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Half-Life 3 is a meme of epic proportions. The game is the stuff of legend, since it's a game that will likely never be, and yet gamers are completely enthralled with it. Now, the hype machine starts up again based on news that Half-Life 2: Episode 3 may have finally been revealed thanks to former Valve writer Marc Laidlaw exposing it on his blog.
Over on the official Marc Laidlaw website, there's a letter written by a fictional Dr. Gertie Fremont. Fremont explains to the reader (or the player) the events that transpire after Half-Life 2: Episode 2. Keen gamers were quick to recognize the events and began translating the names to their proper identities from the Half-Life series, revealing that Gertie Fremont is actually Gordon Freeman; that Elly Vaunt is Eli Vance; that Dr. Jerry Maas is actually Dr. Judith Mossman; and that Alex is actually Alyx Vance.
After the names were properly translated, the gaming community began reading about the events, which, if this really was the game's plot, would have seen Freeman, Alyx and Mossman capturing the Borealis, a reality-bending and time-space warping ship. In typical Half-Life fashion, the letter explains how Freeman and Alyx first have to infiltrate a Combine compound and retrieve Dr. Mossman. The trio then attempts to capture the Borealis after journeying to its location, where they fight off more Combine. The Resistance eventually shows up to fight with the Combine, and the trio of Freeman, Mossman and Alyx take flight in the Borealis.
The rest of the game is about deciding what to do with the Borealis, with Alyx wanting to destroy it and Mossman wanting to study it. Alyx shoots and kills Mossman and sets up the Borealis to self-destruct by crashing into a Combine command center with her and Freeman on it. G-Man appears and asks Alyx to come with him, and the two leave Freeman alone on the Borealis, destined to blow up when it crashes into the Combine facility. However, Freeman is able to see the futility of the mission thanks to the Borealis' reality-altering abilities, and he's given a glimpse of just how big the Combine's forces really are and how insignificant blowing up the command center really is.
Before Freeman is blown up in the Borealis, Vortigaunts teleport in and rescue Freeman, which is presumably how Half-Life 2's third episode ends.
Of course, all this really is, is a story on a blog, so that doesn't mean that the story it tells is really connected to Half-Life. Maybe this a story that Marc Laidlaw just recently came up with on his own as a way to continue the story, and/or have some fun at the expense of fans. But maybe, this is a narrative version of a real idea that could have, at one time, become Half-Life 2: Episode 3. Maybe this was a game that we could have played. It certainly has aspects that feel like they could have been from a Half-Life game, like another damn cliffhanger ending.
Obviously, the cliffhanger would be even more heart-wrenching for gamers because it's almost as big a cliffhanger as the one that Half-Life 2: Episode 2 had. For those of you that don't remember, the episode ended with Eli dying after the launch center is attacked.
The majority of Episode 2, however, was about bringing Alyx back to life after one of the Hunters attacks her near the beginning of the episode. There is a whole lot of venturing around underground facilities and canvassing caves to get the Vortigaunts to eventually heal Alyx.
The first episode also ended on a cliffhanger after the train cart crashed. The start of the episode picked up where the base game of Half-Life 2 ended, and was mostly about Freeman escaping the Combine facility with the help of Alyx.
It doesn't seem likely that we would see Laidlaw's version of Half-Life 2: Episode 3 become a reality because he's no longer working for Valve. That's not to say that Half-Life 3 might not ever happen, but it's unlikely that Laidlaw's depiction of events would happen. Nevertheless, do you think the story is a fitting conclusion to the episodic trilogy or does it seem like a letdown compared to the other entries in Valve's esteemed first-person shooter series?