Half Life 2 fires up web users

One of the most eagerly awaited computer games has finally been unveiled to joyous fans, so large in number they caused an online overload in their queue to verify a copy of the hit-title.

Half Life 2 officially went live on 16 November, but the online registration system failed to keep up with the demand of a game six years in the making.

Some players lucky enough to get into Valve/Sierra's first person experience said they suffered long delays and glitches with registration.

Other players said problems kept them from accessing the Steam network, installed with the game to identify individual users and protect against piracy.

Valve software studio, the company behind Half Life 2, insist every user must authenticate their copy using the network even if they intend to play the game in 'offline' mode.

After initial verification, users are free to carry on the adventures of protagonist, Gordon Freeman, in either offline or online mode – without needing to sign-in through Steam.

Many of those experiencing problems report a pop-up message from Valve apologising for the delays, which at their worst, lock online fans out of the action.

Bulletin and message boards on Half Life sites have been ablaze with livid computer gamers, frustrated by the ongoing delay.

For those inside the Half Life/Steam community, the situation is compounded because of a leak in the game's source code and the subsequent arrests of the culprits.

Now it is rumoured that cracked versions of the game are floating online, alongside malicious Half Life 2 programs, including viruses, key loggers and spyware.

Positive news is that the requirements to run HL2 has not excluded computer users, who originally thought an upgrade was needed to install the game.

Yet it does require 4.5G of hard disk space and is understood to take up to half an hour to install successfully.

Delays through registration and authentication are expected to only affect versions of the sci-fi/ FPS game bought in high-street stores.

Early reviews of Half Life 2 appear positive, with user's reporting unmatched playability and formidable graphics, introduced in trailers over the last month.

"So they say they have Half Life 3 in the making?" said one HL fan, speaking on a UK forum.

"Just as good because this one was over too quick. Or it could be just the fact that I've been a sad individual and played it constantly over the past two days – yeah I think that was the reason. What an ending though. Excellent"

For one UK user, the delay was well worth the wait: "I'm off out now, but I'm replaying this from the start tomorrow to savour it again. Absolutely worth the wait and 4hrs online faffing about. Buy it!"

Meanwhile, Valve issued a statement on their website: "We have resolved the issues that caused some to experience delays with Half Life 2 authentication earlier today. We appreciate your patience and hope everyone enjoys the game."

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