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Sixteen years will pass since the release of Half-Life 2 on November 16. During this time, Valve’s shooter has become something more than just a game: it has grown into a cultural phenomenon. Almost every gamer has played in Half-Life, and rumors about its continuation still haunt fans.
Of course, Half-Life 2 was played on a par with ordinary people, and developers from various studios. Much has already been written about its impact on the industry in general and the genre in particular, but today we will not talk about that. The developers, like other fans, were not averse to confessing their love for the great series or simply to pay tribute to it, hiding references to the legendary shooter in their work. In this article, we have collected the brightest.
Let’s start with one of the more curious secrets: it’s hidden in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. In a tunnel in the Wild Territory, littered with rusty cars, containers and other junk, lies the body of a stalker named Freeman. Despite the rank of “novice”, he is well armed: not with some “Makarov”, but a powerful pistol “Black Hawk Down”, moreover, converted to a rifle cartridge. However, in the hands of Gordon, this modification of the Desert Eagle would look unusual: in the second part, he used Heckler & Koch USP and Colt Python, and during his adventures in the Black Mesa he preferred other units.
In addition, Freeman received the original portrait and model, and therefore differed from many other stalkers. And he was also given a little story that can be read in the CCP lying next to the body. In the harsh conditions of the Zone, the crowbar had to be exchanged for canned food.
Id Software was also featured – in Rage. In the city of Underground, one of the guards orders the hero to pick up a can from the floor and condescendingly praises him when he obeys. The voice distorted by the helmet and the rough line clearly hint at the famous scene from the introduction of Half-Life 2 – except that the post-Soviet surroundings are missing.
Another reference was made by Rockstar. In GTA: San Andreas, the protagonist infiltrates Zone 69, the top-secret US Army base as the story progresses. Located in the middle of the desert, this underground complex is itself similar to the “Black Mesa”, but the developers have gone further. A crowbar forgotten on one of the tables is a clear sign that Freeman managed to visit here too. Perhaps he worked on the jetpack that CJ had just come for?
One of the trickiest references was made by the authors of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. In Singapore, Adam Jensen can surf the computers at the Omega Ranch Research Center. The system administrator persistently sends messages to users, the text of which almost literally consists of replicas of the Black Mesa notification system from that very trip on the monorail in Half-Life. In addition, Detroit has Highway 17 – luckily there are no ant lions swarming around it this time.
Call of Duty: United Offensive was released just a couple of days earlier than Half-Life 2. The developers from Gray Matter Interactive decided to pay tribute to the series in a simple way: during the game we can meet Private Gordon and Private Freeman. Who knows, maybe the latter is a distant relative of the eminent physicist?
The authors of Dying Light kept the Easter eggs in their own style. In the Slums, the player will encounter a dead man nailed to the wall with a circular saw. A similar tool Freeman used, making his way through the monster-clogged city of Ravenholm: thanks to the gravity gun, circular saw blades in the hands of a physicist were much more dangerous than firearms.
SteamWorld Dig has a small secret area containing a closed shop, advertising signs with a lambda and the number 3, a mount and several skeletons, one of which is dressed in an HEV suit. It looks like Image & Form Games, although they love Half-Life, have already given up hopes for a sequel.
Thanks to 4A Games, the developers of Metro Exodus, Gordon entered post-apocalyptic Russia. Again in the form of a skeleton, although he is no stranger.
Some games, by the way, refer to those parts of the franchise, the canonicity of which still raises questions for many. For example, in F.E.A.R. the coordinator of the special forces group is named Adrian Shepard, as is the protagonist of Half-Life: Opposing Force.
Half-Life is sometimes referenced even in movies. For example, in one of the scenes from WALL · E, a garden gnome from Half-Life 2: Episode Two can be seen on a conveyor belt. The fact that this is not a coincidence, said the animators themselves in the book Pixarpedia. In addition, the attentive viewer will notice that the design of the main villain of the cartoon, the autopilot AUTO, resembles the appearance of GLaDOS from Portal and their common cousin, HAL9000 from “A Space Odyssey“.
Of course, these are not all references to the famous series: there are so many of them that the complete list of games and films, the authors of which winked at Gabe Newell, is actually much more. What references do you remember, what do you remember the most? Let us know in the comments!