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Codename: Gordon

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Codename: Gordon, also known as Half-Life 2D, is a two-dimensional Flash sidescroller shooter game made by Paul "X-Tender" Kamma and Sönke "Warbeast" Seidel. The game was produced on behalf of Nuclear Vision, and was distributed over Valve Software's Steam online delivery system[1] as a promotional title for the then-upcoming Half-Life 2.[2] The game was removed from Steam's storefront due to the developer's bankruptcy.[3][4]

The game started off as a fan project of Paul Kamma and Sönke Seidel, the concept being inspired by various Half-Life 2 advertisements. Soon after, the two started working on Codename: Gordon on behalf of Nuclear Vision. The company also presented the game to Valve, the developer team of the original Half-Life series, who later distributed the game through Steam.[5]

Codename: Gordon has been overall well received by both reviewers, and the public, the game attracting over 600,000 players in the first three weeks after its release.[5][6] Reviewers appreciated the game for its gameplay and unique dialog style,[7][8][9] but also criticized it for its improper optimization, and lack of opponent variety.[8][9][10]


Just as in Half-Life 2, the player takes control of Gordon Freeman. However, unlike the other games in the Half-Life series, Codename: Gordon is set in a two-dimensional world. The sidescroller shooter game offers the player the ability to control Gordon by using the keyboard for movement, and the mouse for aiming and firing weapons.[7][9]

Armed with various weapons, including the trademark crowbar, and the gravity gun introduced by Half-Life 2, the player makes his way around six levels, along which he encounters enemies such as zombies, headcrabs, and the Combine. Similarly to the main titles in the Half-Life series, the action sequences of the gameplay are broken up by various puzzles.[5][8][9]

Along the way the player meets with some of the key characters of the main series, who communicate with Gordon through text dialog, as the game does not feature voice acting. Unlike the core games of the Half-Life series, in Codename: Gordon the player is able to participate interactively in the dialog, by using emoticons, such as :], :-), each associated with a different type of answer.[7][8]

Upon finishing Codename: Gordon, a new bonus game is unlocked, called "Crow Chase", in which the player has to try and gather as many points as possible, within a given time limit, by chasing crows, in an attempt to keep them in the air for as long as possible.[5][11]


File:Codename Gordon.jpg
Codename: Gordon presents an alternative to the storyline of Half-Life 2, with locations inspired by both Half-Life and Half-Life 2.[1] Along the way Gordon Freeman meets with some of the main characters of the Half-Life series, and tries to find out what is the cause behind the disappearance of the third dimension.

The game starts with Gordon Freeman in a dock area. After making his way through a few zombies and headcrabs, Gordon meets with Barney Calhoun, a prominent character in the later Half-Life titles. He tells Gordon of an "entire dimension" missing, and also notes that the science team is working on solving the problem. Being injured Barney cannot leave the place, so he gives Gordon his pistol, telling him to leave without him.[12]

Later on, in the second chapter the player meets with Eli Vance and his daughter Alyx who tell Gordon to take their car, which will help him reach City 17, as seemingly it is the center of the problem. They also tell him to talk to Dr. Kleiner, about his new invention, the gravity gun.[13] Soon after, the player finds Dr. Kleiner, who tells Gordon about his worries regarding the missing dimension, and also gives him the gravity gun mentioned by Eli and Alyx.[14]

After being attacked by an alien gunship, and passing through a prison heavily guarded by Combine soldiers, Gordon manages to reach City 17, where he finds G-Man. He tells the player he has been expecting him, and claims to not be behind the situation regarding the missing dimension, instead he says he is but a "lowly pawn in a shady game being played by sinister powers".[15] Soon after, Gordon reaches a strider, a large tripod assault synth, which turns out to be the source of the problem, as upon defeating it a portal is opened in which Gordon steps in, sending him back to the third dimension.

Production and publication

Development on Codename: Gordon began in mid 2003. The game started as a fan project of Paul "X-Tender" Kamma, responsible for the software coding, and Sönke "Warbeast" Seidel, responsible for the game graphics. The game was coded in Flash, the reason for this choice being Kamma and Seidel's experience with this programming language.[16] The initial intention was to create a platform game, the setting only being decided upon after noticing various 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 Nuclear Vision, whose company started working on Codename: Gordon together with Kamma and Seidel.[5]

Originally the game was planned for the Nintendo DS portable console. This decision has been changed only after Nuclear Vision 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, Doug Wood overseeing the project on behalf of Valve.[2] The game was released on May 17, 2004, and was distributed freely on Valve's Steam online delivery system,[1] as a form of publicity for the, at that time, upcoming Half-Life 2.[2] 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.[5]

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[sic] proudly present Half-Life 2D.' Fortunately saner minds prevailed.
~ Gabe Newell[5]

Initially Codename: Gordon was supposed to receive several updates, that included a second bonus game which could be unlocked after finishing the game.[5] However Paul Kamma announced that the update was eventually canceled.[11] Due to the Bankruptcy of Nuclear Vision, the official site of the company was put out of order and therefore the game has been removed by Valve from the site catalog as references to the site are still hard coded into the game. The game is still accessible by visiting the proper URL in a browser while having Steam installed. The URL is: steam://install/92.


The game has received much attention from the community, even before its release to the public.[2] As noted by Tim Bruns, art director of Nuclear Vision, the game attracted over 600,000 players in the first three weeks of its release. Bruns declared himself surprised by this number, and said that "the ability to reach this many gamers almost overnight is amazing".[5][6]

Codename: Gordon has received overall good reviews from game critics. Home of the Underdogs, described it as being "one of the best fangames".[10] The game has also been widely appreciated for its inclusion of the gravity gun, Gameplanet saying that it "works as advertised, and is indeed, pretty [cool]",[7] Pixel Rage also described the weapon as one of the game's best features,[8] and gotoAndPlay said it "adds a nice touch to the game".[9] Codename: Gordon has also been praised for its detailed background landscapes,[10] and its unique dialog style in which the player uses emoticons to communicate with other characters.[8][9]

However the game has received negative feedback as well. One of the main issues that have been raised is performance, gotoAndPlay arguing that the game has a tendency towards lower frame frequencies when multiple enemies are present on the map, as well as lack of proper optimization.[9] 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.[10] The game has also been criticized for its lack of opponent variety,[8][9] and simple, but awkward control scheme,[10] as well as its lack of a save function.[7][8]


Although the game is no longer listed on the Steam Store, it can still be installed by entering steam://install/92 into a web browser properly configured to use Steam to open steam:// URLs.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Codename Gordon Released. Steam (2004-05-17). Retrieved on 2008-08-22.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Bruns, Tim (2004-06-14). Half-Life 2D: Developer Interview. Interview. PC Games. Retrieved 2008-08-24. 
  3. Codename: Gordon game information. Universal Videogame List (2008-02-23). Retrieved on 2008-08-23.
  4. The Nuclear Vision web site could previously have been found at, now a defunct website.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 Newell, Gabe; Bruns, Tim (2004-06-18). Codename: Gordon Interview. Interview with John Callaham. HomeLAN Fed. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 GameSpot (2004-06-14). "Codename Gordon: Over 600,000 Gamers Strong, and Growing". Press release. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 snak^ (2004-05-25). Codename: Gordon. Gameplanet. Retrieved on 2008-08-23.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 Warden (2004-05-18). Codename Gordon lansat si cateva detalii (Romanian). Pixel Rage. Retrieved on 2008-08-23.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 Tom Samson (2004-06-09). Game reviews: codename gordon. gotoAndPlay. Retrieved on 2008-08-23.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Codename: Gordon. Home of the Underdogs. Archived from the original on 2007-11-11 Retrieved on 2008-08-23.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Codename: Gordon - No Continue?. Paul Kamma (2005-01-02). Retrieved on 2008-08-25.
  12. Nuclear Vision. Codename: Gordon. Level/area: Chapter 1: The Docks. (2004-05-17) "Barney: The science team is working on solving this dimensional riddle. [...] I'm a victim of a zombie attack. [...] You'll have to go on without me. [...] The pistol is not doing me any good. Why don't you take it?"
  13. Nuclear Vision. Codename: Gordon. Level/area: Chapter 2: The Harbor. (2004-05-17) "Eli: Push on to City 17. That seems to be the center of disturbance. / Alyx: You can borrow our car. I left the keys in the ignition. / Eli: Keep your eyes open for your old mentor, Dr. Kleiner. He's developed a gravity gun."
  14. Nuclear Vision. Codename: Gordon. Level/area: Chapter 2: The Harbor. (2004-05-17) "Dr. Kleiner: Needless to say, the recent absence of our beloved third dimension has made the Manipulator quite finicky. You may propel objects to either side with abandon, but you will find yourself severely restricted along the z axis. I do lament to the recent imposition of these new dimensional constraints!"
  15. Nuclear Vision. Codename: Gordon. Level/area: Chapter 6: City 17. (2004-05-17) "G-Man: Dr. Freeman. I suppose you expect me to say this is a surprise. Unfortunately for both of us, nothing can be further from the truth. The science team would like to lay the blame for this whole business at my feet, but while it's true that I have a penchant for dimensional manipulation, in this case I am but a lowly pawn in a shady game played by sinister powers. [...] If you wish to see your precious third dimension again, Dr. Freeman, then there is only one course open for you. [...] The boss of you lies waiting just ahead. Defeat that boss, and you will learn the identity of those responsible for our current circumstances."
  16. Game FAQ. Retrieved on 2008-08-24.

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