Where once there was game-fuelled excitement and lightly beered-up joviality, there was suddenly a feeling of quiet oppression and a nervous silence. Where previously we had leaned from the car windows to take in every new sight and sound, we found ourselves huddling closer to the middle of the vehicle, a new and unexplained paranoia flushing our senses. Something fundamental had changed in the nature of our surroundings, and we all knew it. It wasn't just the weariness of a long, cross-European journey playing with our minds. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong.
And then it clicked, and in unison we exclaimed in shrill terror, "Holy shit, we're in City 17!".
And we were. We really, really were. We swear that Valve must have taken Leipzig as singular inspiration when designing Half-Life 2's Combine-controlled metropolis. It looks exactly like City 17. Take these photos as our evidence.
And not a single one of these photographs has been tampered with. Everything you see in them seriously went down. The gravity gun was a complimentary gift/self-preservation tool we found in our room after checking in. Pretty necessary in that neighbourhood, you see.
How Valve created the most complex and best-realised character in videogames without any dialogue
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Knee-jerk reviews after ten minutes' play-time. As is only right and proper
You've seen E3's selection, now sample the European contingent