If anyone were asked to name the two most anticipated games of this year, no thought would be required before putting forth the inevitable reply of "Doom 3 and Halflife 2". Order may very depending on the gamer's background and taste, and the occasional "Sims 2" response may be heard in the minority. So far, we have Doom 3 (even The Sims 2 is already Gold), but Halflife 2 is still MIA. We keep hearing rumors (though nothing substantial), but even last year's certain release wasn't set in stone.

Ever since the incendiary remarks made by Valve's Gabe Newell about the ability of Valve's programmers to come up with code that ran as fast on NVIDIA's hardware as it did on ATI's (and putting the blame for this square on NVIDIA's shoulders), and the following source code leak, both the buzz over the Halflife sequel and its delay have increased in what feels like an exponential manner.

Of course, last year, ATI "bundled" Halflife 2 with its cards, but consumers who made the purchase were left with little in the way of fulfillment of this offer. That is, until now. Last week, Valve pushed out a one level beta version of the Counterstrike mod fitted to the Halflife 2 core over steam for those customers who had registered their ATI HL2 coupons. Eventually, the game will be released as Counterstike: Source, but, for now, the beta version shows off the bells, whistles, and capabilities of the new Source engine that powers HL2.

Light blooming through windows, illuminating dust in the air in Counterstrike: Source Beta

As an added bonus, Valve included a video card "stress test" in the beta version of CS: Source. Now, with an updated version of the engine, refined drivers, and brand new cards, we take a look at another bit of the story behind the ever lengthening saga of Halflife 2.

Source, CS, and Halflife 2
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  • Ballistics - Sunday, September 5, 2004 - link

    I guess I was just expecting more from Anandtech, thats all.

    Tired of buyer guides that are biased towards certain manufacturers (ie) the FX5900XT was released in December 2003 and has proven itself to be an awesome price/performance card. It was a sub $200 card that ran with the +$300 + cards of the time. Yet ATI, ATI, ATI was all that was touted. How come nobody picked up on that little powerhouse of a card that finally gave nVidia fans something to get excited about? There weren't even any good articles on that card until february!?!

    I used to come to anandtech with confidence that what I was reading was the newest "unbiased" hardware analysis. I can't do that anymore. Thats all.
  • AtaStrumf - Saturday, August 28, 2004 - link

    False alarm :(
  • suryad - Saturday, August 28, 2004 - link

    Hey guys, forgive my lack of knowledge but does anyone know if the final product, Half Life 2 when released that is, will have the capability to use SSE/3DNow! instructios in the CPU? Would it also take advantage of Hyperthreading? That would probably lead to higher framerates wouldn't it? I raise this question because I read at the S.T.A.L.K.E.R game website that the X-Ray engine is supposedly capable of taking advantage of not only the GPU (Duhh) but rather the type of CPU the computer has as well. Any comments? Thanks guys. As for the article, I am kind of leaning towards people who say that the games should be benhced on high end, middle end and lower end spec machines. I agree completely so it would give a better idea to most people. But since this is just a beta and I am sure that most people are interested in knowing about HL2 instead of CS IMHO I cant really blame AT for not making the article the way people want it. I am sure when they get the final released copy of HL2 all our questions will be answered. Thanks everyone.
  • AtaStrumf - Saturday, August 28, 2004 - link

    It appears that Gabe said that HL2 will be going gold on Monday, August 30th.
  • robbase29a - Saturday, August 28, 2004 - link

    One more thing, if I may... Some of you guys have it all wrong. Yes, AT is a hardware site... that's a given. But something that (some of) you people aren't getting is that hardware just doesn't stand alone. People don't just buy the newest nvidia card because of it's awesome architecture. Nor do people buy $800 dollar cpus because of their sweet pipelines, right? Hardware is used to run software.... duh.

    So.. what i'm getting at: AT is using this game to glean information about all the available hardware there is. CPUs, Graphics cards, and maybe RAM too. You need to know how your current card measures up before you upgrade right?... That is why AT is going to write a comprehensive review of ALL (or it may be safer to say most) of the graphics cards out there (CPUs too). Not just the new ones. So let's stop this silly griping and wait for them to do their thing. Go AT! - Message posted with good intentions, not to hurt anyone's feelings.
  • Tobyus - Friday, August 27, 2004 - link

    Ok, thanks Derek. That probably explains the difference. I am just amazed that my $170 processor can outperform an overclocked $800 processor. I guess the optimizations really make a big difference.
  • Phiro - Friday, August 27, 2004 - link

    Jalf said it all :)
  • Jalf - Friday, August 27, 2004 - link

    Well, as someone said earlier, AT happens to be a hardware site, not a gaming site. It's a lot more relevant for them to benchmark new cards in an interesting game, than 3 year old ones.

    Presumably they're more interested in which of the new cards actually performs best, than in how old harware HL2 can handle.

    Makes sense to me, and doesn't bother me the least. I read AT to learn about new hardware, and to know what I should upgrade to, not to find out whether my current system can run games. I use actual game reviews for that.
  • Gugax - Friday, August 27, 2004 - link

    We all need to chill out a little bit. I am shure AT will do a complete review as soon as they have a final HL2 copy to benchmark.
    My suggetion goes to havinga bang for the buck report. Better if including both Doom3/Hl2 results combined.
    Most people prefers one of the games. But everybody sooner or later will use both engine based games to play on. And if they are using this benchmarks to help them decide the best way to go, this shoul help them.
    And yes, not everybody is lucky to have a 800$ CPU... (altough you used it to take the cpu out of the equation, I know). :)
  • robbase29a - Friday, August 27, 2004 - link

    I think everybody needs to chill about AT not including the midrange video cards. I would also liked to have seen them, but we have to keep in mind that this is NOT a real game. This is just a preliminary test of a test world. I'm sure AT will come out with a full blown (midrange included) review when the real thing comes out. If everyone just exercised a little bit of patience, we wouldn't have such hot heads floating around.

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