Half-Life 2 to set new graphics standard

Ensuring that the long-awaited sequel to one of the industry’s most groundbreaking games will not only live up to five years of anticipation, but will also give gaming enthusiasts a reason to fastentheir seatbelts in front of their PCs, Microsoft DirectX 9.0 will bring scientist Gordon Freeman and his creeping, shooting alien nemeses back to life — with the vibrant graphics and enhancedgameplay needed for a truly immersive experience — with the release of  “Half-Life 2” by Valve Corp.

“We see ‘Half-Life 2′ as a new benchmark for the type of amazing experiences that can be delivered on the Windows® platform, and DirectX 9.0 is clearly serving as the catalyst for the development of these state-of-the-art games,” said Dean Lester, general manager of Windows Gaming and Graphics at Microsoft Corp. “‘Half-Life 2′ emphasizes the trend we are already seeing: Games for Windows now deliver the most cutting-edge technology and immersive entertainment available anywhere.”

“DirectX 9.0 has been crucial in helping us create a worthy sequel to ‘Half-Life,’ one that gives Windows gamers everything they’ve been waiting for, a truly unequaled experience,” said Gabe Newell, co-founder of Valve. “We are thrilled that our relationship with Microsoft has produced a title that all of us can be proud of.”

Among the singular advantages that the DirectX 9.0 API brings to “Half-Life 2” are increased speed and improved graphics — from more-detailed bump-mapped characters to more-nuanced lighting and delicate soft shadows that lend further realism to games on Windows. The central feature of DirectX 9.0, High-Level Shader Language (HLSL), allows for full-spectrum color graphics, video, 3-D animation and enhanced audio capabilities.

“Half-Life 2” and its DirectX capabilities have been critically hailed by GameSpot, which recently wrote, “‘Half-Life 2’s’ characters are so detailed that even [their] eyes are modeled in great detail. So when [one character] was made to look toward the screen, the effect was that she was looking right at us, rather than staring blankly at nothing, as game characters tend to do. … These are definitely some of the better-looking real-time 3-D characters that we’ve seen in a PC game to date.”