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Why not reacquaint yourself with Half-Life and Half-Life 2 while you wait? Some community-created mods might just surprise you…

Nobody knows for certain that Valve are working on Half-Life 3. Nobody knows that they aren’t either though, and while the not knowing is by far the worst part, it’s this tantalising uncertainty that keeps the gaming community hooked.

Gamers are no strangers to waiting – it feels our patience is tested at every turn – but fans of the Freeman find themselves waiting a very long time indeed. With six years between the original Half-Life in 1998 and its sequel in 2004, with its last episodic release Half-Life 2: Episode 2 dropping in 2007 (we’re still smarting about Episode 3 being MIA by the way, Gabe) we’re now up to eight years without any new Half-Life to play, or even any news of a Half-Life 3 release date to speak of.

We’re willing to wager that Valve announces Half-Life 3 at some point over the next few years, when Steam Machines are prevalent and their haptic controllers are de rigeur, though we wouldn’t exactly bet our house on it; in the meantime how do we get our Freeman fix?

Black Mesa is a great place to start. A fan-made re-imagining of the original Half-Life built in Half-Life 2’s vastly superior Source engine, Black Mesa is both a wonderful stroll down memory lane for experienced crowbar wielders and a great re-introduction to the series. You can download Black Mesa from the developer’s site directly but remarkably, it has also been Greenlit for release on Steam and Valve are not being at all pissy about their IP being used. That’s refreshing!

It’s not quite finished yet and is missing the later levels of Xen, but nobody really minds that – the real-world beginnings were always more enjoyable than the off-world ending anyway – so take a look at their official trailer, and do try to contain your excitement:

When you’re done with Black Mesa, why not fire up Half-Life 2, re-imagined with a whole new set of textures, lighting and shaders? Half-Life 2: Update is available on Steam right now and does some truly wonderful things to the look and feel of a title that’s unfortunately starting to show the effects of its eleven years. Here’s the official comparison trailer between the original and the update, to show off all those gorgeous tweaks:

And if you fancy some brand new Freeman action, and have given up waiting for Episode 3 to ever surface, then you should definitely look into Transmissions: Element 120. Set after the events of Half-Life 2: Episode, Transmissions features all the intricate puzzling and crowbar mayhem we come to expect from a Half-Life title proper, but wraps it up into a genuinely freaky mystery. Oh, and did we mention that it contains a modified Gravity Gun that allows you to rocket-jump like freaking Quake? It’s no surprise that a mod this impressive was in development for two years, and that its creator Shokunin landed a job interview at Gearbox as a result.

Massive thanks to Kotaku for the tip on this one – we love it!

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