HALF-LIFE 2: EPISODE THREE
What’s already happened: Right, brace yourselves. Earth was colonized by the fascistic inter-dimensional Combine Empire. After at least a decade of suppression, the meager human resistance gradually evolved into a resolutely kickass fighting force, thanks in no small part to the reappearance of one Dr. Gordon Freeman, guerrilla physicist extraordinaire.
Working alongside fellow scientists Eli Vance and Isaac Kleiner, and of course Eli’s daughter Alyx, Gordon pushed the Combine onto the defensive, facilitating the destruction of the invaders’ dimensional portal just as they were about to bring reinforcements in to crush Earth once and for all. But all is not well. The Combine has discovered the location of The Borealis, a long-missing research ship built by the Aperture Science labs of Portal infamy, and has sent forces to capture it. Immediately before his death at the pointy brain-suckers of the Combine, Eli warned Gordon that the ship means make or break for humanity. And so Episode Three will begin…
What’s coming next: Forget any optimistic ideas of a race for control of the ship. Production art shows it already covered in Combine technology. Very. Bad. News. Given the ship’s origins, we reckon that The Combine will be trying to harness portal technology in order to re-establish contact with their home world. Thus, we think that the majority of Episode Three will find Gordon (and Alyx, provided she can fight through the trauma of her father’s death) battling through the Arctic wastes of the ship’s resting place in order to gain control of or destroy it before The Combine can complete their plan.
The stark change in environment will result in new Combine snow vehicles, new Combine snow troopers and some definite exploration of the region’s ice caves. After all, Half-Life 2 without a cave or mine section just will not do, and we can’t see Valve wasting all that lovely shimmery surface technology we saw in Episode 2’s Antlion caves. Expect a huge dimensional rip at the climax, possibly resulting in key leads being transported through time and space to wherever Half-Life 3 is to be set. Also, an existential fade-to-black ending featuring the G-Man and his increasingly personal agenda.
Final predictions? The appearance of a pre-dementia GLaDOS on The Borealis (if she worked alongside Gordon to fight off the Combine, we’d love it) and absolutely no portal guns. They’re awesome, but they have no place in Half-Life 2.
GEARS OF WAR 3
What’s already happened: Mankind fought itself for 80 years, with competing governments vying over control of the energy source known as Imulsion. When that war ended, however, the Locust emerged. For another 15 years, the surface-hogging humans battled the underground-dwelling creatures over control of the entire planet (which is Sera, by the way, and not Earth.) Four military grunts – Marcus, Dom, Cole and Baird – have been at the very center of this conflict, delivering bombs and sinking cities in an effort to eradicate their enemy once and for all. But the Locust still survive, and developments in Gears of War 2 suggest that they may not be completely evil after all.
What’s coming next: The truth, finally. Since the beginning, we’ve known that Locust are not invaders from outer space, but fellow residents of Sera. Now, after visiting their suspiciously well-constructed cities, meeting their suspiciously humanoid Queen and stumbling upon the suspiciously named New Hope Research Facility – where monstrous half-breed experiments are born – we’re convinced that Man and Locust are more than linked.
How? Scientists, attempting either to devise new uses for Imulsion, or to develop secret super soldiers during the Pendulum Wars, accidentally created the mutant Sires. When their research – and their precious test subjects - were threatened, they escaped to a mountain retreat. One that, as Marcus discovered in Gears 2, led directly to what is now the enemy stronghold. That’s right. Humans were transformed into Sires which, when exposed to large quantities of Imulsion underground, transformed into the Locust.
In Gears of War 3, our band of heroes will learn this truth and, feeling betrayed, stop taking orders from COG bosses Victor Hoffman and Richard Prescott. With assistance and information from Marcus’s long-lost father, Adam Fenix, they’ll work to end the war on their own terms, even if it means forming an uneasy but necessary alliance with the Locust and their Queen (who is actually a human sympathizer from the research facility).
Above: See the resemblance?
We’re not done. Horde mode will enable more than five players. Campaign co-op will include more than two players. Baird or Cole will die. Carmine will survive. Marcus will nod and smile at Anya. The third game will release next Fall, 2010.
Okay, now we’re done.
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