Whatever your feelings on EA's new Star Wars: Battlefront relaunch, it's tough to argue with the insane attention put into the audio/visual details. The graphics are spectacular, and the sound design is second to none; when Darth Vader chucks a piece of Rebel scum into a TIE Fighter, it looks and sounds exactly like Darth Vader chucking a piece of Rebel scum into a TIE Fighter. In a way, video games have already peaked.
That love and respect for Star Wars can even be found in cutscene backgrounds. GamesRadar whipped up a handy video demonstrating this fact.
See what happened? Under the AT-ST, where that huge, unmissable orange arrow is pointing? It might be a bit hard to see, so let's take a closer look.
Yes, that Stormtrooper bumped his head on the stairs. This act of slapstick was almost certainly not a glitch, given the Stormtroopers' well-known history of bumping their heads in the background. As many fans will have figured out by now, Battlefront managed to sneak in a hidden reference to this moment in A New Hope, when some poor extra conked his noggin on the set door.
It's nice to know that some things never change.
I'm not sure if we can even call it a running joke anymore. The long (possibly eternal) wait for the next episode of Valve's epic first-person shooter has been going on so long that we're beyond funny and into some sad delusion. When we make fun of Half-Life 3, it's like insulting a ghost or criticising a good episode of Roseanne after they win the lottery -- there's no point in ribbing something that doesn't exist.
Even though Half-Life 3 jokes are so old that most of the originals are written in Latin, some developers haven't stopped hiding these winks to Gordon Freeman's vaporware adventure. We can only imagine that these are post-modern/ironic Half-Life 3 jabs. Like the one in 2015's Mad Max game, for instance.
It can't be that simple, can it? The dismembered arm holding a crowbar right next to the number "3" is so obvious that there has to be some sort of context that we're missing here. Could it be that Mad Max is on a mission that takes him to a part of the wasteland where old jokes go to die? Maybe if we looked around the corner we'd see the dessicated corpses of Pizza Rat and Left Shark?
Sometimes the reference is so blunt it turns a corner from being hackneyed to funny again.
The screen above, from the epidemic simulator Plague Inc, is so jam-packed full of blatant HL3 references that it's kind of impressive. Though gibberish on its own, it's less than trivial to single out the phrase "half-life of 3 years," not to mention the two mentions of "valves." Fun fact: If you read this out loud, your voice will always sound like the annoying guy from The Big Bang Theory. No, the other one.
At least the excellent SteamWorld Dig put some artistry into their version of the gag.
Though set on a dusty planet rich with minerals, it doesn't become super clear that the planet in SteamWorld Dig is actually our own until you run across the "GameGo" graveyard. A line of skeletons are camped out in front of the used video game emporium, which is clearly advertising HL3. What works about this one is that it's unclear whether the world ended just before the game in question came out, or that these poor souls had just formed a group naturally over time, together in their unfulfilled wish of another Valve game with real single player content.
There's subtlety, there's nuance, and then there's three crowbars on the ground under a valve in Battlefield: Hardline.
And with that, I think we can safely say that Half-Life 3 jokes are over, and no one ever needs to put a crowbar in their game ever again.
Half-Life 4 jokes, on the other hand...