Source: The Loose Talk rumor section of Game Informer's February issue.
What we heard: Last fall, Half-Life series hero Gordon Freeman was voted Greatest Game Hero by GameSpot's users, despite not having been in a new game in two years. The last title to feature the crowbar-wielding physicist was 2007's The Orange Box, which featured Half-Life 2: Episode Two and its two immediate forbearers: 2006's Half-Life 2: Episode One and 2004's Half-Life 2. (The package also included Team Fortress 2 and the award-wining Portal.)
Initially, Half-Life 2's episodes were supposed to allow the developer to release a new expansion every several months. It began in June 2006 with Episode One (initially subtitled "Aftermath") and was to end "by Christmas 2007" with Episode Three. However, that scheme was derailed when Valve struck a deal with Electronic Arts to distribute the Orange Box. That compilation arrived in October 2007, and since then, Valve has remained mum on the subject of Episode Three, instead focusing on its wildly popular Left 4 Dead series.
With nary a peep about Episode Three in 2008 or 2009, many were hoping at least some new information about its release--or fate--would arrive this year. Don't count on it, says Game Informer, which claims to have knowledge that the game won't arrive until 2011--at the earliest. "There won't be any game from the franchise in 2010," the GameStop-owned magazine declared, before raising the possibility of the Half-Life 2 series skipping directly to Half-Life 3 in "a few years."
The official story: As of press time, Valve's notoriously recalcitrant PR department had not responded to requests for an update on Episode Three's status.
Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus that Episode Three isn't coming out in 2010. With Half-Life 2: Episode Two already showing its age in 2007, it's likely that Valve wants to take the time to ensure the next Half-Life title is graphically competitive. Given the visual caliber of today's first-person shooters, that may require a true sequel with all-new technology.