May 7, 2012

Welcome To City 17

UPDATE! My Half-Life 2 costume for Dragoncon 2012 is complete! Video at the bottom of this post!

This is going to be a total geek post, an homage to video games, specifically the video game Half -Life 2, which has spawned an incredible fandom and several fantastic fan-made films (embedded below).

If you're not into video games you may not find this interesting. If you are, read on!

Half-Life 2 is the groundbreaking sequel to Half-Life, a game that shattered video game records and is considered one of the greatest video games of all time. 

Half-Life stars Gordon Freeman, the protagonist who worked in an enormous, top secret facility deep underground called Black Mesa. During an experiment at the beginning of the game, a hole is torn in the fabric of reality, flooding the complex with alien creatures. Freeman must fight his way through the ruins of the complex to get to the surface to summon help.

Half way there he encounters the military, which, rather than saving the scientists at Black Mesa, are intent on covering up the entire incident. Freeman eventually travels to the planet from which the aliens are coming to destroy the head alien and save the planet.

In the sequel Half-Life 2, Freeman, who never speaks, finds himself in City 17, in a world in which mankind has surrendered to the aliens introduced in the first game. A small band of resistance fighters are determined to strike back against the military forces that oppress the city's citizens, and Freeman is soon involved in guerrilla warfare. The urban combat in the game is so realistic you feel like you're actually in battle amid the city ruins. Below is the beginning of Half-Life 2, which slowly introduces you to the misery that fills City 17 (jump to 1:40 on the video):

Along with Alyx Vance (pictured), Freeman fights to evacuate citizens from the city before the citadel, the tall, needle-like building at the heart of City 17, melts down and destroys the entire city.

It is a race to evacuate citizens and battle the soldiers intent of killing anyone trying to leave.

With powerful graphics and animation programs that are available now, and using the Half Life 2 source engine to create their own graphics, fans are creating their own films to tell more City 17 stories, and some of them are remarkable. Enjoy these videos embedded below.

Half-Life 2 has spawned such devotion that some fans have made an independent tribute film called Escape From City 17, made on a budget of $500, and has been rated one of the top YouTube videos of all time. Valve, the company behind the Half-Life series, was so impressed, it flew the film's creators to their company. This is a truly remarkable bit of film making. Enjoy Part One, below. You can see Part 2 by clicking on this link:

This is another fan film called Singularity Collapse, darker and more intense but extremely well done:

Beyond Black Mesa has some pretty impressive action sequences, and the acting is pretty good for a fan film. Unfortunately you have to sit through a thirty second commercial, but it's worth it. Enjoy!

This fan film has a slower pace and is a quieter film, obviously shot in a city in Europe somewhere. It helps a lot that the streets were so deserted when they were filming. Abandon buildings are great shooting locations for films of this genre. The character finding the crowbar is a reference to Gordon Freeman's primary weapons.

For Dragoncon I am creating a Civil Protection costume; I have already ordered the gas mask. Civil Protection are the masked police that enforce the dictatorship of the human-combine alliance in City 17.

And as promised, below is the video of my completed Half Life 2 Civil Protection costume. 

Just in time for Dragoncon 2012.

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