Oho, 'Half-Life 2: Update' is an extremely cheeky name for a mod. Write it on the internet and a few thousand ears will immediately prick up. "Is more Half-Life? Means Half-Life 3? Check file structure! One file will have a 3 in its name! Is Half-Life 3! Rabble rabble rabble!" So no, this is not an official Half-Life 2 update, but it has got the nod for a free standalone Steam release tomorrow.
Designed to take fuller advantage of what more recent updates to the Source engine can do, this apparently final version of the community-made mod includes graphical updates and 'countless' bug fixes, plus a new fan commentary mode. You're probably going to want it.
Half-Life 2: Update releases on Steam tomorrow, which I suppose is a implicit Valve blessing of a sort. Here's a couple of chest-thumping videos, including the all-important side-by-side comparison:
Very nice, though we're talking subtle nip'n'tuck changes which (hopefully) broadly preserve the original artistic intentions, rather than slap-you-round-the-face stuff, which to my mind is preferable to some of the more aggressive visual overhauls out there. I guess it's putting HL2 back in line with how we felt it looked at the time, making it so our over-entitled 2015 eyes will be less troubled by signs of ageing.
Here's the full list of wot it does, too:
Complete lighting overhaul including enhanced lighting, more detailed world shadows, and full High Dynamic Range Lighting (HDR).
New particle effects and improved fog.
Countless bug fixes, correcting both visual and game-based issues.
An extensive Community Commentary Mode featuring the voices of well-known Youtubers, including Caddicarus, Brutalmoose, Ricepirate, Balrog the Master, ProJared, and Ross Scott from Freeman's Mind .
Retains the iconic Half-Life 2 visual style and gameplay.
Primarily the work of HL2 uberfan Filip Victor, Update has also picked up sponsorship from the likes NVIDIA and EVGA. Hopefully it's a good (and stable) as it appears. I really wouldn't mind a good excuse to head back to City 17.
It's out tomorrow on Steam, for free.