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Half-Life 2

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Half-Life 2
Half-Life 2 cover
Valve Corporation
2004-2005 Sierra Entertainment
2005-present Valve Corporation
Russia (original release) 1C-SoftClub
Russia (re-release) Buka Entertainment
Release dates
Windows November 16, 2004
macOS (OS X) May 26, 2010
Linux May 9, 2013
Metacritic 96
Monetization One-time game purchase
Microtransactions None
Modes Singleplayer
Pacing Real-time
Perspectives First-person
Controls Direct control
Genres FPS
Vehicles Automobile, Naval/watercraft, Off-roading
Art styles Realistic
Themes Post-apocalyptic, Sci-fi, Eastern Europe
Series Half-Life
Half-Life 2 on HowLongToBeat
Half-Life 2 on IGDB
Half-Life 2 guide on StrategyWiki
Half-Life 2 on MobyGames
Half-Life 2 on Wikipedia
Half-Life mods and fangames (series)
Half-Life 1998
Half-Life: Opposing Force 1999
Half-Life: Blue Shift 2001
Codename: Gordon 2004
Half-Life: Source 2004
Half-Life 2 2004
Half-Life 2: Deathmatch 2004
Half-Life 2: Lost Coast 2005
Half-Life Deathmatch: Source 2006
Half-Life 2: Episode One 2006
Half-Life 2: Episode Two 2007
Portal (series)
Half-Life: Decay (unofficial port) 2008
Half-Life: Alyx 2020


The macOS (OS X) version of this game does not work on macOS Catalina (version 10.15) or later due to the removal of support for 32-bit-only apps.

Half-Life 2 is a singleplayer first-person FPS game in the Half-Life series.

The retail release was published by Sierra Entertainment up until the publisher lost all publishing rights to Valve's titles in 2005. Valve subsequently partnered with Electronic Arts to distribute later retail versions of the game and future titles. The macOS X version was released in 2010 and the Linux version later in 2013, both coinciding with the launch of Steam on their respective platforms.

Like most of Valve's library, the game still receives bug fixes and general maintenance updates. It also enjoys a large community base, and various mods are released regularly.

General information

GitHub Issue Tracker for Linux bugs in Half-Life 2 and other Source-based games
Steam Community Discussions


Source DRM Notes Keys OS
Icon overlay.png
Disc check (requires the CD/DVD in the drive to play)
SecuROM 5 DRM. Removed in a December 2004 update.
Steam installation can be bypassed on Collector's Edition copies by launching hl2.msi directly. five to six CDs or single DVD.
DRM-free after installation through Steam client (notes may include more details)
DRM-free when launched directly from the executable. Some features (such as achievements) are unavailable when launched outside of Steam.
macOS (OS X)
A demo is available from Steam.
The soundtrack is available for free from Steam.

Essential improvements

Peixoto's patch

Peixoto's patch forced resolution allows in high resolution without shrinking the HUD or menus. Super sampling anti-aliasing is also possible.

Skip intro videos

Use -novid command line argument[1]

Enabling the console

A list of console commands can be found here.
Command line[1]
  1. See Command line arguments.
  2. Use -console, then write bind F2 "toggleconsole" in the console.


Any key can be substituted for F2.
Options menu[1]
  1. Go to Options, select the Keyboard tab and click on Advanced.
  2. Check Enable the developer console and open the console by using ~.

Half-Life 2: Update

An unofficial update that fixes bugs, improves the lighting, draw distance and adds new effects among others.
Standalone; uses a separate installation folder, separate save and configuration files, and separate Steam AppID.
Does not include newer official updates, which introduced new bug fixes and features, follow this guide or use this patch (Mirror #1 Mirror #2) to update the game.

Game data

Configuration file(s) location

System Location
Steam <path-to-game>\hl2\cfg\
This game does not follow the XDG Base Directory Specification on Linux.

Save game data location

System Location
Steam <path-to-game>\hl2\save\

Save game cloud syncing

System Native Notes
Steam Cloud
Saves and most settings. Approx. 100 MB available.


General video settings
General video settings
Advanced video settings
Advanced video settings

Graphics feature State WSGF Notes
Widescreen resolution
4K Ultra HD
Field of view (FOV)
Values between 75° and 110° (up to 120° using fov_desired or via Gamepad UI) vertical can be set via ingame slider.[2] Default is 75°.
Borderless fullscreen windowed
Update the game and set to Run in a window (No Border), otherwise use -windowed -noborder (for old version/retail) Command line argument
Anisotropic filtering (AF)
Anti-aliasing (AA)
Up to 8x MSAA. SGSSAA available with Nvidia Profile Inspector flag 0x000000C1.
Vertical sync (Vsync)
60 FPS and 120+ FPS
300 FPS cap by default. With console, can change "fps_max" up to 1000; use 0 for uncapped framerate.[3]
High dynamic range display (HDR)
Rendered image uses SDR color space. In-game HDR option refers only to HDR Rendering.
HBAO available with Nvidia Profile Inspector flag 0x0000002C.


Key map settings
Key map settings
Mouse/gamepad settings
Mouse/gamepad settings

Keyboard and mouse State Notes
Mouse acceleration
Mouse sensitivity
Mouse input in menus
Mouse Y-axis inversion
Controller support
Full controller support
Gamepad UI can be enabled with the -gamepadui Command line argument. This requires Vulkan supported GPU to work.
Otherwise use this X360 Gamepad UI mod instead if your GPU does not support Vulkan. Please note that the X360 Gamepad UI mod doesn't include latest patches to game, such as Dropship gun bugfix.
Controller remapping
Controller sensitivity
Controller Y-axis inversion
Controller types
XInput-compatible controllers
Xbox button prompts
Supported via Steam Input API.
Impulse Trigger vibration
DualShock 4 controllers
DualShock button prompts
Supported via Steam Input API.
Light bar support
Connection modes Wired, Wireless, Bluetooth
Tracked motion controllers
Supports Razer Hydra. Use Half-Life 2: VR Mod for tracked motion controllers support in VR.
Button/gesture prompts
Generic/other controllers
Both Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and Generic Gamepads are supported via Steam Input API
Button prompts
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller button prompts are supported via Steam Input API
Additional information
Button prompts
Use Controller UI Mod (for old version only) to get a choice of button prompts such as Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3/4, Switch, and more. Otherwise use Controller-centric UI with Steam Input API.
Controller hotplugging
Haptic feedback
Supported via Steam Input API.

If using the old version or Legacy XInput mode: you can bring back Controller rumble by download an updated version of the SDL2 runtime binary (choose Runtime Binaries x86) and replace it with the one in <path-to-game>\bin.[5] This works for any Source engine based game.
Simultaneous controller+KB/M
Steam Input
Steam Input API support
Official controller preset(s)
PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Steam Controller & Steam Deck (under Standard and Motion Controls presets)
Steam Controller button prompts
Uses Steam Input API's built-in Button Icons


Audio settings
Audio settings

Audio feature State Notes
Separate volume controls
Game volume and music slider.
Surround sound
4.0, 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound. 7.1 output may require DirectSound3D restoration software.
Closed captions
Mute on focus lost
Under a check box in the Audio menu.
EAX support
Set snd_legacy_surround 1 in console (or launch the game with +snd_legacy_surround 1), 4 speakers in options, and use DSOAL for binaural HRTF mixing.[6]
Royalty free audio


Language UI Audio Sub Notes
Fan translation, Steam Workshop. In testing stage.
Simplified Chinese
Traditional Chinese
Fan translation including dubbing, download.
Brazilian Portuguese
Brazilian Portuguese
Mod DB.
By default, the steam version has a new localization by "Buka". However, after the "SteamPipe" update, errors appeared in the localization, such as the effect of broken phrases. Therefore, it is recommended to download the patch, made by guys from the "hl-inside" forum.
First offical localization by SDL and published for retail by "SoftClub" here


Multiplayer types

Type Native Players Notes
LAN play
32 Users will need to open the developer console and type "maxplayers 4; sv_lan 1" and "map d1_trainstation_01" in the console. Do note that the game will not load an autosave, but you and your partner will respawn instead.
Online play
10 Use Synergy.

Connection types

VR support

3D modes Native GG3D Notes
Native 3D
Nvidia 3D Vision
See also Helix Mod: Half Life 2:Update.
TriDef 3D
G3D, DirectVR
Officially supported game, see official vorpx game list.
Headsets Native Notes
HTC Vive
Use Half-Life 2: VR Mod.
Oculus Rift
Available under Video Settings (except newer versions). See the Oculus Rift forums for further instructions. Enable borderless window on Oculus Rift using vr_force_windowed 1. Use Half-Life 2: VR Mod on newer versions.
Windows Mixed Reality
Use Half-Life 2: VR Mod.
Devices Native Notes
Tracked motion controllers
Supports Razer Hydra. Use Half-Life 2: VR Mod for tracked motion controllers support in VR.
See Input for details.
Traditional controller
See Input for details.
3RD Space Gaming Vest
Novint Falcon
Works with FreeTrack 2.0 protocol using software like FaceTrackNoIR.
Tobii Eye Tracking
Works with Tobii EyeX tracker or Tobii EyeX 4C and 5 headtracker plugins for FaceTrackNoIR.
Play area Native Notes

Issues fixed


TweakGuides has created a comprehensive guide for fixing issues in this game which can be found here.

Purple and black textures

See missing textures.

No lighting after Black Mesa East

Activate the High Dynamic Range in the Advanced Video Options[citation needed]

Stuck in Black Mesa East

Bug that occurs in initial retail release. (i.e. Collector's Edition version, etc.)
Walk into the elevator, Quick Save F6, then Quick Load F9.

Not enough space on disk (retail)

Copy the files[1]
  • Copy all the files from the disc to a new folder, then run setup.exe

Available memory less than 128 MB (retail)

Setting the compatibility mode[1]
  1. See compatibility mode.
  2. Go to <path-to-game> and find hl2.exe
  3. Set the executable to run under the Windows XP (Service Pack 3) compatibility mode.

Half-Life 2 stuck on DirectX v8.0

Command line parameter[1]
  1. See Command line arguments.
  2. Use -dxlevel 95, start the game and configure the desired video settings.
  3. Remove the command line before starting the game again.


Not removing the command line will cause the game to set the options to their default values.

Cyrillic Font Issue in Linux

Cyrillic Font Issue in Linux[citation needed]

Find and remove the Helvetica font.

SteamVR launches automatically when attempting to enter Options

Modify the gameinfo.txt file[8]
  1. Navigate to <path-to-game>/hl2/ and open gameinfo.txt with a text editor of your choice.
  2. Find the value of supportsvr and change it from 1 to 0.


If you reinstall the game or verify the integrity of the files, this change will be reverted.

Certain music and sound effects don't play (Fedora Linux)

Having SELinux enabled can cause certain music and sound effect files to not play when on Fedora Linux.
Lower security level[9][citation needed]

Run the following terminal commands:

sudo su
sudo setsebool -P selinuxuser_execheap 1

Other information


Technical specs Supported Notes
Direct3D 6, 7, 8, 9
OpenGL 2.1 OS X and Linux only.
Enable Vulkan using -vulkan Command line argument. Works via DXVK translation layer.[11] Windows[12][13] & Linux only.[citation needed]
Shader Model support 1.x, 2, 3
Executable 32-bit 64-bit Notes
64-bit version is no longer available[10]
macOS (OS X)
[citation needed]
[citation needed]


Middleware Notes
Physics Havok Heavily modified variant.
Audio Miles Sound System
Input SDL
Cutscenes Bink Video Used for startup videos and in-game movies.
Anti-cheat Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC)

Launch options

A list of command lines can be found here and here.
  1. See Command line arguments.
  2. Enter your commands.

Additional mods

An extra list of mods can be found here. To view the most-rated mods, click here.
A discussion of various graphic improvement mods can be found here.

Half-Life 2: Survivor

An unofficial port of the Japanese arcade version.
This mod does not require Steam in order to run, but it requires you to use old files from Source SDK Base 2006. Click at the link above for more info.

Half-Life 2: MMod

Enhances visual effects, weapon animations, sound, and gunplay. Most features can be toggled on and off.
Compatible with all official Half-Life 2 titles and MINERVA and the FakeFactory Cinematic Mod. Compatibility patches made by the community for other mods and games based around the Half-Life 2 gameplay and various other addons can be found here.

Half-Life 2 4X AI Textures

Textures for all NPCs, some weapons, some items, some crates, and some vehicles, upscaled with Topaz A.I. Gigapixel.
Upscaled textures are faithful to the original textures.
Works with Half-Life 2: Update.
Large download at over 6.5 GB, including patches. Around 12.5 GB once extracted.

Half-Life 2 Upscaled Model Textures

A similar mod to the Half-Life 2 4X AI Textures but only for NPCs.
Smaller than Half-Life 2 4X AI Textures. At 840 MB and 2.31 GB once extracted.

System requirements

Minimum Recommended
Operating system (OS) XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10
Processor (CPU) 1.7 GHz
System memory (RAM) 512 MB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 6.5 GB
Video card (GPU) Nvidia GeForce FX 5700
ATI Radeon 9500
128 MB of VRAM
DirectX 8.1 compatible
The original system requirements were as follows: Windows 2000/XP/ME/98, a 1.2 GHz processor (2.4 GHz recommended), 256 MB RAM (512 MB recommended), DirectX 7, and 4.5 GB hard disk space
Windows 98SE, ME, and 2000 were previously supported operating systems for the game, but as future updates for this game and Steam occurred; the support for these operating systems were dropped with non-Collector's Edition retail copies.
Must be run without Steam to play on XP and Vista.
macOS (OS X)
Operating system (OS) 10.5.8, 10.6.3
Processor (CPU) 1.7 GHz
System memory (RAM) 1 GB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 4.6 GB
Video card (GPU) Nvidia GeForce 8000 Series
ATI Radeon X1600
Intel HD 3000


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Verified by User:Suicide machine on August 11, 2016
  2. Field of View - Valve Developer Community - last accessed on May 2023
  3. Verified by User:Mr. obsolete 341 on 2021-11-22
  4. Verified by User:Al2009man on 2022-05-05
    Tested on DualShock 4 V2 and DualSense Controller while Steam Input is forcefully disabled.

    As of this writing: Left/Right Joystick does not work if Steam Input (under Legacy mode) is enabled.
  5. Verified by User:Al2009man on 2022-05-05
    Seems like this method no longer works on Steam Deck branch.
  6. Half-Life 2 with 3D spatial sound 🎧 (OpenAL Soft HRTF audio)
  7. UOL Jogos, 29/12/2004 (archived). - last accessed on May 2023
  8. Steam Community - last accessed on May 2023
  9. Steam Community :: novimatrem-chan :: Review for Half-Life 2 - last accessed on 2022-03-25
    "Fix missing music/sound effects in Source Engine games (Valve games, etc.) on Fedora
    Unfortunately, on Fedora, some Valve games have a bit of an issue regarding completely skipping playing certain audio files. None of this causes any crashing, but can lead to a worse gaming experience, confusion, and the appearance of buggyness- and generally isn’t great. To work around this, please refer to the following steps, and all the games’ audio will then work perfectly.
    You need to open your Terminal emulator, either from the usual application menu place, or by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+T, or sometimes it’s Super+T AND THEN type the following into it, entering your password when it prompts you.
    sudo su
    sudo setsebool -P selinuxuser_execheap 1
    That’s it. Your game will now function as intended, enjoy being able to hear the soundtracks, music, sound effects, etc! Especially ‘Still Alive’, and the banger that Half-Life 2’s soundtrack is, amongst others.
    valve pls fix
  10. 64-bit Half-Life 2 released - - last accessed on 2020-08-27
  11. - last accessed on May 2023
  12. Verified by User:kr0tchet on 2022-04-02
    dxvk_d3d9.dll exists in game directory (Windows only) DXVK HL2 proof.jpg
  13. Verified by User:Expack3 on 2022-04-04
    Windows version seems to use DXVK v1.8.1-3-gd3e43ed3, based on output log.