MTV News takes a look at one of Half-Life 2: Episode One's best secrets: the in-game commentary track. Much like the DVD format's popular director's commentary feature, Valve stuck in audio commentary from the game's developers. Hit the little floating text bubble and be treated to commentary on everything from design conceits (like apologizing for artificial barriers) to eye-candy techniques (yup, that's HDR lighting).
The problem is, according to Valve's own statistics, only 15% of the gamers who've played Episode One have activated the feature. Regardless of its popularity, Valve project manager Erik Johnson says, "There isn't really any chance of us leaving it out in our future titles." That's good news for those of us interested in the commentary feature. Unfortunately, not every game developer is going to keep it in, even if they got there first.
Factor 5 included developer commentary on their Star Wars: Battle for Naboo title on the N64, an impressive feat for a cartridge system. They've included commentary on every title since then, so a commentary track on the PlayStation 3's Lair (with its copious amounts of Blu-ray space) would seem to be a perfect touch. Insomniac Games has commentary plans for their next game (following PS3 launch title Resistance), but that 15% number may make them nervous. Insomniac's Ted Price said, "If gamers want audio commentary, they have to let it be known." Okay, Ted. So, gamers, were you amongst Valve's 15% and if not, why?
Not developer commentary, but a really thoughtful fan commentary of Half Life 2: Episode One done by a pleasant Brit named Mark in Seattle, WA.