Half-Life 2 preloads a week away?

Forum posts from Valve head Gabe Newell say the first phase of releasing the long-delayed shooter will begin on August 17.

With rumors flying that Half-Life 2 will go gold by the end of the month, impatient PC gamers are scouring the Web for any clues on the game's status. Late yesterday, all it took was a single line of information on the Half-Life 2 Fallout forums to get the public worked up.

In a series of posts, Valve founder Gabe Newell discussed plans to release the Counter-Strike: Source beta code via the developer's online delivery service. He outlined the dates the beta would be released to participating cybercafes, owners of CS: Condition Zero, and those who got Half-Life 2 CD-Keys as part of the 2003 ATI promotion. "Just got out of a review meeting," read the post. "8/11 the Cafe's turn on (tomorrow). 8/16 CZ/ATI users preload. 8/18 CZ/ATI turns on." Then Newell dropped this line, "8/17 HL-2 preload starts (textures, audio, and other stuff that doesn't change)."

If true, the preloading would mean that the final debugging of Half-Life 2 was nearing its end, as was rumored last month. However, since nothing has been made official--Valve's PR department responded to inquires with characteristic silence--the date could not be confirmed as of press time.

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