The Half-Life franchise is even weirder than you might imagine!
Our previous article about Half-Life was so full of facts about the origins of the Half-Life series that we didn’t even get to mention anything about the dimension-skipping storyline – or even name the protagonist!
For the record: The player-character is named Gordon Freeman.
That’s not a particularly weird fact, though – so it’s a good thing we have some others.
Join us as we examine 5 weird facts about Half-Life!
Weird Half-Life Fact: Most Of The Major Characters Are Physically Based On Real People
Some of the most famous faces in gaming are based on real people.
Sometimes, as in Beyond: Two Souls’ Elliot Page, they’re based on people who are already famous. Others, such as Max Payne, are based on game developers.
It might seem weird, but game devs also often do this with voice acting as well.
At first glance, you might think they’re doing it because they’re egotistical and they want their face (or voice) in the game – and that may even be true in some cases.
But there’s usually a much more understandable reason: Budget.
Especially back in the days when games didn’t get millions of dollars in development funding!
Weird Half-Life Fact: There’s a Free Half-Life 2D Platformer
Codename: Gordon is a 2D Platformer Flash Game developed by NuClearVision.
Surprisingly, Half-Life translates quite well to a 2D format.
The sound design is top-notch. Everything sounds exactly like it should: The torch turning on, the Health collection noise, the HEV recharge noise – simply fantastic. Even the title menu music is a funky soundboard rap by everyone’s favourite guard, Barney Calhoun.
This tune alone is worth the effort of downloading the game!
In fact, the title song is the only voice acting in the entire game. All the speech is all done via text. Gordon himself speaks only in emoticons, because (as any player of the core Half-Life games can tell you) Gordon doesn’t speak.
Codename Gordon is 100% free, and it used to appear in searches on the Steam storefront.
Curiously, the Steam store page for the game no longer exists – but the game itself is still available if you know how to follow instructions.
For some reason, this official Half-Life game doesn’t appear on the Half-Life Wikipedia page, although it does appear on the Half-Life Fandom Wiki site.
The same is true of our next entry as well.
Weird Half-Life Fact: There’s A Japanese Coin-op/Arcade Half-Life Game
While arcade gaming has sadly all but died out here in the west, it’s still going strong in Japan.
Perhaps this is why Valve okayed an arcade version of Half-Life 2 for the Japanese market.
The game, named Half-Life 2: Survivor, uses pedals and twin joysticks to control Gordon’s movement.
It concentrates purely on the action aspect of the franchise. There are no physics puzzles, and only the barest of story elements. Under the hood, it uses Taito’s Type X arcade cabinet, which is essentially a weirdly-shaped PC – it uses PC parts, and even uses Windows XP as the operating system!
It also supports up to 8 players over a wide-area network, meaning you can play it with/against someone in a completely different arcade.
If you’re curious about the experience, it’s been ported to PC (among other formats).
If you know your way around a zipfile, you can install and play Half-Life 2: Survivor on PC by following the instructions from this Steam Group link.
Weird Half-Life Fact: The Story For Half-Life 3 Has Been Released – Kind Of
Imagine reading that entry heading and then that was the end of the article.
That’s how most fans feel about the Half-Life series, which ended on a mini-cliffhanger (with more than one plot point unresolved). In fact, anyone who used the internet before 2020 has probably seen a variant of the ‘Half-Life 3 Confirmed!’ meme/trope.
Enter ‘Epistle 3’ (which can be found here).
The story appeared on a blog written by Mark Laidlaw, the head writer for most of the core Half-Life games.
Many of the names have been changed, some characters are even gender-bent. For instance, ‘the Combine’ are ‘the Disparate’, and ‘Gordon Freeman’ is now ‘Gertie Fremont’.
While it’s not technically canon, it is written by the guy who would have written the canon story for Half-Life 3.
Unfortunately, that’s probably the closest thing we’ll ever get to Half-Life 3.
Weird Half-Life Fact: Gordon Freeman Doesn’t Speak – Ever
We know this isn’t a weird fact.
Here’s what is: Someone has managed to perfectly emulate his voice.
There’s a website called 15.ai, which houses an MIT Research project about text-to-voice algorithms.
It uses audio recordings and fancy algorithms (it’s not quite that simple, but you get the idea) to emulate specific voices from various pop culture franchises, such as Spongebob Squarepants or Team Fortress 2.
The project uses pop culture characters (as opposed to world leaders and the like) because the project is about learning, and not about enabling people to make deep fake videos. Yes, that’s a genuine concern – some of the characters’ output are THAT close to natural voices.
You choose a franchise, a character, and then you type in the text. You click on ‘Generate’, wait for a few seconds, and then listen to the result. Once you’ve reached this stage, you can download the audio, or try it again (each generation is slightly different).
Gordon Freeman is one of the voices available.
See if you can guess what his voice might sound like, and then check it out for yourself here on the 15.ai website.