After what seems like thousands of delays, a high profile source code heist, Russians selling boxed copies of the game and a lot of jaded gamers left out in the cold, Valve has finally sent a release candidate of Half-Life 2 to publisher Vivendi Universal for approval.

The submission indicates that Valve have finished their work on the game, and bar any crippling bugs being discovered it is predicted to be released sometime around November 2004 - not early '05, as some reports had indicated. Doug Lombardi, Marketing Director at Valve, said: "Nobody at VU has indicated to us that they are not shipping HL2 this year." Whilst not a definite yes or no, it is a far more promising statement than anything that has come before - even the now legendary: "Half Life 2 will be out in 2003."

The news will be a godsend to most gamers, who had assumed HL2 had entered Duke Nukem Forever levels of ridiculous development time and would never see the light of day.

With Half Life 2 almost really-actually-yes-it-is confirmed for release, along with Halo 2, San Andreas, Pro Evolution Soccer 4 and Fable (amongst others) the rear end of 2004 is looking better by the second.

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