Upgrade or die

The arrival of the "next-gen" in console land is obvious - it happens instantaneously with the release of a new box. The line is blurred in the constantly evolving world of PC, but only a fool would say it's not there.

PC is currently edging into new territory, boosted there by swelling processor power, sparkling new graphical technologies, and outrageous ambition. Corridors, bases and monsters can only get so beautiful; we're moving on to whole worlds now, living environments ripe with interlinking consequences. What follows are five excellentreasonsto upgrade and let that next-gen sunshine in.

Half-Life 2: Episode One
By Valve | Out April 24, 2006

Naming any Half-Life game as a "must play" is a no-brainer, but HL2 's Source engine raised the bar for everything that followed. And yet, brilliant as Freeman's tale undoubtedly is, can it stay top of the pile for much longer?

Unfortunately for the competition, Half-Life is, increasingly, a moving target.As the "Episode One" tag suggests, the story's gone episodic. And at around eight hours apiece, Valve is now free to skip around in time filling in important events.

What it won't confirm, however, is how many episodes a year we can expect. We're guessing two or three. How could anyone compete with that?

Previously known as HL2: Aftermath, Episode One carries on from where Half-Life 2 concluded, with the citadel's destruction. Alyx has somehow survived, and for much of the game you'll be accompanied by her. In fact, the AI for both her and your robot Dog is supposedly revolutionary.

Can't... resist... upgrade...
Obviously! Because Episode One is going to do for "buddy AI" what HL2 did for physics.