Codename: Gordon

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Codename: Gordon
Developer(s)

Nuclearvision Entertainment

Release date(s)

May 17, 2004

Genre(s)

Action

Mode(s)

Single player

Platform(s)

Windows

Distribution

Steam

System req

1.6 GHz processor

Input

Keyboard and mouse

Engine

Adobe Flash

Designer(s)
  • Sönke C. "Warbeast" Seidel[1]
  • Paul T. "X-Tender" Kamma[1]
Composer(s)

Frank Fitzner[1]

"Takes some getting used to, this 2-D world, but you're a scientist, you'll figure it out."
Barney Calhoun

Codename: Gordon, also known as Half-Life 2D, is a side-scroller action game created by Nuclearvision Entertainment.

Contents

[edit] Overview

The game takes place in dozens of levels inspired by both Half-Life and its sequel, challenging players to a slew of puzzles, and showcasng many of the familiar creatures in an all new, two-dimensional playing field. Codename: Gordon features six chapters, eight different enemies, fife weapons and a fully functional buggy. It was created using Adobe Flash for the game engine and Photoshop for the graphics.

Valve had released Codename: Gordon via Steam, but the game has since then been removed from it due to its developer's default, which caused their official site to be replaced with an advertisement site. Since access to the site is hard coded into the game, Valve was forced to remove it from their platform. The game can still be installed by entering steam://install/92 in a web browser's address field after installing the Steam client.

Codename: Gordon includes a high-score system with network support and numerous secrets.

[edit] Plot

Codename: Gordon presents an alternative storyline to that of Half-Life, where Gordon sets out in an attempt to discover the cause behind the disappearance of the third dimension.

The game begins in a dock area. After fighting his way through several Zombies and Headcrabs, Gordon meets up with Barney Calhoun, who tells him about an "entire dimension" missing, and also notes that the science team is working on solving the problem. Because of the injury, Barney gives Gordon his pistol, instead of proceeding further with Freeman.

In the second chapter, Gordon meets Dr. Eli Vance and his daughter Alyx, who advise him to take their car, which will help in reaching City 17 - the source of the problem. Soon after, Freeman finds Dr. Kleiner. Isaac tells him about his worries regarding the missing dimension, but also gives him his new invention - the Gravity Gun.

After being attacked by a Combine Gunship, and passing through a prison heavily guarded by Combine Soldiers, Gordon manages to reach City 17, where he finds the G-Man. The mysterious bureaucrat tells Freeman that he has been expecting him, and claims to not be behind the situation regarding the missing dimension. Instead, the G-Man says that he is but a "lowly pawn in a shady game being played by sinister powers". Soon after, Gordon finds a Strider, a large tripedal war machine, which turns out to somehow be the reason for the problem. Upon defeating it, a portal is opened, sending Gordon back to the third dimension.

[edit] Gameplay

Just as in the games from Half-Life series, the player takes control of Gordon Freeman, controlling him by using the keyboard for movement, and the mouse for aiming and firing weapons. However, unlike the other games in the franchise, Codename: Gordon is set in a two-dimensional world.

Armed with various weapons, including the trademark crowbar and the Gravity Gun introduced in Half-Life 2, Gordon encounters the most iconic enemies, such as Zombies, Headcrabs, or the Combine Soldiers. Similarly to the gameplay in the Half-Life series, the action sequences are broken up by various puzzle elements.

During his journey, Gordon runs across some of the key characters from Half-Life 2, who are aware that the world they are living in is two-dimensional, and communicate with him through text messages, as the game does not feature voice acting. The player is able to participate interactively in the dialogues, by using emoticons, such as ":]" or ":-)", each associated with a different type of answer.

Upon finishing Codename: Gordon, a new bonus game is unlocked, called "Crow Chase", in which the player's objective is to chase crows, earning points, in an attempt to keep them in the air for as long as possible, within a given time limit.

[edit] Development

Development on Codename: Gordon began in mid-2003. The game started as a fan project of Paul T. "X-Tender" Kamma, responsible for the software coding, and Sönke C. "Warbeast" Seidel, responsible for the game graphics. The game was created using Macromedia Flash, the reason for this choice being the developers' familiarity with the software.[2] The initial intention was to create a platform game, the setting only being decided upon after seeing several pre-release advertisements of Valve's Half-Life 2 video game. Soon after the project's initiation, the game was noticed by Tim Bruns, co-founder of Nuclearvision Entertainment, whose company started working on Codename: Gordon together with Kamma and Seidel.[3]

Originally, the game was planned for the Nintendo DS portable console. This decision was changed after Nuclearvision Entertainment had contact with Valve Corporation. Being positive about the game, the producers of the Half-Life series also started participating in the development of Codename: Gordon, with Doug Wood overseeing the project on behalf of Valve. The game was released on May 17, 2004, and was distributed freely on Valve's Steam online delivery system, as a form of publicity for the, at that time, upcoming Half-Life 2.[4] As stated by Gabe Newell, the game was originally supposed to be released on April 1, as a joke for April Fools' Day, with Codename: Gordon supposedly being Valve's Half-Life 2.[3]

"Originally we were going to release it on April 1st. I even wrote a fake press release that went something like, 'Due to tremendous pressure from the gaming community to ship Half-Life 2, we looked long and hard at the game to see if there was anything we could cut that would let us ship sooner. It looked like if we cut the third dimension, we'd be all set, so after five years in development, Valve and Nuclearvision proudly present Half-Life 2D.' Fortunately saner minds prevailed."
―Gabe Newell[3]

Initially, Codename: Gordon was supposed to receive several updates, including a second bonus game which could be unlocked after finishing the game.[3] However, Paul Kamma eventually announced that the update was canceled.[5] The game is no longer available on Steam store, due to Nuclearvision Entertainment's collapse, leading to the company's official site's removal. As access to the site is hard coded into the game, Valve was forced to remove it from the Steam catalog. However, its depot hasn't been removed from content servers so the game is downloadable using protocol commands or command line parameters.

[edit] Reception

The game received much attention from the community, even before its release to the public.[4] As noted by Tim Bruns, art director of Nuclearvision, the game attracted over 600,000 players in the first three weeks of its release. Bruns revealed that he was surprised by this number, and said that "the ability to reach this many gamers almost overnight is amazing".[3]

Codename: Gordon has received overall good reviews from game critics. Home of the Underdogs described it as being "one of the best fangames". The game has also been widely appreciated for its inclusion of the Gravity Gun, with Gameplanet saying that it "works as advertised, and is indeed, pretty [cool]".[6] Pixel Rage also described the weapon as one of the game's best features, and gotoAndPlay said it "adds a nice touch to the game".[7] Codename: Gordon has also been praised for its detailed background landscapes, as well as its unique dialog style, in which the player uses emoticons to communicate with other characters.[7]

However, the game has received some negative feedback as well. One of the main issues that has been raised is performance, with gotoAndPlay stating that the game has a tendency towards lower frame frequencies when multiple enemies are present on the screen, as well as lack of proper optimization.[7] Home of the Underdogs also complained about the game's high system requirements, considering its complexity, a 1.6 GHz processor or higher being necessary in order to play.[8] The game has also been criticized for its lack of opponent variety,[7] its and simple yet awkward control scheme,[8] and its lack of a save function.[6]

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