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Tech by VICE

Watch the Fastest 'Half-Life 2' Speedrun Yet, Coming in Under 41 Minutes

The right man in the wrong place can make all the difference in the world.

by Leif Johnson
May 1 2016, 8:00pm

Image: SourceRuns.

It took me around 17 hours to beat the legendary first-person shooter Half-Life 2. I remember being blown away by David "Marshmallow" Gibbons' speedrun that chopped the whole experience down to a mere 2 hours and 57 minutes. By last year, players like Twitch's chili_n_such had whittled that down to an hour and 19 minutes. Now, though, SourceRun's international team of players have successfully worked together to create a single playthrough in which they beat Half-Life 2 in just 40 minutes and 49 seconds.

The 17 speedrunners achieved such a short run by using a 2006 version of Half-Life 2 that predates the now-standard "Orange Box" engine released in 2007, as it still contained glitches that have long since been patched and featured "significant movement differences." It's a monumental achievement, and the team released it with proper fanfare this morning with a premiere unveiling on Twitch before uploading it to YouTube. You can check out the full speedrun below.

It's a dizzying experience, and not at all like a standard playthrough. Thanks in part to a glitch that lets players go above the ceiling and another glitch that makes protagonist Gordon Freeman move much faster than normal by spamming the "duck" action, the footage shows Gordon flying through walls and leaping into corridors and buildings that normally would take much longer to reach. Enemies fly by with little interaction. Scripted events get glitched because the prerequisites haven't been done. It looks more like a weird, futuristic skiing game than a first-person shooter.

The speedy process also guts many of the cutscenes and interactions between characters, but the ones that remain sometimes left me giggling, such as when Alyx Vance remarks to Freeman as he comes flying through the wall: "I can't believe you made it so quickly on foot."

If you want to see the numbers behind the project, the team created an exhaustive spreadsheet detailing the specific segments, the glitches used, and SourceRuns' time comparisons to their previous efforts.

You can watch an archived version of today's Twitch stream below, where the team discusses the more technical aspects of the speedrun at length. It's fascinating stuff: