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Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar [Hardcover]

David Hodgson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Nov. 23 2004
·Unprecedented access behind Half-Life and Half-Life 2
·A forward by Valve founder Gabe Newell
·Hundreds of art, design, preproduction, and other art pieces crammed into the book
·Over a dozen key members of Valve's staff interviewed
·Officially approved by Valve
·Behind City 17 and other locations
·The development of the Source engine
·A rogue's gallery of beasts, characters, and monstrosities
·Key weapons development revelations
·A tour of many of the game's locations, from inception to completion
·Filled with art, screens, and anecdotes from the Valve team

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Most helpful customer reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
I bought this book hours after I finished Half-Life 2, still excited about the world I'd just played through. It didn't disapoint. Not only does it have an ample amount of sketches (from Half-life 1 AND Half-life 2) and earlier/scrapped monster and level designs, it has commentary on nearly all of them from various staff-members. The book has information on the voice actors, level construction, some story samples passed around Valve as an example of the atmosphere they were trying to achieve, real-life architectual influences on the game and a few interesting tidbits on the world itself we never find out in the game. (For example, want to know a bit more about the mysterious Combine? Want to know what a fully-evolved headcrab looks like? Things like these are scattered around the book)
If you're one of those people who wants to know "What changed from Valve's original vision for Half-life 2?" (and some of those changes are surprising and quite substantial) or "How did the artists and designers and coders work together?" or if you just enjoy seeing sketches and concept designs (which are always interesting to look at and in some cases, even beautiful) this is the perfect book for you.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
78 of 81 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Must-Have for Half-Life 2 Fanatics Nov. 18 2004
By Chris Lee Mullins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This coffeetable-type art book details the **artistic** creative process that brought Half-Life 2 to fruition. However, if you are expecting a behind-the-scenes expose about creation of the Source engine or the reasons why Half-Life 2 was delayed by nearly a year and a half, you will be sorely disappointed.

This book collects sketches, drawings, screenshots, script pages and personal statements about each by the artists behind this game. It talks about some of Valve's earlier visions before work on Half-Life consumed their offices. You'll get creative renderings of the evolution of most every adversary, friend, monster and location you'll come across in Half-Life 1 and 2, including bits and pieces that were removed from the games.

But be warned - there are spoilers in this book. If you haven't finished Half Life 2 yet, put this one aside until you do. Otherwise you might spoil the story for yourself.

If "four stars" seems too low, well....I was hoping to see more about the creation of Half Life 2's engine - "Source". Barely mentioned within these pages.

If you are as much of a fan of Half-Life 1 and 2 as I am, its a worthwhile purchase.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A nice resource on the art and creation of Half-life 2 Jan. 30 2005
By Sylvia F - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I bought this book hours after I finished Half-Life 2, still excited about the world I'd just played through. It didn't disapoint. Not only does it have an ample amount of sketches (from Half-life 1 AND Half-life 2) and earlier/scrapped monster and level designs, it has commentary on nearly all of them from various staff-members. The book has information on the voice actors, level construction, some story samples passed around Valve as an example of the atmosphere they were trying to achieve, real-life architectual influences on the game and a few interesting tidbits on the world itself we never find out in the game. (For example, want to know a bit more about the mysterious Combine? Want to know what a fully-evolved headcrab looks like? Things like these are scattered around the book)
If you're one of those people who wants to know "What changed from Valve's original vision for Half-life 2?" (and some of those changes are surprising and quite substantial) or "How did the artists and designers and coders work together?" or if you just enjoy seeing sketches and concept designs (which are always interesting to look at and in some cases, even beautiful) this is the perfect book for you.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of cool Pictures inside Jan. 19 2007
By Chuaxy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book doesn't really talk much about anything on Source or the people creating the game. It focuses mainly on the process of how different elements in the game came out. With lots of concept and rendered art, it's good to have it around for inspiration or just plain viewing. The book also gives some information on Half-Life 1 and Mods, though these sections still give lots of cool pictures and very little text in comparison.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but with limited appeal. Dec 4 2005
By P. Gray - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As the review below states this book isn't a behind-the-scenes book or a chronicle of the development of the game nor is it a book discussing the technological merits of Half Life 2 or the Source Engine. Although, it does contain elements of all of the afformentioned parts, it is in the end an art book, but a great one at that with great color, a sturdy build, and a clean uncluttered design.

As a fan of the game myself, I enjoyed seeing all the places and ideas that never made it into the game and the evolution and design of those that did. One area, I feel the book ought to and should have delved into more, was the development and evolution of the plot itself which except in reference to other points was never brought up significantly.

Fans of the Half Life franchise and people interested in the creative development of games will find this book of interest. Others may want to pass on it.
14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book Nov. 21 2004
By S. Murphy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I'm really a fan of concept art and i loved this book. It has a bunch of really high quality concept art. Most of the art is from half-life 2 but the book does contain some from the original half-life and counter-strike. The book has explanitions about most of the drawings and also includes some high-res scans of the new game. I would recommend this to anyone who likes concept art as well as all of the half-life fans out there.
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