Half-Life 2: Episode 3: Image 1?

By Alec Meer on July 11th, 2008 at 4:14 pm.

Via Kotaku via Shacknews via Intothepixel: potentially the first look at Half-Life 2: Episode 3. It’s concept art rather than screenshot, but the idea of Freeman tackling a Combine Advisor with only a crowbar and a giant pit of death is a tantalising one, no?

Sci-fi game concept art regularly takes my breath away. It usually looks ten times more spectacular than the finished product, but endless disappointments don’t stop me dreaming that one day there will be a game that does look that lavish. On a similar note, check out RPS’ new favourite blogs – Concept Ships and Concept Robots. Truly remarkable imagery: I could look at them all day, and may have to buy an expensive printer so I can decorate my walls with ‘em. We’ve spotted a Blizzard artist’s work on the former, so quite possibly there’s a fair few game concept artists hidden away in there. Let the hunt begin…

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63 Comments »

  1. Kast says:

    Wow… yes, concept art is just lovely. This pic seems to be the inside of a ruined citadel. but Valve has said very clearly we’re not going back to City17, so maybe we’re seeing another city? Or at least, another huge combine installation. That light seems very cold, and we already pretty much knew we’re going north.

  2. PaulMorel says:

    I hate it when game developers take an enemy that is hugely powerful in one game, then make it significantly less powerful in the sequel.

    Like the bosses in the Mortal Kombat series. Nearly impossible to beat in one game – just a regular fighter in the next (although there are better examples that I can’t think of).

    Now, the combine advisors were unimaginably powerful in episode 2, so I hope that they don’t suddenly become beatable in episode 3. Or at least, what’s-her-name had better come up with a pretty slick gadget to help Gordon, if he is going to be fighting them.

  3. The Shed says:

    Some of that IntothePixel stuff is great. The WipEout one is awesome.

    Damn Combine.

  4. majorbromly says:

    So what’s the deal with the advisors? Are they the “True” Combine?

  5. Chris R says:

    Why don’t more devs make games that actually look like that image above? That “Love” mmo basically looks like concept art through out, and it’s really cool… I think there is a market for games that have “concept art graphics” as opposed to “realistic graphics” like Crysis/Far Cry 2/Stalker, etc.

    Anyway, thanks so much for the links to the Conceptships blog and the other, truly amazing. I wish I could draw that well. Some of those locations make me want to play a game based on the ships/locations in those images.

  6. Cigol says:

    Man. Looking at concept art makes my heart sink. It’s so depressingly good :(

  7. brog says:

    Fighting an advisor with a crowbar? Nah..
    I think they’re actually talking. What does Gordon have that can make a COMBINE ADVISOR float there and negotiate with him?

  8. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    Mmm… very nice.

  9. Crash says:

    What does Gordon have that can make a COMBINE ADVISOR float there and negotiate with him?

    A crowbar, can’t you see it? Even advisors fears the Mighty Crowbar…

    … of Doom!

  10. James G says:

    @ChrisR

    Its interesting that you mention ‘Love’ as on first glance at this art, I assumed that was where it was from. (That was until I noticed the advisor, the crowbar, and the words Half-Life 2: Episode 3. At which point I realised we were looking at Bioshock 2 concept art naturally)

    But I agree, and think we will start heading in that direction more and more. Games like TF2 demonstated how art-direction can be as important as any striving toward photo realism, and now 3D processing power is such that it is easy to run graphics through multiple filters on the fly.

  11. rei says:

    I got a little depressed looking at the pictures too. I still occasionally harbor a ridiculous dream of becoming an artist some day, but when you see the talent some people have, why even bother trying? ;(

  12. Okami says:

    Half Life 2: Episode 3: Image 1

  13. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    Rushden & Diamonds 0

    /coat

  14. Alec Meer says:

    Nice work, Okami. Unfortunately, it does mean I’m going to have to be like a school bully stealing your lunch money.

  15. Mooey Poo says:

    I hope that means Alyx fucking Vance is dead. I don’t remember Tails in Sonic talking to you and making shite jokes.

  16. Noc says:

    There’s a lot of really good work there. Pretty solid paintings, however you approach them. But on the other hand, spaceships and robots are on the easy end of the spectrum.

    I want to see ConceptTREES, damnit.

  17. BaconIsGood4You says:

    What happened! That’s certainly another Citadel but it looks so empty. And what could do that damage? Doesn’t look like explosions, looks more like the Adviser had a little telekinesis workout. Also notice the damage is in a straight line moving back into space (no damage near the top or bottom), encompassing a radius of about 30 feet, almost like something shot straight through it.

  18. Optimaximal says:

    RPS gets many personal kudos for linking those concept blogs…
    I’ve always dabbled in drawing mecha/transformers/robots when I get random inspiration and viewing an internet blog is a lot cheaper than those overpriced ‘How to Draw Manga’ books.

  19. sluzzuls says:

    ohmycrap. concept!? im expecting end of summer release. stop spending your millions and finish the series aheddy. then go spend your millions.

  20. Chris R says:

    @ James G:

    Exactly! TF2 has amazing art direction, and I haven’t heard anyone complain that it’s not realistic enough or what have you.

    I’d really enjoy seeing more games that look like ‘Love’ or ‘concept art.’ That Ep3 pic is amazing by itself… also, look at all the Diablo 3 concept art and tell me a game that actually LOOKS like that art wouldn’t be amazing! C’mon devs, start making your games have concept art graphics… screw realism and the uncanny valley! Concept art graphics are where it’s at.

  21. Kast says:

    Remember we got Episode 2 concept art (View of wrecked citadel; G-man vision) not that long before the game was released. The concept art will have been created during the development of Episode 2 or even Episode 1 – it’s only now that it’s been released publicly.

    EDIT: Weighing in on concept-art vs realism, I’d love to see some Ghost In The Shell style graphics in games (again – I still remember Oni).

  22. Al3xand3r says:

    This isn’t Valve releasing concept art, it’s just a random find on a random contest. Sure it’s official, but it’s not officially promoted… But even if it was, it’d mean shit unless Valve had shown concept art right before releasing stuff several times, not just once…

    Oni could have been an amazing game, or at least its never started sequel could have. Shame. It was good fun either way, the combat system (even on PC) was rather fun, it was just let down by very simplistic level and enemy design, also the weapons combat wasn’t great either.

  23. Alec Meer says:

    You’re such a happy fellow.

  24. RichPowers says:

    More Episode 3 concept art from GamesRadar. These show several Combine advisers buzzing around the frozen Borealis, the research ship made by Aperture Science.

  25. Chris R says:

    So if GamesRadar is right… then maybe this pic is Half-Life 2: Episode 3: Image 3?

  26. Okami says:

    I’m so proud, my stupid joke made it into an RPS headline.

    I’m still suing your collective asses off though…

  27. andy says:

    sadly, these epic waits between episodes made me go from totally loving half life 2 to not even bothering with the second episode, then to uninstalling steam all together. i doubt i’ll care about the last episode either.

  28. Erlam says:

    Yes, in another ‘innovation,’ Half-Life 2: Episode 3 will be set in City 16! It’s a totally new experience!

  29. Al3xand3r says:

    I wish they had stuck with their original plan of having every episode focus on a different aspect. Episode 1 would have added enemy variety, episode 2 would have been all about sweet vehicles, 3 all about something new. And it would all be available to the mod community as resources for their own projects. But they just made an average expansion like adventure for each episode in the end. It was alright, but I bet most people bought the Orange box for everything else instead of Episode 2…

    Let’s hope they’ve at least kept their original vision of putting out episodes in trilogies which means Episode 3 will be the last of the same old stuff and they may do something all new for the next adventures.

  30. Chris R says:

    I actually bought the Orange box just for Ep 2, and was surprised at Portal and TF2.

    Andy, epic fail! Install Steam and get TF2 and Portal. Those 2 games amazing. Also, Ep2 was so much better than Ep1 as far as gameflow, you’ll really enjoy it.

  31. Mman says:

    “I bet most people bought the Orange box for everything else instead of Episode 2″

    I’m going to say “bullshit” to this.

    The new concept art almost makes it looks like the borealis is merged into some sort of Combine installation, which would be awesome.

  32. Noc says:

    Alexander: They kind of DID. Episode 1 was all about Alyx, getting the companion AI really good. Episode 2 was the natural, open settings you didn’t see anywhere in City 17. They’re just not based on NOVELTY . . . which is what, to use your example, an episode composed entirely of vehicle sections would be. Half-Life 2 isn’t a sandbox game. It’s an adventure game, so of course the episodes are going to be extensions of the adventure.

    Also, the stuff on IntoThePixel isn’t Fan Art, you twit. It’s concept work commissioned by the companies. Now, when you commission concept work, you do it for a reason. Look at the concept pieces of the Combine, for instance. Stuff gets designed in the art. Consequentially, this DOES mean something, because it means that there’s PROBABLY going to be an environment similar to this in the game. Will the tableau be exactly the same? No. Is there going to be a ruined Citadel, or something similar? Very likely. It doesn’t matter if Valve “released” it or not . . . they COMMISSIONED it, which means that they’re probably going to use it.

  33. Al3xand3r says:

    Yes, they kind of did, which is similar to they kind of didn’t. Not to mention I wasn’t saying “they said they’d try new stuff and then didn’t” instead I mentioned exactly what kind of new stuff they said they’d work on, and then didn’t. Whether they tried something new or not (I lean towards not) is irrelevant to that really. At least for the argument I was making. Which wasn’t an argument, just a wish.

    What twit said it’s fan art? Unless it was another twit not reading properly since I’m fairly sure I can quote myself saying “it’s official” or something like that. All I said was that it wasn’t like Valve showing us the first glimpse of the vehicle in Episode Two via a Steam pop up, but a far less publicised stunt.

    It was also probably the artist wanting to take part in the exhbition instead of Valve wanting to give us a glimpse of the game via a stunt like that. Of course I guess he’d have to ask them first.

  34. Alex says:

    Just don’t try Little Rocket Man the first time through.

    And Okami, Yahtzee gets to sue you then. It’s only fair.

  35. KingMob says:

    So from GamesRadar’s reference we can infer – the crystalline promontories on the left and right of this image – are not parts of a Citadel, but ICE.

    And how do we know it’s Gordon – perhaps there’s a new collaborator to deal with?

    On the subject of – are the Advisors the “Real Combine” – I think it’s pretty well established that they’re the telepathic, telekinetic master race that rule the Combine.
    They call themselves Advisors because – well, it sounds like Military Advisors to me. You know, the folks you put in to help you run and train native armies from behind the scenes.

  36. Noc says:

    Alexander: You said, let me quote: “This isn’t Valve releasing concept art, it’s just a random find on a random contest.”

    Then you said: “Sure it’s official, but it’s not officially promoted… But even if it was, it’d mean shit unless Valve had shown concept art right before releasing stuff several times, not just once…”

    Now, I’m making the assumption that you’re saying it means shit. Nothing. Absolute squat. This is a reasonable leap to make.

    Now, if this is actual concept art, it does. Does it mean the game’s coming right out immediately? Right away? In a month? No. That would be silly. No one’s saying that. Okay, Sluzzuls said that, but he was joking.

    Does it mean that we’ve got a very interesting look into part of the design for something we’ve, until now, heard absolutely nothing about? Yes. This, consequentially, means that this piece means something OTHER than shit. Since this piece is, as noted above, very interesting regardless of the release date, I assumed that your categoric denial of it’s worth was broader than simply stating the fact that the game isn’t coming out tomorrow. I felt that this was a reasonable assumption to make.

    Now, for it to still not mean anything, it would have to not bear any relation to the finished product. Which means it would have to NOT be an important part of Valve’s design process. Since you said “This isn’t Valve releasing concept art, it’s just a random find on a random contest,” I made the reasonable assumption that you were saying that it wasn’t actual Valve concept art. Since it’s a find on a contest, that makes it Fan Art. Since you said it was “official,” that makes it Fan Art that’s been sanctioned by Valve. This is the only interpretation of your words I could arrive at that supported your later assertion that this art doesn’t mean “shit,” and responded appropriately.

    Since these are all reasonable conclusions to draw, I’d advise you to be more coherent in the future if you want to keep people from misunderstanding you.

  37. Al3xand3r says:

    Nothing I said indicated it’s fan art no matter how much you try to analyse it, since you even quote me saying it’s official art. Also, seeing as it was a response to the post above mine (by Kast) you could have made that educated guess and make that sentence “it means shit [about Ep 3's release time]” in your head instead of put yourself through all that anguish. Oh well, maybe next time.

    As for the rest of your rant, yeah, you could be right. You could also be wrong and it means shit in regards to that also, since the fact he made it for Ep3 doesn’t mean it’s still used and not scrapped since we know nothing else about it. Not that I tried to say any of this with my previous posts but whatever, it’s a possibility since it’s simply an exhbition of the art and has little to do with the games.

    I’m sorry, I’ll honestly try to not be misunderstood by others if you try to insult people less impulsively, especially when it’s only based on your subjective and prejudiced over analysing of their comments and not anything that’s actually said outright by them. I would imagine that latter bit would at least cause a doubt or two that would stop you from name calling, you know? Thanks for the advice anyway.

  38. skalpadda says:

    Looks sweet, although I personally hope we’re not only going to rampage through a broken citadel. I want Awesomely Terrifying Crawling Around Action in the Borealis!

    Speaking about that, I just read the RPS article(s) about the Minerva mod and the happiness about how it utilizes map areas so well. It struck me that the Borealis would be an awesome setting for that kind of map design. It was a very happy thought.

  39. Noc says:

    Also: “Kind of did” is not, in fact, similar to “Kind of didn’t.” The former means “Did to a great extent,” and the latter means “Did NOT, to a great extent.”

    And in your OTHER post, you said “I wish they had stuck with their original plan of having every episode focus on a different aspect.” Then you gave a couple of different things that could happen. Then you said, “But they just made an average expansion like adventure for each episode in the end.

    Now, Half-Life 2 is an adventure game. If you’ve read something that suggests otherwise feel free to link me, but I’ve never heard anything to suggest that Valve has had any intention of abandoning the adventure formula. Now, when you say “I wish they had stuck with their original plan…” then follow with, “But they just made an average adventure-like expansion for each episode,” you’re creating a strong implication that Valve planned to have the Episodes be something OTHER than an adventure. Again, I’m completely willing to listen to any evidence to the contrary that you can produce, but as I said above, I don’t believe this is true. At all.

    You didn’t say “I wish Valve had focused on different aspects of the game for the Episodes.” You didn’t say “I wish the Episodes turned the game into something else, for example, adding Sandbox-style gameplay.” You said, if I may paraphrase, “Valve said they’d do new things in the expansions, then didn’t. And I wish they had.” Which they did.

    This isn’t simply a matter of you wishing for something which didn’t occur, and which I don’t personally agree with. This is you saying something that is not, in fact, true. Once more, if you don’t want these conclusions drawn from your words, you should be more careful to coherently make your point instead of sticking a string of facts together and not expecting anyone to look at the context they’re presented in. “Subjective and prejudicial” aside, when people read things they try and make sense of them. They assume that you have an overarching thesis that binds your words together. In short, they assume there’s a point, and try and decipher and respond to what that point is.

  40. Al3xand3r says:

    I didn’t say a couple of things that “could happen” since, as I explain in one of my responses, what I mentioned there is actually things Valve had mentioned would happen in the past. Not random possibilities I myself thought up. Which renders your whole rant void, especially your paraphrasing which is just selective quoting out of context to get your point accross. So, yes, my posts are bound together, which is why selective quoting doesn’t work for them, you need to read the whole without being furious and eager to name call.

    I didn’t merely say “they would try new things and didn’t” once again, I’ve explained before, but I actually mentioned exactly which new things they said they would try, and then didn’t. It doesn’t get simpler than that and my initial post conveys that perfectly well for anyone who isn’t merely trying to stir things up. The “I wish” part is also very clear. It’s not my fault if you aren’t aware Valve had mentioned those things and that’s the whole reason you misunderstood yet another part of my post.

  41. Noc says:

    Let me explain the meaning of the word “but.”

    If I say “I would have gone skiing, but I broke my leg,” I’m saying “I could not go skiing BECAUSE I broke my leg.”

    So if you say “I wish they had stuck with their original plan of having every episode focus on a different aspect, BUT they just made an average expansion like adventure for each episode in the end,” you are saying “They did not stick with their original plan of having every episode focus on a different aspect, BECAUSE they made an average expansion like adventure in the end.”

    It doesn’t get simpler than this, man.

  42. Mman says:

    “Speaking about that, I just read the RPS article(s) about the Minerva mod and the happiness about how it utilizes map areas so well. It struck me that the Borealis would be an awesome setting for that kind of map design. It was a very happy thought.”

    That’s one thing that really excites me about the possibilties of the Borealis theme, along with how it could lead to a lot of homages to Half-Life 1 (and if it adds a lot of gameplay changes that could lead to the irony of the most progressive expansion being in a very familiar setting).

  43. Al3xand3r says:

    Yes, except you still dismiss all that comes between the “I wish” and the “but” part. I’ll quote myself:

    “I wish they had stuck with their original plan of having every episode focus on a different aspect. Episode 1 would have added enemy variety, episode 2 would have been all about sweet vehicles, 3 all about something new [Ed. I didn't remember exactly what so I didn't mention]. And it would all be available to the mod community as resources for their own projects. But they just made…”

    With your but (yes, it’s an important word, we all know) explanation this basically says they would make this and that, but instead made something else which I described as an average expansion-esque adventure lacking the specific new things they had talked about which does deserve to be said pretty categorically for sure since said things simply aren’t there.

    It sure makes far better sense when it’s not selectively quoted. Again, it’s not my fault if you aren’t aware Valve had stated those things in order to pick up on that better, though that would is also pretty clear and doesn’t look like a could.

  44. Noc says:

    Umm.

    You DID selectively quote. Right there. You left out the part I’M talking about. The part after the “But.”

  45. Noc says:

    “But” is an important word, man! It categorically affects everything you say before it! Not paying attention to it is like not paying attention to those pesky little “Nots” you find around places!

  46. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    We’re all about the Buts.

  47. chipp says:

    OMG, looks like the count-down to EP 3 is about to start! thinking about it is already too exciting! TOO EXCITING!

  48. Okami says:

    @Al3xand3r:

    Well, I bought the Orange Box to get Half Life 2 and Episode 2 (I played Episode 1 before I played Half Life 2. I guess I might be the only person on the planet who did this..). I played Portal for all of two or three hours until I got bored with it. And I played maybe four games of TF2, because I never play multiplayer online games. (Which is why to this day, Tribes 2 is the single most pointless gaming purchase I ever made..)

    So I pretty much bought the Orange Box in order to be able to play Episode 2. And I liked Episode 1 and Episode 2. And so did a lot of other people.

    And I’m really looking forward to Episode 3. As do a lot of other people.

  49. brog says:

    Okami: so you quit portal right before the end?

  50. EyeMessiah says:

    Awesome art. Boring comments argument.

    In my dreams there is a portal inside the Borealis that transports you back into the ruined, buried remains of Black Mesa. That’s where I want to be.