dropped so many mines at once it overloaded the physics engine and crashed the game. However, the programmers liked it, so they toned it down to a more reasonable amount and added it to the game as a Desperation Attack.
    • Gunships' original behavior caused them to focus on the "biggest threat". They weren't originally supposed to attack fired rockets if you kept the laser sight on them, but they did, because as soon as one was launched into the air, the rocket itself became a significantly more deadly threat than Freeman himself. So they kept the behavior in for extra challenge.
    • In the development of Episode One, one of D0G's default animations played inadvertently during a scripted scene. It was so fitting that they hard-coded him to do it and wrote Alyx's dialog around it.
    Alyx Vance: Well, Gordon... unless you have a better suggestion... He is a robot. He's done the math.
    Alyx Vance: *to D0G* You did do the math, right?
    *D0G sheepishly shakes his head*
    • The vista of the Nectarium in Episode Two came about when a dev was making space for the mine cart trap and knocked out a wall, which conveniently opened up a vista of the Nectarium. All this elegantly lined up with Valve's design philosophy of letting the player see their goal, even before they realize it is their goal, making for a happy accident.
    • In the level "Freeman Pontifex" in Episode Two, there is a bit where a fast zombie is hiding in a dumpster. But when you throw a grenade, it throws it back. The lobbing back of the grenade was originally unintended; it happened because the script that was supposed to make the boxes explode out of the dumpster as the zombie got up would trigger and sometimes hit the grenade back to Gordon. Of course, it was too good to leave out.
  • Vaporware: With no new games or Episodes after Episode 2 in 2007 along with the death of Robert Culp, Half Life 2: Episode 3 or Half-Life 3 seem further and further away, if they will make them at all. In this Polygon article and Gameslice podcast, it seems that Gabe Newell and other senior higher-ups at Valve don't want to put work towards the Half-Life series for the foreseeable future and with Marc Laidlaw, the writer of Half-Life 2, retiring it seems like the Half-Life series has ended on a depressing cliffhanger with the death of Eli and the Combine still in control.
  • What Could Have Been: One of gaming's more infamous examples, thanks to a build of the game that was stolen from Valve in late 2003 dubbed by the community as "The Leak". As numerous things were cut from the game, here's just a sample of what's known between the stolen build and the Valve's Half-Life 2: Raising The Bar, a book which chronicled the development of the game.
    • The game's story was constantly changed during development. On top of draining the oceans, the Combine were replacing the atmosphere with poisonous gas that forced humans to wear gas masks. City 17 had much darker, gothic, and more overtly Orwellian styling, with the player seeing locations like Combine factories and the Manhack Arcade, where citizens unknowingly took control of manhacks hunting down refugees under the guise of a video game. The story also featured arctic locations, such as a Combine weather control center and the Borealis, which was originally just an icebreaker. These all were cut due to pacing and gameplay reasons, with the Borealis being recycled as an Aperture Science vessel in Episode Two.
    • Characters underwent significant changes. Eli Vance wasn't originally Alyx's father, but a old mechanic living out of a scrapyard. Her father was originally a white military man who lead soldiers conscripted by the Combine, who would later revolt and join the resistance. Alyx originally wore a jumpsuit with thigh-high boots, which Valve felt was too generic and changed her to her current look just before the game was shown at E3. Odessa Cubbage was salvaged from a cut character named Odell, who was the engineer of the Borealis. Dr. Breen was originally called The Consul, who had a much more authoritarian look and personality. Dr. Kleiner was originally much older looking, but was changed when Valve employees had a chance run-in with a man who bore a striking resemblance to the original Half-Life scientist model.
    • The game's arsenal was originally much larger, as it was envisioned that the player would lose their weapons and gain new ones that would serve the same role throughout the story. Among them were a number of sub-machine guns, assault rifles, and tools like a Flare Gun, an Ice Axe, and Binoculars. The Tau Cannon was also planned to be usable by the player while on foot, akin to the original game. They all were cut to give focus to the Gravity Gun, and the Binoculars were turned into the HEV's zoom function. Interestingly, the .357 Magnum and Crossbow are two weapons not present in the stolen build, indicating they were added late into development.
    • A large number of enemies were axed. Among them were returning enemies from the first game, such as the Bullsquid, Houndeye, and a Combine version of the Black Ops Assassin. The Hydra, which was featured in the debut E3 trailer, was cut as playtesters found it frustrating to fight against despite its impressive looks. Others include the Crematornote  and the Combine Guard.note  Stalkers were meant to be an enemy in the base game before being used in Episode One. The Combine Elite was originally a humanoid synth called the Combine Super Soldier, who lasted late enough to have its model viewer icon in the final game. It was cut when Valve felt its design clashed with the Citadel's architecture and used a pallet swap of the regular Combine soldier in its place.
    • Not even the Episodes were immune to this. Episode One was originally titled Half-Life 2: Aftermath before Valve decided on Episodic releases. A test weapon called the Vortex Hopwire was found in Episode One, acting as a grenade that generated a black hole that drew in and disintegrates anything in range. Its code suggests it was meant to be an anti-Strider weapon, the concept of which would be realized in Episode Two's Magnusson Device.
    • Early videos of the final battle in Episode Two had large numbers of Combine soldiers, Gunships, and Dropships alongside the Hunters and Striders, but everything but the Hunters and Striders were removed when playtesters felt overwhelmed and lost track of the objective. As seen in the video, the Muscle Car was originally the Jalopy, which had a much more ramshackle and junky design that was changed when playtesters were disappointed with it. Early trailers showed Alyx "dying" by falling off the bridge at the very beginning, but Valve quickly saw it was an awkward way to start out and a deeply unsatisfying way to remove Alyx from the beginning of the game, and changed the intro to its current form.
    • Robin Williams, a fan of the series, was interested in voicing the Vortigaunts, but his schedule wouldn't let him.