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Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar Hardcover – October 7, 2003

4.7 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Prima Games (November 23, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761543643
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761543640
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.9 x 11.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #393,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Chris Lee Mullins on November 18, 2004
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.
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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I see some new copies of this book are selling for a lot. If I had an unwrapped copy, I wouldn't sell it for less than half what people are offering now ... simply because the art and game tidbits are amazing and I'm sure I'd want to buy another copy. It always gets a look on my coffee table.
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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.
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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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book tracks the creation of the Half Life II world from concept art to final product. It is, simply, amazing. Not since a book of concept art for Star Wars (the original 3) have I encountered concept art so clearly building a complete world(s) with as much detail, passion, and creativity. It's been a few years since HL2 hit the market, and we've since seen the introduction of HL Lost Coast, Episode I and Episode II, each of which build and add to the HL2 world in a organized and entertaining way.

I have to believe the continuity throughout each installment of the HL world comes in large part because they laid such a solid foundation in their creation of so much beautiful, detailed concept art. Some of the materials displayed in the book missing from HL2 have shown up in later installments. It seems even years ago they knew where they were headed.

What you will not find in this book are details on the source engine, details on the writing process behind the storyline, or any mention of the delay in production of HL2. This is a book almost exlusively about the visual art present in the game.

No matter where the storyline for HL2 ends, this book will show where it began, and how concepts led to one of the greatest games, and franchises, in PC gaming history. If you're a fan of Half Life 2, buy this book. You will not be disappointed.
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